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2022 Woods Hole Partnership Education Program Symposium

Friday, August 12 at 0900 in the Meigs Room at the Marine Biological Laboratory.

The Meigs Room is located on the second floor of the MBL Swope Conference Center at 5 North St. Woods Hole, MA 02543.

Masks are currently required indoors at the MBL.

Paid street parking is available along Water St. or MBL St. Limited free parking is available at NOAA at 166 Water St.

Livestream via Zoom will be available at the link below. No registration is required. Password is PEP2022

0900-0915: Opening Remarks

Onjalé Scott Price, PEP Co-Director

Anne Sylvester, Director of Research, Marine Biological Laboratory

Ambrose Jearld, Jr., PEP Senior Advisor; PEP Co- Founder and former PEP Director

0915 - 1115: Presentations

915 - Alexis Hernandez
930 - Alexandra Figueroa
945 - Haley Roche
10 - Malika Brown
1015 - Jillian Paquette
1030 - Zachary Taylor
1045 - Caniah Lentz
11 - Aaron MacDonald

1115 - 1130: Break

1130 - 1345: Presentations

1130 - Alicia Yodlowsky
1145 - Kimberly Porras Echaverry
12 - Madison Griffin
1215 - Jordan McDavid
1230 - Morgan Smith
1245 - Parker Mooney
1 - Monét Murphy
115 -Tyvonta Johnson
130 - Ayanna Mays

13:45 - 1400: Graduation

1400: Lunch

Lunch is provided for all PEP students, mentors, and staff. We welcome the community to bring a lunch or purchase a lunch from Swope, and enjoy the MBL terrace overlooking Eel Pond.

Abstracts (listed in order of presentation)

Alexis Hernandez
Mentors: Joel Llopiz, Rubao Ji, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
Title: Analyzing the gut contents of Spiny dogfish as samplers of Ctenophores in the NE US Continental Shelf

Ctenophores, also known as comb jellies, are small free-swimming zooplankton that inhabit the oceans worldwide. The nature of my study is to observe Ctenophore abundance and distribution throughout the US Northeast Continental Shelf. I utilized spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) as
proxies in determining their population patterns within the past 20 years, as Spiny dogfish are known predators of Ctenophora. Given that the NE US shelf encompasses a large region, we decided to focus in on the Gulf of Maine and Southern New England. Our knowledge on the current trends in the abundance and distribution of Ctenophora is important as these organisms play a critical role in the circulation of energy and nutrients throughout ocean food webs, and allow the transfer of energy between trophic levels above and below themselves. I constructed my study in a similar manner to what was done in Link & Ford (2006). I analyzed Spiny dogfish gut content data obtained from a NOAA Food Habits Database (FHDBS), and calculated the percent frequency of occurrence of Ctenophora in spiny dogfish stomachs from 2000-2019. Contrary to what was revealed by Link & Ford and to what we expected, we observed a decrease in Ctenophore abundance from 2001 onwards. We are uncertain as to why this may be the case, but this shift in abundance and distribution may be indicative of regime and food webs changes.


Alexandra E. Figueroa
Mentor: Scott Large, NOAA Fisheries

Title: Aggregating Coastal Water Quality Data for the New England and Mid-Atlantic Regions

Effective fisheries management relies on current and accurate information and science to make fishery ecosystems sustainable and profitable. If an ecosystem is unstable or impaired, it could lead to consequences and disturbances on a socio-economic and ecological scale. For some commercial fisheries, coastal waters serve as a nursery habitat for important stocks. Therefore, some commercial stocks such as yellowtail flounder and winter flounder may be negatively affected by an overall decline in the coastal water quality. I assessed and identified major parameters of coastal water quality that can indicate a healthy or impaired ecosystem in the New England and Mid-Atlantic fisheries. I aggregated data from the EPA’s Assessment Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Tracking and Implementation System (ATTAINS) database (2002-2020) to understand how regional water quality might impact the coastal ecosystems that are key to many important fish species. I compared the EPA water quality standards  (i.e., agriculture, aquatic life support, drinking water supply, fish consumption, shellfish, and primary and secondary recreation) from New England and Mid-Atlantic state’s bi-annually water quality reports. I used R to correlate patterns across states and regions. I hypothesized that both regions would see decreased trends in aquatic life and fish consumption as the fishery industry is a major source of income and livelihood. With agriculture not being a significant indicator in each region, the trend is expected to be consistent over the time series. For both regions, the total impairment counts for drinking water quality, primary and secondary recreation were consistently below the threshold. However, the Mid-Atlantic showed an elevated level of aquatic life support counts compared to New England. In contrast, New England had more variation in impairment of shellfish in the time series, whereas the Mid Atlantic was consistently low. Future assessments by fisheries are needed on state and federal level. 


Haley Roche
Mentors: Scott Chimileski, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL)
Title: Peaking at the Progression of Plaque

Dental plaque is a vital aspect of the human oral microbiome that can have both synergistic and antagonistic effects on humans, so understanding its development can give a greater insight into human health concerns. Through Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH), scientists have been able to visualize spatial arrangement of fixed samples of human dental plaque biofilms. These spatial images have allowed for the development of hypotheses on the interactions between specific bacteria in the biofilm. For example, the bacteria in these biofilms
seem to form “hedgehog” shaped structures with Actinomycetes species at the base and long filamentous Corynebacterium species extending throughout the biofilm. Additionally, Streptococcus develop “corn cob” shaped structures around Corynebacteria which could help support each species' respective metabolic processes. With these species interactions in mind, the goal of the present study is to visualize living biofilms developed in a lab environment to expand knowledge on these interactions. Instead of using FISH and fixing our biofilms, we are working towards creating fluorescent strains of these bacteria so that we can view different species in live biofilms simultaneously. While we were developing those fluorescent strains, we also performed a series of 4 species biofilm experiments using Corynebacteria, Actinomycetes, Streptococcus, and Fusobacteria, stained with mitotracker dye. Developing these fluorescent strains and imaging these live biofilms allows us to gain a greater understanding of how this system as a whole works. The conclusions and procedures used on the oral microbiome can be applied tomany other microbiomes in the environment that are not as heavily studied.


Malika S. Brown
Mentor: Ruth Haas-Castro, NOAA Fisheries

Title: Annual Temperature Variation Impact on Atlantic Salmon Smolt (Salmo salar) Growth in the Narraguagus River, Maine

U.S. Atlantic Salmon is an endangered fish population that has both ecological and economic importance. This fish has remained at historically low population status since the 1800s. Although it is illegal to catch wild Atlantic salmon in the United States, their populations continue to need close monitoring and protection. One of the threats to salmon populations is climate change or increasing temperature variations, which is the main focus of my study.

Atlantic Salmon are a vulnerable species making it critical to understand what aspects are impacting their populations so that informed decisions can be made to further support restoration efforts. This study used scale samples and data collected from a long term catch, mark & release project where NOAA Fisheries and Maine Department of Marine Resources utilize rotary screw traps. The method innocuously captures smolts so biologist can collect scale samples along with physiological indicators of growth (weight & length). The data covers a 25-year period from the years 1996-2022, not including 2020. This study only includes data gathered from age two smolt scales samples from the Narraguagus River in Maine. Samples from 2022 were aged, imaged, and measured during this study, 30 samples were selected from each year totaling 750. I used a microscope to view scale samples and determine their ages, then took digital images of each to analyze with Image-Pro. This software program collects numerical data and measurements from different scale features. The data collected are indicators of growth including scale radius, circuli count, distance from radius each circulus, and distance to each annulus. I graphed the resulting data with the R programming language to visualize trends in fish growth and then compared them to annual temperature variations in Maine. My research findings indicated that climate change increasing annual temperatures may have an impact on smolt growth.


Jill Paquette
Mentor: Heidi Sosik, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
Title: Seasonal patterns in abundance differ among ciliate taxa at Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO)

Ciliates are protozoan microzooplankton that play an important role in the marine food web. Their seasonal variations in abundance are important to study because of their impact on higher trophic levels. We studied at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) due to
its unique long-term time series of data (2006-2022) within the large ecosystem of the Northeast U.S. Shelf. In this experiment, we used Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB) data to observe the seasonal patterns in abundance of different ciliate taxa. Using image output data reviewed
by an auto-classifier machine learning algorithm (convolutional neural network, CNN) we identified the ciliates present at MVCO to understand their diversity throughout the seasons and across different years. These identifications were further verified by manual annotations and used to improve the algorithm. Results indicated changes in the ciliate community structure over the seasons. For example, Laboea strobila and six other ciliates of the thirty taxa we studied have bloomed twice each year, in the fall and spring, at varying abundances. Other ciliates, such as Balanion, Mesodinium, and seven others, peaked in abundance in the fall and early winter. Pleuronema bloomed three times each year: in the winter, late spring, and fall; Tontonia gracillima only bloomed in the spring. Understanding the seasonal patterns in abundance of the ciliate taxa allows us to study how the food web as a whole may shift over the seasons in the future.


Zachary Taylor
Mentor: Meagan Eagle, United States Geological Survey (USGS)
Title: Investigating Porewater Exchange at the Herring River 
Salt marshes are critical coastal ecosystems that can be important sources of nutrients for adjacent estuaries as well as sinks of carbon dioxide due to high rates of carbon uptake and storage in flooded soils. Porewater exchange is the process where water enters the marsh during high tide flooded periods and drains out during low water levels at low tide.   With this water exchange, oxygen, and sulfate enter the marsh during flooded periods and are depleted due to biogeochemical cycling, with chemical products exiting the marsh during low water periods. Because porewater exchange rates are typically very low in organic peat, this quantity can be a challenge to measure. The Herring River Estuary located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is the site of a carbon dioxide removal study led by the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service. We quantified porewater exchange using a Darcy flux approach. First, we measured the rate of infiltration in triplicate at the surface of the marsh at three locations along a transect from the interior to the creek edge of the marsh. Water levels were recorded every 15 minutes in two wells at the site and the hydraulic gradient and subsequent flux were determined. We found that the average infiltration rate of the CDR site was 1.7m/day We also found that the water level lowered only 2 cm in the well near the creek, while water levels dropped 1 cm at the well close to the terrestrial border, suggesting drainage did not occur at a fast rate. This data shows that water is not moving through the CDR site at a fast rate and that porewater exchange is happening extremely slowly.  


Caniah Lentz

Mentors: Hauke Kite- Powell & Micheal Wier, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Marine Policy Center (WHOI MPC)
Title: What is the Social Benefit of an App- Based HAB Forecasting Tool?

Along the Washington and Oregon coasts, the razor clam (Siliqua patula) fishery is the largest recreational bivalve shellfish fishery in the region and a major source of tourist-related income to small communities along the coast. Delays and closures of recreational fisheries due to the
increasing frequency of harmful algal blooms (HABs) threaten to have significant negative impacts on fishery dependent communities. We conducted a survey of the coastal recreation community in WA and OR, composed primarily of recreational shellfishers, to estimate the potential social benefit associated with a HAB forecasting mobile phone application. Preliminary findings indicate recreational users are willing to pay a one-time fee of $4.82 for a HAB forecasting mobile application, on average. This average willingness to pay estimate translates into a lower bound social benefit of more than $5 million. These results suggest that the outdoor recreation community in WA and OR values efficient access to HAB forecast information via a mobile phone application, a tool that is not currently available to the public. Policymakers and coastal managers might consider the development or integration of such a tool into existing communication public health and natural resource communication channels.


Aaron MacDonald
Mentors: Adam Subhas & Chloe Smith, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
Title: Emiliania huxleyi response to Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement in Laboratory Culture

Limiting global warming and reducing ocean acidification, requires new and more effective methods of carbon capture and storage, such as ocean alkalinity enhancement (OAE). In principle, OAE increases the ocean's buffering capacity, which could reduce ocean acidification and promote sequestration of atmospheric CO2. However, the biological impacts of OAE are not well characterized. Over the summer of 2022 we conducted laboratory experiments exploring how OAE may impact a common species of coccolithophore, Emiliania huxleyi (E. hux), which acts as an important calcifying primary producer that drives ocean carbon and alkalinity cycling. We cultured E. hux in seawater f/2-Si media amended to produce three OAE conditions: One control with no alkalinity modification, one unequilibrated group with increased media alkalinity (+500 μmol/kg) without atmospheric CO2 equilibration, and one equilibrated group where alkalinity was increased (+500 μmol/kg), and bubbled to restore its pCO2 to atmospheric values. To assess the response of E. hux we examined three factors: growth rate, calcification rate, and photosynthetic health. Growth rates were determined with flow cytometry; calcification rates were determined via 13C tracing; photosynthetic health was assessed by measuring Fv/Fm. Over four generations, the growth rates of all three treatments were similar, with no treatment group outperforming the others on a consistent basis. Calcification rates, cellular calcite quotas, and Fv/Fm all showed no measurable response to OAE. These results imply that unequilibrated and air-equilibrated alkalinity enhancement may have little to no effect on E. hux growth and calcification rates under laboratory culture conditions. Future work should investigate if the lack of a response to OAE continues over longer time periods and under more extreme alkalinity loadings. Natural open-ocean coccolithophore communities should also be investigated; we suggest the 13C-calcification approach be used for cost-effective assessments of calcification rates, both in laboratory and in situ.

Alicia Yodlowsky
Mentor: Ken Foreman, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL)
Title: Groundwater Nitrogen Monitoring at Little Pond

Little Pond (located in Falmouth, MA) has experienced excess nutrient loading from wastewater derived from residential septic tanks. The resulting eutrophication caused loss of eelgrass, increase in macroalgae populations, and periodic hypoxia. To address this problem, the
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection mandated an 88% reduction in nitrogen (N) loading. Subsequently, the Town of Falmouth installed a sewer collection system that diverts wastewater from over 1400 homes in the watershed to a treatment facility. Construction of the sewer project was completed in 2016. In 2015, students in the PEP and SES programs began monitoring groundwater collected from a network of 12 wells along the shores of Little Pond, each sampling 3-5 depths, for a total of 46 discrete samples. We measured nitrate and ammonium concentrations in these wells and analyzed the long-term trends from this dataset. We discovered that between 2016 to 2022, average nitrate concentrations decreased from 149 to 59 µmoles/liter. Ammonium concentrations stayed constant, averaging 23.1 µmoles/liter and ranging from 19.2 to 27.0 µmoles/liter. Concentrations of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (which includes both nitrate and ammonium) have decreased to 51% of 2016 levels. We observed that ammonium and nitrate levels differed depending on salinity, which varied spatially with depth and proximity to Vineyard Sound. Fourteen (approximately 30%) of the samples had salinities above 5 psu; these contained little dissolved oxygen (DO) (average 0.8 ppm) and no nitrate, but did have ammonium present. Thirty-two samples had salinities below 5 psu, containing an average DO of 1.9 ppm and also nitrate, but little ammonium. Our finding that nitrogen levels have overall decreased since 2016 indicates that the sewer line successfully addressed some N-loading in Little Pond. The Town of Falmouth is currently planning to install sewer lines near other ponds, and our findings may be influential to their plans.


Kimberly Porras

Mentors: Rachel Jakuba and Virginia Parker, Buzzards Bay Coalition  (BBC)

Title: Citizen Science data vs HOBO Logger Data in Buzzards Bay, MA

Water quality measurements are important for describing the health of aquatic ecosystems that we humans rely on. The Buzzards Bay Coalition initiated the Baywatchers program where residents measure dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity and collect nutrient sampling at over 200 stations around Buzzards Bay. Dissolved oxygen is important for fish since they need oxygen to breathe, and water temperature affects the amount of oxygen water can hold. In this research, I am focusing on dissolved oxygen and temperature. The Data I am focusing on is citizen science data collected during the summers of 2019, 2020, 2021 and continuous HOBO logger data at the same time across three stations: Quisset Harbor, Slocums River, and Red Brook Harbor. These were used to understand how HOBO logger data support citizens’ data. 

The citizen science data shows an average of 32 % of days recording dissolved oxygen below 6 mg/L, which is the water quality standard for Buzzards Bay established by MassDEP. HOBO data loggers are showing an average of 53% of days recording dissolved oxygen below the standard. I performed a T test, and the means of volunteer dissolved oxygen and loggers are not statistically different. This shows reliable citizen data. Citizen science data also falls on the same pattern as HOBO logger data where lower concentrations of dissolved oxygen were observed in 2021 compared to 2019 and 2020. To understand the impact of citizen science on volunteers, a Google survey was sent. Some questions included how important it is for them to be collecting data, how it has impacted their view on Buzzards Bay, and how interested they are in the data they collect. Both methods have their limitations but allow for a better understanding of water quality dynamics, and drive action when citizens are involved.


Madison Griffin

Mentor: Christopher Neill, Woodwell Climate Research Center

Title: How to Design Wetland Restoration Projects: Analyzing Habitat Quality and Nutrient Removal in a Restored Wetland 

Natural ecosystems have increasingly been lost and degraded due to increasing human land use. Restoration of natural ecosystems, such as wetlands, could restore ecosystem services, but many of the details of how to design restored wetlands are not well developed. Restoration of wetlands on retired cranberry farmland can restore stream connectivity, provide animal habitat, buffer water temperature, and improve water quality. In Massachusetts, there is an opportunity to restore cranberry bogs because many currently farmed bogs may become retired in the next decade. The Coonamessett River was restored from a retired cranberry bog in 2018 to provide habitat for native plants and cold water, anadromous fish. Another goal was to improve water quality by removing nitrogen. Four side creeks were built off the Coonamessett River to funnel incoming groundwater to the main channel. I evaluated the potential of the side creeks to function as fish habitat and nitrogen-removal zones by measuring temperature, dissolved oxygen, habitat, groundwater discharge, and nitrogen concentrations. Side creeks contributed 16% of water to the main channel flow. Generally, the four creeks had low water temperatures, high dissolved oxygen, and habitat dominated by submersed and emergent plants. Creek water nitrate concentrations were highest about 30 meters downstream of the creeks’ origin. Lower water temperatures at these locations indicated high groundwater inputs. Side creeks input 28% of their nitrate concentrations to the main channel. Without the creeks’ nitrogen removal, 60% of nitrate would have flowed into the main channel, emphasizing their invaluable role in improving water quality, creating habitat, and mitigating nitrogen inputs to the river. The features that supported cold water fish also served as nitrate removal zones. As more ecosystems become degraded, it is important to: (1) consider what features are implemented in restoration designs based on ecological goals, and (2) continue to evaluate restoration projects.


Jordan McDavid

Mentors: Melisa Diaz and Catherine Walker, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)

Title: Quantification of meltwater features on Greenland and Antarctic glaciers

Glaciers are the largest freshwater reservoir on Earth, storing 68% of all freshwater on continents. They are a vulnerable component of the cryosphere, losing mass through calving events and melting (either at the surface or at the glacial bed). Glacial melting comprised of 21% of sea level rise over the last two decades. Large-scale calving events are well-documented and a focus of glaciological research. On the contrary, a relatively small amount is known about processes by which ice melts, is stored, and changes on the surfaces of glaciers. This study aims to categorize the different melt features, such as crevasses, ponds, streams, and blue ice, for Greenland and Antarctic glaciers, and determine their size and abundance. QGIS, an open-source geographic information system application, was used to map and measure the area and length of these features on Helheim Glacier on Greenland and Beardmore, Marsh/Nimrod, and Lennox King Glaciers on Antarctica. The results of this study showed that water-filled crevasses were the largest melt features present on all glaciers, averaging a size of 39.24 km2. Most of the other meltwater features were located within or near crevasse fields. The most abundant meltwater features overall were ponds with a total of 75 identified across all 4 glaciers, Marsh/Nimrod Glacier contributing 61 of those ponds. The least abundant as well as the smallest melt features were streams, with an average length of 28.49 km. On Helheim Glacier specifically, blue ice was the most abundant melt feature. This is important to our overall understanding of glacier mass loss and hydrology because it shows that the surfaces of glaciers are dynamic and store meltwater in a variety of features. These features need to be monitored and measured annually to understand their temporal variability and how/if surface meltwater contributes to sea level rise. 


Morgan Smith

Mentor: Heidi Marotta, NOAA Federal

Title: Day in the Life of the IT Division 

NOAA’s NEFSC has multiple streams of data being loaded onto servers and databases daily. This data is of high importance and most of it is considered to be protected information, hence the importance of having good management practices for the data. The server room is the heart of the organization, allowing data to flow all throughout the science center. Some of the issues that the science center, in particular the IT division, faces is a lack of record keeping in regards to the service and personal accounts. Also, since the service desk is in charge of the ongoing online tickets, this can easily become a difficult task when the entire organization is not aware of how to submit a proper online ticket. This can cause the ticket to be sent back and forth multiple times between the client and the IT technician. To help ensure that the online tickets were completed with all of the correct information needed, I created a standard operating procedure on how to properly submit a ticket. 

Interning at NOAA’s NEFSC I experienced IT in a government scientific institution. I was tasked with learning the different daily operations of the IT division, such as the server room, the service desk, inventory tracking, and database management. I created a database to inventory accounts on systems in order to assist with record keeping in the IT division. I worked beside Heidi Marotta, who ensured that I had a full IT immersion experience.My job at NEFSC is important to the organization because it will help the department to distinguish different factors of each service account. I also learned to deal with the many problems of a large organization’s IT division. 


Parker Mooney

Mentors: Lauren Mullineaux & Lauren Dykman, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)

Title: Salt Marsh Ecology: The Behavioral Responses of Ilyanassa obsoleta When Parasitized by Trematodes

I investigated the behavioral responses of Ilyanassa obsoleta, commonly known as the Eastern Mud snail, that are parasitized by trematodes. Trematode parasites inhibit the gonads of I. obsoleta and some cause the gastropod to move higher in the intertidal zone for unknown reasons. However, it is speculated that some trematode species may cause their host to move higher in the intertidal to place it closer to the trematode’s second intermediate host and to make transmission more likely. A large-scale alteration to the movements of I. obsoleta has the potential to disrupt the soft sediment community structure found in salt marshes along the East Coast of North America. I conducted laboratory experiments to test the hypothesis that I. obsoleta parasitized with trematodes have different behavioral reactions to an ebbing tide than unparasitized I. obsoleta. Failure to relocate with a receding tide or movement upstream in response to a draining mudflat could lead to the observed distribution of parasitized I. obsoleta higher in the intertidal. I mimicked a draining salt marsh by placing I. obsoleta on an incline with trickling saltwater and tracked and quantified their movement. Both parasitized and non-infected I. obsoleta exhibited similar movements in a downward direction. My preliminary results indicate that different responses to a draining mudflat may not explain the observed I. obsoleta distribution in the intertidal.


Monét Murphy

Mentors: Lauren Mullineaux, Susan  Mills, Michael Meneses, Stace Beaulieu & Lauren Dykman, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)

Title: Deep-Sea Destructive Disturbances: Understanding ecological succession of hydrothermal vent colonist 15 years after a volcanic eruption 

Hydrothermal vents in the 9’N region of the East Pacific Rise are patchy discrete environments characterized by highly unstable conditions. Vent systems in the “EPR” experience episodic catastrophic disturbances including volcanic magmatic seafloor eruptions that eradicate old communities and produce shifts in location, temperature, and the chemical composition of new vents. Post-disturbance communities transition over time creating space for new colonizers often leading to the sequential replacement of the initial species. Previous studies indicated that these communities had not recovered to the full range of biodiversity present prior to the disturbance even after a decade. This study aims to extend the time series and observe what the composition and assembly of a disturbed vent community looks like after a stochastic event. Post-eruption colonists collected on deployed settlement surfaces were counted and identified to the lowest taxonomic level to determine species composition. The data were compared with previously analyzed samples to determine how community composition has changed over time. After 15 years there still does not seem to be a climax community since biodiversity has continued to increase. This extended recovery in a system adapted to frequent disturbance can provide insight into the results of potential anthropogenic disturbances such as prospective deep sea mining at less frequently disturbed vent fields.


Tyvonta Johnson
Mentor: Elizabeth Pendleton, United States Geological Survey (USGS)

Title: An Application of Coastal Change Likelihood in Cape Cod for Habitat Application and Validation

The effects of climate change are becoming apparent in many parts of our lives including water and food security, energy sources, and environmental and health concerns. Climate-scale impacts are especially evident in coastal areas, where climate change is driving an
increase in storm frequency and intensity, tidal flooding, sea-level rise, and erosion. To synthesize data that addresses these factors, the U.S. Geological Survey created a decision support tool known as Coastal Change Likelihood (CCL) that predicts the probability of change
along the coast. CCL is a machine learning framework that integrates existing datasets that describe the coast and the hazards that impact it. Model validation is an important part of any predictive model. We conducted an accuracy assessment of CCL outcomes using land cover
change data from NOAA’s Coastal Change Analysis Program (CCAP) regional land cover change data from 1996 to 2016. We ran the accuracy assessment using ArcGIS Pro to select 500 randomly-distributed points on Cape Cod within areas that experienced coastal change in the two previous decades. Data were grouped and statistically analyzed to highlight areas that experienced coastal land cover change. CCL was very good and had a 92% accuracy at predicting coastal-related change for areas with high CCL values (8-10, or extremely likely to change). CCL is not good at predicting change in areas of lower CCL values (3-7; not likely to change to somewhat likely to change). CCL can support coastal managers and decision makers tasked with identifying and preserving valuable coastal resources. An CCL application is illustrated using piping plover habitat and high change likelihood outcomes for Cape Cod. This study serves as a validation of CCL predictions for areas where past coastal change is likely to be a good indicator of future change, and links CCL outcomes to potential coastal resource applications.


Ayanna Mays
Mentors: Christopher Murray and Neel Aluru, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
Title: Hypoxia Tolerance of the Atlantic Silverside (Menidia menidia)

The consequences of climate change are hard to predict in marine environments with fluctuating chemistry like conditions typically found in coastal systems. Dissolved oxygen levels are being affected by climate change and in turn, are affecting the animals that live in these habitats. A topic of interest is how animals living in these areas are adapted to fluctuating oxygen and CO2 concentrations, and further, how those adaptations are transmitted to subsequent generations. One rapid mechanism is multigenerational plasticity where parents can pass down adaptive traits through non-genetic pathways in response to environmental conditions that they experience prior to spawning. We conducted a laboratory experiment to test this mechanism in maturing, adult Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia) that were acclimated to control conditions and low DO/high CO2 (stressor conditions). The offspring of these adults were then reared under both treatments and survival was evaluated at hatching and 10 days post-hatch. To identify a mechanism of enhanced hypoxia tolerance, we measured embryo metabolic rates using micro respirometry. We found that parental and offspring treatments had a significant interactive effect on embryo survival. Embryos from control parents reared under low DO/high CO2 suffered a 45% decline compared to control embryos from the same adults. Whereas
embryos from treated adults showed no difference in survival between groups. Post-hatch survival was not affected by rearing conditions but average larval survival was marginally lower in offspring from treated adults. Analysis of respiration rates showed that control embryos from
control parents showed the highest average metabolic rates. There was a non-significant trend of stressor embryos from stressor parents having lower metabolic rates (~ -20%) than all other groups. By contrast, embryos reared under stressor conditions from treated parents did not show a metabolic decline relative to control embryos. Together, these results suggest that adult silversides are able to prime their offspring for increased tolerance of low DO/high CO2 conditions if they experience these stressors prior to spawning.