Undergraduates Marisa Agarwal and Adelaide Dahl finished their senior thesis presentations and manuscripts last week! Marisa's work was titled Ecology of a Foundation Species: Black Corals in the Galapagos Marine Reserve and Addie's was called Investigating patterns and drivers of sessile invertebrate diversity in the Galapagos marine ecosystems. Both seniors defended their projects well and had some of the largest EEB Seminar turnouts for senior research projects! Congratulations to our Witman Lab seniors!
Jon Witman was recently named an Affiliate Fellow at Brown University's Institute at Brown for Environment and Society! As a faculty affiliate, Jon will be joining a team with diverse research interests that connect environmental studies to human impact, taking a multidisciplinary approach to subtidal marine ecology research. In joining IBES, the Witman lab is excited to increase engagement across both the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies departments. Read more here: IBES Welcomes Jon Witman as an IBES Affiliate Fellow
Maya Greenhill, a recent Brown University and Witman Lab graduate, just won an honorable mention for Best 15 Minute Talk at this year's virtual Western Society of Naturalists Meeting (WSN). Her talk, Resource Partitioning of an ecosystem engineer increases algal diversity and production, discusses results from her honors thesis research in the Galapagos Islands. Maya and fellow Witman lab alumnae Calvin Munson, Robert Lamb, and PI Jon Witman suggest a novel perspective for resource partitioning theory: they propose that increased resource partitioning does not always lead to resource depletion; conversely, partitioning in organisms that have a positive effect on their environment, such as ecosystem engineers, may increase resource availability, rates of resource renewal, and resource diversity. Find the link to the full program of this year's WSN talks here!
In an article published August 13th, 2020, Science Magazine describes how the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an "anthropause" in a variety of systems around the planet. The paper (found here) mentions a current Witman Lab project that characterizes the effect of reduced tourism on marine community dynamics in the Galapagos Archipelago. Check it out!
Dr. Witman and collaborators from around the world were published in Nature Climate Change this past Monday, April 27th, 2020. Their paper, "Evolution of Galapagos in the Anthropocene", focuses on the increasing globalization of the Galapagos Archipelago and its role as a living laboratory that can be used to study human impact in conjunction with climate change. The paper can be found here -- check it out!
Later this month, both Dr. Witman and Dr. Lamb will be speaking at the Sprout CoWorking Art Galleries in Warren, Rhode Island. Their talks will focus on the health of the oceans and the role of consumers in protecting marine life, and we would love to see you all there! The presentations will be accompanied by a responsibly sourced seafood meal prepared by a local chef, a jazz concert, and art gallery exhibition. The gallery will be featuring artwork that focuses on the beauty and vulnerability of the oceans, and we are proud that the Witman Lab will be able to be a part of their mission to inspire public awareness and change!
Marisa has received an Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award for her study, "Behavioral ecology of top predators in the Galapagos Marine Reserve." Maya has received a Voss Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Environmental Science and Communication, as well as an Explorers Club student grant for her study, "Niche complementarity and ecological function of damselfish in the Galapagos Marine Protected Area."
Both Maya and Marisa are also the recipients of Marine Conservation Scholarships from the Women Divers Hall of Fame. Congratulations!
New publication by Fiona Beltram of the Witman Lab on proliferation of cyanobacteria in Galapagos rocky reefs
Fiona Beltram, a recent graduate of the Witman Lab, recently published her honors thesis. Her work describes how the unusually warm temperatures of the 2014–2017 El Niño facilitated the novel appearance of cyanobacterial mats in the Galapagos rocky subtidal zone, which can have negative effects on the marine benthic community. Read the whole thing here!
It's been a whirlwind of presentations, awards, travel, and thesis defenses in the past few months, and we have a lot to celebrate.
Benthic Ecology Meeting 2019
Seniors Hallie Fischman and Calvin Munson gave talks at the BEM, with Hallie winning an honorable mention for best student poster talk. Junior Maya Greenhill, Dr. Robbie Lamb, Dr. Jon Witman, and collaborator Alejandro Pérez-Matus all gave wonderful talks. We made new friends and connections studying everything from marshes to polar ecology. Even though St. John's was freezing, we still had a great time!
Seniors Hallie Fischman and Calvin Munson, and junior Maya Greenhill gave thesis talks at the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department Seminar –"Optimizing coastal dune restoration with the stress gradient hypothesis," "Coupled effects of herbivory and upwelling on Galapagos benthic communities," and "Niche complementarity and ecological function of damselfish in the Galapagos marine reserve."
Big congrats to the whole lab – now onto gearing up for field season!
NY Times front page: "As seas warm, Galapagos Islands face a giant evolutionary test" featuring Witman Lab researchers!
Check out the feature article on the front page of the New York Times! Written by Nicholas Casey and with stunning images and video from land, air and sea by Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist Josh Haner, this is a multi-media multi-story project that highlights our work on corals and fish as part of the suite of organisms affected by El Niño. Also featured are our friends at the Charles Darwin Station and Galapagos National Park including Dr. Heinke Jager. It paints a compelling picture of sweeping environmental effects of climate change being felt in the Galapagos Islands.
Follow the Witman Lab's adventures, on land and at sea @witmanlab on Instagram and Twitter!