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.
Research efforts by the Witman Lab to characterize the response of Galapagos marine ecosystems to climate change and El Niño are currently funded by the Galapagos Conservancy. This is the only US non-profit dedicated to conserving the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. Read a recent blog post about our work with GC over the past year!
Undergraduates Calvin Munson ('19) and Maya Greenhill ('20) gave their first talks on their thesis research projects at the Charles Darwin Foundation. These talks presented preliminary research from the past two months of field work examining local to regional controls on sea floor productivity. At the regional scale, Calvin's work examines how the abundance of algae and invertebrates changes along gradients of upwelling in the Galápagos subtidal, in addition to how the diversity of herbivorous fishes affects ecosystem functioning in the form of resource utilization. At local scales, Maya's research is on damselfish territories as a major source of algal productivity on the rocky reef, focusing on species-specific differences in agal composition, depth zonation, and defense capacity that indicate complementarity in providing this important ecosystem function. Professor Jon Witman put these studies into context, summarizing and updating on how repeated El Niño/ La Niña cycles are shaping marine communities of benthic invertebrates and reef fish over 20 years of long term monitoring.
New publication co-authored by Robert Lamb of the Witman Lab on fish communities from tropical oceanic islands
Robbie recently co-authored a paper on the biogeographic, energetic, and anthropogenic determinants of fish communities on tropical oceanic islands, believed to be some of the most pristine marine ecosystems left in the world. Below is the press release from Ecography.
A documentary called "Adapt or Die", about climate change impacts in the Galapagos Marine Reserve will be shown this Sunday, May 20, at 8pm - on CBS.
The documentary resulted from a CBS TV crew coming on our January research cruise, which they filmed along with several other researchers working in the region.
It's CBS' streaming service (think netflix) so Sunday at 8 will be the full show, and after that the doc itself will be available online and in streaming (on any smart TV.)
Disclaimer: we haven't seen it yet either!!
Maya's study, "Evaluating the ecological role of Damselfish species in the Galapagos Marine Reserve", will test the territory defense capacities of different damselfish species in a comparative analysis, and evaluate the importance of damselfish territories as a microhabitat and food resource. Calvin's study "Effects of grazer diversity and upwelling strength on ecosystem functioning in the Galapagos subtidal ecosystem" asks how variation in the richness and abundance of herbivores interacts with the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface (increasing primary productivity) to determine the richness, biomass, and resource utilization of benthic algae.
Congratulations to Maya and Calvin!
Follow the Witman Lab's adventures, on land and at sea @witmanlab on Instagram and Twitter!