Michelle Shaffer: Impacts of seagrass loss on recreationally important predators and their forage fish prey in the Indian River Lagoon, FL

Michelle was awarded the Forage Fish Research Program Fellowship in the summer of 2019 to support part of her research within the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). She will analyze Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) Fisheries-Independent Monitoring (FIM) datasets from the northern and southern IRL, to help scientists and management agencies understand how declining seagrass habitat within the IRL affects the abundance and distribution of economically important fishes. Specifically, Michelle’s objectives are to evaluate spatial overlap of forage fish and their predators, investigate the influence of seagrass (and other environmental parameters) on fish distribution and abundance over pre-seagrass and post-seagrass die-off time periods, and then couple these analyses with an IRL diet composition study to test geospatial hypotheses.

Kira Allen: Effects of changing salinity regimes on Apalachicola Bay food web dynamics

Kira is working with Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve to address how large-scale salinity changes impact species in the area. The project involves creating a food web model of Apalachicola Bay, pairing it with a hydrodynamic model, and simulating changes in freshwater input and salt water intrusion. This modeling approach will be used to investigate how ecologically and economically important species in the Apalachicola ecosystem could be impacted by proposed upstream river diversions, coupled with the effects of sea level rise. As part of the project, Kira will collaborate with local fishermen and stakeholders for the area, and use the end result to address management concerns.

Victoria Roberts: Monitoring and control methods for Florida red tide outbreaks

Victoria’s research focuses on harmful algal blooms of the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis, also known as Florida red tide. Her current research involves creating ecological models of blooms, and testing a new bloom control method using clay flocculation.