UCF Researchers Uncover Mistaken Identity of Crown Conch

DSC_0480Four undergraduate students were recently awarded first place for their poster presentation at the Southeastern Estuarine Research Society meeting.

Stemming from a group research project in Dr. Linda Walters‘ Advanced Marine Biology class last spring, Courtney Buck, Casey Craig, Chelsea Landeau and Jordan Filipponi worked together to research the impact crown conch make on oyster populations in Mosquito Lagoon, FL.

Oyster harvesters were questioning whether observed oyster population declines were correlated to the abundance of crown conch.

To test this, the team composed a three part experiment which answered questions relating to crown conch’s preference of oyster size consumed, and tracked their movements on the three reef types in Mosquito Lagoon.

The last experiment they conducted was a survey to see how abundant crown conch were on the three types of reefs. They concluded that crown conch were not a threat on oyster reefs in Mosquito Lagoon.

“Therefore, we believe that oyster harvesters are mistaking crown conch for hermit crabs which inhabit crown conch shells,” Landeau said. “So from just glancing at a reef it could look like there is a decent amount of crown conch, however, once you pick the shell up it might be an empty shell or inhabited with a hermit crab instead of crown conch.”

Their presentation was given in early March in Jacksonville, FL. According to the website, SEERS is a non-profit educational organization that is dedicated to the informal exchange of interdisciplinary information related to estuaries of the southeastern United States.

For more information on the SEERS meeting click here.

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