Seagrass beds are incredibly productive ecosystems, acting as both a nursery for commercially important marine species and as a barrier against costal erosion.
In The Grass, On The Reef
In the Grass, On the Reef follows the research of two Florida State University marine ecologists. Dr. David Kimbro and Dr. Randall Hughes study coastal ecosystems such as salt marshes (In the Grass) and oyster reefs (On the Reef). These systems provide us with many services: sheltering commercially important crabs and fish, cleaning the water, preventing erosion, to name just a few. Follow their research journey with this series of videos.
Every acre of salt marsh provides thousands of dollars of services to humankind. In this episode, Dr. Randall Hughes explores the surprising value of the marsh.
Dr. David Kimbro and Dr. Randall Hughes study fear on the oyster reef. A predator gives off a chemical "scent," and its prey changes its behavior to avoid being detected. Now, Randall and David are asking, "Do mud crabs hear their prey?"
Florida State University ecologists look at how the fear of being eaten may make healthier coastal ecosystems.
A study headed by Dr. David Kimbro is tackling the Apalachicola Oyster Fishery crisis. In the first phase of this research initiative, small sample areas across the bay were sampled to determine the relative health of reefs in different areas within it.
Dr. Randall Hughes and Dr. David Kimbro look at how the conch affect their prey- the marsh grass eating periwinkle snail- through fear. Will the periwinkles be too scared to eat? For that answer, you may want to check your tide chart.
Dr. David Kimbro and Dr. Randall Hughes are studying productive ecosystems that are economic drivers on Florida's Forgotten Coast and beyond. In this series, we explore these habitats and their bizarre looking inhabitants, as well as meeting the people who rely on healthy salt marshes, oyster reefs, and seagrass beds for their livelihood.
The idea of this experiment is to measure how well oysters grow and to see where they grow best. Dr. Randall Hughes, Dr. David Kimbro, and associates devised the spat tile. They affixed an equal number of spat - juvenile oysters - to hundreds of tiles and set them on oyster reefs across the American Southeast. It was a huge undertaking that required a high level of coordination. Only, on the researchers first attempt they encountered a major problem. See how the researchers improved upon their experiment and made it a centerpiece of their Nation Science Foundation-funded oyster study.
Fear is at work throughout the food web; working its way down from predators like catfish, toadfish, and stone crabs. Large predators eat smaller animals such as mud crabs, oyster drills, and crown conchs. This predation, in turn, keeps the smaller animals from eating the oysters. More powerful still is the mere presence of the large predators on the oyster reef. Smaller animals sense the predators and allow it affect their behavior. The smaller animals are so frightened by the large predators that they will stop eating oysters and go find a place to hide instead.
Dr. David Kimbro revisits an earlier study conducted by Dr. Robert Paine on Bay Mouth Bar.
Oysters have no brains and they look like rocks. Looking at a reef filled with seemingly lifeless oysters, it can be difficult to imagine that this is an animal that exhibits any behavior at all. Oysters do make choices and some of those choices are influenced by the predators. In this video, Dr. David Kimbro examines the two choices that oysters make in their lives and how those choices affect an oyster's health.
When algal blooms kill all the fish in a body of water, people say that nutrients are to blame. When the Apalachicola oyster fishery failed, people said that there weren't enough nutrients in the water. All life on Earth needs nitrogen to survive and the process that brings the nitrogen to plants and animals is a natural one. But nature provides only a limited amount of this nutrient. Humankind has found a way of synthesizing its own nitrogen for agricultural use and it can be too much of a good thing. See how an excess of nitrogen can be of harm to the environment and how oysters might be able to help remove that excess.
What had once looked like an isolated and very localized problem is starting to look regional in nature. Once commercially viable oyster reefs south of Saint Augustine, Florida were experiencing an explosion in crown conch numbers that corresponded with the decline of the reefs. The affected area was small and well defined. Dr. David Kimbro and his graduate student, Hanna Garland, investigated. The likely cause they identified was an increase in salinity and it's a problem they are now starting to see in other estuaries, including Apalachicola Bay. How is the collapse of Florida's largest oyster fishery similar to what David and Hanna found south of Saint Augustine? Having launched a study in the bay in January of 2013, they aimed to find out.