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NERTO Participants

  • LMRCSC Student Participation in the NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunity (NERTO)

    Collaboration with NOAA scientists and coordination with the NOAA Science Centers are critical to maintain the relevance of LMRCSC research to NOAA needs, to strengthen partnerships with NOAA, and to introduce students to the structure and function of NOAA. In order to facilitate such collaboration, graduate students supported by the LMRCSC are required to have a NOAA scientist serve on their advisory committees. Additionally, LMRCSC graduate students are required to participate in the NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunity (NERTO) program, a 12 weeks internship at a NOAA lab/facility under the supervision of a NOAA mentor scientist.

    From 2016-2019, twenty-six (26) LMRCSC graduate students interned in 15 NOAA facilities as part of the NERTO program. Twelve (12) students did their NERTO in the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (2 in Milford Lab, CT; 3 in Woods Hole, MA; 4 in Cooperative Oxford Lab, MD; 2 in J.J. Howard Lab, Sandy Hook, NJ; 1 in Chesapeake Bay Office, MD). Six students were interns in the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (2 in Panama City, FL; 2 in Galveston, TX; 1 in Beaufort, NC and 1 in Lafayette, LA). Three LMRCSC students interned in the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (2 in Oregon; 1 in Washington), 3 in Alaska Fisheries Science Center (2 in Seattle, WA; 1 in Kodiak, AK), one in the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, CA, and one at NOAA Headquarters, Silver Spring, MD. Through these internships, the students have enhanced their skills and competencies in NOAA Fisheries related disciplines while contributing significantly to research conducted at NOAA Science Centers.


    LMRCSC NERTO Participants (2016 – 2019)

    AWilsonAdrianne Wilson, EPP Intern | Email: adrianne.wilson@rsmas.miami.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Miami-RSMAS, Ph.D., Marine Biology and Ecology
    CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu 
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Robert Allman, NMFS, SEFSC, Panama City, FL | Email: robert.allman@noaa.gov 
    Project Category
    :  Healthy oceans 


    NERTO Title: Age and Growth of Lane Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico

    Abstract: The sagittal otoliths for 499 Lane Snapper (Lutjanus synagris) were collected, processed and aged. Samples were collected from the Gulf of Mexico, ranging from the southwest tip of Florida to the eastern portion of Texas from January 2015 to October 2017. Otoliths were sectioned, mounted to a microscope slide and aged using a compound microscope. One reader counted annuli and sub-samples were read by a second reader to ensure consistent and accurate ageing. Fork length measurements ranged from 202mm to 495mm. The oldest fish aged was 13 years. There was a significant difference in the growth parameter estimates between males and females so they were analyzed separately. The von Bertalanffy growth parameters were for males: growth coefficient, K = 0.462, asymptotic length, L00 =378.17, and t0 = -0.868; and for females: growth coefficient, K =0.271, asymptotic length, L00 =383.42, and t0 = -2.08). 


    ALawrenceAmanda Lawrence, EPP Intern | Email: alawrence@umces.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major:  IMET - UMCES; M.S., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. J. Sook Chung, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: chung@umces.edu 
    NOAA Internship Mentor:  Dr. Paul McElhany, NWFSC, Mukilteo Field Station, Ocean Acidification | Email: paul.mcelhany@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans


    NERTO Title: Developing methods to detect the effect of CO2 on the physiology of Dungeness crab

    Abstract: Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased from approximately 280 parts per million (ppm) to 387 ppm since the start of the industrial revolution (Feely and Doney et al., 2009). Current CO2 concentrations exceed that of levels that have not been observed in over 800,000 years (Luthi et al., 2008). This increased abundance in atmospheric CO2 has resulted in the oceans absorbing approximately one-quarter of anthropogenic CO2 (Sabine and Feely, 2007). This shift in oceanic conditions drives chemical changes that have the potential to leave ecosystems and a range of species at risk. Effects of projected seawater CO2 levels have been shown to alter olfactory-mediated behaviors in the economically and environmentally important Coho salmon (Williams et al., 2019). Gill breathers regulate internal pH through the process of ion transport, which is a process directly influenced by the changing water chemistry. More specifically, nearshore benthic ecosystems and calcareous species are predicted to experience some of the more severe impacts regarding a lowering pH (Wootton et al., 2008). Here we will utilize respiration rate to determine the energetic cost of maintaining internal pH in future oceanic conditions, specifically throughout the development of the Dungeness crab, Cancer magister.


    APappasAmanda Pappas, EPP Intern | Email: akpappas09@students.desu.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major:  Delaware State University, M.S. Natural Resources
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: gozbay@desu.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Gary Wikfors, Northeast  Fisheries Science Center Milford, CT | Email: gary.wikfors@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies 


    NERTO Title: Change in Photosynthetic Efficiency and Chlorophyll Fluorescence over Time in Prey Starved Dinophysis acuminata

    Abstract: Dinophysis acuminata is an obligate mixotrophic dinoflagellate that is found in coastal marine water of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, brackish water tributaries, and bays.  Dinophysis acuminata is known in many cases to produce toxins of okadaic acid, Dinophysis toxins, and pectenotoxins.  These toxins are associated with Diarrhetic Shellfish poisoning in humans. Dinophysis acuminata is emerging as a potential threat to the developing oyster aquaculture industry in the Delaware Inland Bays.  There are sites within the Delaware Inland Bays that D. acuminata has been present in high concentrations, but how close spring blooms of D. acuminata come to shellfish aquaculture sites is not known.  Little is known of the bloom dynamics of this harmful algae bloom species within the Delaware Inland Bays. The results of this study will aid in determining how long chloroplasts acquired by D. acuminata through kleptoplasty remain functional under prey starved conditions.  Nutrients, light, and prey availability are drivers of spring blooms.  Understanding how long chloroplasts remain capable of photosynthesis in D. acuminata can inform questions on bloom dynamics and overwintering strategies. Culture of Dinophysis acuminata was fed prey, Mesodinium rubrum and then starved.  Results from a Fluorescence Induction and Relaxation System show a decline in the variable fluorescence (Fv/Fm) over time, indicating that the maximum quantum yield of photochemical quenching in PSII is decreasing with time. Results at 25 days indicate a decrease from Fv/Fm of 0.56 to 0.48.  Results of a linear regression analysis of the data show little variability between mean data points and relation between Fv/Fm and time.  Sampling and data analysis are still being performed.


    AHanifAmmar Hanif, EPP Intern | Email: hanif.ammar@gmail.com
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major:  IMET - UMCES; Ph.D., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Rosemary Jagus , Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: jagus@umces.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Ed Johnson, NOAA Headquarters, Silver Spring, MD. | Email: ed.johnson@noaa.gov
    Dr. Felipe Arzayus,  NCCOS, Stressor Detection and Impacts Division, Monitoring & Assessment Branch, Silver Spring, MD, | Email: felipe.arzayus@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 


    NERTO Title: Temporal Study of Diet and Microbiome of Mussels Collected from Lake Michigan

    Abstract:Two species of invasive dreissenid mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) have successfully established across Europe and North America and have drastically changed resident ecosystems and food webs. Most studies involving these mussels in the Laurentian Great Lakes have focused on organism physiology, distribution, ecological effects, and genetics. This study aims to characterize the microbiome of dreissenid mussel gills, for which limited information is available. The microbiota of mussels is associated with their aquatic habitat and varies with factors such as salinity, bacterial load in the water, temperature and diet, and are likely to respond to environmental change. Limited data is available regarding the dreissenid mussel microbiome. The recent development of high-throughput sequencing and metabarcoding has given deeper insights into microbial communities. Preliminary monitoring efforts by the Mussel Watch Program suggest that the dreissenid mussel metabolome may change seasonally. This led to the initiation of a temporal study to address how environmental change affects the mussel gill microbiome and mussel metabolomics. We sampled the microbial community found within the gill tissue of D. r. bugensis collected biweekly or monthly from a single site in Lake Michigan between May and November. The microbial community will be assessed using high-throughput sequencing and metabarcoding. These data will be used to determine whether the mussel gill microbiome can be used as a biological indicator of water quality. This study is a collaboration between NOAA’s Mussel Watch program (Great Lakes region) and NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory that will augment ongoing studies of mussel physiology and benthic ecology.


    APriceAndre Price, EPP Intern | Email: alprice370@gmail.com
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major:  University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Marine, M.S., Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Richard McBride, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: richard.mcbride@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies


    NERTO Title: Prey Identification and Quantification of Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata) Stomachs

    Abstract: Food habits of black sea bass (BSB, Centropristis striata) have been studied from trawl surveys in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, but no studies have compared food choices between specific habitats or locations. We sampled BSB at selected natural and artificial reefs near Ocean City, MD using hook-and-line angling to determine how habitat preferences influenced length frequencies, sex ratio, or dietary preferences.  Stomach content analysis was used to determine whether diets varied significantly between sampling locations. Preliminary results from 2016 indicate that crustaceans dominate diets of BSB by frequency of occurrence. This data will help to understand how BSB utilize different habitat types, and the contribution of reef habitats to BSB populations in the Mid-Atlantic Bight.


    AMunguiaAngie Munguia, EPP Intern | Email: angelica.munguia@oregonstate.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major:  Oregon State University; M.S., Fisheries & Wildlife - Fisheries Science
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Jessica Miller, Fisheries & Wildlife  | Email: jessica.miller@oregonstate.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Laurie Weitkamp, NOAA Point Adams NWMFS Lab. | Email: laurie.weitkamp@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Habitats


    NERTO Title: Juvenile salmon long term-habitat monitoring and field collections for action effective monitoring research (AEMR) in the Lower Columbia River and Estuary


    BFreyBenjamin Frey, EPP Intern | Email: bfrey@umces.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: CBL – UMCES; M.S., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
    CSC Academic Advisors: Dr. Rosemary Jagus, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: jagus@umces.edu
    Dr. Dave Secor, Chesapeake Bay Laboratory | Email: secor@umces.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Anne Richards, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: anne.richards@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 


    NERTO Title: Validation of age and growth estimates of New England and Mid-Atlantic demersal fishes using microstructural analysis of hardparts

    Abstract: Monkfish (Lophius americanus) supports high value fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England. Conservative fishing quotas were imposed owing to refutation of traditional ageing methods that resulted in uncertainties in stock status. Without accurate age interpretation or validation, serious errors in the assessment and management of fish stocks can occur. This internship at the NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) examined the current assessment processes including fishery-independent methods, biological sampling, age determination methods for monkfish and other species (black sea bass, haddock, yellowtail flounder, red hake and silver hake) and age-dependent stock assessment models. I participated in a 2-week leg of the Northeast Fall Bottom Trawl Survey. I trained with the NEFSC Age & Growth group reviewing ageing methods for these species. I met with the assessment leads for each species, reviewing how age-dependent assessments are used in establishing biological reference points and evaluating stock status. My thesis research will continue to involve my NEFSC mentors as I develop novel approaches to age monkfish using trace element micro-constituent analysis of hardparts. 


    BGalvezBrian Galvez, EPP Intern | Email: briangalvez427@gmail.com
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: Delaware State University, M.S. Natural Resources 
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Stacy Smith, Natural Resources | Email: slsmith@desu.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD. | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 


    NERTO Title: Determining diet of Delaware Bay weakfish using stomach content and stable isotope analysis 

    Abstract: The weakfish (Cynoscion regalis) is a valuable commercial and recreational fish species that primarily occurs from North Carolina to New York. The fishery is depleted and has not rebounded due to unknown causes of elevated rates of natural mortality. We applied stable isotope and stomach content analyses to examine the diet of weakfish throughout the Delaware Bay from late spring to early fall in 2017 (May through October). Using these methods, our goal was to answer questions regarding the trophic ecology of weakfish including prey availability, prey preference, and prey origin. The bay was separated into three parts along the salinity gradient and weakfish were separated into three size classes representing ontogenetic shifts in diet (small- 0-60, medium- 60-100, large- 100-137 mm SL). We found that mysid shrimp, amphipods, and unidentified fish dominated the diet of weakfish throughout the summer and early fall. Examining stomach content by season, the percent frequency (%F) of mysid shrimp decreased significantly in the middle bay from late spring to summer (from 90 %F to ~60 %F) with a concurrent increase in amphipod consumption in the same period on the Delaware side of the bay (from ~15 %F to 90 %F). The opposite relationship between amphipod and mysid shrimp consumption was recorded from summer to fall. Stable isotope data was analyzed using generalized linear models (GLMs) and generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) for each isotope by each size class weakfish with the variables of bay location, season, and state. The goal of the GLM and GLMM results was to inform the setup of future stable isotope mixing models in terms of spatiotemporal scales. 


    CSchweitzerCara Schweitzer, EPP Intern | Email: cara.schweitzer42@gmail.com
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Ph.D., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program 
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Michael L. Burton, NOAA Fisheries, Beaufort Lab, NC | Email: michael.burton@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 


    NERTO Title: Evaluation of Southeast Reef Fish Survey (SERFS) videos for Atlantic Sharks 


    CMayesCristin Mayes, EPP Intern | Email: cristin.mayes@gmail.com
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: Hampton University; M.S., Applied Mathematics
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Eric Lewallen, Biological Sciences | Email: eric.lewallen@hamptonu.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Michael Fogarty, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: michael.fogarty@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 


    NERTO Title: Ecosystem Based Approaches to Modeling Fish Species Distributions in the Chesapeake Bay


    DRosalesDetbra Rosales, EPP Intern | Email: drosales@umes.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Ph.D.,  Marine, Estuarine Environmental Science
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Joseph Pitula, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: jspitula@umes.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. John Jacobs, NOAA/NCCOS/Oxford Lab. | Email: john.jacobs@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Seafood Safety


    NERTO Title: The Influence of okadaic acid on gene expression and bacterial susceptibility 

    Abstract: Diuretic shellfish poisoning (DSP) is a worldwide problem for bivalve aquaculture. Due to the presence of DSP toxins in oysters at concentrations that exceed set regulatory limits, there have been many closures to shellfish harvesting. This can lead to significant economic loses in both commercial and recreational shellfish industries. The eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, can accumulate diuretic shellfish toxins (DST) when exposed to marine dinoflagellates that produce DSTs. Dinophysis and Prorocentrum are two dinoflagellate genera commonly found in Mid-Atlantic waters that are known to produce DSTs.  Studies have shown that dinoflagellate toxins producers, such as Alexandrium catenella can increase oysters’ susceptibility to bacterial infections. However studies on how okadaic acid affects oysters susceptibility is scarce.  Our goal is to provide insight on the stress response of C. virginica after laboratory exposure to OA and the bacterial pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus, through the analysis of the expression of HSP70 (Heat shock protein 70) and CP450 (Cytochrome p450) stress genes.


    EGriffinEmily Griffin, EPP Intern
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: Savannah State University, M.S., Marine Science
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Tara Cox, Department of Marine Science | Email: coxt@savannahstate.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Patricia Rosel, NOAA Lafayette, Louisiana. | Email: patricia.rosel@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans


    NERTO Title: Evaluation of the Southern Border of the Northern Georgia/Southern South Carolina Estuarine System stock of Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) through Genetic Analyses

    Abstract: The goal of this research is to learn the proper techniques to identify the correct stock boundaries of bottlenose dolphins. Identifying proper stock boundaries is essential for the proper management of protected species such as the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). This project is looking at potential genetic differences in bottlenose dolphin stocks off the coast of Northern Georgia. Biopsy samples were collected from dolphins in this region and will be taken to the Lafayette laboratory for further genetic analyses. The NGSSCES stock meets the Central Georgia Estuarine Stock at northern Ossabaw Sound just south of Savannah, Ga. However, recent research suggests this boundary needs to be re-evaluated. The information obtained while working in this lab will inform us if the southern border of the NGGSCES stock is accurate. Through the genetic work we will also have the opportunity to determine the sex of these animals as is very difficult to do in the field.


    ERuizEnid C. Muñoz Ruiz, EPP Intern | Email: ecmunoz@umes.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore; M.S., Aquatic Toxicology
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Ali Ishaque, Department of Natural Science | Email: abishaque@umes.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Ashok Deshpande, 732-872-3043, NEFSC, Sandy Hook, NJ. | Email: ashok.deshpande@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Habitats


    NERTO Title: Method development of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) QUECHERS extraction in Scallops

    Abstract: Plastic fragments, pellets, fibers and cosmetic beads less than 5 mm in size are termed as microplastics. These are emerging contaminants that in recent years have been found in tap water samples all over the world and a in a vast array of aquatic organisms with the possibility of toxic effects in them. Multiple studies have implied that, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), persistent bioaccumulative fire-retardant pollutants, in fish tissues display positive correlations with geographic plastic debris densities. Examination of this linear relationship with respect to the benthic environment using sea scallops as model organism is the research main focus. Scallop and bottom water column samples were collected from multiple regions across Georges Bank and Mid-Atlantic Bight. The optimum extraction method to yield the optimum quantification of hydrophobic bioaccumulative compounds in the Atlantic Sea Scallop, Placopecten magellanicus, using modern solid phase extraction "quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe” (QUECHERS) has been obtained. Sea scallops are important commercial organisms with fisheries dredging over 50 million pounds annually for seafood consumption; our research directly contributes to NOAA’s goal to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources by providing the scientific foundation for understanding many future studies of the dangers microplastics can have on important ecological commercial species.


    HOFarrellHalie O’Farrell, EPP Intern | Email: hofarrell@rsmas.miami.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Miami-RSMAS; Ph.D., Marine Biology and Fisheries 
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Enric Cortes, NOAA NMFS Panama City Field Laboratory, Panama City, Florida | Email: enric.cortes@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans


    NERTO Title: Comparing shark harvest control rules to potential biological removals when determining total allowable catches

    Abstract: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires fisheries management councils to avoid overfishing by setting total allowable catch (TAC) limits. Currently, shark species’ TACs are set by estimating the relative abundance and projecting forward 20 years under various catch levels while accounting for uncertainty. The TAC is the catch level at which there is a 70% probability that the stock is not overfished in the projection period. While the use of projections is an established method used for many fish species, it is very complicated requiring a lot of information for several parameters and high computing time. In a climate where more stock assessments and management decisions are being requested in less time with fewer resources, a simpler, more efficient method for determining TACs is needed. Management of protected marine mammals utilized the potential biological removals (PBR) approach to set limits. Calculation of a PBR requires little information and they can be computed quickly. Because sharks have a similar life history to marine mammals we explore the possibility of using the PBR method as a more efficient method of establishing TACs. For the purposes of this exploratory work, shark species were limited to those assessed and managed in the south east United States and by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). TAC values were extracted from the latest stock assessments for each species, in addition to the information required to calculate a PBR. TAC and PBR values are compared to determine the validity of using the PBR method. This method has showed promise, but is not yet adequately supported as a viable solution.


    HOFarrellJorge J. Rodriguez, EPP Intern | Email: jjrodriguez@umes.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. A. K. Nyame, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: aknyame@gmail.com
    NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Gary Wikfors | Email: gary.wikfors@noaa.gov & Dr. April Croxton | Email: april.croxton@noaa.gov; NOAA Lab, Milford, CT
    Project Category:  Cytology/Molecular Biology


    NERTO Title: Use of density step gradient centrifugation and differential lectin binding to characterize Mytilus edulis hemocyte subpopulations by flow cytometry

    AbstractMytilus edulis, commonly known as the blue mussel, relies on circulating hemocytes to eliminate invading pathogens. However, there is a lack of knowledge about other functions hemocytes may carry, as well as their life-cycle and ontogeny. Currently, hemocyte subpopulations are classified by morphological differences observed through light microscopy. Here we report the elucidation of two hemocyte subpopulations based on density step-gradient centrifugation combined with the differential binding of Fluorescein (FITC)-conjugated Aleuria aurantia lectin (AAL) and FITC-conjugated wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) to cell surface glycoproteins.  Earlier lectin blot studies demonstrated that soluble hemocyte extracts from M. edulis hemocytes express glycoconjugates with terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine carbohydrate moieties. Flow cytometry analysis of FITC-conjugated AAL and FITC-conjugated WGA stained hemocytes demonstrate the presence of terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine carbohydrate moieties on M. edulis cell surface glycoconjugates. Additional studies reveal that the majority of these terminal carbohydrates are found on protein backbones that are susceptible to cleavage with trypsin, a protease known to cleave the carboxyl side of peptides containing lysine or arginine. The expression of these terminal carbohydrate moieties is not evenly distributed among hemocytes. Here we report that approximately 30% of hemocytes express glycoproteins with terminal N-acetylglucosamine, while 70% of hemocytes express glycoproteins with terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine. The expression of terminal fucose and N- acetylglucosamine increases as hemocytes increase in size and level of granularity. Interestingly, smaller agranular hemocytes do not express terminal fucose. These results show the presence of two distinct M. edulis hemocyte subpopulations based on the differential expression of cell surface glycoproteins with terminal N-acetylglucosamine only, or terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine.


    KRubalcavaKasondra Rubalcava, EPP Intern | Email: kdrubalcava@umes.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Paulinus Chigbu, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: pchigbu@umes.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA/NMFS/ST/Ecosystems, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Climate Adaptation and Mitigation


    NERTO Title: Development of a Maryland Coastal Bays Ecosystem Model to Assess the Influence of Climatic Factors on Biomass Distributions of Fish and Macroinvertebrates, Food Web Linkages and Community Structure

    Abstract: The Maryland Coastal Bays (MCBs) are a system of shallow lagoons on the US East Coast connected to the Atlantic Ocean by two inlets. They are one of the most ecologically diverse estuaries on the east coast and serve as a nursery for many commercially important species such as black sea bass, summer flounder and blue crabs. Due to their significant use by the public, MCBs are vulnerable to environmental and human pressures. Understanding how environmental parameters affect the ecosystem can help in managing a changing ecosystem. We created a fisheries ecosystem model consisting of 22 functional groups and species from the MCBs using Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) software to explore influence of environmental factors on biomass distributions of key fish species including summer flounder, black sea bass, bay anchovy, weakfish, and blue crab. The biomass input data used for Ecopath was estimated from abundance index data through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDDNR) Coastal Bays Fisheries Investigation Trawl and Beach Seine Survey. Time series data imported from 1990-2017 through the MDDNR survey was used to fit the model. Climate change scenarios were run using changes in temperature and salinity to analyze the effects they have on key species in the MCBs. The results of this study will aid in management of the MCBs as it is a nursery habitat for commercially important species.


    LDensonLaTreese S. Denson, EPP Intern | Email: ldenson@rsmas.miami.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Miami - RSMAS, PhD., Marine Biology and Ecology
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. James Thorson, NMFS, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, HEPR, Seattle, Washington | Email: james.thorson@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans


    NERTO Title: Environmental influences on indices of abundance for King Mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico examined through spatiotemporal geostatistical models

    Abstract: During the NERTO experience from September to December 2018, I developed skills in random effects modeling to understand spatial processes in fish population dynamics, here-in referred to as geostatistical modeling. These models were tested using larval count data from the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP) Fall Plankton Survey. Originally, a non-geostatistical model was fit to the data to derive an index of abundance for spawning stock biomass; however, the original index did not explicitly account for the uncertainty in spatial variation on population density or catchability. Failing to account for this source of uncertainty in a model, underestimates the overall uncertainty of an index of abundance. During the NERTO I began to explore the effect of spatial and spatiotemporal variability using a geostatistical model on King mackerel ichthyoplankton abundance indices and density distribution. I began with the use of delta-log normal models for zero inflated data. As expected, considering spatial variability creates a better model according to the Akaike Information Criterion. Additionally, adding spatial and temporal variability to the original model only slightly increases the standard deviation (uncertainty) of the index of abundance. Future research will include using Poisson-link models to better describe the error structure and variability in the data. I will also further investigate the individual contribution of the original covariates when considering spatial structure as well as environmental covariates such as temperature and chlorophyll.


    LAAcevedoLaura Almodóvar-Acevedo, EPP Intern | Email: lcalmodovaracevedo@umes.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA/NMFS/ST/Ecosystems, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Habitats


    NERTO Title: Temperature effects on juvenile black sea bass respiration

    Abstract: The objective of this study is to have empirical data about black sea bass respiration rates at different temperatures. This information will give us a better idea of black sea bass bioenergetics and will also be incorporated into a juvenile black sea bass habitat suitability model for the Chesapeake Bay.


    MRamirezMatthew Ramirez, EPP Intern | Email: matthew.ramirez@oregonstate.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: Oregon State University, PhD., Fisheries Science
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Selina Heppell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife | Email: selina.heppell@oregonstate.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey E. Moore, CMAP Leader (California Current Marine Mammal Assessment Program), Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, CA | Email: jeff.e.moore@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans


    NERTO Title: Integration of habitat-specific growth variation into assessment models: a case study in the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle

    Abstract: Spatiotemporal variation in demographic parameters can strongly influence a species’ population dynamics but is generally not included in sea turtle population models due in part to lack of sufficient data. For example, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that inhabit the U.S. Atlantic Coast grow slower than conspecifics that inhabit the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Coast, which may lead to differences in age at maturation for individuals or whole cohorts. To evaluate the influence of this variation on Kemp’s ridley population dynamics, this NERTO experience focused on developing an improved age-structured population model for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that incorporates habitat-specific vital rate estimates (growth, survival). Using a ~30 year dataset of somatic growth rates obtained through skeletochronology, we developed habitat-specific (Atlantic, GoM) maturation schedules for this species. In addition, ongoing analyses are using 20 years of stranding length frequency data collected through the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network to estimate habitat-specific survival rates that will be included in the model. Ongoing analyses will examine model sensitivity to changes in stage-and habitat-specific model parameters. This project will help answer critical question about the contribution of somatic growth variation, habitat use, and Atlantic turtles, which have been excluded from all existing population models, to Kemp’s ridley population dynamics.


    NKleponisNicole Kleponis, EPP Intern | Email: nicolekleponis@gmail.com
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: Delaware State University, M.S., Natural Resources 
    CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Christopher Heckscher, Agriculture and Natural Resources | Email: checkscher@desu.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jeannette E. Zamon, NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service, NWFSC, Point Adams Research Station, Hammond, OR | Email: jen.zamon@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans


    NERTO Title: Seabird Capture and Diet Analysis

    Abstract: Seabird populations have been declining globally and there is little diet information for seabirds in the Colombia River Plume in Oregon. Sooty Shearwaters and Common Murres were captured to obtain stomach content for analysis. Soft tissue analysis was first conducted and then the samples were digested to conduct hard part analysis. The majority of fish found in the 2013 samples analyzed were anchovies.


    RWenkerRebecca Wenker, EPP Intern | Email: rwenker@umes.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, M.S., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Vincent Guida, NMFS NEFSC J.J. Howard Lab, Highlands, NJ. | Email: vincent.guida@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans


    NERTO Title: Development of alternative search strategy for assessing densities of clumped distribution species within a comprehensive image database

    Abstract: The systematic search strategy currently used for photo evaluation of large image databases does not work well for species with clumped distributions. Therefore, we planned to develop an adaptive search strategy to better define the habitat of and relationship between black sea bass (Centropristis striata) and sea whip coral (Leptogorgia virgulata), which could then be extrapolated to evaluating other species with a clumped distribution. Unprecedented delays and setbacks prevented this study from being completed to the original extent desired. However, we were able to locate 92 images where at least one black sea bass was present, and 57 where at least one sea whip coral was present. The close proximity and overlap of these images further supports the notion that there is a relationship between these two species.


    SGreenShadaesha Green, EPP Intern | Email: sgreen@umces.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: IMET - UMCES; PhD., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. J. Sook Chung, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: chung@umces.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Mr. Bruce Vogt, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, MD | Email: bruce.vogt@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans


    NERTO Title: Striped Bass Habitat Indicator for Chesapeake Bay

    Abstract: The Chesapeake Bay striped bass (Rockfish) is an iconic species. The Chesapeake Bay serves as the largest nursery habitat for Atlantic striped bass. The main objective of this study was to improve the understanding of nursery habitat areas for juvenile striped bass that support survival and recruitment to the adult population. This project was two-fold: (1) develop a conceptual model indicating factors impacting juvenile striped bass nursery habitat and (2) prepare the Chesapeake Bay striped bass nursery habitat assessment’ Request-for-Proposal (RFP) for submission to the Chesapeake Bay Trust. To complete these tasks interviews were conducted with a variety of scientists and fishery managers in the Chesapeake Bay region to gather their insight on factors influencing nursery habitat for juvenile striped bass.


    SHaugtonShanelle Haughton, EPP Intern | Email: sohaughon@umes.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Joseph Pitula; Department of Natural Sciences | Email: jspitula@umes.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Pamela Jensen, NOAA Western Regional Center, Seattle, WA | Email: pam.jensen@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Climate Adaptation and Mitigation


    NERTO Title: Understanding Hematodinium sp. in Alaskan crabs: new hosts, improved detection and health effects in a changing ocean

    Abstract: Changes in environmental conditions due to climate change, including increases in sea water temperature, may be linked to increasing rates of pathogen infection in marine animals. One of the pathogens in which host selectivity and prevalence could be influenced by factors like increasing water temperature is Hematodinium sp., an endoparasitic dinoflagellate that can cause significant mortality and economic loss in crustacean fisheries. Hematodinium sp. causes bitter crab disease/syndrome in the economically important snow and Tanner crabs, a fatal infection characterized by lethargy and discoloration of host tissues and carapace due to massive numbers of parasites in host hemolymph and tissues. Work completed during this internship will contribute to future research to better understand the influence of Hematodinium sp. infection on Tanner crab immunity and physiology. My work during this internship consisted of three major parts: 16s sequencing mini project, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) sample collection, and Tanner crab RNA extractions.


    SMackeyShaneese Mackey, EPP Intern | Email: shaneesemackey19@gmail.com
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: Savannah State University, M.S., Marine Science 
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown, Department of Marine Science | Email: hoskins@savannahstate.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Ron Hill, NOAA SEFSC Galveston Lab, TX | Email: ron.hill@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans


    NERTO Title: UAS Habitat Assessment Project

    Abstract: Advancing technology like unmanned aircrafts (UA) can be used by scientists to collect information about the abundance or density of a species that would normally require human efforts. Usage of UAs increases field efficiency and decreases the amount of effort while being less invasive to the environment. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of using unmanned aerial system (UAS) to assess oyster reefs and wetland habitat. Images of oyster reefs were collected using the APH-28 Hexa-copter during low tide. Images were stored on an external hard drive, uploaded to Drone2Map for stitching, then brought into ArcGIS 10.6 to perform spatial analysis using the Hogland method. Using the Hogland method on obtained UA images would increase the estimation of potential fish habitat at a resolution of 1m. The findings of this project would help project managers be less invasive to the environment while obtaining data on the species and habitat.


    SMRiveraStephanie Martinez-Rivera, EPP Intern | Email: smartinez@umes.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Chris Long, NOAA AFSC, Kodiak Lab, Alaska | Email: chris.long@noaa.gov 
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans


    NERTO Title: Eastern Bering Sea Crab Survey training for CSC graduate student


    WMArreroWilmelie Cruz-Rivera, EPP Intern | Email: wcruz-marrero@umes.edu
    CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
    CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
    NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Doerr, MS. NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center- Galveston Laboratory | Email: jennifer.doerr@noaa.gov
    Project Category:  Healthy Oceans


    NERTO Title: Evaluation of fisheries parameters for a commercially important marine mollusk: growth rates and habitat distribution

    Abstract: Queen conch is a marine mollusk that inhabits the Caribbean. This species is one of the main economic resources for small-scale fishers of the area. This resource has been over harvested for decades due to poaching and the high demand of both conch meat and shell. In 1992, queen conch was listed in Appendix II for commercially treated species in parts of the Caribbean. This initiative has promoted scientific investigations to improve the management of the species across the Caribbean.  In this study, we estimated queen conch growth rates using two different types of growth models. We used mark-and recapture data to calculate growth rates obtained in      2005-2009 in St. Croix, USVI.  Queen conch growth was estimated using both siphonial length and shell width. Population abundance was calculated using Schnabel method. Results of the research showed that growth patterns using siphonial length are higher in juveniles conchs whereas shell width growth is slower in juvenile conchs and greater in adults. Schnabel abundance showed increase overtime with some seasonal variations. The information provided in this research, could improve the understanding of growth patterns of the species and may improve the management of the species.


  • NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Lead Institution)
    (410) 651-7870
    Award numbers: FY 2016 Award #NA16SEC4810007 
    Funding Agency: NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI)
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