Written by 2022 Summer Intern Kyle Williams, hosted by Dr. Charlie Martin from UF/IFAS NCBS
This summer I had the opportunity to work under Dr. Martin as an undergrad intern. This internship provided a wide array of incredible experiences including trawling and seining with FWC, day/night and inshore/offshore trawls with the Nature Coast Biological Station, otolith and tissue extraction, data entry, and analysis, and I was even able to perform outreach and education via assisting with a school field trip. Additionally, I was able to help with a few graduate student projects involving the cataloging of fish sounds, processing of suction samples, and gut content sampling of sheepshead.
Day and Night
While I had a wide variety of experiences, our main research revolved around the ecology of fish and invertebrate use of seagrass habitats. Our research was centered around two questions, how fish use seagrasses during the day and night cycles and how that changes at inshore and offshore seagrass beds. To answer these questions, we trawled the same locations on the south side of Seahorse and Snake Keys during the high tide of day and night cycles and performed trawls at seagrass beds 10 miles offshore on Seahorse Reef for the offshore data.
After collecting the data, we analyzed it using PRIMER. We found that community structures varied significantly between day and night cycles as well as on inshore and offshore seagrass beds. We observed that species abundance and richness increased during night cycles compared to day cycles for the day and night comparison, while total abundance and richness were significantly higher on inshore seagrass beds compared to offshore seagrass beds.
This internship has provided many invaluable experiences and hands-on learning, which has strengthened my desire to pursue a career in fisheries ecology. Thank you to Dr. Martin, Dr. Allen, and everyone at the Nature Coast Biological Station, FWC, and Duke Energy for assisting with funding for the internship.