— Written by Raines Warren
Welcome to my first blog post! My name is Raines Warren and this summer I’m working in Dr. Deron Burkepile’s lab with Joey Peters. The majority of Deron’s more recent work focuses on how nutrients are recycled through a system and how marine vertebrates release those nutrients. Similar to the majority of Deron’s work, Joey’s previous work focuses on the lobster’s impact on the nutrient cycling in the ecosystem. Through the week we discussed many possibilities of reasoning behind why some kelp was thriving in areas and some wasn’t as well as examining different predators and prey relationships in the system. Otters were the primary predator controlling the species of sea urchins protecting the kelp which in turn recycled the nutrients…until their unfortunate demise in the area. During this time sea urchins had a field day, population exploding to a point almost uncontrollably feeding on the kelp in the area. The temperature of the water warmed and an MPA (Marine Protected Area) was formed meaning this was an area no organisms were poached. A new, tastier (dipped in a bath of melted butter of course) organism took up residence here, the lobster. These new predators came in controlled the sea urchin population as well as successfully cycled the nutrients. At the moment we were determining what the best course of action would be for a project in the short eight (now seven) weeks that remain. A possible project we want to explore is the relationship between the lobsters and the feeding of the lobster and determine if there was a likely hood that competing lobsters would have better nutrient recycling than non-competing lobsters or vice versa. We also may explore the effects of temperature of water on the amount or ability for lobsters to recycle nutrients. After this week and our primary check out dives to solidify the ability to dive with the project, we will have a better, more concrete plan of what we will do as our next step. I’m excited to dive deeper into this!