Shelter effect of sugar kelp aquaculture on finish in Long Island Sound
In collaboration with The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and East Coast Kelp Farms, we are launching a pilot study to investigate the positive interactions of kelp farming on resident and migratory finfish populations. The overall aim of this project is to quantify the diversity and abundance of finfish aggregations underneath or in close vicinity of kelp long lines during late spring. Our hypothesis is that kelp farms provide structural habitat for fish and therefore locally enhance the food web of Long Island Sound. We will conduct our study by collecting time-lapse video footage and record fish sightings. This research is supported by CT Sea Grant.
For my dissertation research, I used several genetic markers to identify the divergence of a unique kelp, Saccharina angustissima, in the Gulf of Maine. This kelp was first described by F.S. Collins in 1880 as a kelp new to the US (Laminaria agardhii forma angustissima). Current molecular and ecological data show this kelp being distinct from the common sugar kelp, Saccharina latissima.
Press release on the publication for this research can be found here.
Sustainable seaweed farming
I have collaborated with seaweed farmers in the Gulf of Maine to grow kelp at open water farm sites. Specifically, our lab at UCONN has facilitated the domestication of the unique narrow-bladed kelp and transferred this technology to the commercial sector (check out SpringTide Seaweed, Bang’s Island Mussels, and Maine Sea Farms).
Microscopic kelp stages – temperature and light tolerance
In the lab, I run experiments to test how factors such as temperature and light affect the early growth stages of kelp, including spore germination, and gametophyte and juvenile sporophyte development. Saccharina angustissima is an interesting species to test as it grows in the vey low intertidal and has mechanisms for desiccation tolerance. These features are critical with changing climate scenarios that could expose this intertidal organisms to temperature extremes out of its tolerance limits.
Seaweed diversity of northern California and southern Oregon
I investigated the community structure and diversity of the intertidal flora between two capes – Mendocino and Blanco.