RESEARCH

HOW DOES THE CONTRIBUTION OF MARSH ENERGY TO ESTUARINE PRODUCTION VARY ACROSS REGIONS?

July 2018 - present

Following up on questions from my study on diet structure, Using stable isotopes (C,N,S) we will try to understand how much marsh vegetation contributes to the production of estuarine species compared to off-marsh sources such as phytoplankton and seagrasses. I will be comparing the % carbon contribution of marsh energy sources fir estuarine predators collected in Louisiana, North Carolina and New Jersey.

DIFFERENCES IN DIET STRUCTURE OF ESTUARINE FISH FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO, SOUTH ATLANTIC BIGHT, AND MID-ATLANTIC BIGHT

November 2017 - December 2019

Estuarine fishes in the Gulf of Mexico, and East Coast of the US utilize seemingly similar habitats. In particular many estuarine fishes forage in and along Spartina alterniflora dominated marshes. Preliminary results indicate that marsh associate fishes such as killifish do not appear in the diets of estuarine predators in the Gulf of Mexico. This project focuses on combing the literature for estuarine fish diet data along 3 large geographic regions and examining what environmental parameters may be mediating differences in diet structure. 

NOT ALL MARSHES ARE CREATED EQUAL

June 2017 - July 2019

My advisor and I recently received a 2-year grant from the NC Division of Marine FisheriesCoastal Recreational Fish Licensing (CRFL) Program to figure out how marsh islands and mainland marshes of varying sizes affect fish abundance, diversity, size and condition.

Marsh islands are islands in the estuary separated from any mainland, comprised of marsh cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, and much of the surface is flooded at high tide and exposed at low tide. Marsh islands can be used as a proxy for fragmentation to better understand how fish populations may change if mainland marshes are broken apart and become more similar to isolated islands. 

EFFECTS OF TIDAL AMPLITUDE ON PREDATOR-PREY INTERACTIONS IN SALT MARSH HABITATS

June 2016 - July 2019

Tidal salt marshes lie at the interface of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. These habitats are considered essential fish habitat yet, nekton (fish and crabs) can only utilize the marsh platform when it is flooded. In many areas the marsh is flooded twice daily (astronomical or lunar tide) while in other areas tides are driven by wind (meterological tide). I am generally interested in how the duration of marsh flooding and the amount of water above the marsh surface alters the nekton that can access the marsh platform and ultimately how that may effect predator prey interactions.

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I am conducted an experiment across North Carolina examining the predation of the marsh periwinkle (Littoraria irrorata). I am running complimentary experiments across 3 tidal regimes: Hatteras, NC (few centimeters), Beaufort, NC (0.5-1 meter), and Wilmington, NC (1.5-2 meter).

COLLABORATIVE WORK: IMPACTS OF DWH OIL SPILL ON MARSH FOODWEBS

May 2015- December 2017

As part of the Coastal Waters Consortium (CWC), I have been involved in a study looking at the impacts of the BP (Deepwater Horizon) oil spill in marsh habitats. We are interested in the impact of oil sensitivity of marsh-associated species and how those sensitivities influence food webs in the Louisiana marshes.

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©2018 by Shelby Ziegler.