Navigation Links
UH salt marsh expert studies damage to Gulf Coast
Date:8/2/2010

HOUSTON _ A giant vacuum powered by a lawnmower engine may not seem like a tool for scientific study, but salt marsh experts from the University of Houston are using the contraption to study the effects of the oil spill on insects and spiders along the Gulf Coast.

Steven Pennings, a professor in UH's Department of Biology and Biochemistry, recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to gather arthropods along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts at the same locations where his laboratory group collected similar samples in August 2009 for the thesis research of graduate student Brittany DeLoach.

"The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an unexpected event that represents a major disturbance to the coastal system," said Pennings, who has studied coastal wetlands for 20 years. "We don't fully understand how oil affects coastal wetland communities. In particular, we know little about how oil affects the arthropod food web and about the long-term recovery of damaged areas."

"The goal of this project is to determine how the oil spill has affected the insect and spider food web in the salt marshes so we can understand how the food web is structured," Pennings said. "Because we have 22 sample sites spread out over the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, some will get a lot of oil, some a little, and some none, so we'll have a gradient in oil exposure. The strength of this research is that we have the 'before' data from last year so we can see how things have changed in response to the oil spill."

A food web is a group of species linked to each other because they consume each other. For example, one species of insect may eat two species of plants. Another species of insect may eat only one of the plants. Two species of spiders may both eat both species of insects. And a lizard may eat both species of spiders and one of the insects.

"Draw a picture of those links, and you have something that looks like a small web _ that's a food web," Pennings said. "A food web can change if some species are lost or if they change their feeding behavior so that the links are lost."

Using the vacuum device, which is strapped onto a person's back, Pennings, DeLoach and three assistants will collect arthropod samples from Texas to Maine over the next two months. It will take about six months to process the samples.

"The collected sample of insects and spiders from each site will be preserved in alcohol and sorted under the microscope at UH to count the numbers of individuals of each species," Pennings said. "We expect about 40 species to be present."

Pennings is conducting the research thanks to a NSF Rapid Response Research grant of $131,115. These grants are used to fund research on unanticipated events such as an earthquakes or volcanic eruption, where a timely response is a must.

Pennings hopes to secure additional funding so that his team can re-sample the same areas in future years to determine how the coastal food web is further affected and how it recovers.

"The disturbance caused by the oil spill will provide unique insights into how coastal wetland communities function," Pennings said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Laura Tolley
ljtolley@uh.edu
713-743-0778
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. LLNL research at Marshall Islands could lead to resettlement
2. Research at Marshall University may lead to new ways to transport and manipulate molecules
3. UMCES researchers launch freshwater marsh study
4. Salt marshes: A natural and unnatural history
5. Climate change may spell demise of key salt marsh constituent
6. Study: Tropical wetlands hold more carbon than temperate marshes
7. Scientific expertise lacking among doubters of climate change, says Stanford-led analysis
8. Experts identify biological control to contain fungus killer in Kenyas maize supply
9. Could life survive on Mars? Yes, expert says
10. IEEE touts NJIT professor for expertise in underwater acoustic communication
11. Beyond polar bears? Experts look for a new vision of climate change to combat skepticism
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/7/2016)... , December 7, 2016 According to a new market ... Software Tool (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition), Service, Application Area, End User, And Region ... to grow from USD 6.72 Billion in 2016 to USD 36.07 Billion by ... Continue Reading ... MarketsandMarkets ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... BioCatch , the global leader in behavioral biometrics, reported ... to over 40 granted and pending patents. ... , The Company,s IP portfolio ... System, Device, and Method Estimating Force Applied to a Touch Surface, ... hardware components needed to estimate the force and pressure applied to touch ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... Dec. 7, 2016   Avanade is helping ... One teams in history, exploit biometric data in order ... and maintain the competitive edge against their rivals after ... Avanade has worked with Williams during the ... biometric data (heart rate, breathing rate, temperature and peak ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/7/2016)... 2016 /PRNewswire/ - Zenith Capital Corp. ("Zenith" or the "Company") announces ... at the Company,s Annual and Special Meeting. ... place on Thursday, December 15, 2016 at Mount ... EC1040), 4825 Mount Royal Gate SW, Calgary, Alberta ... meeting and management information circular, containing the matters to be ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... India , December 8, 2016 The report "Acrylic Processing ... & Construction, Packaging, Automotive, Consumer Goods) - Global Forecast to 2026", published by ... projected to reach USD 1,173.6 Million by 2026, registering an of CAGR of ... ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... Dec. 7, 2016  Muse bio, a privately-held company ... announced that Dr. Kevin Ness has been ... of Directors. Kevin succeeds Muse bio,s ... company,s Chief Science Officer as well as remains Slade ... the BioDesign Center at the RAS Energy Institute at ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... Boston, MA and Azusa, CA (PRWEB) , ... ... ... commercial provider of distributed wastewater treatment and resource recovery solutions for industrial facilities, ... Brewing Company , will be the first to use Cambrian’s novel water-energy purchase ...
Breaking Biology Technology: