Hello…my name is Molly Mikan and I am an undergraduate student in the Biology Department at the University of Colorado, Denver. I have come to the Marine Science Institute as an REU student to learn about biology in a new ecosystem – the bays and estuaries of southern Texas. I am lucky to be working in Dr. Ken Dunton’s lab along with a very active and supportive group of people. My project is a small part of a long-term seagrass monitoring program that will eventually encompass all of the Texas coast.
I am looking at a number of parameters within three out of the five ecological seagrass regions over the next several weeks. More specifically, I am collecting tissue samples to measure carbon to nitrogen ratios (C:N) and to conduct stable isotope analyses to determine the origin of nitrogen sources. Also, I am measuring chlorophyll concentrations in the water column and epiphytic biomass on seagrass blades, along with light environment conditions in seagrass beds. Using vegetative samples from 10-20 years ago will be useful for observing changes in C:N ratios over that time period. Analysis of this data will be used to further identify community characteristics based on light availability and requirements, as well as nutrient ratios within the ecological regions. The information gathered from this research project will hopefully aid in conservation efforts into the future for the unique and dynamic seagrass communities of coastal Texas.