Sex change in sequentially hermaphroditic slipper limpets

May 15, 2018 in Featured Projects, Fish/shellfish, Wildlife

Lead Investigator: Maryna Lesoway
Affiliation: MBL Whitman Fellow, University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana (home institution)
Funding Source(s): MBL Whitman Fellowship, Fonds de recherche du Québec Nature et Technologie (FRQNT) Postdoctoral Fellowship, NSF

Unlike most animals, slipper limpets change sex from male to female as they grow. This is thought to be a way to increase the reproductive output of these sedentary, filter-feeding snails. However, the developmental mechanisms are poorly known, even though sex change in these animals has been studied for more than a century. Comparing development in the slipper limpets Crepidula fornicata, Crepidula convexa, and Crepidula plana, I will explore the developmental origins of the reproductive system, development of the reproductive organs, and the transition from male to female using developmental techniques including lineage tracing and cell ablation, as well as pharmacological manipulations to induce sex change.

Response of the plankton community to changes in anthropogenic nutrients

May 15, 2018 in Current Research Projects, Featured Projects, Nitrogen

Lead Investigator: Dr. Nicole Millette
Affiliation: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Funding Source: Woods Hole Sea Grant

High inputs of nutrients, specifically nitrogen, is one of the major issues impacting Waquoit Bay and this projects ultimate goal is to help environmental managers predict how any future efforts to reduce nitrogen input could affect water quality and the entire ecosystem in the Bay. This project aims to improve our understanding of how plankton, both zooplankton and phytoplankton, in Waquoit Bay respond to changes in nutrient concentrations.

We will be tracking changes in the plankton community composition and abundance relative to shifts in nutrient concentrations to analyze how quickly changes in nutrient inputs impact Waquoit Bay. A unique aspect of this project is the added focus on mixotrophs, a type of plankton that can photosynthesize and ingest prey. Mixotrophs are a potentially large portion of the plankton community, under certain conditions, and the study of how mixotrophs respond to changes in nutrient concentrations will provide a more complete understanding of how all plankton are affected by variability in nutrients.

Nicole will join the Bay Watchers group during their planned sampling from May through September in 2018 and 2019. She plans to have some of the Bay Watchers help with the identification and enumeration of the phytoplankton samples using the WBNERR facilities.

Thin-layer sediment placement: evaluating an adaptation strategy to enhance coastal marsh resilience across the NERRS

March 22, 2018 in Climate change/Sea level rise, Current Research Projects, Featured Projects, Salt marsh, Sediments

Boardwalk_Research Staff 2018
Lead Investigator: Dr. Kenny Raposa, Research Coordinator, Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Reserve
WBNERR Project Contact: Dr. Megan Tyrrell
8 Reserves Included in Project: Great Bay NH, Waquoit Bay MA, Narragansett Bay RI, Chesapeake Bay MD, Chesapeake Bay VA, North Carolina, Grand Bay MS, Elkhorn Slough CA
Tidal marshes provide key ecosystem services, but are threatened by sea level rise. Narragansett Bay and Elkhorn Slough NERRs recently led a project to assess marsh resilience to sea level rise across 16 NERR sites, resulting in a scientific publication, user-friendly summary, and DIY tool. Currently, eight NERR sites across the East, Gulf and West coasts are actively testing strategies to examine the effectiveness of thin-layer sediment placement as a climate adaptation strategy.

Novel aspects of our project include the broad geographic scale, the examination of effectiveness at different marsh elevations, standardized monitoring, and the incorporation of biochar as a soil amendment to enhance carbon sequestration. Beneficial use of dredged sediment to enhance coastal resilience is a concept that resonates in many coastal states, and we have interviewed end-users from eight states interested in funding, permitting, implementation or monitoring of thin-layer sediment projects.

Tea bag decomposition experiment

March 22, 2017 in Current Research Projects, Featured Projects, Microbes, Salt marsh

Principal Investigators: Dr. Faming Wang, Dr. Jianwu (Jim) Tang, Marine Biological Laboratory

teabagWe use commercially available tea bags as standardized test kits to gather data on salt marsh decomposition rates. This is a cost-effective, well-standardised method. By using two tea types with contrasting decomposability, we can construct a decomposition curve using a single measurement in time. We will compare the decomposition rate within the high marsh and low marsh, and also in the warmed chamber versus ambient reference. Our data was also included in a worldwide cooperation network to investigate the decomposition rate in different ecosystems using the tea bag method.

To read more about the tea bag experiment and its relationship to blue carbon research, please visit: and also

The Impact of Nitrogen-loading on Salt Marsh Greenhouse Gas Fluxes

May 29, 2013 in Carbon/greenhouse gases, Climate change/Sea level rise, Current Research Projects, Featured Projects, Nitrogen, Salt marsh

DSC_0125PIs:  Serena Moseman-Valtierra, University of Rhode Island, Jianwu Tang, MBL Ecosystems Center, Kevin Kroeger, USGS-Woods Hole Science Center,
Funding: MIT Seagrant
The general goal for the project is to measure potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and net CO2 uptake in coastal wetlands under a range of realistic nitrogen (N) loads and inundation (sea) levels. By meeting this goal, we aim to improve the information with which managers and policy makers can maintain and maximize ecosystem productivity, reduce harmful feedbacks of climate, and assess the potential for these ecosystems to enter C markets.

We will examine how GHG emissions from salt marshes vary along an existing gradient of anthropogenic N loading in Waquoit Bay, MA (WB-NERR). Further, we will test for relationships between N loads to the marshes and plant productivity. To investigate the influence of anticipated future increases in sea level, we will use existing gradients in marsh soil elevation (and therefore a gradient in soil water saturation and in frequency and duration of soil inundation) as a space-for-time substitution simulating future inundation of soils.

Carbon Management in Coastal Wetlands: Quantifying Carbon Storage and Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Tidal Wetlands to Support Development of a Greenhouse Gas Protocol and Economic Assessment

May 29, 2013 in Carbon/greenhouse gases, Climate change/Sea level rise, Current Research Projects, Featured Projects, Nitrogen, Salt marsh

wetlandsProject Lead: Alison Leschen, Waquoit Bay Reserve Manager
Collaborative Lead: Tonna-Marie Rogers, Waquoit Bay Coastal Training Program Coordinator
PIs: Jianwu Tang, MBL Ecosystems Center, Kevin Kroeger, USGS-Woods Hole Science Center, Neil K. Ganju, USGS-Woods Hole Science Center, Serena Moseman-Valtierra, University of RI, Omar Abdul-Aziz, Florida International Univ., Stephen Emmett-Mattox, Restore America’s Estuaries, Igino Emmer, Silvestrum, Stephen Crooks, Consultant to RAE, Pat Megonigal, Smithsonian ERC, Thomas Walker, Manomet CCS, Chris Weidman, Waquoit Bay Reserve Research Coordinator,
Funding: NERRS Science Collaborative

Increasing atmospheric concentrations of three major greenhouse gases (GHG) are the main drivers of climate change. Efforts to ameliorate rising levels of GHG include the protection and restoration of ecosystems that constitute major carbon (C) sinks and minor sources of CH4 and N2O emissions. Tidal marshes are prime candidates for such efforts as their sediments display  high C sequestration. Loss of wetlands through human impacts such as land conversion, sediment supply disruption, nutrient loading, and with sea level rise, reduces future sequestration capacity and places at risk stores of C that built up over past centuries. Improved management of coastal C and nitrogen (N), based upon sound science, is a critical first step towards mitigation of climate change and management of coastal ecosystems. Management must address N loading that has the dual impact of 1) contributing to climate change through production of N2O, and 2) reducing production of root and soil matter by plants which can decrease the C sequestration capacity and resilience of marshes to sea level rise. Recognition of the importance of coastal marine systems in terms of C storage has led to national and international efforts to place monetary value on preserving or restoring the “blue carbon” in those systems, analogous to the value placed on forests. The barrier to incorporation of tidal wetlands into C markets is the absence of agreed upon GHG offset protocols that set guidelines for monitoring and verification requirements for wetlands projects, and a lack of data and knowledge regarding C and GHG fluxes in wetlands to support model development.

The project goals are to provide scientific information that can inform both C and N management as well as wetlands protection and restoration strategies for supporting development of policy frameworks and market-based mechanisms to reduce GHG.

Project website: