January at the Cape Eleuthera Institute is an exciting time:  a new year, new interns, and a heap of new students visiting during their university's January term! turtleMonmouth University joined CEI for the 9th consecutive January, with two weeks packed full of research.  Among other tenets of tropical marine ecology, students continued their investigations of the carbon cycling potential of mangroves, the benthic macroinvertebrate distribution within mangrove flats, and the age and life stage distribution of various conch middens. During their time in the flats, students experienced the full range of Bahamian winter biodiversity, including sharks, turtles, bonefish, and more!

Hermit conchResearch of various middens in the Cape Eleuthera area found that newer middens include a high concentration of juvenile shells, affirming the fact that immature conch are being harvested at an increased rate.  This is often an indication of a struggling fishery, and students will continue to analyze potential protective measures for queen conch in years to come.

Samples of mangrove roots, leaves, and stems returned to NJ with the students for further analyses in hopes of better understanding the carbon sequestration occurring within mangrove flats.  A strong correlation between certain types of mangrove environments and high carbon sequestration may lead to increased protection of such areas.

Professor John Tiedemann talking to students out in the mangroves

Led by Dr. John Tiedemann and Dr. Pedram Daneshgar, and supported by Ph.D. candidates Elizabeth Wallace and Christopher Haak, the students logged countless hours of field time investigating various elements of flats ecology.

Dr. Tiedemann was also instrumental in coordinating a visit from Todd Pover and Stephanie Egger, conservation biologists from New Jersey’s Conserve Wildlife Foundation (http://www.conservewildlifenj.org/).  The two scientists gave a campus-wide presentation on the international work they’ve been doing with the piping plover, a shorebird who breeds along the New Jersey shoreline and winters in the Bahamas.  CEI is excited about the possibility of partnering in CWF’s educational initiatives in years to come!

A group shot at High Rock