Tag: Florida International University

Fish poop a key source of nutrients in marine ecosystems

In addition to being predators, fish contribute significant amounts of nutrients to marine ecosystems. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Detailed reef study shows why it’s important to maintain healthy fish communities

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Although fish are often thought of as predators that graze on microorganisms, plants and smaller animals, it turns out they play another crucial role in the marine ecosystem. Through excretion, they recycle the nutrients they take in, providing the fertilizer sea grass and algae need to grow.

The role of fish poop as a fertilizer for marine ecosystems had previously been overlooked, according to Jacob Allgeier, a doctoral student in the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology, and Craig Layman, associate professor at Florida International University, who led the study in the waters of a large bay on Abaco Island, Bahamas.

The research showed that fish contribute more nutrients to their local ecosystems than any other source — enough to cause changes in the growth rates of the organisms at the base of the food web. Continue reading “Fish poop a key source of nutrients in marine ecosystems”

Biodiversity: ‘Gators a key link between ecosystems

Nutrient transport connects saltwater, freshwater and estuarine ecosystems

A young alligator floats in the Myakka River estuary in southwest Florida.

By Summit Voice

Alligators get around, scientists have discovered while studying the Shark River estuary in Florida’s Everglades. And as they move between fresh water and saltwater, they may be playing an important role in transporting nutrients between the two ecosystems.

“Nutrient translocation by highly mobile predators like alligators, may be important to the entire coastal Everglades ecosystem,” said scientist Adam Rosenblatt of Florida International University. Continue reading “Biodiversity: ‘Gators a key link between ecosystems”

Everglades to be monitored for oil spill impacts

A great egret guards a cypress grove in Everglades National Park. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

Oil and dispersants are toxic to seagrasses, which are one of the cornerstones of the Everglades ecosystem

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Florida’s Everglades National Park, which already faces a slew of environmental challenges, could be under the gun from millions of gallons of dispersed oil still floating around the Gulf of Mexico.

Some recent research suggests that those oil plumes are degrading slowly, and while there doesn’t appear to be an immediate threat to the vast 1.5 million acre preserve of mangrove swamps, sawgrass prairies and subtropical jungles, a shift in currents could transport some of the oil toward the southern tip of Florida.

Because of the potential threat to this important national resource, the National Science Foundation has awarded a rapid response grant to scientists working at the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research site. Continue reading “Everglades to be monitored for oil spill impacts”