Recently, I was invited to give a lecture by the Melbourne Beach Environmental Advisory Board. They have a science lecture series they call the “Popcorn Science Seminar Series.” The lectures are free to attend and the attendees can eat popcorn while listening to the scientist talk about the research they conduct. The advisory board tries to keep the talks focused on local issues. Some of the discussions have included topics such as sea turtles nesting ecology and invasive lion fish. Both are major environmental concerns in the Melbourne Beach area.
My talk was about the biological science research we do in our laboratory at Florida Tech. I focused on three different research projects. The first topic was about how fiddler crab larvae selectively migrate with the outgoing currents to transport themselves to coastal waters where they complete their larval development. The fiddler crabs use an endogenous (internal clock) cue that is synchronized with the tides. I then transitioned to some ongoing research about horseshoe crabs and the cues they use to molt from larvae (crab baby) to juveniles. Some of what my lab mate is finding is that the metamorphosis to the juvenile stage is accelerated when horseshoe crabs encounter seagrass cues and structural habitats. Finally, I discussed the first chapter of my dissertation. My first chapter demonstrates that hatching success under future climate change scenarios (low pH) is reduced in an important commercial fishery here in Florida (stone crabs). There is also evidence that crabs in low pH scenarios have smaller embryos and that the newly hatched larvae also have deformities when compared to normal pH conditions.