Great speaker tonight!

Our guest lecture for our environmental restoration seminar was Sarah Hamlyn from Mote Marine Laboratory speaking about coral propagation and restoration. After a long day transporting corals across Florida and diving to put them in their future homes, she took the time to share her work with the faculty and students at B-CU. It was a great talk and summary of their restoration efforts ending with information on internship and research opportunities for undergraduates at Mote!

Guest lecture- New Smyrna Beach Garden Club

Dr. Krejci was invited back to lecture on the topic of “air resources” to the ladies of the New Smyrna Beach Garden Club.

The lecture consisted of the basic properties, function and layers of the atmosphere, a short summary of the natural and anthropogenic pollutants to the atmosphere, the US Clean Air Act and a summary of climate change causes and deviations from natural rhythms. It was a jammed pack hour of information!

Dr. Krejci will head back in April for lectures on Ecology and Aquatic Organisms for their final courses of the year.

Special thanks the Jehmia Williams for attending the lecture and capturing footage!

Very proud of these women for dedicating their time and energy to learn about the environment and taking the steps for change.

New lesson in research notebook entries

Dr. Krejci is teaching a new course in the Bethune-Cookman Natural Sciences curriculum, Research Methods, a 200 level course geared to teaching students about the research process, scientific writing and different equipment researchers use in the lab and field.

Inspired by this online essay we are trying out a new lab exercise today to teach the students about the importance of taking effective notes at the time of their experiment.

The basic plan, developed in collaboration with Dr. Adeljean Ho and Dr. Michael Reiter, is to split the class into two groups. One group will create a notebook entry describing and drawing the beautiful pond near the Business Building on campus from memory. Meanwhile the other group will go to the pond and make their entry on site. The class will reconvene and compare their entries. Next they will be given some additional guidelines and handouts on notebook entries, reflect on their original entries strengths and weakness, then go back to the pond to create a well crafted entry.

We’re very excited to see how this activity goes today! Dr. Krejci would be happy to post the lab handout and results if you’re interested.

Have you tried a similar approach in your classes? Feel free to share your stories of similar labs!

Seminar Series

We are pleased to be organizing an Environmental Restoration Seminar series this semester at Bethune-Cookman Univeristy! You can find updates on our upcoming lectures here: Seminar Series

Zooplankton workshop

It was another great workshop with students and faculty from Union Univeristy in TN who travel to Florida for a coastal ecosystems class. Their first stop was to Bethune-Cookman Univeristy to learn about local water quality issues and zooplankton sampling.

We headed out into the field for collections and spent time in the lab exploring the diversity in the Halifax River Lagoon.

It’s such a pleasure to share our local knowledge and lab space with colleagues around the country. If you’re taking a field ecology course down to Florida, consider reaching out to us for a workshop!

Building artificial seagrass units

Senior Ja’Kaila Jefferson is getting to work early on her senior thesis examining the impacts of habitat density on pipefish, Syngnathus scovelli, copepod feeding preference.

The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) has faced declining seagrass density and seagrass loss due to water quality issues and algal blooms. Dr. Krejci’s previous research determined a switch in pipefish prey items in field samples from the IRL between 100% and 50% density seahorses beds, and it was unclear if the switch was due to changes in prey abundance or pipefish preference. This study will help isolate how habitat density influences feeding.

The artificial seagrass units (ASU) are modeled after shoal grass, Halodule wrightii, and are made of 0.2 mm x 15 cm green ribbon Ja’Kaila is constructing three densities of seagrass shoots based off of field densities from St. Johns River Water Management District seagrass surveys (around 3,000 shoots per m2 for 100% density). She’ll also be examining 50%, 25% and 0% seagrass coverage.

The first step will be running pilot studies of the ASU and copepods without pipefish to ensure 100% recovery of copepods is possible. Pipefish will be field collected once we receive our FWC permit in Spring semester to begin the feeding trials.

Way to go Ja’Kaila using your time over winter break! We have no doubt she will have a fantastic senior thesis to present in April.

Winter Break data fun…

This winter break Dr. Krejci is working on data entry and analysis from three continuing educational projects in Introduction to Environmental Science. Learn more about these projects here: Educational Research. The results from summer and fall semesters are being processed for presentations in Spring 2020, proposals and manuscripts. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing the positive impacts of educational interventions on student success!

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Examining microplastics in estuarine zooplankton samples

Final grades for Fall 2019 have been submitted, and while the courses may be over the research continues on. Dr. Krejci was asked to contribute to a proposal seeking to develop new FTIR technologies. Zooplankton samples collected from the Gamble Rogers State Park in the Matanzas/Halifax River have shown high levels of microplastic filaments. In one milliliter of preserved zooplankton, there can be over 5 threads of filaments, some covered in biofouling.

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General Ecology- Cross Island barrier hike

The last few lectures cover coastal and aquatic ecosystems, which were surrounded with here in Florida. Rather than a traditional lecture, we used our lab time to hike Ponce Preserve and discuss Florida coastal ecology from the beach, to the hammock and lagoon.

Senior thesis presentations

The Aquatic Research Lab presented two senior thesis talks today:

Jehmia Williams- “Determining Spatial and Temporal Water Quality Changes in the Halifax River Lagoon”.

Jehmia’s research required managing a 10,000 row data set, learning about Python coding to remove unwanted data, and running/interpreting Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Jehmia did excellent in follow up questions today on data normalization and mitigating nutrient pollution to the central HRL.

Alyssa Stubbs (coauthor Ja’Kaila Jefferson)- “Benthic and Pelagic Copepod Feeding Preferences of Dwarf Seahorses, Hippocampus zosterae” 

Alyssa and Ja’Kaila have been maintaining live algal and copepod cultures in the lab to support this research, a very challenging task! Alyssa hand picked individual live copepods under the microscope for her feeding trials, with a single trial taking four hours to complete. Her data analysis required coding the maximum likelihood equation in excel, running iterations to determine her proportion values, and running a chi-squared analysis to compare the feeding preferences between prey types. Alyssa confidently answered follow up questions on her statistical analysis and methodology.

It was a proud day to see a years worth of literature reviews, experimental design and research culminating in two outstanding senior presentations! These quantitative studies highlight the strong data science talents of a Bethune-Cookman students from the College of Science, Engineering and Mathematics, preparing our students for competitive 21st century careers!