This week saw the end of my data collection period. I finally stopped trapping South Slough green crabs. The end of data collection was bittersweet. While I am certainly happy to not get up every morning around 5 am with the low tide, I find myself spending a bit too much time behind a desk for my liking.
Thankfully there are a bunch of other research projects going on that I could join in on without having to be responsible for any organization. This Thursday I joined Jenni Schmitt, Chris Claire and high school volunteer Luke for a lamprey survey at Winchester Fork stream in the South Slough. We traipsed through briars and brambles following a small tributary for around three quarters of a mile. Our goal was to track the distribution of two native lamprey species in its inland range. We bushwhacked from pool to pool and used electroshock equipment (below) to temporarily stun young lamprey (called ammocoetes) and count them. It was a good day of fun and a welcome break from a whopping three days without doing my own fieldwork.
My own research has moved by leaps and bounds given my office work time. I determined that green crabs increased in abundance in the South Slough in 2018, especially at sites that are closer to the ocean.
I also found that green crabs are more prevalent in years with warm winters by looking back at local crab catches from 2002 to 2018.
Finally I found that little relationship exists between how many crabs I catch and the chemical properties of water over the short, 24 hour period of time while traps are in the water. For example I have found that people have catch a similar number of crabs regardless of whether or not the water is more acidic or basic than it normally is.
Finding out the relationship between how many crabs I catch and chemical conditions, such as winter water temperatures and pH, is important because it contributes to allowing other researchers to predict how many crabs will reproduce in estuaries in the future. I hope that my findings can inform their predictions and contribute to mitigating the negative impact of these invaders.
I’m a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying ecology and evolutionary biology. When I’m not doing science I love doing pretty much anything outdoors. I’m an avid backpacker, runner, paddler and rockclimber. Finally I love to read fiction in pretty much any form.