Zostera marina is a seagrass species, commonly known as eelgrass, that is found on both coasts of the United States, as well as in Europe. Unfortunately, Zostera is disappearing all over the place, including right here in New York. This could have devastating impacts on animals that rely on eelgrass as foraging grounds, or, as is the case with scallops, use it as a refuge from predation. This is its story, as seen through the eyes of an aspiring graduate student...

Friday, October 3, 2008

You've got to suffer is you want to sing the (Spat collection) blues!

Wow, first, I did not realize it has been such a long time since my last update. I have been very busy with writing a manuscript and trying frantically to finish up the field season (although I still have another month to go). A few weeks ago, I went out sampling for my recruitment squares. If you remember, my last post about them suggested that I should not abandon hope, as I was finally starting to see some small spat. I was, of course, very excited. Well, I was dealt a crushing blow. Two weeks ago we were seeing a very high number of spat in collectors within Hallock Bay, which lead me to believe that I would most certainly find spat this time around on my mats, at least more than the last time, even if it wouldn't be alot. So, extremely excited, my advisor, Dr Brad Peterson, and I headed out to my field site to collect my recruitment squares from my grass mats. Now, this is no easy feat, and requires a few hours in the water searching for them (I guess I could have planned the relocation aspect a bit better) and a couple more hours going through the samples. As always, I have my own set of spat collectors at my site which I use as a "control;" the idea here is that if there are larvae in the water, I know they will recruit to the collectors, and that will give me a decent idea of what I might expect to see. I always process the collectors before my squares, so I know what to look for (ie, should I see any scallops at all? what sizes should I be looking for?). Well, as it turns out, I had a fairly large number in my collectors, which had me thinking awesome! My recruitment experiment is finally coming together!

2 hours later, I had a decidedly different opinion on my recruitment experiment: FAILURE!!! We found only 1 scallop spat on all the squares collected. ONLY 1!!! This is not nearly what I was hoping for, and certainly doesn't bode well for what I thought would be a fairly big portion of at least 1 chapter of my thesis work. It is pretty disheartening, putting in all that work ( a full day's worth of work for 2 people) to only come away with 1 scallop. Granted, the supply in the system might not be very high, and I might not have received numbers good enough to run any sorts of statistical analysis. However, 1 scallop? On a day I expected to see many more, given what had happened on the last time I sampled my squares and what we saw in our spat collectors. But no, it is a failure. I have one more collection scheduled, next week, and then I can truly decide which is a bigger failure, my recruitment experiment, or the New York Mets season.

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