Evolutionary Ecology Lab
Department of Biology
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8303
California State University Long Beach, 2009 B.S. Marine Biology
Benthic Infaunal Biodiversity of Mobile Bay and the Tensaw River, Alabama
Biodiversity is an important measure of the health and productivity of a given environment. It is important for a community to be balanced, well integrated, and adaptive to achieve and maintain that biodiversity, and to exhibit proper ecosystem function. Species diversity and community composition are often used, along with environmental data, to assess the health of an environment and to monitor responses to changing environmental conditions. Salinity is one of the most important factors determining species distribution in the aquatic environment.
The sediment samples I am analyzing are from sites in Alabama that range from fully saline in the Mobile Bay (“Lower”) area, to fully fresh water in the Tensaw River (“Upper”). There are also two mid-range salinity study sites denoted as “Lower Middle” and “Upper Middle”. The main goals of this study are to establish which benthic infaunal species are present at each site individually, and within each of the four major study areas. These sites will also be compared by season to see how the species diversity changes throughout the year. Then, environmental data will be used to look at seasonal environmental changes and to compare how salinity and other environmental factors may influence the distribution of these species. Estuarine habitats are extremely sensitive, and they are exposed to many anthropogenic pressures. Hopefully, this research can be used to assess the overall health of the area and to create a picture of the changes that occur throughout the year. This should help determine which impacts are natural and which are anthropogenic in an attempt to better protect this area in the future.