I am working in Dr. John Kominoski’s lab with Ph.D. student Kenny Anderson to look at invertebrate communities at Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research (FCE LTER) sites. Earlier this year, the lab placed bags of sawgrass, mangrove, and Eleocharis leaf litter at freshwater, ecotone, and saltwater sites along Shark River Slough and Taylor Slough. I am identifying and measuring the biomass of the invertebrates that colonized these bags to quantify differences in invertebrate response to leaf litter quality. I am also comparing invertebrate communities between the sites themselves, focusing on salinity, phosphorus levels, site substrate, and periphyton cover.
This research is the first survey of invertebrate communities at these FCE LTER sites and will inform how differences in salinity, nutrients, and litter quality impact invertebrate communities in the Everglades. Invertebrates play an important role in decomposing organic matter to transfer energy to food webs, so knowing what influences these communities is significant for understanding the impacts of sea level rise and eutrophication on nutrient cycles and wetland productivity.
“To me, the John Marshall internship program is significant because it uniquely integrates Everglades research, policy, and history, emphasizing the interconnection between ecosystem well-being and human well-being.”