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Amelia Fort - Marine Ecology Lab

St. Mary's College of MD

The ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi is a dominant zooplanktivore in theChesapeake Bay. Knowledge of the pressures influencing ctenophore populations is crucial to our understanding of coastal ecosystem dynamics. Because Mnemiopsis is a major food source of the sea nettle Chrysaora quinquecirrha, the interactions between these two species are extremely important. Mnemiopsis can sometimes escape after contact with the tentacles of Chrysaora, but some degree of ctenophore tissue loss usually occurs. I studied the effect of injuries of this type on the fecundity of Mnemiopsis. I compared the number of eggs produced overnight by uninjured animals to eggs produced by animals with different degrees of injury. I found that injury had a statistically significant effect on the number of eggs produced, and that number of eggs produced had a negative relationship with the intensity of injury. This makes sense because injured ctenophores may allocate more energy into the regeneration of lost tissue or because essential reproductive tissue may have been lost.

I hope to do more research on this subject in my future years as an undergraduate. After graduating I plan on getting my masterâ??s degree in some area of marine biology or animal behavior, and plan to continue as a research scientist.

Funding provided by the National Science Foundation - REU