I am working with Dr. Brett Dumbauld (associated with U.S. Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University) and Katelyn Bosley Ph.D. student, on their investigation of burrowing shrimp in Yaquina Bay, Newport, Oregon. This first week has been a blur of touring the facilities (which are many), introductions to the dry labs, wet labs, offices, safety features, field locations (watch out muddy conditions in the future!), and I got to meet the shrimp.
A brief explanation of why shrimp are our focus is that they smother oysters with sediment when they burrow and churn up the mud. Oyster farmers have been spraying an insecticide on the mudflats where these shrimp grow during low tide to reduce the their population and protect the oysters. The problems associated with the use of carbaryl in a marine setting have not been fully studied but I bet there are some undesired effects on the ecosystem (more on this later). So what I understand so far is that an isopod parasite of the shrimp species can reduce the fertility of the shrimp. Maybe in conjunction with other pest management techniques, these parasites could reduce the shrimp population enough to bar the need for carbaryl. Either way, my role this summer is to help Katelyn figure out how many shrimp are in the Yaquina Bay area by taking sediment core samples. Using a statistical program called R, we will calculate a random sampling of the mud flats that should represent the larger shrimp population.
Moving on to next week, the tides are going to be perfect for taking core samples of the sediments and defining the edges of the shrimp habitats to be sampled before the 4th of July weekend. I am also focusing on learning the statistical program called R. From what I hear this is a cutting edge program that will serve me in future investigations but it is similar to C-prompt programs and needless to say, I am a bit nervous about developing a functional understanding of R.
I will leave you with one of the specimens that I worked with on Friday and watch out! These shrimp know how to use those claws. Enjoy the week.