Florida Institute of Technology

Researchers

PhD Students

Angelica Zamora-Duran

Doctoral Student

Angelica Zamora-Duran

Research Summary: My research focuses on combining paleoecological analyses with modern ecological data to assess how coral-reef ecosystems respond to changes in climate. Paleoecological analyses provide an opportunity to extract predictive trends from past relationships between environmental parameters and ecosystem change, allowing us to project the responses of ecosystems to anthropogenic impacts. Foraminifera have been used as indicators of environmental conditions past and present. In my master’s-thesis research, I used Foraminifera as bioindicators of ecosystem health in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida. Now I am studying the assemblages of Foraminifera in cores of coral-reef frameworks from the the Pacific coast of Panamá. By using ecological, geochemical, and paleoenvironmental tools I aim to identify long-term relationships between reef health and environmental conditions.

Education:

• M.S. Florida Institute of Technology, 2016, Oceanography/Biological Oceanography

• B.A. University of Virginia, 2010, Biology

 

 

MS Students

Brittan Steffel

Master's Student

Brittan Steffel

Research Summary:

My research focuses on the ecological impacts of climate change on benthic invertebrates in Antarctica. Shell-crushing predators have been absent from the Antarctic continental shelf for tens of millions of years. As waters are warming rapidly off the western Antarctic Peninsula, however, king crabs (Lithodidae) appear to be invading shallower depths. This invasion could restructure the endemic communities of the seafloor, which are dominated by sessile and slow-moving invertebrates. Because calcification rates are low in polar waters, the chelae of Antarctic king crabs could be weakly constructed compared with crab chelae from lower latitudes, limiting the potential for predation on the Antarctic shelf.

I began my research in the Marine Paleoecology Lab as a Florida Tech undergraduate by mapping the abundance and distribution of king crabs, sea stars, sea urchins, and snails off the western Antarctic Peninsula using image analysis. I also estimated the potential force of king-crab chelae to better understand the impact they could have on the Antarctic shelf. I am now comparing the potential forces generated by Antarctic king crabs with the forces their prey are able to withstand, and with the potential forces generated by crabs at temperate latitudes. I am also comparing the thickness and amount of calcium in the crab exoskeletons to understand the role of calcification in the predation at different latitudes. My research will help assess potential ecological impacts as king crabs expand their range into shallower waters.

Education:

  • B.S. Florida Institute of Technology, 2016, Biological Sciences

 

Undergrad Students

 

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