The MBON team at the USF College of Marine Science (USF CMS) hosted more than 50 students from Stewart Middle Magnet to participate in marine science research in December 2017. The students in seventh and eighth grade science classes interacted with researchers and graduate students in three USF CMS labs and Florida Institute of Oceanography to learn about marine science issues and interact with state-of-the-art sensors and AUVs, and new online MBON products. The students also toured the 115-foot, 194-ton R/V Weatherbird II, and learned about scientific missions to study the spill zone of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
To prepare for the activities, the MBON team developed a research case study and exercise which would educate and engage the students through interactions with the MBON Florida Keys Infographic. Enrique Montes gave a short introduction to coral reefs and explained that researchers are studying the effects of temperature in the Florida Keys on major fish species, algae growth and the corals on the reef and asked the students to help. The students were given their assignment sheet and worked at the computer stations in the IMARS lab to look up the specific information and document it on their activity form. After the activity was finished, Enrique facilitated a discussion about what they saw and thought. The students were excited to learn about potential ecosystem relationships.
Student Research Activity — Marine Biodiversity Observation Network Florida Keys Infographic
Your Research Activity – Collecting Data for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuaries
At USF, researchers are studying the effects of temperature in the Florida Keys on major fish species, algae growth and the corals on the reef. Today, you will help us conduct research and check out a new MBON tool.
Step 1: read each question.
Step 2: look for the words or pictures on the online MBON tool. Click to open the charts and graphs.
Step 3: Write the information on this sheet.
The temperature of the ocean surface fluctuates throughout the seasons, and even every day. Big changes in temperature – such as a major heat spell or cold snap can stress the marine life and also the habitat.
- What year was the coldest temperature and what year?
- What was the warmest temperature and what year?
Parrotfish are herbivores (her-bev-ors) and have teeth that look like a beak. They scrape algae (al-gee) from the coral reef and rocks. Parrot fish play an important role in maintaining the reef ecosystem – they prevent algae overgrowth.
- What is the overall trend for Parrotfish?
- Which year showed very low levels?
Too much macroalgae can weaken and kill corals by limiting the amount of sunlight that gets through.
- Which year showed the highest level?
- Which year showed the lowest level?
Scientists and trained divers measure coral by counting the number of corals in a set space and determining how much percent that the corals cover
- What is the overall trend of stony corals? Describe the pattern you see in the chart.
- Given some reasons that might explain the pattern.