Morgan Farrell

Mentor: Dr. Tom Frazer
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
 
"I have always had a fascination with the ocean. Spending summers observing Coral Reefs made me respect and question the organisms I encountered. In college I have discovered my passion for ecology and asking questions about these organisms and their interactions with the environment. An internship in Moorea, French Polynesia introduced me to the world of research in Marine Ecology. This experience was so enlightening that it encouraged me to continue to pursue my passion in ecology as a researcher."

Major

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

Minor

International Studies

Research Interests

  • Coral Reef Ecology
  • Mutualistic Relationships
  • Community Ecology

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program
  • Dean's List
  • Margie Jones Memorial Scholarship
  • Florida Bright Futures

Organizations

  • Gator Scuba Club
  • Pre-Vet Club
  • Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society

Volunteer

  • Research Assistant - Osenberg Lab
  • Turtle Survival Alliance Volunteer

Hobbies and Interests

  • Scuba Diving
  • Photography
  • Hiking
  • Paddleboarding

Research Description

Limitations on Coral Growth at the Site of Competition

Coral Reefs in Moorea, French Polynesia have recently experienced an increase in Vermetid Gastropods. These sessile snails feed using a casted mucus net to collect floating particles such as phytoplankton. Corals feed similarly using tentacles to capture sustenance. Since Vermetids live in the coral skeleton it is possible that they are limiting the local supply of exogenous food. Previous research by PhD Candidate Lianne Jacobson has shown that Vermetids presence reduce marginal tissue production in corals, which is the most important type of growth for defense against predation. Therefore, this study first focused on the type of food found on bommies (large coral heads) with and without vermetids. Holes were drilled in dead bommies and then filled with sediment traps containing Rose Bengal dye solution. These traps determined whether there was a difference in the type of food available between vermetid and non-vermetid containing bommies. Next to determine if limited exogenous food supply has an effect on marginal tissue production an experiment was conducted by placing coral fragments on bommies with an without vermetids. Then marginal growth was quantified by comparing before and after photographs using ImageJ to count change in polyp number. Results could shed light on the ways vermetids effect coral feeding and thereby their growth.