SCIENCE TALKS

Series Presenter Lineup

Save the date!  Below is a list of upcoming presenters for our lecture series.  More details about each talk and registration information will be provided soon.

**Science Talks will be moving to an every other week format-mark your calendars**
August 20, 2020: Dr. Andrew Barron (BTNEP)
September 3: TBA
September 17: TBA
October 1, 2020: Dr. Brian Roberts (LUMCON)
October 15, 2020: Dr. Tim Mclean (Tulane)
October 29, 2020: Dr. Allyse Ferrara (Nicholls)
More presenters coming soon!

TALK RECORDINGS

Adventures in Monitoring: Using Online Tools To Watch Louisiana’s Coast From Your Desktop
with Dr. Alex Kolker, LUMCON Associate Professor

DATE:  April 9, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: For scientists and the public who cannot go to the coast, the coast can come to you. Over the last few decades, rapid growth of freely accessible, online data sources let scientists, students, and the public at large watch coasts change in real time. This talk will give an overview online data sources and how to access them. We will show how these resources are employed by scientists, how they can help us prepare for weather and flood events, and how they can be used people who just want to watch the dynamics and beauty of Louisiana’s coast.  Get a list of websites featured in this talk by clicking here.
RECORDING: Missed this talk? Watch the recording by clicking this link.

Dr. Craig McClain

Alligators in the Abyss
with Dr. Craig McClain, LUMCON Executive Director/Associate Professor

DATE:  APRIL 16, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: Connecting the oceans to land are numerous carbon highways. These conduits bring food from land to the ocean, supporting an abundance of life. Our group explores these carbon chains and explores some potential methods of carbon delivery to the deep ocean. At first it may seem fanciful that an alligator carcass might find its way to the deep. However, dozens of species of alligators and crocodiles are found across the globe, in high numbers, and often in coastal areas. Through either their normal migrating or foraging activities, or during flooding events, individuals may be found offshore in the ocean. If one of those individuals meets an unfortunate end, it may fall to the seafloor. Thus our experiment alligators in the abyss. In 2019, our research group placed three alligator carcasses 1.5 miles deep on the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico in the first-ever alligator fall experiment. Each of the three alligators met a different fate.
RECORDING: Missed this talk? Watch the recording by clicking this link.

Massive Events With Microscopic-Scale Impacts
with Dr. Beth Stauffer, Assistant Professor, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

DATE:  APRIL 23, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION:Massive, extreme events like hurricanes or large river flooding impact coastal ecosystems and communities in ways that we can see and often directly experience. However, these events also have effects on microscopic organisms at the base of marine food webs – the phytoplankton – which have the potential to significantly disrupt ecosystem-scale processes in which these organisms are intimately involved. My research group has studied the effects of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the Mississippi River flood in 2019 on phytoplankton communities and their associated food webs in the coastal ocean and Louisiana’s estuaries. Through this research, we are continuing to build our understanding of how such massive events impact these important microscopic organisms and the food webs they support.
RECORDING: Missed this talk?Watch the recording by clicking this link.

Wonderfully Weird World of Sponges
with Dr. Stephanie Archer, LUMCON Assistant Professor

DATE:  April 30, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: Sponges are one of the oldest groups of animals on the planet. They occur in nearly every aquatic ecosystem, from freshwater lakes and rivers to the most extreme environments in the deep sea. Yet, most people can’t confidently tell you whether sponges are, in fact, animals or plants. In this talk I will introduce what sponges are and show you some of the crazy things these animals can do. I’ll also talk about how important sponges are in many marine ecosystems and why we should probably pay more attention to these seemingly boring creatures.  Click here to listen to “Sponger Money” by George Symonette which was featured in this talk.
RECORDING: Miss this talk? Watch the recording by clicking this link.

10 Ways Microscopic Ocean Animals Are Fascinating
with Dr. Kelly Robinson, Assistant Professor, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

DATE:  May 7, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: In a bucket of seawater there are tens to hundreds of microscopic, drifting animals called zooplankton. These small wanderers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and taxonomic diversity. Some flit through the water on ethereal wings like a hummingbird while others dart at incredible speeds (1000 body lengths per second!) through a molasses-like liquid. Zooplankton are amazing in so many ways; not to mention how some of them grow up to be delicious food (crab cakes anyone?). Join a virtual exploration of how these microscopic, ocean monsters are among the most fascinating animals on Earth.
REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Did you miss this talk?  Watch the recording by clicking this link.

Stay in school! The whys and hows of fish schooling behavior and what we can learn from them
with Dr. Guillaume Rieucau, LUMCON Assistant Professor

DATE: May 14, 2020

TALK DESCRIPTION: During this presentation, I will invite you to dive with me in the fascinating world of collective behavior of marine organisms. I will present the research conducted with many of my colleagues on animal social behavior and collective reactions. Over the years as a marine biologist, I have explored how predation, environmental conditions, human disturbances, and fishery activities affect the behavior of ecologically and economically important fish species in marine and estuarine ecosystems. Finally, I will address what we can learn from the behavioral reactions of wild group-living marine animals and use this knowledge to develop sound conservation plans.
RECORDING: Did you miss this talk? Watch the recording by clicking this link.

What is toxicology and why should I care? – Connections between oil and fish reproduction
with Dr. Chris Green, Associate Professor, Louisiana State University

DATE: May 21, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: What do you think of when you hear the word, “Toxicology”? Ten years ago 5 million barrels of oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico from the tragedy aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The effects of this event and other similar releases have been studied for the various short term and long term consequences on the surrounding ecosystem. This talk will explore the science of environmental toxicology and the history behind this discipline. Taking a look inside fishes that were potentially exposed to crude oil, we will discuss research findings that show how these substances alter the ability of fishes to reproduce.
RECORDING: Did you miss this talk? You can watch the recording by clicking this link.

Farming Wild: a look at aquaculture innovation in the US
with Dr. Abigail Bockus, LUMCON Assistant Professor

DATE:  May 28, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: Have you ever wondered where your seafood comes from? Or what an underwater farm looks like? Wait, you haven’t? Even better! Join me this Thursday as I talk about one of my all-time favorite topics, aquaculture. I’ll share some of the ways scientists are innovating how we farm, where we farm, and what we feed our farmed aquatic species. We’ll explore success stories and some of the cutting-edge techniques being used to provide nutritious food and protect our planet at the same time.
RECORDING: Did you miss this talk? You can watch the recording by clicking this link.

The Louisiana Freshwater Sponge Survey Project: Identifying, Characterizing, and Building a Molecular Database
with Dr. Mary Miller, Associate Professor of Biology, Baton Rouge Community College,

DATE:  June 4, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: Since the summer of 2019, Dr. Miller and her team of BRCC students have been surveying the Louisiana freshwater sponge population. This is the first extensive survey conducted since 1968. Join Dr. Miller as she shares her journey in the world of “sponge hunting,” the progress her team has made in reporting their findings, and how you can be involved in locating freshwater sponges too!
RECORDING: Did you miss this talk? You can watch the recording by clicking this link.

The Truest Big Fish Story Ever Told
with Dr. James Nelson, Endowed Professor of Environmental Biology,  University of Louisiana at Lafayette

DATE: June 11, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: The Gulf of Mexico lures anglers from all over the world with hopes of hooking a “big one” and having an epic battle that culminates in with a triumphant snapshot they can hang on the wall and lie about for the rest of their days. Top of the list of those dream fish are groupers, prized for their hulking size and tasty meat. What do we know about these incredible fish beyond the snapshots and fried vacation sandwiches? I want to tell you about one of my favorites, the Gag grouper. Its incredible life story takes it from ocean plankton to seagrass beds to the deep reefs of the Gulf of Mexico shelf. Learning about this fish taught me there are no boundaries in the ocean and if we want to continue to use the natural resources of the Gulf we all have a role to play in maintaining this incredible ecosystem.
RECORDING: Did you miss this talk? You can watch the recording by clicking this link.

Let’s talk about talking fish
with Dr. Kelly Boyle, Assistant Professor-Research, University of New Orleans

DATE: June 18, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: Many people are surprised to learn that sound is important to fishes, but, in fact, fish have a well-developed sense of hearing and many fish species use sound to communicate with one another. There are numerous ways that fishes produce sound underwater and these mechanisms vary by species. In some environments, fish choruses produce a soundscape like birds in forests and frogs along the edge of a pond. Vocal fishes use sounds to attract mates, chase competitors out of territories, defend nests, and startle potential predators. I will talk about how different fishes produce sounds and why sound may be important for both vocal and silent fish species. I will also discuss how we study hearing and sound production in fishes and why it is important to study the impact of human-made noise on fish populations. Click here to visit the Discovery of Sound in the Sea website.
RECORDING: Did you miss this talk? You can watch the recording by clicking this link.

From Minnesota to Station C6B: ‘Dead Zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico
with Dr. Nancy N. Rabalais, LUMCON Distinguished Research Professor/
LSU Professor, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences

DATE: June 25, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: The coastal waters adjacent to the Mississippi River delta and offshore of Louisiana is the location of an area commonly called the ‘Dead Zone.’ This area becomes depleted in oxygen each spring through summer, making the bottom waters unsuitable for fish and crabs. Stretching along the shore for an area the size of the state of New Jersey, the low oxygen is a symptom of an unhealthy coastal ecosystem and a hazard for commercial and recreational fisheries. The major source of the problem is the runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus from the Mississippi River basin, and an increase in N and P inputs since the 1950s. Dr. Rabalais will discuss the causes and consequences of areas of low oxygen, the linkage with Mississippi River water quality, and possible solutions.
RECORDING: Did you miss this talk? You can watch the recording by clicking this link.

Sea through the eyes of a marine botanist
with Dr. Erin Cox, Assistant Professor, University of New Orleans

DATE: July 16, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: Plants are the foundation of productive, bountiful coastal ecosystems. These marine plants include intricate microscopic organisms, colorful seaweeds, and green underwater ‘grasses’ which all rely on photosynthesis- the process of harvesting light-energy for food. In addition, plants are important because they provide refuge and food for animals such as crabs, fish, and shrimp that humans consume, and they protect the coast from storm surge and land loss. Therefore, it is alarming that there have been reports of plant decline or blooms of their growth linked to human alterations of the water quality (e.g. temperature, light, nutrients). Furthermore, effects on the plants often cascade to negatively affect other animals that depend upon them. In this talk, I will give a brief background on marine plants and I will discuss the role of plants in supporting production at shallow artificial reefs and seagrass beds located within the northern Gulf of Mexico. Lastly, I will discuss how changing ocean chemistry will affect seagrass beds while demonstrating a technical system that allows for underwater manipulations.
RECORDING: Did you miss this talk? You can watch the recording by clicking this link.

In search of biological carbon fates in the deep ocean: Technological advances to chase down entropy & negentropy in the ocean
with Dr. Clifton Nunnally, LUMCON Research Scientist

DATE: July 23, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: The deep ocean is full of the unknown creatures and fantastic new habitats await discovery. While we continue to build our knowledge about deep-sea ecosystems, it is clear that food/carbon/energy that descends into the depths is sequestered on a geological time scale. What processes make the deep-sea an excellent final resting place for that energy is a very open ended question. How does carbon move through the food chain? Who benefits when carbon is fresh versus old? How do large,food falls impact biodiversity and physiology? Many questions but with one core goal, “follow the food.” Biological uptake of carbon is the movement of energy from the environment into organisms and decreases the universal increase of entropy, thus a negentropic activity. Can the long residence time, physical distance and inhibited chemical capacity in the deep ocean help us solve the problem of excess carbon in our atmosphere?
RECORDING: Did you miss this talk? You can watch the recording of this talk by clicking this link.

OH the places you will go! Connecting geographies through a migratory shorebird
with Delaina LeBlanc, Migratory Birds Coordinator, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary (BTNEP)

DATE: July 30, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: More than 400 bird species rely on the Gulf of Mexico throughout the year. Some are year-round residents; some are seasonal and either breed or winter here, and some rely on the Louisiana coast as an important stop-over site to refuel and rest during migration. Each spring, a robin sized sandpiper begins to arrive and assemble in large groups on the beaches of Grand Isle. The rufa Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa) currently in decline, is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in the United States. In 2014, BTNEP became part of a collaborative research effort to better understand the status of the imperiled Red Knot in Louisiana. Mysteries of red knot movements have been uncovered using a variety of tracking devices.
RECORDING: Did you miss this talk? You can watch the recording by clicking this link.

Trends in Global Shark Attacks
with Dr. Steve Midway, Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University

DATE: August 6, 2020
TALK DESCRIPTION: Shark attacks are a global phenomenon that attracts widespread attention and publicity, often with negative outcomes for shark populations. Despite the widespread perceptions of danger, rates of shark attacks vary over space and time. We found that global shark attack rates are low, yet variable across global regions and over decades. Countries with low populations were found to have the highest rates of attack, while countries with high populations (U.S.A., Australia, South Africa) tended to have overall low attack rates, but also much more interannual variability. From the 1960s to the present, countries with the highest populations tended to have increased attack rates. Ultimately, shark attack risk is driven by local conditions (e.g., time of day, species presence); however, a global-scale understanding of attack rates helps place risk into perspective and may contribute to a more scientifically grounded discussion of sharks, and their management and conservation.  Read the paper on PLOS ONE by clicking this link.
RECORDING: Did you miss this talk? You can watch the recording by clicking this link.