Hello, my name is Danny and this is my UCI UROP video challenge submission. I'm an undergraduate researcher working under Professor Sorte's marine ecology lab and I'm excited to show people what I've been working on. Hope you enjoy! :)
Hi! I’m Danny – an undergrad researcher here at UCI. And you might be wondering what the heck this thing is.
This is a fouling community. A group of different species that include animals such as sea squirts and “moss animals” that grow on hard wet surfaces in the ocean.
I’ve grown up around the ocean, so naturally I’ve always had a passion for marine life. But before joining the Sorte Lab, I’ve never even seen anything like that before. And that’s what’s so interesting about the work I do. Every day is about learning something new and I hope that through my research, I get to show all kinds of people things that they might not even know about.
Right now, I’m studying the competition that occurs between different species in these communities, and so far I’ve found that if you look at how these communities develop over time, the dominant competitor changes depending on how old the community currently is.
So what does this mean? Why should anyone care?
As you might have heard, climates all over the world are changing. For oceans, this makes it easier for nonnative species to survive in new places. And these fouling communities are no exception.
In the past few decades, nonnative species have dominated native Californian species, taking over most of the space in these communities. This happens when recreational or commercial boats and ships travel from place to place, picking up foulers that attach and grow on the hulls that can then colonize new areas. Think of them like stowaways that hide on the outside of boats instead of inside.
These introduced species can overtake a native community, completely changing its dynamics and affecting the many organisms that rely on it for shelter and habitat and we play such a huge role in this! By understanding the community and the battles that go on within it, we can implement ways to deal with new competitors when they emerge.
My research so far should get one message across: our actions have true and sometimes unacknowledged consequences to the natural world, so the least we can do is be aware of it.