Project Manager: Cassie Ettinger
Seagrass beds are progressively affected by deleterious influences such as climate change, pollution and habitat destruction. As a result of these influences, seagrass is especially vulnerable to habitat fragmentation. This fragmentation expands the perimeter of the seagrass beds while decreasing the area the beds occupy, significantly changing the habitat available to macrofauna. Habitat fragmentation thus leads to greater edge effects and results in increased biodiversity at the edge of habitats. Edge effects are changes in community composition that occur on the edge of habitats. Previous work by collaborators investigated changes in abiotic properties in beds of Zostera marina, a species of seagrass. The goal of this project is to compare microbial communities obtained from the inside, on the edge and outside of these Zostera marina beds and to determine if correlation exists between these communities and the abiotic properties previously investigated. We hope that the resulting analysis will help us better understand the complicated interactions between microbes and their environments and microbes and their hosts.