March 18, 2014
Three Environmental Institute of Houston-sponsored graduate students presented their research findings at the 117th Annual Meeting of the Texas Academy of Science which took place from March 7–9, 2014, at Texas A&M University at Galveston. The students' research covered Texas diamondback terrapin and freshwater fish communities.
In his poster "Characterization of prey availability between Texas diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin littoralis) capture sites and background wetland densities," Bryan Alleman presented the prey availability of the Texas diamondback terrapin along the Texas Gulf coast. Although previous studies on prey availability have been conducted, those occurred along the Atlantic Coast. This new study will serve to answer questions such as how available prey influences habitat selection.
Rachel George presented a poster on the "Characterization of follicle development in the Texas diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin littoralis) by ultrasonography." In her study, George characterized patterns in follicle development and the relationship between these patterns and potential effects on nesting timing. Reproduction is essential to a species' survival and understanding follicle development is the first step in understanding the terrapin's reproductive process, fecundity, and thus appropriate conservation strategies.
Michael Lane gave an oral presentation on freshwater fish titled "Texas lotic fish communities: preliminary analysis of spatial patterns." Lane offered an overview of work completed in summer 2013 at 31 randomly-selected sites across Texas that included the Sabine, Trinity, Brazos, Colorado and Nueces rivers. Lane presented spatial trends in the abundance, richness, diversity, and community composition as well as potential causative factors based on this preliminary analysis of year one results.
Both Alleman and George are pursuing their master's in environmental science within the School of Science and Computer Engineering at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. They are conducting important new research on the nesting and feeding ecology of this terrapin species. Michael Lane is pursuing his master's in environmental biology at UHCL. He is conducting research that will aid the EPA in accurately surveying and assessing the condition of our nation's streams and rivers.
Also in attendance was George Guillen, executive director of EIH, who gave a talk, titled "Examination of potential factors influencing the commercial fisheries of Galveston Bay." Guillen provided a review of the current status and recent trends in major commercial fisheries that operate in the Galveston Bay system. Guillen also discussed factors that may influence fisheries such as freshwater inflow, salinity, storms, red tides, regulatory changes, fish consumption advisories, water quality, and economic indicators.