The post below marks the first in a series that I plan to produce while I am conducting research in French Polynesia throughout this summer. So, if you find what I am doing interesting, please stay tuned for more posts 🙂 As usual, all comments are welcome!
Two days ago, I arrived on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia to begin my third summer of data collection for my dissertation. Though this is my 6th visit to this place, it never ceases to captivate (pictured below is Moorea with Tahiti in the background):
For the start of this trip, however, I will be working with an international group of researchers in an ongoing effort to understand the ecological consequences of vermetid gastropods on coral reefs. As I mentioned in my last post, these little critters seem to have devastating effects on reef corals, as they feed using projected mucus nets that cover the surface of corals and are linked to extensive coral mortality.
Back in January, we started a long-term experiment that will examine vermetid effects on coral communities over the next several years. We did this by removed vermetids from some reefs and allowing them to flourish naturally on others. This time (and for the next week), we will be looking at patterns of vermetid abundances across islands, by conducting extensive surveys on the islands of Moorea (where we currently reside), Maiao (an uncultivated island with a population of <500), and Tahiti. We are leaving to sample Moorea in an hour and, weather permitting, we will leave for the 60-mile open ocean journey to Maiao at 5 am tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather and calm seas!
Thanks for reading, and much more is soon to come throughout the summer!