Author Interview: Feeding preferences and the effect of temperature on feeding rates of the graceful kelp crab, Pugettia gracilis
PeerJ talks to Katrina H Johnson from The University of California San Diego about “Feeding preferences and the effect of temperature on feeding rates of the graceful kelp crab, Pugettia gracilis“ published in PeerJ Life & Environment as part of the IABO Hub. The IABO Hub is the publishing home of the International Association for Biological Oceanography, and features the latest biological oceanography research published by the members of IABO.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a PhD Candidate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego in La Jolla, California. I have conducted research in many sectors of the marine science world, from carbon sequestration in eelgrass beds to feeding preferences of kelp crabs to physiological trends in leopard seal populations. Most recently, my research has focused on anthropogenic impacts on cetaceans. For my PhD, I am quantifying anthropogenic noise, particularly from commercial shipping, in underwater soundscapes and investigating its impacts on marine mammals as they rely on sound for communication, navigation, foraging, among other behaviors. I hope to have this research inform management strategies and conservation of marine mammals in the future.
Can you briefly explain the research you published in PeerJ?
Our paper arose from my undergraduate research at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. I received a fellowship that funded summer research at Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island, Washington with Dr. Katie Dobkowski where I researched the feeding preferences and rates of the graceful kelp crab (Pugettia gracilis). As shallow subtidal and intertidal ecosystems are of particular interest with changing ocean conditions, graceful kelp crabs were an interesting organism, being a relatively understudied, abundant consumer in the shallow subtidal ecosystems of the Salish Sea. We first examined the feeding preferences between native kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) and invasive seaweed (Sargassum muticum). We then expanded upon this by studying feeding rates of their preferred seaweed at elevated temperatures in an attempt to understand their role in changing coastal food webs.
We showed that graceful kelp crabs preferred the native kelp over the invasive seaweed if given a choice, but ate equal amounts of native vs. invasive if not given a choice. We also documented that crabs exposed to elevated temperatures ate more than those in ambient temperatures. These results demonstrate the diet flexibility of the graceful kelp crab and suggest that warming ocean temperatures may prompt an increase in their feeding rates.
What was significant about your findings?
How did you first hear about PeerJ, and what persuaded you to submit to us?
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