Title: Ecological interactions between marine macrophytes and small invertebrate epifauna in tropical shallow coastal systems
Synopsis: Marine macrophytes form biogenic habitats that maintain the biodiversity of marine coastal systems, especially for small invertebrate epifauna that maintain essential ecosystem functions. These macrophyte-invertebrate interactions are prevalent in shallow coastal systems, including subtidal seagrass beds and intertidal sandy beaches. These shallow coastal systems are also challenged with periodic influxes of pelagic Sargassum, a region-wide issue affecting much of the Caribbean, including South Florida, since 2011. Though these Sargassum influxes occur periodically, we know very little about how these influxes affect the local macrophyte and invertebrate epifaunal communities. This upcoming meeting will provide an update on research related to macrophyte-invertebrate interactions in shallow coastal systems. Current findings of ongoing research and further opportunities of investigation, particularly with effects of Sargassum influxes, will be discussed.
Biography: Lowell Andrew Iporac is a Ph.D Candidate at Florida International University’s (FIU) Biology Doctoral Program. Lowell obtained his B.A. in Biology from California State University, San Bernardino, where he completed four different undergraduate projects. Among those four research projects, it was an internship at Shannon Point Marine Center that sparked his interest in marine biology. Upon moving to FIU, he joined the Marine Macroalgae Research Lab (MMRL) with Dr. Ligia Collado-Vides in 2016. When not doing his research, Lowell likes snorkeling, diving, hiking, and playing with his Nintendo Switch.