Recovery of a large herbivore changes regulation of seagrass productivity in a naturally grazed Caribbean ecosystem

If you needed more proof that research conducted in our parks has a global reach and effect, here ya go!

Alexandra Gulick first arrived in St. Croix in 2013, as an intern for the Buck Island Sea Turtle Research Program. This experience with the NPS played a major role in inspiring her interest in sea turtles and their ecological roles in marine ecosystems. Alexandra returned to Buck Island Reef National Monument in 2017-2018, to conduct a study for her graduate research that evaluated green turtle foraging behavior and the effects of grazing in seagrass meadows. She is currently a PhD Candidate in Zoology at the University of Florida and is pursuing a career in marine ecological research. And she’s already getting published!

Even though still a student, she’s already getting published. Her article, co-written by NPS-Buck Island Reef National Monument biologists and the University of Florida’s Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, has just been published in Ecology. Results of the study show that grazing by recovering green turtle populations stimulates seagrass productivity, and that grazing intensity has a relevant role in regulating the productivity of Caribbean seagrass meadows. The authors highlight the need for a historical perspective and the use of appropriate indicators when evaluating seagrass response to grazing, as green turtle populations continue to recover and seagrass meadows are returned to a natural grazed state.

Congratulations, soon-to-be Dr. Gulick!

University of Florida (UF) graduate student Alexandra Gulick, with co-authors from the National Park Service at Buck Island Reef National Monument and the UF Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, recently published a paper in Ecology. Results of the study show that grazing by recovering green turtle populations stimulates seagrass productivity, and that grazing intensity has a relevant role in regulating the productivity of Caribbean seagrass meadows. Authors highlight the need for a historical perspective and the use of appropriate indicators when evaluating seagrass response to grazing, as green turtle populations continue to recover and seagrass meadows are returned to a natural grazed state.

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