Please join us Thursday March 7th, 2019 at 5:30 pm at the Guinea Company Warehouse in Christiansted as Alexandra Gulick discusses her PhD work on at Buck Island.

NPS Seminar – March 7, 2019
Alexandra Gulick, PhD Candidate
University of Florida

Project Summary

In the age of global seagrass decline and the recovery of green turtle populations, the research of University of Florida PhD Candidate, Alexandra Gulick, focuses on the foraging and behavioral ecology of green turtles in seagrass ecosystems. Using herbivore exclosures and stationary benthic cameras, Alexandra is evaluating the role of green turtle grazing in regulating the productivity of seagrass ecosystems and how seagrass pasture characteristics may influence green turtle grazing behavior at Buck Island Reef National Monument. Understanding the primary drivers of seagrass productivity in grazed meadows and how green turtles interact with their foraging habitats is important when evaluating the role and sustainability of increased grazing pressure on ecosystem function. As many green turtle populations continue to recover globally, this work will provide valuable insight into these interactions and aid the development of ecosystem-based approaches to conservation of green turtles and a valuable coastal ecosystem.


Funding for this project was provided by the National Park Service at BIRNM, Mosaics in Science and Diversity, PADI Foundation, UF Department of Biology, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Big Beards Adventure Tours, Disney Conservation Fund (Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research), and private donations to the ACCSTR.


Presenter Bio:

Alexandra Gulick is a PhD Candidate in Zoology at the University of Florida, Department of Biology and Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research.  Alexandra is broadly interested in marine community ecology and the foraging / behavioral ecology of migratory marine organisms, with a current focus on green turtle grazing dynamics. Her interest in sea turtles began as a research assistant in 2013 for the Buck Island Sea Turtle Research Program. Fieldwork for her doctoral research is focused at Buck Island Reef National Monument (St. Croix), with satellite sites in Little Cayman, Bonaire, Eleuthera (Bahamas), and Florida. Alexandra holds a B.Sc. in Biology from Oregon State University.


Photo credits and captions


  • Alexandra Gulick (left) and ACCSTR assistant, Laura Palma (right) taking a seagrass rhizome core sample from a herbivore exclosure. Exclosures are used to study the impacts of green turtle grazing on seagrass productivity. Photo credit: Shaun Wolfe, NPS/OWUSS
  • Alexandra Gulick holds a juvenile green turtle that has been tagged as a part of a long-term monitoring project conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service at Buck Island Reef National Monument. Photo credit: Kristen Hart, USGS (NMFS Permit #16146)