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Graduate Research Fellowships

OIMB graduate student
In 1997, the NERRS initiated funding for a competitive Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) program to promote the use of the reserves as sites for applied research.  These fellowships provide selected graduate students with financial support for research projects that address coastal zone management issues, fall within the NERRS research priorities, and are conducted, at least partially, within a NERRS site. Graduate students participating in the GRF program are asked to provide up to 15 hours per week of research assistance to participating reserves.

GRF Research Projects
There is an increased graduate student involvement in South Slough NERR research projects through participation in the NERRS Graduate Research Fellowship program and collaborations with universities.   The Reserve currently shares administrative resources and laboratory facilities with the University of Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.  
NOAA and the Estuarine Reserves Division (ERD) currently provides financial support for two NERR Graduate Research Fellowship grants awarded to graduate students who conduct their thesis work within the South Slough NERR.  The GRFs are Holly Keammerer, Ph.D. candidate, University of Oregon, and Matthew Gray, Ph.D. candidate, Oregon State University.

Holly Keammerer, Ph.D. student, University of Oregon
Holly Keammerer's GRF proposal is titled “Evaluating interaction intensity between seedlings of five salt marsh species and existing emergent vegetation” and she has received federal support to conduct laboratory and field experiments to examine competition and facilitation within the plant communities that inhabit salt marshes in the South Slough. Holly worked over the summer and fall to complete the sampling of salt marsh communities within six marshes located along the estuarine gradient of the South Slough.  She has generated quantitative information to describe the composition and abundance of the different marsh communities and is working to analyze the relationship between community composition and abiotic factors such as inundation time, sediment grain size distribution, pore water content, total sediment nitrogen, and total sediment carbon.  In addition, Holly is also conducting statistical analyses of a transplant experiment conducted within Metcalf Marsh to investigate the role of competitive interactions in establishing the ecological boundary between high and low marsh communities. Holly is also analyzing the results from a seed bank and seed transplant experiment conducted within three marshes (Metcalf, Hidden Creek, Tom’s Creek) to evaluate the intensity of interactions between germinating seedlings and the existing community of emergent plants.

Matthew Gray, Ph.D. student, Oregon State University
Matthew Gray's GRF proposal is titled “Interspecific competition between native Olympia oysters (Ostrea lurida) and introduced Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas)” and he will receive up to 3 years of federal support to compare and contrast the feeding biology of Olympia and Pacific oysters in South Slough and Yaquina Bay.  The primary emphasis will be to evaluate feeding efficiencies for the two species of oysters under different field conditions, and to determine the likelihood of competition for food resources.  Matthew worked over the summer and fall seasons to develop the techniques that will be used in the laboratory and field to generate quantitative measurements of oyster feeding rates.  He has encountered technical complications with the use of a laboratory Coulter Counter that enumerates the concentrations of unicellular organisms suspended in seawater.  In particular, the technique is very sensitive to the design and construction of the flow-through system developed to move water from the living oysters to the counting cell inside the Coulter Counter.  Matthew is currently generating measurements of the feeding frequency of adult Olympia oysters, and it appears that the concentration of food particles suspended in the water column affects the feeding frequency and filtration rates of the oysters.  Matt delivered a presentation to describe the emphasis and primary approach of his thesis work during the Pacific Shellfish Growers Association Annual Conference in September 2010 held in Tacoma, WA.

Rick Cowlishaw, Ph.D. 2001, University of

The role of microzooplankton in planktonic energy transfer and community structure in an estuarine habitat.

Eric Milbrandt, Ph.D. 2003, University of

Population dynamics in anaerobic bacteria after disturbance:  Comparison between restored and natural salt marsh sediments.

Jessica Miller, Ph.D. 2004, University of

Larval supplies, delivery mechanisms, and recruitment of larval and juvenile fish within non-native eelgrass beds and tidal channels of the South Slough estuary.

Mike Berger, Ph.D. 2004, University of

Growth, survival, and expression of heat shock proteins in balanomorph barnacles as measures of organismal performance along South Slough estuarine gradients.