Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 9, 2014
Maine Maritime receives grant to conduct rockweed research
Maine Maritime Academy has received a research grant in the amount of $93,605 from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund Small Campus Initiative to conduct rockweed research, the academy announced in a press release.
Dr. Jessica Muhlin, associate professor of Marine Biology, will direct the project to conduct field and laboratory research on two types of seaweed—the commercially harvested Ascophyllum nodosum and the prevalent Fucus vesiculosus—in order to understand their contributions to the near-shore food web and ecosystem.
Field research will focus on characterizing the near-shore food web to understand which organisms feed on rockweed reproductive material. This research will include collaboration with Dr. Kenneth Dunton of the University of Texas at Austin and Dr. Brian Beal, professor of Marine Ecology at the University of Maine at Machias. The 18-month research project will involve students from Maine Maritime Academy and the University of Maine at Machias.
Ultimately, the research will inform the scientific community and policy managers, such as the Maine Department of Marine Resources, of the contribution of surplus reproductive material for commercially-harvested rockweed; provide insight into rearing M. edulis in shellfish hatcheries; and provide substantial preliminary data for a competitive submission for federal funds.