April 14, 2015
Cartago, on Isla Isabella, is the home of the largest mangrove forest in the Galapagos. Exploring and sampling these forests was quite a feat, but the scientists on this joint research effort of the Charles Darwin Foundation, the University of North Carolina, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography were up to the task. This forest was the first stop on our expedition around the Galapagos Archipelago to study mangrove ecosystem services. Mangrove forests provide important habitat and food for fishes, and, in order to quantify these ecological links, the team is performing surveys of fish populations in mangroves and nearby habitats, observing feeding and habitat use with submersible camera mounts, and examining fish DNA and stomach content samples. The Gulf of California Marine Program is also measuring the carbon content of the sediments accumulated by these forests to estimate their value for carbon sequestration. These volcanic islands are very rocky, making it difficult to find places to core for soft sediments. Even when we can find them, it is still hard work. Beneath this Avicennia germinans mangrove, José takes a turn hammering the coring device into the ground, while Ismael holds it steady, and Matt monitors the slow progress. We were able to core down to one meter depth, our deepest so far here in the Galapagos, obtaining samples of mangrove peat. Hopefully the rest of the samples will be a little easier to get!
Author: Matthew Costa
PhD student, SIO
Matthew Costa is a Regents Fellow 2013-4 and NSF Graduate Research Fellow 2014-present, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in biological oceanography as part of the Gulf of California Marine Program. He is interested in community ecology, biodiversity and functional diversity, and coastal ecosystem processes and services. His research focuses on carbon storage in sediments of the mangrove forests in the southern Gulf of California. Prior to study at SIO, he completed a B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University studying mangrove species zonation in Bermuda.