The Bimini Biological Field Station is prepared to offer a limited number of independent studies to advanced undergraduate and graduate students. PhD students must ordinarily spend about a year in residence to develop their research proposal, seek funding and determine if they are able to lead a team of volunteer researchers. Such students become principle investigators and are supported by BBFS funds to the extent possible.
The Bimini Biological Field Station is seeking qualified doctoral students interested in doing graduate research on the lemon shark, (Negaprion brevirostris). Several field projects including GIS analysis, ecosystem dynamics modelling of shark nurseries, and genetic studies are available to students who have completed course requirements and seek a field-based project for their dissertation research.
The Bimini Biological Field Station does not confer degrees but rather makes a research environment available to the student. That environment includes a fully equipped and staffed small marine station on a semi-isolated Bahamian island, all meals and accommodations, assistance in the field by well-motivated volunteers and funds to carry out the field studies.
Undergraduate, Masters, & Independent Projects
The independent projects are shorter in duration, and less comprehensive. BBFS is not able to support living expenses of students undertaking independent projects. There is an additional fee to the usual costs for accommodation and meals. This fee varies by individual project and covers the added supervision and attention, use of certain BBFS resources (ie: vessels and gasoline) and the paperwork associated with the research. Students doing independent projects are encouraged to try for extramural or university funding to offset costs of the work including use of boats, research equipment and other resources such as fuel, nets etc.
Suggested Research Topics for Independent Projects:
(Note: These are only possible examples, not all ideas are listed or available)
1. Behavioral studies using magnetic and electropositive devices:
is needed to quantify swim behavior and location preference in the
presence of permanent magnetic fields and electropositive alloys. The
project includes designing and testing "magnetic fences" and optimizing
gear deployment for commercial fisheries.
For more information on this project, please contact the SharkLab or Eric at Shark Defense.
2. Temperature profiling of South Bimini nursery:
This would be a 2 student study. One student will come sooner and one later so temperature can be monitored throughout the year. This would include an initial temperature profile in the South Bimini nursery to determine best locations for iButtons. Thereafter, iButtons would need to be placed in strategic locations in the nursery to successfully model the temperature in GIS. These would have to be downloaded regularly. This project would also be involved with tracking of juveniles and subadults within the South Bimini nursery. Equipment needed: 50-80 iButtons with 50-80 housings.
To read more about our current Temperature Profiling study Click Here
3. Examination of prey communities over time:
This project would probably involve four students through the year. This project would involve sampling the prey communities within the nursery areas using seine nets and block nets to determine species abundance and diversity. The biodiversity of these areas would then be compared to that obtained during the 2000-2003 period to reveal any between-year differences.
To read more about our recent study on Prey Communities Click Here
4. Tide and current study:
This project would include modeling the tidal flow and currents within the North Sound and South Bimini nurseries. This study will reveal how water moves in and out of these areas thereby affecting temperature, sea surface levels and other environmental parameters such as salinity and oxygen concentration. These students will also participate in the tracking within the nurseries to examine how tides and currents affect shark movements.
5. Subadult lemon shark tracking:
This project would involve tracking subadult lemon sharks to determine movement patterns of sharks in these age classes; the frequency of entering the nursery areas. We will also determine which parts of the nurseries they utilize. The student will have to track these animals regularly as well as continuously for periods of 24-48 hours to get a completer picture of their movement patterns.
To read more about our Tracking Studies Click Here
6. Biodiversity of mangrove and seagrass habitats:
The aim of this study is to compare the teleost and macroinvertebrate biodiversity of two shark nursery areas, to identify any spatial and temporal patterns and variation. The importance of each area will be quantified in terms of commercially important fish and juvenile species with the aim of verifying the nursery function of mangroves and ultimately providing evidence for protecting Bimini's mangroves ecosystem. Data collection will involve seine netting over seagrass beds, and blocknetting to sample populations within mangrove prop roots. Project is underway and will finish in 2005. Good identification skills, GIS and use of dichotomous keys are a necessity.
To read more about our recent study on Nursery Biodiversity Click Here
Other project ideas - The following projects are relatively small studies, and could take place over a period of 3 to 6-months.
6. Lemon shark diet:
This is an area of the research that always requires more and more study. This project can take several different paths: ontogenetic shifts in diet, comparison of shark diet between two nursery areas, comparison of shark diet in wet/dry seasons, etc.
To read more about our recent study on the lemon shark's diet Click Here
7. Nutrition and energy content of lemon shark prey species:
For the purposes of determining if the lemon shark is foraging to maximise energy intake, and growth, the main prey species of the lemon shark need to be collected, and their energy content (bomb calorimetry-if absolutely necessary, samples can be run at student's university) and nutritional content determined. This project will involve a student coming to Bimini and collecting the samples, and then returning to their university for analysis.
8. Analysis of genetic data: Ongoing project, in collaboration with Dr. Kevin Feldheim
Comparison and analysis of already collected DNA samples with shark ID information. Teasing out of relations concerning survival and success of individual lemon sharks compared with non-related conspecifics.
To read more about this project Click Here
9. Monthly sampling of the settlement of invertebrate and fish larvae:
Sampling done by using Witham collectors placed through Bimini's lagoon. This is a continuing study underway for 16 months to date.
To read more about this project Click Here.
10. Data analysis projects:
Analysis of collected data in collaboration with Dr. Steve Newman, Plymouth University--The following possible projects involve analysing existing data while assisting in the data collection in the field for all aspects of the main project.
(some examples only):
Data analysis projects could be completed in a period of four to six months, or less.
- Relating shark catches with tidal and lunar cycles
- Analysis of shark recapture and shark movements within a nursery area
- Lemon shark diet and calculation of daily ration
- Seasonal variation in seagrass and mangrove biodiversity and fauna
- Diel variation in fish populations over seagrass beds
- Diet of juvenile lemon sharks in two nursery areas
- Seasonal variation in lemon shark diet
- Prey size selection of juvenile lemon sharks
- Daily ration and feeding periodicity of lemon sharks
- Biodiversity of the north sound/South Bimini
- Seasonal variation in biodiversity and fish assemblages
- Variation in biodiversity and biomass of fish populations with distance from shore
- Diel variations in biodiversity and biomass of fish and macroinvertebrate populations
To read more about Dr. Steve Newman's project Click Here
To propose other topics, or receive more suggested research topics, Contact Us.