Student thesis: whales, coffee and seaweed

Hand of student making ASU sign with white pain on palm after paining letter A in A MountainA group of three ASU honors students successfully defended their conservation-themed thesis at the end of spring 2019. Below is a summary of each of their research topics and highlights from their presentations: Attitudes of Lobstermen in Maine Regarding the Conservation of Right Whales [Madison Bolduc] North Atlantic right whale populations are rapidly declining, with only around 450 individuals left in the world. There have been many instances of right whales getting caught in the vertical line lobstermen use to connect the lobster trap at the bottom of the ocean to a buoy at the surface. Although, whales are often able to free themselves from traps, nearly 80 percent of right whales have scars from rope entanglement. More so, researchers believe the stress from entanglement is correlated with less individuals breeding. New regulations have thus been put into place that impact the lobster industry. Madison’s thesis involved a survey that asked lobstermen about their opinions surrounding conservation, right whales and potential regulations to mitigate the issue without majorly affecting the industry. Coffee Agroecosystems: A Conservation Agreement - Based Approach to Protecting Biodiversity in San Martin, Peru [Celeste Dalaune] In this study, Celeste and her team were interested in determining the relationship between shade cover and biodiversity on coffee farms in the Alto Mayo Protection Forest in San Martin, Peru. This in turn shows the effectivity of Conservation Agreements that were implemented by Conservation International among the participating subscriber plots. This project is a small subsection of a larger study Conservation International is carrying out. A Comprehensive review of the Sargassum Seaweed Invasion in the Gulf of Mexico [Ryan Van Bussum] Ryan reviewed parameters around the Sargassum Seaweed invasion occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. He determined specific factors that contribute to and promote the seaweed’s population within the gulf as well as potential environmental problems the invasion causes. With this knowledge, he proposed solutions to manage the invasive plant’s growth in its unnatural habitat.