This Summer, the Council of Oceanic Affairs, Science, and Technology (COAST) hosted undergraduate student internships at several of the 29 National Estuarine Research Reserves across the United States. Lab member Ethan Roberts spent his Summer interning with Jeff Crooks at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR), where he helped analyze historical data and update species identification guides. The goal of his internship project was to make the job of identifying cryptic species easier by pointing out key features and making direct visual comparisons, so he took to creating illustrations with pencil and colored pencil.
In one of his pieces, Ethan used image editing software to group his drawings of the most common local goby species onto a single page and scaled them to life-size. The print will later be used by the TRNERR team during the Fall research season.
Ethan’s work is also novel in that it accounts for species not seen in San Diego previously. For example, some salt marsh habitats at TRNERR are now home to the Princely fiddler crab, Uca princeps, a large tropical visitor not found in any modern field guides (below). As global climate change continues, taking a second look over dated species guides and implementing visual tools may become important parts of doing good science.
Contributor: Ethan Roberts
COAST offers internships and other research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students at Sacramento State and beyond! See here for details.