SURF

Amelia Weiss

Abiotic Influences on the Distributions of Tropical Cave-Dwellers

While there have been relatively many studies of cave ecology in temperate regions, tropical cave ecology is vastly understudied. The purpose of my research is to identify some of the non-living environmental features that influence species distributions through Cueva Nibida, a large cave on an island off Panamas Caribbean coast. It is of growing importance that this ecosystem be understood so that conservation measures can be enacted to mitigate human impact brought upon by increasing tourism to the region. To accomplish this, I will map invertebrate distributions and abundances through the cave, and will also map changes in abiotic characteristics such as chamber size and water depth. These two maps will be overlain on one another to reveal correlations between differences in community composition and changes in the physical environment.

Message to Sponsor

Caves and the organisms that inhabit them have always fascinated me, but the challenges associated with cave research are intimidating for an undergraduate student conducting my first independent research study. By providing both financial support and advising through the summer, the SURF program makes my research goals more attainable. I am intent on pursuing a PhD and a research career, so this fellowship provides an excellent opportunity for me to gain experience and become a better researcher.
  • Major: Earth and Planetary Science
  • Sponsor: Thye Fund
  • Mentor: Wayne Sousa and David Lindberg, Integrative Biology