Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Marine Science


College of Business

First Advisor

Dr. Eric Rosch

Second Advisor

Dr. Angelos Hannides


Estuaries are unique biogeochemical zones in coastal systems that provide a myriad of ecological functions: providing habitat for critically important fishery species, diverse species of plants and animals, and contributing to nutrient cycling. Estuaries are vulnerable to anthropogenic stressors as they are intersections between marine and terrestrial communities and are often the hotspot of coastal development and activity. Estuarine sediments act as repositories for anthropogenic contaminants, including excess nutrient runoffs and waste-water pollution that can cause states of eutrophication. Microorganisms are sensitive to these environmental changes, presenting a unique opportunity of being useful bioindicators of environmental stress. Isolating microorganisms from marine environments presents unique challenges, and is often done using expensive and time-consuming sequencing analyses. However, the gut microbiome of surface-feeding detritivores, such as fiddler crabs, may serve as a more effective way to assesses environmental microbe speciation. In this study, we compared two estuaries in South Carolina, including Dunn Sound at Waties Island and Garden City Inlet at Garden City to compare the effects of excess nutrients on microbial composition and function. Using a combination of environmental chemical and microbial analyses over discrete temporal ranges we identified changes in nutrient input and the associated shifts in microbial diversity and ecological services.

Available for download on Friday, May 02, 2025