A close up image of a small marine organism

Talitridae Girl Summer

A Santa Rosa Junior College - Bodega Marine Laboratory Internship Program Story

Viktoria was a high school dual enrollment at the Santa Rosa Junior and to be a freshman at UC Davis in the fall studying plant biology.

During the summer of 2023, I was gifted the incredible opportunity to contribute to the research taking place at the UC Davis Marine Laboratory. I was given many scientific experiences through this program, but my main research project was with my mentor Claire Murphy. Our research was focused on a small group of crustaceans called amphipods. Amphipods can dwell in multiple habitats both on land and in water; though we directed our work specifically toward those living on the beach. Their scientific name is Talitridae but they are commonly called beach hoppers. The name beach hopper is derived from their means of transportation. These small crustaceans essentially backflip, reaching remarkable heights, to get to their destination. Talitridae are common and found universally, yet little is known about them which meant we had lots to discover over the next few weeks. 

Claire and I embarked on our research journey with the attainable goal of gaining more knowledge about these organisms. Our hope was to eventually measure predation while also understanding the biotic and abiotic factors that influence their habits and lifestyle choices. 

Our first methods of research included creating fake wrack to better understand their relationship to organic sea wrack as both a food source and means of shelter and protection. We created mesocosms on multiple occasions which served different purposes for behavior analysis. Throughout our experimentation, we also completed tasks such as keying the species, tethering the talitridae, monitoring their behaviors, and completing scientific literature readings. Through our many observations, we were led to even more questions regarding the Talitridae. We were able to learn about their many fascinating habits and unique accompanying lifestyle which fueled our excitement during this internship.

My main focus within this internship was the Talitridae research, but I was also given the opportunity to help with other projects taking place in the lab. I was able to spend a day learning about a group of coastal beetles with a unique diet. I helped with a research project directed toward seagrass-wasting disease. I wore waders and went with a group to collect isopods which I later helped build an enclosure. I attended many seminars and lab events as well. This internship was truly an incredible experience that expanded my knowledge of the sciences. I was able to see what practical research looks like and understand its implications on the lives of scientists. I was blessed to be surrounded by many supportive and kind individuals throughout my experience at BML. I have gained confidence in my understanding of the sciences and I feel better prepared to enter a career within biology. I want to give a special thanks to the Stachowicz Lab and to my incredible mentor Claire Murphy.

About the Program: 

The SRJC-BML Internship Program provides summer research opportunities for Santa Rosa Junior College students at the Bodega Marine Laboratory.

Learn More

Primary Category