Environmental Research

In addition to cultural research we also perform a wide variety of research in the fields of natural and physical sciences ranging from sea grass studies, mollusks, sedimentation, hydrological and climatology just to name a few.

Soil Coring

GARI utilizes an array of soil sampling and analytical methods to establish contextual backgrounds for both archaeological and non-archaeological projects. The scope of soil study ranges from the notation of basic baseline sedimentary data to broad geomorphologic models of anthropogenic and natural landscape transformation.

In many cases, shallow stratigraphic control is developed through the use of open faced soil probes along linear transects. This method provides a description of pedogenesis and horizonation on standard variables including color, structure, consistency, texture, and boundaries. For projects where more sedimentary data are necessary, we specialize in sample collection using vibracoring devices. GARI employs custom-built pneumatic machines to collect samples in clear polyvinyl tubes. Operated by compressed air, vibracorers are particularly useful for sampling in difficult to access areas such as marshes and rivers. The coring machines are lubricated using vegetable oil making them ecologically friendly for sampling in underwater conditions. We possess extensive experience coring in terrestrial, riparian, estuarine, and marine environments.

Back in the lab we can apply a variety of techniques to address the specific units of analysis for each project. Available tests include: organic content, carbonate percentage, porosity, grain size, roundedness, and staining. GARI can also prepare soil samples to be sent for AMS radiocarbon dating or pollen analysis. Furthermore, we are always interested in refining existing methods and applying new methods for hypothesis testing and model

Mollusk-Sediment-Seagrass Study

GARI received a grant from the Felburn Foundation, and has partnered with the Florida Coastal Office of the Department of Environmental Protection, to study the mollusks and sediments from seagrass habitats within the St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve.

Seagrass communities are vital to the health of the estuaries and are one of the most biologically productive natural communities. Seagrass habitats and adjacent coastal marshes in the Big Bend Region of Florida support economically important commercial and recreational fishing industries and also provide critical habitat for many threatened and endangered species. Approximately seventy percent of Florida’s recreational marine fish species depend on the seagrass community at some stage of their lives. There are five different types of seagrass found within the Aquatic Preserve: manatee grass, shoal grass, star grass, turtle grass, and widgeon grass. Epiphytic algae and invertebrates adhere to the seagrass leaf blades. The seagrass and their epiphytes serve as important food sources for manatees, marine turtles, and many fish species. The seagrass communities also serve as shelter or nursery areas for many invertebrate and fish species. Depending on the species, mollusks such as gastropod snails and bivalve clams snails utilize the seagrass habits and/or their associated sediments. Some mollusk species live on the seagrass, or on top of the sediment, or they can burrow into the sediments that support the seagrass habitats.

Knowledge about the molluscan species composition from seagrass habitats and their sediments, the relationship between the various seagrass species, and growing environment, and sediments, is deficient across the vast Big Bend Region of shallow Gulf Waters. The purpose of the pilot study in the St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve is to provide new information about the molluscan fauna of the seagrass habitats, benthic environment, and the sedimentology of the environments that support various seagrass communities and the mollusks that depend on them. A mollusk species list from the seagrass habitats will be a valuable tool, and the information derived from this study will be useful for the long term management of the seagrass resource and for evaluation of impacts to seagrass communities.

GARI and FCO staff have collected numerous mollusk and sediment samples from established seagrass monitoring sites in the St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve. These samples are currently being processed at the GARI laboratory. Identification of the mollusks is underway and the taxonomic work has revealed that there are many species present.