Dr. Paul Bologna is an Associate Professor of Biology and Molecular Biology and the Director of the Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences Program at Montclair State University. Dr. Bologna received a B.S. in Zoology from Michigan State University, a Masters Degree in Oceanography from the University of Maine, and a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of South Alabama. His research expertise lies within aquatic ecology with an emphasis on Submerged Aquatic Vegetation. For the last thirteen years Dr. Bologna has been involved in researching submerged aquatic vegetation in New Jersey and the Caribbean. Through his research efforts, significant advancements have been made in understanding eelgrass population genetics within New Jersey and among numerous sites in the United States. His research regarding seagrass restoration in New Jersey has demonstrated the efficacy of both physical transplant and seed related restoration techniques and earned him a 2002 Environmental Excellence Award from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Beyond these critical assessments of seagrass habitat, Dr. Bologna’s research regarding how the organisms within the seagrass beds influence secondary production and trophic transfer have been published in national and international journals with continued research in tropical biodiversity and the recent explosion of jellyfish populations in New Jersey. Dr. Bologna is also the current President of the New Jersey Academy of Sciences.
Seagrass Ecosystems: New Jersey and in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Stinging Sea Nettles: Population Biology and Impacts on food webs in New Jersey
This research project aims to evaluate sea nettle populations at early pelagic life history stages through molecular identification, to assess medusa stage distributions within the bay, and then predict the development of adult blooms. This process will use real-time PCR to quantify early pelagic stages and understanding the time lag between early appearance of ephyra and onset of juvenile and adults which will provide us with a temporal predictive model on the extent and severity of sea nettle blooms. Real-time PCR will allow us to not only determine and quantify the abundance of early medusa stages (ephyra), but also identify gametes and larval stages to assess sexual reproduction. Perhaps more importantly, standard collection of gelatinous zooplankton of this size damages ephyra and make it difficult to quantify abundance. Additionally, as sea nettles and other gelatinous zooplankton populations have increased, their distribution and abundance has the potential to shape planktonic food webs and larvae of benthic organisms (e.g., oysters and hard clams). Through our research, we will be able to determine the impacts of gelatinous zooplankton on pelagic communities and assess the relative contributions of Chrysaora compared to ctenophores in terms of their top-down impacts in this important New Jersey coastal system.
Zostera marina (eelgrass) is one of the most widely distributed seagrasses in the world. It serves as essential fish habitat for many commercially and recreationally important species and provides stability to coastal systems through reductions in water velocity, increased wave attenuation, and stabilization of sediments. However, due to coastal eutrophication, Z. marina has undergone significant declines in spatial coverage throughout much of its range. Along the mid-Atlantic Coast, Z. marina declines have been linked to disease and changes in water quality and the problems facing many coastal managers relate to minimizing losses and increasing coverage through restoration efforts. In New Jersey, the wasting disease outbreak in the 1930’s is thought to be responsible for the elimination of Z. marina in the southern part of the state. Since limited natural transport of seeds can occur across these distances, active restoration may lead to significant increases in spatial coverage if successfully reestablished in these regions. Essentially, once small populations are established, they can expand vegetatively and through seed dispersal. This project will provide a critical assessment of the genetic structure of Z. marina populations in New Jersey and proved guidance for future restorations efforts.