Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelors of Science

Degree Name

Marine Biology


Halmos College of Arts and Sciences and the Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center

Honors College

Farquhar Honors College Thesis

Honors College Dean

Andrea Nevins, Ph.D.

Home College Dean

Holly Lynn Baumgartner, Ph.D.

Faculty Advisor

David Kerstetter, Ph.D.


Increasing water temperatures resulting from global climate change introduce new energetic demands for marine organisms. Higher energy input will be required to cope with a subsequently higher metabolic rate, affecting all aspects of an individual’s life and therefore their survival. Because estuaries act as a link between rivers and oceans, they and their inhabitants are considered to be the most threatened by climate change. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how these organisms will respond to increased stressors due to climate change. Checkered pufferfish (Sphoeroides testudineus) are among the most common teleost fish in the Indian River Lagoon, and spend much of their life in seagrass beds, mangroves, and tidal marshes, making them an ideal study species. Intermittent-flow respirometry, which estimates standard and maximum metabolic rates by measuring oxygen consumption, is used to make inferences about how this species will cope with higher water temperatures. An increased aerobic scope, the difference between MMR and SMR, from 25 °C to 30 °C could reveal the ability of this species to modify its total energy budget amidst high stress conditions. Results indicate that survival favors a species with the ability to increase its metabolic rates in response to changing environmental conditions. Findings will contribute to the current knowledge of climate change and estuarine conservation research and will help to better understand and predict population changes of these and similar species.