All posts by Jonathan Veach

Coral Creek Restoration Monitoring – Investigating Juvenile Sport Fish Nursery Habitats

By Courtney Saari, Dave Blewett, and Tim MacDonald

Fisheries scientists from FWRI’s Fisheries-Independent Monitoring (FIM) and Fish Biology section have been collaborating with scientists and managers from the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), Bonefish Tarpon Trust (BTT), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and FWC’s Habitat and Species division (HSC) to assess restoration techniques for fish nursery habitats in the Charlotte Harbor Estuary. This partnership formed almost a decade ago when SWFWMD was in the initial phase of the Coral Creek Ecosystem Restoration project and biologists observed large numbers of juvenile Tarpon in a small section of the relic man-made canal system that was next in line for restoration. After this discovery, fisheries scientists from BTT and FWRI and restoration scientists from SWFWMD all agreed that the next phase of restoration presented a unique opportunity to examine different restored habitat designs as they relate to juvenile sport fish habitat use.

Figure 2. The relic man-made canals prior to restoration.

The Coral Creek Ecosystem Restoration project is taking place in the Charlotte Harbor State Preserve on the Cape Haze Peninsula (cover image). The project consists of several phases of hydrologic and habitat restoration of approximately 2,600 acres of degraded and impacted wetlands within the preserve (SWFWMD 2010). One phase of this project converted six relic man-made canals into marsh ponds with varying degrees of connectivity to the open creek (Figure 2). A limited connection to the estuary is an important feature commonly observed in nursery habitat studies involving tarpon and common snook, where tidal flow and access is restricted seasonally (ex., rain flooded marshes meet summer high tides) or driven by weather events (ex. tropical storms and hurricanes). Restricted access seems to be important for recruitment and likely helps separate the juvenile fish from large predatory fish that cannot access these habitats or tolerate harsh wetland conditions. Therefore, the restoration of the canals used an experimental design with habitat connections in mind. Four of the canals were designed to be marsh ponds with an earthen sill at the entrance to limit tidal exchange and access by predatory fish, while the other two were designed as marsh ponds open to tidal flow. The constructed canal sills were augmented with bagged and loose fossilized shell to achieve desired elevations. In addition, within each connection type, the marsh ponds have varying depth contours, with the presence/absence of a deep hole habitat.

The entrance to one of the restored marsh ponds.

A 3-year project to follow up on these restoration efforts, made possible through Charlotte County’s RESTORE Act funding (Charlotte County 2015), is currently underway, where FIM staff are characterizing fish assemblages and juvenile sport fish use of 1) the restored marsh ponds, 2) natural marsh ponds in the nearby landscape, and 3) the associated tidal creek (Coral Creek) into which the restored ponds discharge and two adjacent reference creeks. Concurrently, our partners at BTT are tagging juvenile sport fish and tracking movements of these fish in and around the restored marsh ponds and FWRI is tracking juvenile sport fish movements in the natural ponds. Characterizing the physical attributes of these restore and natural marsh ponds (e.g., depths, frequency of tidal inundation) and the dynamics of fish use (e.g., fish density and movement between ponds) will inform future restoration and preservation efforts for juvenile sport fish habitat.

Citations

Charlotte County. 2015. RESTORE Act Advisory Board. https://www.charlottecountyfl.gov/boards-committees/raab/Pages/default.aspx

Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD). 2010. Peace River Basin Projects. https://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/sites/default/files/calendar/others/peace_projects_dec.pdf

Documentation of a Neuromuscular Disorder in Florida Panthers

By Dave Onorato, Lara Cusack, and Mark Cunningham

Florida’s panther has made significant progress towards recovery during the last 25 years.  One aspect of our research that has assisted with this improved outlook for panthers is our continual monitoring for signs of any disease issues that may surface in the population, since these have the potential to impact prospects for long term persistence.  During this period, a number of significant disease events have occurred, including infections with feline leukemia virus and pseudorabies virus.  In spring 2018, via a collaboration with members of the public and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (CSS) in Collier County, the FWC Panther Team identified a litter of kittens on trail camera videos that appeared to have weakness in their hind limbs.  Subsequent deployment of additional video cameras in the area by FWC further documented the difficulties one of these kittens was having when trying to keep up with the dam.  

This neuromuscular disorder (termed feline leukomyelopathy [FLM]) has now been documented via necropsies in two panthers and a bobcat.  While the total number of panthers impacted is unknown, we have evidence that <10 are affected.  FLM presents as demyelination of portions of the spinal cord, brainstem, and cerebellum.  It is suspected that this impacts locomotion in the afflicted animals.  Since the initial documentation in 2018, FWC has ramped up monitoring and capture efforts in areas where we suspect FLM is affecting wild felids.  Documented cases have so far been restricted to Collier County, although video and photos suggest FLM may be present in other counties in SW Florida.  There are still many unknowns as to what might be the root cause of FLM; is it viral? congenital? is it related to the application of herbicides or pesticides?  Analyses on samples we have collected from afflicted felids have permitted us to determine that FLM is probably not congenital, as it has been documented in two species.  A viral component has not been ruled out.  Of particular interest is the plausibility of an environmental toxicant.  Since we’ve seen most cases of FLM present themselves in panther kittens, it seems reasonable that a toxicant may be more impactful on kittens as opposed to adults.  One thing is certain; demyelination resulting from FLM is permanent, so afflicted animals can’t recover.

The outpouring of public support has been amazing with regards to sharing videos and reports of animals appearing to have the same condition in Florida and beyond.  Furthermore, FWC has received offers of assistance from experts in veterinary medicine from around the globe in order to try and determine what is causing FLM.  Our long-term research and monitoring program has permitted us to identify this condition in a timely manner, something that could prove critical if FLM ends up being more widespread in Florida panthers.      

Problems Equal Opportunities

By Ryan Henry and Andy Strickland

Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle in October 2018. With sustained winds of 160 mph, Hurricane Michael was the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle since record-keeping began in 1851. The east side of the eyewall swept up through the Chipola River drainage, resulting in the destruction of many small towns along the way. Heavy winds and rain destroyed much of the riparian zone, compromised sewage systems and flushed many, low-oxygen, swamp areas. Subsequently, several fish kills were reported on the Chipola River in the days following Hurricane Michael.

Young of the year shoal bass collected from the Chipola River.

The Chipola River is home to the only known population of naturally reproducing shoal bass (Micropterus cataractae) in Florida. They are listed as a species of greatest conservation need by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and have historically been found in a 30-km stretch of the Chipola south of Marianna. Following Hurricane Michael, water levels remained high and unable to be sampled for nearly seven months. When water levels receded, a Shoal Bass abundance survey was conducted. This was the first sampling event targeting shoal bass on the Chipola River since fall 2017, when 361 individuals were collected. During four sampling events in May 2019, only 33 adult shoal bass were collected. This is a 91% decrease in catch compared to the most recent sample before the storm. Subsequent sampling in August and October also showed very low numbers of adults, though some reproduction for 2019 was documented.

Since our initial survey, a few management actions have been implemented. In June, an Executive Order suspending the harvest of shoal bass on the Chipola River was issued. At the recent Commission meeting in October, suspension of harvest for shoal bass on the Chipola River was proposed as a rule and is pending public comment. In addition, we began to collect adult shoal bass to send to the Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center to serve as brood stock for supplemental stocking. Currently, 19 shoal bass are being held at the hatchery facility. Fin clips have been sent to the genetics lab in Saint Petersburg to be tested for genetic purity. A multiyear stock enhancement study is slated to begin in spring of 2020. Additional research to evaluate changes in river habitat before and after the storm is also anticipated.

The Florida Fire Data Set

By Jennylyn Redner

Comprehensive, spatially explicit fire occurrence data is a critical need across Florida and the southeast. Many species and ecosystems throughout the state are reliant on fires and have specific requirements in frequency and seasonal timing to thrive as a species and function properly as a natural system. The availability of spatially and temporally accurate fire data is imperative to the successful management of natural resources in the state of Florida.

The Florida Fire data set is a comprehensive, spatially explicit map of wild and prescribed fire occurrences across the state. This data set was developed by Tall Timbers Research Station for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and relies on USGS Burned Area products which combines change detection algorithms, spectral indices, and reference areas with LANDSAT Imagery. The resulting product delineates burned areas at a 30 m pixel resolution for fires which occurred between 2006 – 2018 and includes fire regime metrics. Number of times burned, year last burned, and time since previous fire metrics are included in the data set. This is a living data set, updated annually as new USGS Burned Area products and LANDSAT imagery are released. Future efforts will include delineating historic fires for years dating back to 1984.

The fine scale resolution coupled with the spatial and temporal extent make this a unique and invaluable asset previously unavailable to natural resource managers, researchers and biologists. Developing a map-centric tool for the Conservation Planning Atlas (CPA) was a logical choice for disseminating this information to conservation partners.

This fire data is available through a web application that also contains land cover, management areas and potential habitat for threatened and endangered species in Florida which rely on pyrogenic communities. The fire web app tool on the CPA includes many standard GIS features and functions which will be familiar to GIS users, including adding custom data sets, the ability to filter, query and view attributes, and create maps.

Development continues on the web application to improve functionality and user experience. Due to the size, state extent, and complexity of the participating data sets, configuration of the web application and published feature services remains under development. Drawing properties, vector tiles, and scale displays are modified to improve functionality as user feedback is received.

The Florida Fire data set can be viewed and explored without ArcGIS software using the Fire Map Viewer: https://flcpa.databasin.org/ The data set can also be downloaded on the FWC GIS data page, https://myfwc.com/research/gis/regional-projects/florida-fire/

Additionally, to improve user experience and support, a user guide was developed to cover the functionality of the fire web application. This user guide provides an over view of the data and serve as a basic tutorial. Users are encouraged to provide feedback and report errors.

To obtain the full project report including detailed methods, results and project deliverables (45MB) email landcovermap@myfwc.com.

30,000 Fish Kill Reports is a Big Deal

By Cat Brown

July 24, 2019 was a momentous day for Fish and Wildlife Health (FWH). It looked like another day, until Pete Wenner from DEP sent Theresa Cody an email reporting water discoloration in the Hillsborough River near the Buchman Bridge. Pete described floc-like orange masses, possibly indicating the presence of iron-reducing bacteria where the water had pooled. DEP staff planned to investigate and possibly even use their newest acquired iolight field microscope. However, it was soon discovered that the discoloration was apparently normal. The surrounding pine flatwoods soils comprises acidic sands over a clay layer from which iron oxides may naturally leach with the rise and fall of ground water. And so, this particularly not very exciting report, that did not even have dead fish associated with it, turned out to be the FWC’s Fish Kill Hotline’s (FKH) 30,000 report.

Since the hotline’s inception in September 1995, in addition to responding to over 30,000 calls, the FWH group has investigated 988 sites, provided 4837 data information requests and emailed over 5000 educational brochures. Through the FKH, FWH staff document and track reported fish kills and disease events, initiate governmental event response as needed, provide expert information to the public on fish health related issues and respond to information requests. We have long depended on citizen scientists to help track fish kills and monitor aquatic animal diseases in state waters. We have worked to increase public awareness of the FKH and associated web‐site through various outreach activities.

Monitoring fish kills around the state allows us to recognize important epizootics and opportunistically collect biological samples.  Our database can be queried online to help interested parties determine the status and the historical trends for reported fish disease and mortality events. The FKH is a unique tool for FWC that allows citizens and scientists to communicate and work together for the good of Florida’s natural resources.

Agency News

Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards

This past September, FWRI’s Beth Stys was honored with an Honorable Mention from the 2019 Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources. Beth is being recognized in the “Individual Achievement” category for demonstrating exemplary leadership in reducing climate-related threats and promoting adaptation of the nation’s natural resources.

Through personal passion and leadership Beth has been the most significant contributor to FWC’s climate adaptation program in the agency’s history. Beth became lead of FWC’s adaptation working group around 2011. In that capacity, Beth led development of the Florida Adaptation Guide, a comprehensive resource for natural resource managers. Beth also took on the role of Science Coordinator for the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) in 2015, and she leveraged this role to build partnerships and cultivate a forward-thinking approach to implementing adaptation at a landscape-scale. Beth’s commitment to excellence and drive is apparent in how her body of work has evolved over time, regardless of setbacks. When she saw the need for the Adaptation Guide to function as a living resource accessible to a wider audience, she expanded the content into the newly released Climate Adaptation Explorer, an interactive digital guide. (Visit the site here) When funding for the PFLCC dissipated, she forged a collaborative partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to continue her mission of implementing adaptation on a landscape-scale. Beyond the accomplishments listed above, Beth has led numerous planning and training workshops and has secured funding and support for a full-time agency adaptation coordinator. Beth has been a behind-the-scenes presence throughout much of her work. However, from research and vulnerability assessments to policy to capacity-building, it is not an understatement to say that FWC would not have an adaptation program today without the efforts of this remarkable person who made the choice to step up and get involved.

The Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources was established in 2016 to bring to light many of the outstanding projects or activities that are advancing the resilience of our nation’s valuable fish, wildlife, and plant resources in a changing climate. This award acknowledges the leadership of those individuals, organizations, businesses, and agencies that are making it happen and promote their work as examples of successful climate adaptation.

Communications Corner

MarineQuest 25

As many know by now, the 25th anniversary of FWRI’s open house, MarineQuest, was cancelled this year due to Tropical Storm Nestor, which brought severe thunderstorms and high winds to the Tampa Bay area. While the public open house on Saturday was cancelled, School Daze still went on without any issues on Thursday and Friday and many school-children were able to experience a day of fish and wildlife education and fun. There were some new editions this year, like the “Bat Bonanza” display that had visitors exploring a “cave” and examining real Florida bat specimens.

This is the first time MarineQuest has been cancelled in its history, which is itself something of an achievement. While it is unfortunate that FWRI had to cancel the event, the safety of staff and visitors takes precedence. We look forward to seeing everyone next year at MarineQuest 26!

Research Spotlight

User Opinions of Hydrilla and Hydrilla Management at Lake Harris

By Daniel Nelson

Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) was introduced to Florida in the 1950’s and impacted over 140,000 acres of waterways by the early 1990’s (University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences). The rapid spread of this aquatic plant can be attributed to the plant’s ability to establish new infestations based on small fragments, grow an inch or more a day, and grow in deeper water due to lower light requirements. These factors, among others, allow the plant to quickly out-compete other native aquatic plants, quickly developing a monoculture of submerged plants.

The rapid growth of hydrilla creates dense mats of vegetation at or near the water’s surface among many of Florida’s shallow waterbodies. This creates problems for water level control, and recreational uses including access and navigation of Florida’s lakes. Although there is a significant list of negative results of these infestations, there are definite positives as well. Hydrilla provides habitat for many sport fishes in Florida, especially the highly sought-after largemouth bass. Hydrilla also provides an ample food source for many migratory waterfowl species as well as a natural filtering component for nutrient rich waterbodies.

As these infestations have drastically altered areas of Florida, the issues have become extremely polarizing. In recent years, hydrilla has expanded in Lake Harris. In 2017 and 2018, it was estimated that 30% of the lake was covered in submersed plants, of which roughly 70% was hydrilla. Most stakeholder input received by FWC on hydrilla management was through stakeholder meetings or on various social media outlets. To make more informed decisions on hydrilla management, FWC needed a tool to better assess the varying levels of use on waterbodies, as well as the full spectrum of opinions of hydrilla management at these waterbodies. Biologists from FWRI, Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management and Invasive Plant Management worked together to develop this tool at Lake Harris.

Biologists were able to quantify the proportions of different users at Lake Harris by implementing a moving boat count into the annual creel survey. During the surveys, all moving boats were counted, therefore it could be inferred the proportion of boat included and not included in the creel. Boat type activities were then informed by a secondary survey at access points. These access point surveys then revealed the different activity proportions by different boat types and could be applied to all the moving boats seen on the lake. Finally, a 22-question survey was developed to identify the opinions of the various user groups at Lake Harris.

Since November 2018, 2,908 moving boats were identified using Lake Harris. The proportion of activity by each boat type was categorized by interviewing 1,095 boats. Bass boats and pontoons made up 61% of all boats using Lake Harris. The use at Lake Harris was split between angling (45%) and boating (55%). Boaters had a more negative opinion overall of hydrilla than largemouth bass anglers. Black Crappie and Sunfish anglers tended to be more similar to boaters, as their fishing techniques were negatively impacted by dense hydrilla. A high majority (94%) of all users wanted to see native vegetation expand in the absence of hydrilla. When asked about the use of herbicide as a control method, 35% of users voiced some concern. If FWC was to discontinue their treatment, 86% of users thought that hydrilla would expand greatly or cover the entire lake. Overall, users at Lake Harris had somewhat positive opinions (3.48) when asked if they were satisfied with FWC’s management of hydrilla (Likert scale 1-5; Extremely Negative to Extremely Positive).

This survey provided a framework for future research to quantify different user groups at different waterbodies to inform FWC when making aquatic management decisions. The survey also provided a representative, proactive approach to better understanding the user dynamics at Lake Harris and how they relate to the management of hydrilla. FWC can use the results of this study to target specific groups based on the current contact list when deciding on future management actions. This study at Lake Harris concluded that although biologists may hear from a vocal group of users that are displeased with management, overall users are more satisfied than originally thought.

Staff Spotlight

This issue, Eric Weather, from Fisheries Independent Monitoring answered a few of our questions about himself and his career. Thanks, Eric.

What has your professional experience been like?

My experience began as a trout fisherman in the tributaries of Lake Ontario.   On a typical cold and misty fall afternoon in Western New York, I hiked down to a familiar trout hole on the Oak Orchard Creek.  I balanced on submerged cobbles along the shin deep river bank and rolled a marinated salmon egg toward the edge of an eddy with my grandfathers homemade bamboo fly rod.  A fresh run steelhead took the bait and charged down river.  That beautiful fish fought hard.  He was only hooked for a few minutes, but I was hooked for life…

A handful of years later I graduated from the University of Rhode Island with an undergraduate degree in Fisheries Science.  I began my career with the USDA Forest Service in the Klamath National Forest, California, sampling salmon carcasses at varying levels of decay.  A few years later the draw of the warm and diverse gulf brought me to St. Pete where I’ve worked with the FIM program for roughly 13 years. 

What are you working on now?

I work on a wide variety of FIM related projects.  Inshore and offshore field sampling, habitat mapping, GIS analysis, outreach products, etc.  The two science related topics I am most focused on currently are; developing an automated approach for habitat classification for multibeam sonar data and cross-comparing those results with habitat classes derived from side-scan sonar data; and, utilizing historic FIM and HAB data to better understand the impacts of red tide events in the estuaries along the west coast of Florida.

How is this information beneficial?

FIM’s mission is to provide timely data to support stock assessments and management decisions.  The habitat classification information will help inform FIM’s Gulf of Mexico stratified-random sampling survey design, which provides critical information for stock assessments.  The HAB impacts on estuarine fishes information will help managers and stock assessors better understand how to model populations and make informed decisions following perturbations such as red tide.

What is your typical work day like?

I choose this field in protest to the idea of a “typical work day.”

What is your greatest career accomplishment?

This is an extremely competitive field and it requires a unique set of skills and a driving desire to do good for our environment.  My greatest accomplishment has been having the opportunity to hire some incredibly talented individuals and work with them to develop their skills and confidence to become amazing scientists, that are having a positive impact on our world.

What are some of your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge I face is time.  There so much important work to be done here, and so many directions that we can go, it can be difficult to find balance at times. 

What do you like most about your career?

I love the people I get to work with and their passion for this field.  I learn something new every day.  I also love being on the water and staying connected to the data at the level of the sample.

Was this your original career interest? Why or why not?

At 6 years old I was lounging on an itchy corduroy couch in my parents cold basement during a typical 9-month Buffalo, NY winter when an episode of Jaques Costeau’s Undersea World  came on and changed my life.  It was from that point on that I knew I wanted to work on the ocean. 

Before that,  I was primarily interested in being a cowboy.

What would you do if you weren’t involved in science?

It’s the fisheries part of the science that most interests me.  If I wasn’t involved in fisheries science, I’d probably be a charter fisherman or a distracted contractor that cuts out of work early to go fishing, or a cowboy.

What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing a career in your field?

It’s not the opportunities that you can see that make the difference, it’s the ones that you make.  I don’t know who said that but I’m sure I didn’t make it up.  Seth Godin wrote a blog entitled something like – “Pick Yourself.”  This comment was based on his observation that in the world we live in today, the “gatekeepers” are sort of going away.  In this type of highly competitive field full of incredibly intelligent and motivated people, you need to find what problem you’re interested in solving, combine that with what you are good at (or would like to be good at) and create your own space.  Make your opportunities.  Pick yourself.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy sacrificing my free time to run a business that keeps my family financially viable.  I hope to someday have some of this so called “free time” to go fishing more.  I have an amazing family; my wife and two boys are everything to me and we enjoy being together and being healthy.  Everything else is gravy.

Director Message

Introverts in Flatland

By Gil McRae, FWRI Director

“Distress not yourself if you cannot at first understand the deeper mysteries of Spaceland. By degrees they will dawn upon you.”
― Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Some of you may be familiar with Edwin Abbott’s work quoted above.  Flatland (1884) is a novella about a two-dimensional world that satirizes Victorian class culture.  The residents of Flatland, without a third dimension, have no “space” as we commonly know it.  There is no “up” or “down” simply forward, backward and side-to-side.  In addition, there are distinctions based on gender and class.  All women are lines, regardless of standing, so they can literally disappear if viewed end to end.  For men, the complexity of the shape dictates the social class. Middle class workmen are equilateral triangles, gentlemen are pentagons, nobility are hexagons and the priestly order are circles.  Of course, in two dimensions (other than the ability of women to disappear) all these shapes look pretty much the same, so additional senses (smell, sound) are used to distinguish classes.  For example, women (the lines) are required by law to emit a loud cry as they move, lest they accidently stab someone if approaching them end-to-end.  In addition to its satirical elements, Flatland is fascinating from a geometrical standpoint.  This is most notable when a sphere visits from the three-dimensional world (aka spaceland).  A sphere viewed in two dimensions is essentially a line that starts small, gets bigger, then smaller as the sphere passes through flatland – and of course to a Flatlander the sphere appears out of nowhere.  Flatland had a bit of a renaissance moment in the early twentieth century when some interpreted Einstein’s theory of relativity as predicting a 4th dimension.  This is not technically true, and subsequent work by Hermann Minkowski (which Einstein ultimately agreed with) established the notion of “space-time” in which time and space are one intertwined fabric.  Einstein considered time itself the 4th dimension and his theories predict (later confirmed) that time slows down for observers moving fast relative to those moving slowly and that time also slows for observers in higher gravitational fields relative to those within weaker gravitational fields (string theory needs 10 or more dimensions to make the math work, but let’s not go there).  So, does this mean people that live in high rises age quicker (lower gravity) and that truck drivers age more slowly (higher speeds on average) than a non-trucker, non-high-rise dweller?  Yes, but infinitesimally so.  You may have heard about the recent confirmation of gravitational waves by multiple astronomers.  In the most well-known case, these waves were created when two black holes collided a billion years ago.  This collision was so cataclysmic it warped space-time, created the waves that were detected by sensors on earth a few years ago, and confirmed a key component of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

So, Flatlanders are locked into a perceptive bias based on what is observable to them, and there is a lot more going on in our three/four-dimensional world than we realize or can detect with our senses.  This got me thinking about human personality and the way we perceive the world and interact with each other.  The psychiatrist Carl Jung defined the terms introvert and extravert in the early twentieth century, but not how the terms are commonly used today.  Jung used the terms to distinguish whether individuals focus their energy on the inner world or the self (introverts) or external world (extraverts).  This is not necessarily the same as todays common usage where introverts are seen as shy and withdrawn while extraverts are social and outgoing.  The reality is more complicated.  Recent studies have shown that brains of extraverts and introverts (in the Jungian sense) fundamentally differ.  Extraverts are more sensitive to reward than punishment and tend to have more dopamine receptors in the midbrain.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that creates a pleasurable feeling.  Introverts have greater blood flow on the acetylcholine pathway than the dopamine pathway in their forebrain.  Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter associated with attention, learning and memory.  Of course, most of us fall somewhere in the middle of the introvert/extravert scale but your tendencies may have a biological (and genetic) basis.  An extreme extravert within a group of introverts can feel a bit like the sphere entering flatland from another dimension – they experience the world in a fundamentally different way.

Wonder where you stand?  Do you gain energy from interacting with groups of people, or do you need a break to be by yourself after social gatherings?  Try this exercise:  draw a diagram with you in the middle and all the big challenging issues you can think of that impact your life in a circle around you.  Draw a line between yourself and the issues.  Where do you put the points of the arrows?

We are all different and perceive the world in unique ways. Sometimes this is due to things beyond our control.  Understanding and appreciating that fact seems like a good place to start for getting along with each other.

Further reading:  ftp://ftp.floridamarine.org/users/director/Nov.%202019%20further%20reading/