Friday, June 7, 2019

Week 10: The Final Countdown

Monday (6/3) - Tuesday (6/4)

Well, we made it. Week 10 already! Monday morning, the library was filled with groups riding a caffeine buzz and working on data analysis, final papers, and presentations. Our helpful TAs Vanessa Constant and Zechariah Meunier were around to help with any stats questions. Tuesday looked similar to Monday; the library was filled with coffee-fueled students working on the first draft of the project paper that was due the following morning. However, throughout the day there were ways to destress. Some took a break to discuss summer plans. Or, since the sun was out, some decided to take a walk on the nature trail on the edge of campus. The trail goes along the Yaquina Bay estuary and is a great place to observe ecological processes in action. For many students, Tuesday night was a late night as we finished up our rough drafts to send off for review.

Joe, Karlee, and Hailey analyzing data for their project. 

Sarah, Allison, and Renee hard at work.

Cori, Eric, and Charlie discuss statistics and figures with TA Vanessa.

BI 450 students (and TAs) in their natural habitat.

Megan K. and Taylor enjoying a walk on the estuary trail after a long day of work. This nearby trail has definitely served as a stress-reliever for many students throughout the term. Even though you’re still very close to campus, it feels like you’re far away and surrounded by nature. 

Wednesday (6/5) - Thursday (6/6)

In addition to getting back reviews of our papers, this was also the time when we were starting to work on and finalize our presentations. To help us practice, our TA Vanessa opened up the auditorium in the Hatfield visitor center for us to try out our slides on the big screen. It also gave us a chance to test our voices and make sure everyone could hear us in the auditorium. We acted as audiences for each other and gave tips and constructive criticisms. For some of us, it helped to ease our worries about presenting to the public on Friday. But for others, it just made us more nervous, or maybe it was excitement?
Bri, Emily M, and Charlotte prepare to practice their presentation on intertidal Nudibranchs.

Karlee, Haley, and Joseph discuss points to go over in their presentation on the abundance of crabs in eelgrass beds.

Elise, Megan C, and Emily V do a runthrough of their presentation. They used glitter to test the retention of microplastics in mussels. 

Over the term, our class has had 3 potlucks in the dining hall. Our last one was Thursday night and included an awards ceremony as well! The awards listed accomplishments such as “Most Likely to Live in the Intertidal”, “The Human Intertidal ID Guide”, “Fastest Person up Boiler Bay”, “Most Inappropriate Nudibranch Joke”, and many others.

A final gathering.
Megan K. presents the awards.

Friday (6/7)

The time had finally come for us to show the fruits of our labor. Friends and family came to watch us present the results of our projects. All of the presentations went well without any major hitches (although sometimes the presentations wouldn't cooperate with the presenters, but at this point we had come to expect this as a feature). Many questions were asked, many answers were given. At long last, Dr. Henkel said the words we all had been longing to hear: “You’re free!”
Sarah H, Stephanie, and Laura present the results of their findings on benthic diatoms.

Hannah, Megan K., and Taylor explain the interactions of crabs and whelks that inspired their study.

Kendal, Jasper, and Kieryian describe the interactions that they observed between Dungeness crabs and invasive European green crabs.

As this term comes to an end, I think we can all agree that despite being stressful at times, BI 450 was a very fun and adventurous course. Where else is spending time at the beach considered homework? Despite the occasional before-dawn field trip, everyone powered on through with smiling faces. From going out on the RV Elakha and beam trawling for English sole to scaling up and down Boiler Bay to sinking down to our waists in the mudflats, it was definitely a term to remember! We all gained new knowledge and skills we couldn't have gotten anywhere else. And on top of that, we have learned from so many working scientists about the journeys they went on to get where they are today. Now our own journeys can begin. Who knows what the future has in store for us?

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Week 9: Marine Conservation and Policy

Monday (May 27, 2019): 
Happy Memorial Day! We hope everyone enjoyed their day off from class!

Tuesday (May 28, 2019):

Today was our second day of the conservation and policy unit. We had an introductory lecture about marine fisheries before heading down to the bayfront for our first field trip of the unit. We had the pleasure of meeting and going on a guided tour by Laura Anderson at the Maritime Museum and Newport Docks. While at the docks we learned about the many fishing activities and seasons that Oregon fishermen take part of. These included Dungeness Crab through Crab Pots, Shrimp through trawling, tuna through long lining, and halibut through long lining. After our tour we went back to Laura’s restaurant, Local Oceans, for lunch right on bay front. The seafood there is very delicious and many of us are ready to go back for some more! We finished off the day learning more about fishing in Oregon and the different birds found in Oregon during our guest lecture by Rachel Orben. Once classes finished for the day we continued working on our projects for this unit as well as continued working on our research projects as necessary. Everyone is enjoying their chosen policy topics and we are excited to hear everyone’s presentation on Friday!

Left: At the Newport Docks learning about Dungeness Crab Pots from Laura Anderson
Right: Megan and Emily enjoying lunch with everyone at Local Oceans. No matter what you got, the food was very delicious!
Students enjoying some interactive fun at the Maritime Museum

Wednesday (May 29, 2019): 
Today was such a beautiful day for our field trip to Cape Perpetua and Ten-Mile Creek! We began our field trip filled day at the top of beautiful Cape Perpetua where we listened to Paul Inglemeyer talk about the many restoration projects going on in terms of habitat restoration, birds, and marine reserves. It was interesting to hear about the 19 goals that are in place to restore and preserve habitats, as well as getting the community involved. From there we drove down to Ten-Mile Creek where we were split into two groups to learn about either the smolt trap or the nature sanctuary. At the smolt trap we met employees from the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Forest Restoration Projects. Their main focus in studying the smolt traps are the coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch ‘19) that the traps collect, as they are a major commercial species in Oregon. The salmon are caught then eventually measured and released back into the river. The smolt trap had also caught a large lamprey, and it was interesting to learn about how many protection and research projects for fish are geared towards the ones we care about the most, while it’s hard to create protections for “uglier” species (like the lamprey) even though they are just as ecologically important! Therefore, many people would like to see more funding go towards salmon research instead of lamprey since it is a commercial fish species (and let’s be real people love their salmon). At the Ten-Mile Creek Sanctuary, Paul lead us on a small hike and talked about other restoration projects in the area. This included placing wood into rivers to help with habitat restoration, as well as bird tagging and releasing. This area is not open to public activities like camping and is a beautiful piece of the Oregon coast that is best to be kept a secret.

Starting the day off at beautiful Cape Perpetua learning about restoration projects and marine reserves.

At the smolt trap learning about coho salmon research and other restoration projects

Enjoying a beautiful hike through Ten-Mile Creek

Thursday (May 30, 2019):

Today was followed by another set of lectures, in which we learned about wave energy and other types of renewable energy. In class we discussed several different types of methods that could be used to use waves to generate power, as well as the pros and cons of each type! It was interesting to learn about different types of renewable wave energy, some of which we had never heard of before. After lectures, we went outside to enjoy the beautiful day, and to participate in a class discussion on science communication and how we as young scientists can help connect the public to our work. It was incredibly interesting to hear all of the differing opinions and thoughts on the subject, and everyone’s different backgrounds in science helped fuel a great discussion! Afterwards, everyone went their separate ways to finish up working on their different section projects. Fueled by caffeine and good-old last minute panic, everyone finished up their presentations and papers for an interesting day of presentations on Friday!

Students circled up for a great conversation on science and science communication!

Friday (May 31, 2019):
Today was the last day of our Conservation and Policy unit. All day today we listened to presentations that everyone had been preparing all week! The first group started off strong, educating us about fishing policy in the wake of Brexit. We all got to pretend to be british fisherman as a part of their audience that they were trying to educate. The following groups presented on coastal development on both the local and international scale, invasive species on the local and international scale, and harmful algal algal blooms on both the international and local scale! It was interesting to see the differences in these topics between the international and local levels, and each group put a unique spin on their topics! In addition to these presentations, we also learned about artificial reefs, overfishing on the Oregon coast, wild coral harvest, microplastics, noise pollution, renewable energies, and Crown of Thorns sea-stars (Acanthaster planci ‘19)! Everyone had worked really hard on their presentations, so it was satisfying to see everyone do so well on our last assignment before our final presentations. All the student in the audience asked each group challenging questions to test their knowledge on their given subjects which led to some great (if not entertaining) discussions! Everyone was relieved to be done after a long day and excited to take some time and kick back! Some of the students stuck around in the evening to help the College of Science take some promotional videos of us doing fieldwork for a new promotional video for the Marine Studies Initiative (check the College of Science homepage in July). It was relaxing to get outside at the end of the day and do what we do best, run around in the sand and mud! After a long, work intensive week, everyone is gearing up to finish their final projects and write their final papers!

Students helping film a promo video for OSU’s College of Science!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Week 8: The Final Countdown - Research Projects!

Week 8: The Final Countdown - Research Projects!

Monday 05/20
We are all feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed as we finally get to take all that we have learned
from this course and get going on our group projects. All nine of the groups got started on their
projects today, whether that meant going to the tide pools, mud flats, or setting up tanks in the lab.
Many groups are working with inverts for their projects which means the tanks are full of some pretty
crabby creatures. With teams testing different crab trap types, observing how Nucella feeds in the presence
of crabs, comparing which crabs live in which estuary habitats, and conducting crab competition
experiments there’s a lot of hope that we’ll get to feast on some crabs at the end of the week.
In addition to the crabs, we have tanks full of nudibranchs, anemones, pipefish, and mussels.
A feeding experiment is being conducted by Emily M., Charlotte, and Bri on the nudibranch
Hermissenda crassicornis and the anemone anthopleura elegantissima. Chelsey, Grace, and
Ashley have been working hard doing beach seines daily in order to collect enough pipefish to
observe their orientation in relation to eelgrass. An experiment on microplastics is being conducted
by Elise, Megan C., and Emily V. using Mytilus californianus and glitter. Renee, Alison, and Sarah K.
are using light bulbs, glow sticks, and no light to see what different organisms get drawn to their light traps.
A group dissecting mussels to study microplastics.

Tuesday 05/21
Students are putting in long hours at the lab making observations both in the tanks and through their
microscopes. Stephania, Laura, and Sarah H. have spent hours every day this week observing different
diatoms they have collected under their microscopes. It may only be day two of projects week but everyone
has put in so many hours of hard work that you can already see just how tired everyone is. Even though
everyone is tired you can still see the excitement on everyone's faces when you ask them how their
projects going and they get to tell you things are going well! During collection among the tide pools
for nudibranchs by Emily M., Charlotte, and Bri’s group, a very interesting nudibranch was found,
not yet seen or collected by our class. “It looks like a Pokemon”, said Charlotte. And indeed, this
cartoon-like gastropod was identified as Dirona albolineata. This species of nudibranch is mostly
translucent, and the color of its large cerata may vary from a white to a pinkish hue. D. albolineata
can even reach sizes up to 18 cm in length!
A group observing their collected diatoms under their microscopes!
D. alboineata, a nudibranch not previously collected by our class.

Wednesday 05/22
Another day of collecting data for projects! Every group is well on their way and chugging along as
we meet the halfway mark for working on projects. Chelsey, Grace, and Ashley’s group, which have
been monitoring their pipefish to observe their orientation in relation to eelgrass, have collected lots
of pipefish and have been spending many hours observing them in the lab. Some groups that are
sampling in the field are still heading out at their various intertidal locations of interest (some at
multiple times of the day). Allison, Renne, and Sarah’s group are examining phytoplankton, and
are often seen in the lab viewing their samples from the field in the laboratory. Many groups have
had meetings today with various instructors and TA’s to discuss how their projects are progressing
and to figure out what statistical tests may be best to run on their experiments. Additionally, people
are starting to think about the end of the term presentations and paper. Sources are being gathered,
and lots of ideas are getting bounced around!

A pipefish monitoring experiment underway.
A group getting ready to head out for project collections!

Even when it rains, there’s often a beautiful sunset at Hatfield that is arguably best viewed from the
estuary trail (just a minute’s walk from Hatfield itself). Whether you are a tired current student, a
future student thinking about taking the BI450 course, or are someone just visiting Newport,
don’t miss this trail on a beautiful evening.

Thursday 05/23

All downhill from here! Many of our groups are starting to see some patterns from their hard work
on the projects! Students are getting very excited as their ideas for their hypothesis are really
starting to mold. It was very common to come in at night and see some groups still working hard
on their data. One group was even counting crabs well past 10:00 pm on some nights! Charlie, Cori,
and Eric Cole are looking at crab counts in different parts of the Yaquina Bay. “We head out twice a
day around low tide to identify and measure the crabs in our 24 pitfall traps in the mudflats,” said Eric.
“It is somewhat tiring, especially at night, but then you stumble upon a big boy in the trap and everyone
gets excited.”

To conclude the week, we will be returning back to the classroom to spend the next week and tomorrow
discussing conservation and policy for our oceans. We will have a presentation and a little project the next
week to help us understand just the kind of process it is for conservation actions to be put into place.

Not even the sun can stop Charlie D. from collecting Hemigrapsus oregonensis from his pitfall traps

Friday 05/24

It’s halftime on the projects folks. Due to the tides this year we are putting our projects on pause for
a week. So for the next week and today, we will be reviewing articles and discussing different aspects
of conservation and policy. Today we talked about the state of our oceans in relation to the changing
climate. A large piece of today’s lecture was about the increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
Dr. Henkel discussed how our planet has reached over 410 parts per million of CO2 in all of April!
After a lengthy discussion on what is being done to address certain issues about the changing
climate and marine pollution, we shifted focus on marine reserves versus marine protected areas.
We learned that some marine species benefit from reserves while other species populations do better
in a protected area. We ended the long day with a talk about how Oregon chose its marine reserves
along the Pacific Coast and the lengthy, layered process that it takes to make these decisions.

This week has been long and fun for many of us. We are excited to have Dr. Henkel back as she steers
our class vessel into Week 9! We are looking forward to our three day weekend and honoring those who
gave the greatest sacrifice of all for our safety and freedom. To our Veterans, we say thank you and
never forget.

Eric Cole with a Carcinus maenas posing for its close up

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Week 7 ALREADY?!

Monday 05/13: We switched gears this week from field-heavy work to more lecture/lab based work in order to prepare to write our community ecology data reports. We started our Monday off lecture heavy learning about dynamics of marine communities and diversity. Among these lectures we learned that living in an intermittent upwelling area, we get a higher diversity of organisms than other places with persistent upwelling or downwelling.This is because upwelling brings up cold, nutrient rich waters and not being persistent gives the organisms that live in these areas a chance to take advantage of this abundance of food. Too much upwelling and too much downwelling can lead to very low diversity, so it is lucky that we get to study here in the Pacific Northwest where organisms are abundant and diverse! To better prepare us for our writing assignment for this section, our TA Zech went over statistical analysis and figure preparation before we took our last data from our experiment in the lab. After a full day spent in the classroom, we gathered in the lab to take our final data on our predator rate experiment. We counted the amount of eaten prey (mussels) and measured them, measured each predator, and fed the snails, sea stars, and crabs one last time before terminating the experiment and taking the animals back to their habitats in the rocky intertidal. Our special lecture for the day on kelp bed dynamics was unfortunately cancelled so that our lecturer, Sarah Hamilton, could go out on a research dive and do what marine scientists do best! Today we took in a lot of information but our sore limbs thanked us for a break from the field. Now we have the tools to start writing our data reports and use the data we worked so hard to collect!
Last round of data collection for our predation experiment.

Tuesday 05/14:  Today was much appreciated by us students because it was an “independent study” day that our professors so generously scheduled in. We had today to prepare our papers and oral presentations that were due Wednesday and Thursday respectively.  Groups gathered, scattered throughout the library and in various apartments to start hatching out their ideas about the data we collected in the field last week. This wasn’t our first rodeo, however, since this was our third oral presentation and one of many writing assignments. We finalized our presentations and eagerly awaited everyone’s oral reports at 1:00 PM tomorrow.

Wednesday 05/15: Judgement day...the day we presented our research to the class. Although presentations were at 1:00pm, we all woke up early to prepare for the daunting task ahead. Some groups walked to the library to get in some last minute details on their powerpoints, and others practiced their speeches. We entered the classroom, and although we have already done three presentations in this class, those nerves still crept in. For the next two hours were listened to our classmates give compelling hypotheses and observations with some great data analysis. Some presentation topics included sea star reproduction output, mobile predator diversity, and analyzing predation rates. Finally, the nerves were gone and the presentations were over. We went back to our favorite study places and worked diligently on our reports that were due the next day. A few students decided to have a peer review session later that night, which was immensely helpful for revising our papers and making sure they were ready to be graded by our TA Zech. After the session, we snuck in a few hours of studying for our final, and with that, the day had come to a quick end.
Everyone did amazing on their presentations; their hard work paid off.

Thursday 05/16: The last day of community ecology was upon us, and these two weeks went by in the blink of an eye. We woke up early to study for our exam at 2:00pm, reviewing Bruce’s lecture slides and going over concepts we learned together. We ate a quick lunch and took our final walk to class as community ecology students. We had two hours to take the exam, and then the rest of the day was devoted to finishing up our reports that were due later that night. However, it was the seventh week of spring term, and we needed a bit of a break. A few students sent out invites for a potluck, and everyone brought a different dish to share. Among the smorgasbord of food was shepards pie, mac and cheese, spaghetti, sweet potato horderves, cookies, apple fritters, chips, cupcakes, and so much more food that we aren’t able to list it all. It was a great way to finish the subject and have some family time with our classmates. The night rolled to an end, the last of the reports were turned in, and we prepared for the projects section that would begin the next day.
Everyone getting ready to take the final!

A nice night with friends, eating too much food.

Friday 05/17: A brand new day and a brand new section! Today we finally started the long awaited independent project section. We started bright and early at 8:30 AM and listened to our instructor, Dr. Sarah Henkel, tell us about what to expect in the upcoming weeks. We received instructions on how to write our project proposals and then we were released to write them in our groups. Teams were scattered across the Hatfield campus working diligently on writing their project proposals which were due at 5 PM this afternoon. Groups also took turns meeting with our three instructors and two TAs for this course to talk about their projects are work out the kinks of their ideas. Once everyone was finally done with their proposals we could finally breathe a sigh of relief as the end of a busy week came to a close and excitement came for next week’s activities.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Week 6: Quadrats, SPITFIRE, and Turfies Oh My

Monday: We all headed out to our backyard, Yaquina Bay to learn how to properly use quadrats for the sake of science. With the field work prep out of the way we headed inside to learn about the state of sea star wasting disease (SSWD). We talked about how the sea stars themselves have been affected and how that has impacted their ecological communities. After that it was time for lab, where we learned more about the tasks we would be performing in the field. Including how to set up turfies, sample sea star gonads, and survey mobile predators amongst other things. With that said and done, we all strapped in to learn more about Oregon’s rocky intertidal communities and their structures. Then this great day was wrapped up by an extremely informative lecture by Silke Bachhuber, about her work and the SPITFIRE experiment which was about learning how small predators impact their communities.

Tuesday: We woke up to a wonderful weather and are first chance to put to use our new quadratting skills. The students split up into a handful of groups and headed to a multitude of gorgeous locales. Yachats Beach, Strawberry Hill, and Tokatee Klootchman were the sites we would be working at.  Work on the SPITFIRE project for Silke Bachhuber began, and multiple types of transect line surveys needed to be thoroughly examined with the use of our newly acquired quadrat prowess. Once our mission was complete we headed back to the classroom to learn about the intricacies of non-trophic interactions, and community structure. After that we took a short break to head to the lab where we would begin the experimental process. Some of the students brought back sea stars, mussels, and whelks. These proverbial “lab rats” would be monitored so we could better understand the predation rate of Mytilus by these other species. By feeding them a known amount each day and recording how much they ate we are able to infer there average consumption rate in the wild. After that it was right back to lecture with and exhilarating talk on how environmental stress impacts species interactions. Then to top the day off Barbara Spiecker gave us an incredible presentation on how algae are effect by el nino and how the past can be used to predict and prepare for the future. Suggesting that that the effects of global warming may mimic those of el nino years, and really show how global warming will impact our algal communities in the Pacific Northwest.

Fieldwork at Yachats Beach, with Elise demonstrating proper quadrat use 
Wednesday: Another day and another opportunity to develop our field work skills. Once again, the class split up into three groups and each group went to a different location then last time. At Strawberry Hill it was all about seastar collection, SPITFIRE, turfies, and belt transects. We worked with Silke Bachhuber along with a handful of the other lab technicians and all went smoothly. Upon our return it was lecture time. The students at Tokatee Klootchman were also able to collect a handful of Red rock crabs, which were then added to the assortment of other creatures including in the labs predation rate experiment. We learned about ocean acidification, hypoxia, and from there we learned about bottom up drivers of community structure. After our big lecture session we monitored our predation rate experiment in the lab then we had a short discussion on how to write a data report. Unfortunately, the guest lecture for the evening about coralline algae and how it is impacted by ocean acidification was cancelled.

Strawberry hill team overlooking the beach before hiking down to the worksite
Thursday: We split the class into two large teams today. One group went to Fogarty creek, and the other went to Boiler Bay. At Fogarty Creek with the wonderful guidance of Bruce Menge, we learned how to properly attach “turfies” to the rocks and further develop our observational skills by surveying transect lines with the use of quadrats. Continuing collect data on percent ground cover for the various sessile species present at both beaches, and counting the number of each species of mobile predator present. Once we returned from our outing we sat in for a lecture on complex interactions and community structure. From there the next step was to check in on our predation rate experiments, and our newly gathered crabs. Zech taught us a little more about data entry and gave us rules to follow as we would have to enter all of the data we had collected over the past week into a spreadsheet.. We then finished out the evening with a talk by our TA Zech about his thesis research on rocky intertidal species ability to recover from severe devastation. Zech explained that his experiment was trying to understand the rate at which species will return to a location from which they have been completely removed, like in the event of a large storm or tsunami.

Renee and Kieryian working on horizontal transects at Fogarty Creek

Friday: Blessed with another near windless and beautiful day on the coast, we broke into two teams and headed out to our respective field sites. Horizontal transects were in store, and by this point our estimation and quadrat expertise had hit an all time high. From limpets to mussels no rock was unaccounted for within our given quadrats. As the energy levels began to sink, two beautiful bald eagles soared overhead letting out some mighty calls to make their presence known and we paused to gawk in awe at their brilliance. With the last transects recorded it was time to return to reality, and travel back to the classroom. We learned about larval transport and how recruitment affects populations and their communities. With that out of the way we moved on to recording once again for our predation rate experiments, and finally rapped up the day with a lecture by Zech about statistics, when to use what graphs, and what they tell you.

"Majestic" eagles soaring over Boiler Bay