Sunday, June 10, 2018

Week 10 - Research Projects and Presentations

Monday, June 4th
After a long week of data collection and scientific work out in the intertidal and in laboratory, the marine biology students began analyzing their data, writing their research papers, and working on their presentations. On Monday, we met with Rebecca to talk about statistical analysis and our progress.

Tuesday, June 5th - Thursday, June 7th
This week, students lived in the Guin library as they worked tirelessly on their papers and presentations. Kris and Caroline maintained a positive attitude as they compared species abundance and diversity between the eel grasses Zostera marina and Zostera japonica

Sydney and Milan looked at the relationship between abnormally warm years and the size and abundance of chaetognath worms here on the Oregon coast. 

Alexa finishing up her and Erica's presentation on zooplankton diversity. They basically became nocturnal during their nighttime data collection last week, so seeing them work during the day was impressive and inspiring.

Friday, June 8th
Today's the day! Marine biology students made the final touches to their presentations and prepared for their final task of the course. Friends, family, and local scientists gathered in the Hatfield Marine Science Center auditorium to watch the BI 450 students present their independent research. From studying how female pheromones affect aggressive behaviors of male Dungeness crabs to observing bleaching effects of coralline algae, our class had an array of creative ideas and students worked diligently on their projects for over two weeks.
Nikki and Andy presenting their research on the distribution
patterns of Hemigrapsus spp.

Simone presenting her research on the feeding preferences
of Hermissenda crassicornis

This term at Hatfield was filled with memories and valuable experiences. The BI 450 students not only had a ton of fun, but also learned a lot about marine biology and what it's like to be real scientists. While trekking through the mud and getting up at 4:00 AM for intertidal work proved to be challenging at times, it was all worth the fun we had and everything our wonderful instructors taught us. Sally introduced us to the course and showed us how awesome marine biology is. With Su, we learned all about fishes and got our hands dirty with seine netting and beam trawling. Sarah showed us that algae are actually really cool and diverse. Finally, Bruce proved that at his age, you can conquer the rocky intertidal and be in way better shape than an entire group of twenty-somethings. 

The BI 450 students worked hard all term and proved to be incredibly passionate ocean-lovers and future scientists. We will never forget all that we've learned and accomplished through this course, and we thank all of our professors and TA's for helping us prepare for the real world as marine biologists. We'll miss you, Hatfield!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Week 9 - Group Research Projects Week 1
Monday, May 28
Memorial Day! No classes, but a few research groups started their research projects over the Memorial Day weekend.
Tuesday, May 29 through Friday, June 1
After a relaxing three-day weekend for most of the BI 450 students, group research projects commenced on a round-the-clock basis. Throughout the rest of the week, groups worked independently on various research projects. The projects were a little shaky at the start but the problems were ironed out as the week progressed. Most of the research projects involved research in the rocky intertidal region, the BI 450 laboratory, or in Yaquina Bay. Yaquina Bay, Oregon is a small drowned river estuary that contains various river channels, a slough, and tidelands. The main channel of the estuary is annually dredged starting between the jetties and continues toward the river mouth to a particular distance. Yaquina Bay experiences seasonal upwelling and downwelling events throughout the year.

Here is what all BI 450 students did throughout the week:
Andy and Nikki went out to various field sites looking for zonation patterns of Hemigrapsus nudus and Hemigrapsus oregonensis in the rocky intertidal region. In addition, they were comparing the two Hemigrapsus species to each other to observe if they compete with one another.
Nikki  in the rocky intertidal using a transect and quadrat
to look for zonation patterns of Hemigrapsus spp.
Hemigrapsus nudus perched on top of Mytilus californianus
Billie and Elizabeth conducted three temperature treatments on four species of coralline algae to determine how warming oceans affect turf algae in relation to ocean acidification.
Bleached Corallina vancouveriensis
Billie and Elizabeth's temperature treatments in the BI 450 lab

Alexa and Erica had many sleepless nights deploying and retrieving zooplankton light traps off of a dock in front of the Hatfield Marine Science Center. They were looking for a correlation between zooplankton diversity, tidal state, and the lunar cycle.
Erica holding up a zooplankton light trap on the dock in
front of the Hatfield Marine Science Center

Crab megalope larvae under a dissecting microscope
Andrew and Beth used Potassium Hydroxide to liquefy Nucella ostrina and Mytilus californianus in order to quantify the microplastics found within each species.
Beth and Andrew's experiment samples
Simone set up a feeding study to determine what Hermissenda crassicornis prefer to eat. While Alex ran a feeding study on Carcinus maenas to determine prey preference between whelks and Mytilus trossulus.
Alex's feeding experiment on Carcinus maenas in the BI 450 lab
Throughout the week, Kris and Caroline got up at the crack of dawn to conduct community surveys on fish species found in both the invasive eelgrass Zostera japonica and the native eelgrass Zostera marina.

Sydney and Milan looked at chaetognatha abundance at various locations along the West Coast using old NOAA trawl samples. While Bri and Lisa tested the aggression level of various crab species in response to the presence or absence of female pheromones.

Bri holding a male Cancer magister in Yaquina Bay, Oregon
Bucket full of Cancer magister and Cancer productus
By the end of the crazy and tiring week with many sleep deprived students, we had reached the mid-way point of the research projects and nearly all experiments were concluded.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Week 8: Community Ecology Papers and Presentations

Monday: Kicking off another week with Bruce, but this week we get to sleep in past 5 am. We started off with a lecture on variations in marine communities in the morning. Then in the afternoon we wrapped up our predator feeding rates experiment. Unfortunately a couple of our Pisaster ochraceus started showing signs of wasting. So they were isolated until all the Pisaster could be replaced in the field. After that we broke into teams and started working on our presentations.

That evening we had our last guest lecture by Alissa Rickborn and got to learn about her work with sponges. After her presentation we got to see her lab setup. It was really cool to see everything from how they adjust pH to how her sponges are going to be held.

Tuesday: Busy day, from early in the morning until late at night everyone was working to try and process their data and create the slideshow that they would present on Wednesday. Our poor TA Barbara spent all day helping everyone with their data processing, but by the end of the day most everyone had it all sorted out. So after she went home after her very long day everyone else pressed on, getting everything prepared for the next day.

Wednesday: Presentation Day! Early in the morning you could find pretty much everyone back at the library, putting the final polish onto their slideshows and practicing for their speech later. After a quick lunch it was time for presentations. Everyone is now more comfortable giving presentations after all the practice we've had this semester. It was really neat to see how the various projects and experiments over the last week had gone. It was also crazy to learn that at one of the sites there were over 5,000 Nucella ostrina that were sampled for the Small Predator Abundance and Size surveys.

After presentations we had our last review session of the semester with Bruce. After which it was cram time for our last exam and preparing the written reports that were due the next evening.

Thursday: While some of the class was finished with their papers early and prepared for the exam, some of us woke up and got right back to typing. Ready or not though, it was exam time. As we all sat down for our exam you could once again almost feel the stress in the air, but once the exams were passed out you could feel everyone relax. We had this. After wrapping up our exams and getting our papers submitted it was once again time to get back to writing. But this time it was for our own projects. We got to write our project proposals for the projects that we are going to be working on for the next two weeks.

Friday: Project kick off day!!!!! With the return of Sally, Sarah, Su, and Rebecca along with Barbara who never left, it was time to kick of projects! After giving a run down of what was and wasn't allowed, and making sure that we would treat our animals as humanely as possible, we broke up and switched to small group interviews. Our teachers met with each project group to discuss what they would be working on for the next two weeks, along with offering advice on what they could do to improve their projects.

And that ended our crazy week, but tune in the next couple of weeks to hear more about our projects!!!

Not a lot of photos this week so have a Tardigrade!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Week 7 - Community Ecology

Monday, May 14th
We learned how to perform quadrat-transect transect surveys. We walked out to the small beach in front of Hatfield's Visitor Center to practice. We learned how to survey different algae and invertebrates within the quadrats.

After practice, we received a special lecture from our guest, Sarah Gravem. She presented on testing how communities can either be resistant or resilient after losing a major predator. Sarah gave very insightful information, and in fact, we would eventually end up working with her and her team later on in the week!

We then prepared for the rest of the week with some logistical things and lectures. We received another lecture from Silke Bachhuber about the concept and methods of her SPITFIRE experiment.

We had an evening lecture about seastar wasting disease and its impacts on the seastar Pisaster ochraceus.

Tuesday, May 15th
Early morning start! We hit the road at 5:30 am to get out on the rocky intertidal during low tide. The class was split into two groups, one went to Fogerty Creek and the other to Boiler Bay. We performed quadrat-transect surveys to gauge community ecology. We counted mussels, barnacles, limpets, snails, algae, and any other organisms that were within the quadrat. We also help install experiment materials. We drilled into the rock and screwed in cages, fences, and cleared marked plots. It was a lot of scraping of mussels, algae, and other invertebrates like anemones. A lot of mussel guts were acquired on our clothes (stinky!!). It was tough work, but definitely interesting experiencing an official research project first-hand.

50cm x 50 cm quadrat containing different mussel and barnacle species

Wednesday, May 16th
Another early morning at 5:30am. The groups traded locations from yesterday to finish any work incompleted from the previous group. We performed more transects (I'll tell you, counting limpets and small littorine snails is tedious and not the most fun thing to do sometimes, but it is amazing just how many live in the mussel bed in such a small area). Our TA, Barbara Spiecker, collected animals for our in-lab experiments. After the fieldwork was complete (or cut off by the rising tide), we headed back to campus and had a few more lectures. We finished the day with setting up our experiments in the lab.
Data sheet for community ecology

Thursday, May 17th
Once again, another day starting at dawn. This day, we traveled to new locations. One group went to Yachats Bay while the other went to Strawberry Hill. Just like the other days, we installed the experiment on the rocks. We performed more community ecology quadrat-transect surveys just like we did the other days. As you might be able to tell, this week was a lot of repetitive activities, but for good reason! Hands-on fieldwork and research is fun! We finished the day with more lectures and working on our lab projects, including data entry.

Installing a cage on the rock
Overview of a worksite of installing a cage

Friday, May 17th
We were blessed with waking up a half hour later today! Just like the other days, groups flip-flopped locations. More quadrat-transect surveys. After our work was finished, we were able to go out and tide pool for a few minutes, that was a nice break to relax and look at cool animals and organisms! We continued the data with more lectures, worked on our lab projects, and ended early (woo!).

Sarah Gravem, Erica, and Alex working
on scraping rock and installing cages and
marked plots
Beth working on installing a cage
Tidepool with A. xanthogrammic and
P. ochraceus
Close up of P. ochraceus

Even-closer close-up of P. ochraceus

This week was definitely trying and tiring, but nonetheless beneficial and enjoyable! As a class and as individuals, we got to experience first-hand what its like to work on a larger-scale research project and physically put the mechanisms in place to collect the data. We're looking forward to what next week has in store for us!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Week 6- Conservation and Policy

The BI450 class had a day of lectures preparing for the week ahead.

We started our day off by walking down to the docks to meet with Laura Anderson, the owner
of Local Ocean restaurant in Newport. She gave us a tour, introducing us to the different
fishing vessels and equipment that each fishery uses. While on the docks, we got to even
hear some locals talk about their personal experiences. It was interesting to hear about
the fishery business firsthand from their perspective.

We made our way up to the Pacific Maritime and Heritage Center where Laura has an exhibit about the fishing industry, then we headed to her restaurant for lunch. What makes Local Ocean so special? They only buy from sustainable fisheries.
Making new friends at the dock with Laura Anderson.
             Lunch at Local Ocean. 

Wednesday was a treat for us BI450 kids because our whole day was spent outside. Our first
stop was the top of Cape Perpetua where we met up with Paul Engelmeyer, an advocate for
pretty much everything. He walked us through various conservation projects occurring around
the coast of Oregon. We then headed to Ten-Mile creek, a restoration project site, where we met
John from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. He showed us one of ODFW’s fish traps
and how it works.They use the trap to count the amount of fish that pass through the creek.
He even showed us some of the fish he caught!

Paul Engelmeyer
John and the Fish trap.
We had another day of lectures, but we were able to finish off our last lecture outside since
the weather was so nice. After some sunbathing, the rest of the day we worked on our
presentations and papers for the following day.

The BI450 kids ended the week off with presentations on different conservation techniques,
and solutions to ongoing problems.