Friday, April 25, 2008

Community Ecology Week Part II

Today was our last fieldtrip for community ecology. The beautiful weather welcomed us into Boiler Bay’s and Strawberry Hill’s intertidal! The class split up between the different sites to make up for our canceled field trip. We surveyed the biodiversity at each site in the low, mid, and high zones for 30 minutes each. Half the team looked for algal species, while the other half identified invertebrates.

Half of the group: The Boiler Bay Biodiversity Babes!

For all of the field trips we had this week, vertical zonation patterns in the intertidal were extremely important to consider when we were collecting data. There are three different zones we collected data from defined by the following:
Low-zone: The low zone is the area below mussel beds
Mid-zone: The mid-zone is the area where the mussel beds are found
High-zone: The high-zone is the area above the mussel beds that is characterized by species that can tolerate desiccation.

A view of the zonation (low and mid intertidal zones) at Boiler Bay.

This zonation is strongly structured by environmental gradients like tides, wave action, and temperature (related to desiccation and physiological processes). These characteristics change vertically as you move farther away from the ocean
Zonation also is a result of complex species interactions. For example, different distributions of barnacle species competing with mussels for space or seastars eating mussels. Overall, these environmental gradients and species interactions heavily influence the overall composition of the rocky intertidal and thus, likely had a large impact on the data we collected this week.

Lydia and Ashley working on a quadrat in the protected zone at Strawberry Hill.

We also started working on our mini research projects with the data the class has gathered over the last week. Some of the topics are predator diets, tide pool diversity, transect-quadrat data for community structure, and biodiversity throughout the intertidal. We also must mention the amazing potluck we had on Thursday night! Yay for delicious dinners and food babies!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Community Ecology Week Part I

For the community ecology section Bruce Menge is our instructor, along with Annette Olson, and Alison Iles is our new TA. On Monday we prepared for our 4 field trips this week and learned how to use transects and quadrats. Our alarm clocks shocked us at 5:30 am for a field trip at 6 am to Boiler Bay to collect data on community structure and predator diets. We lucked out and avoided the storm that was predicted. The next day however.... The storm was raging! Once again we got up at 5:30 am only to arrive at Strawberry Hill and find crashing waves upon our study site. THE HISTORICAL EVENT: Bruce Menge cancels the field trip for the first time in over 20 years!

It was so windy, we had to take a group picture.

On a higher note, no more species names to memorize! We are learning about important studies that have strongly influenced our understanding of community ecology. These studies include some of our very own Oregon State University professors such as Mark Hixon, Jane Lubchenco, Bruce Menge, and various graduate students from OSU labs.

Some principles covered in these studies include key stone species which are species that have a disproportionately large effect on the community relative to their abundance. One of our own keystone species on the Oregon Coast is the one and only Pisaster ochraceous (Paine 1966).

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Algae week

Today was the last day of algae and many of us are happy to see the weekend. We had our lecture exam at 10 a.m. and our lab practical at 2 p.m. Both tests weren't as bad as many of us expected and a bunch of us are going to sushi tonight and to a musical based on Animal House on Sunday.

Since we were so busy studying for the exams, we weren't able to post the pictures from our field trip to Seal Rock on Wednesday. We were there for about 3 hours and Annette split us up into groups and had us specialize on certain algae groups. We were basically supposed to become experts of our algae and then teach it to the rest of the students.

Since we've been focusing on algae this week, we thought it would be a good idea to give a little review to those of you who are reading this blog.

This is Pelvetiopsis limitata and is found normally next to Fucus distichus, another species of algae that is very similar except for the presence of a midrib.

This is Mastocarpus jardinii and we found it at Seal Rock. We also found Mastocarpus papillatus.

This was our last week with Margot and we are very sad to see her go. She has been amazing and so patient while we have been slowly learning invertebrates and algae. She was really amazing this week when we were keying algal species out in the lab.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The hardest things so far about the algae section has been the earlier lecture hours,

falling in at Boiler Bay (It was so cold and wet!), and learning to key out red algae species. It's hard to key out species because each description contain 5 words that we don't understand and have to look up in the glossary. We all learned what pit plugs were the other day while trying to identify Neorhodomela larix. Frustrations raged when we didn't even know the terms used in the glossary definitions, but Margot and Annette helped us out.

While at Boiler Bay, we each had a partner and a list of particular algae to look for and learned. Then we reconvened while different groups "taught" us their algae. We learned the differences between Neorhodomela and Odonthalia. Some of us got caught up in a search for "Ralph." (Ralfsia sp) We haven't found the elusive brown alga yet, but we're going to Seal Rock today, so maybe we'll find him there. Let's hope so!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We started studying algae this week and it has been an interesting transition from invertebrates to algae. The variety of body plans, color and special features of the invertebrates was amazing and, well, algae just don't have many of the features that made the invertebrates so interesting. Nonetheless, we've been having a great time with Annette - our lecturer for this section. Annette has a contagious laugh that makes us all giggle our way through the algae lectures. I never would have thought I'd be laughing over algae!

The first day of class, we had a lecture about the importances of algae in the intertidal. We made a list, and Annette asked us to post it for everyone to see.

1. List at least 4 ways that invertebrates “use” or interact with seaweeds.
Use seaweed as food- limpets, sea urchins, chitons
Use seaweed as habitat- crabs and isopods
Dead invertebrates are a nutrition source for seaweed
Camouflage used by the decorator crab and limpets
Symbiosis with lichens
2. List 2 or 3 invertebrates you have seen “wearing” epibonts of marine algae
Decorator crab, limpets, urchins, cnidarians (endozoic), mussels and barnacles
3. List 1 invertebrate you have observed that seems to be “disturbed” by seaweeds. How?3.
It inhibits feeding through the whiplash effect
4. List 1 invertebrate that you have observed that seemed to be controlling seaweed species composition. How?
Urchins and limpets (halo effect)

Friday, April 11, 2008


Hey everyone, finlas are finally here! Only one more to go, better cram now only 2 hours left until the final lab practicum. For those of you who decided to get some sleep before the finals, heres a look at what went on in the library until the wee hours of the morning, and for those like me, hardly slept! Our night began with studious work studying all the names of our organisms and writting out our study guides. But soon the mood turned from studious work to stimulating conversation to wacky antics then finally to full out craziness. We got a lot of work done, and a lot of craziness was produced throughout the night in our caffeine indused haze. For all those late nighters it was a blast! Good luck to everyone on the lab practicum and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

3 days and counting till EXAM time...

Monday was filled with the "Phylum" Arthropoda of which we learned all about, mostly regarding the Subphylum Crustacea plus its classes and orders. We were granted with great guest lectures, one of which was from Sylvia Yamada, regarding the introduced and invasive European Green Crabs of which get tied to posts to be sacrificed to the mean giant Red Rock Crab! We got to count crab species in the traps Sylvia had set the day before. Another guest, John Chapman, enlightened us with the endangered Burrowing Shrimp and its introduced parasitic isopod, yuck! After a day full of lectures and crab hunting, we had the chance to venture over to the aquarium to see all the invertebrates in action, and test our identification skills.
Tuesday was what we call "the real fun of being a marine biology student!" Words can't explain what exactly we did, but for the most part it was a "pig pen," oh, and something about those shrimp that live in the mud and nasty parasites? :) Pictures in the album are the only way to explain it, so take a look!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Devious lil' Stingers

Sally taught us all there is to know about Cnidarians and Ctenophores today! The Phyla Cniria includes sea anemones, jellies, and corals and stands for "stinging thread". With 19 girls in the class there was a lot of "ooohhing" and "aaaahhing" at the pictures of all the cute little jellies! We had the pleasure of having Dr. Virginia Weiss come over from the OSU main campus and talk to us about the symbioses between Cnidarians and marine algae. To wrap up the day we spent alomst two hours in the field at Strawberry Hill collecting invertebrates to bring back to our laboratory at Hatfield. As a class we collected anemones, sea stars, nudibranchs, limpets, chitins, mussels, barnacles, marine worms, annelids, and more, and introduced them to their temporary home at HMSC! These animals will be our learning buddies (or teachers if you will) in the lab for the next week while we learn all there is to know about marine invertebrates!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Day 2

Day #2 of the HMSC Learning we learned about coastal geology and oceanography and had the invaluable opportunity to venture into the field and take a look at some of the geological formations and ocean wave processes discussed in class. Our field trip took us up one of the ten major Rocky Capes along the Oregon Coast called Cascade Head located just North of Lincoln City. We hiked the mile-and-a-half trail to a grassy plain where we were able to observe the estuary where the Salmon River meets the Pacific Ocean. As we took a seat on the edge of the cape and were enjoying our lunch someone shouted, “and we have whales!” We were able to see where the whales were breaching in the open ocean right in front of our perch!

Overall, it was a unique bonding experience for the group elaborating on the feeling that this is an educational vacation rather than a school-based program.

Day 1

Gear: $100.00
Books: $97.00
Rent: $500.00
Spending 10 weeks in Newport, OR at the Hatfield Marine Science Center doing Marine Biology, PRICELESS.

22 of us are living at the Hatfield Marine Science Center for BI 450/451. Our first day of class consisted of taking a tour of the different buildings on campus and getting a quick run-through of the different organizations on campus (NOAA, ODFW, USDFW, OSU, etc.) and the research being done here. We also got to tour a 185 ft. research vessel called the Welcoma. The ship uses Yaquina bay at the footsteps of HMSC for it’s main docking location. The Welcoma is a high tech., versatile “machine” that is preparing to leave on a 50-day research venture up the Oregon and Washington coastline to take collect sediment data. Later in the day we experienced our first lecture and the Rogue Brewery. Tonight, we walked away with a feeling that this is an incredible opportunity for the students at OSU to be able to live and breathe Marine Biology together for ten whole weeks. We will be introduced to an array of Professors and Graduate Students, and get the opportunity to experience the work they do in their specific fields, not to mention the ability to network ourselves among leading researchers in a variety of fields.