Monday, May 17, 2010

Community Ecology Begins

After a three day weekend, the class of Marine Biology 450 went full-speed into a rigorous routine of early mornings, late nights, and lots of learning. We started our week with an introduction to community ecology with our new instructor, Bruce Menge. We learned about community patterns, community structure and dynamics, and attended a guest lecture on from our TA, Dafne regarding her thesis.

After Tuesday night we prepared for a series of 5:30, 6:00, and 6:30 field trips that tested our dedication to the field of marine biology. Our field trip on Wednesday was to Boiler Bay, where most of the class collected transect-quadrat data. The rest of the students collected data regarding whelk diet, tide pool diversity, and belt transects. After our field trip we returned to HMSC for a invigorating round of lectures on biotic interactions and community structure.

Thursday came as early as Wednesday, and we found ourselves at Strawberry Hill doing a more exciting and diverse set of data collections. Some of the class continued belt-transect and quadrat data collection, while others examined sea star and whelk diets or tidepool diversity. Thursday was a gorgeous day for data collection, and our early-morning field trip rewarded us with viewings of an orca and passing grey whales. After our field trip, we returned for an afternoon of lecture. In the evening, we attended a guest lecture by Jeremy Rose, a PhD candidate at OSU. Jeremy spoke to us regarding the ecological impacts of ocean acidification. Despite our long (15 hour!) day, we enjoyed this new perspective on an important ecological issue.

Friday morning awarded us with one extra hour of sleep (6:30!) and we headed out to Boiler Bay again to commence biodiversity surveys. Half of the class collected data on invertebrates and the other half searched for unique algae species. This set of data collection allowed us to comprehensively use all of the knowledge we have learned throughout the semester, and many of us were surprised as to how much we have remembered! The afternoon brought more information on complex interactions and community structure.

Since we were lucky enough to have Monday off, we more than made up for it by beginning our Saturday at 6:45 with a field trip to continue biodiversity surveys at Strawberry Hill. Despite our professor's noted absence from a back injury, the excitement continued with the sighting of a nearby newborn harbor seal pup. The class switched roles in looking for algae and invertebrates, and therefore were able to further test their ID skills of Oregon's rocky intertidal organisms. Due to Bruce's injury, Dafne led us in a discussion regarding larval dispersal and transport in the afternoon. We all looked forward to having Sunday off, and many of us slept in, went to the beach, and went out to dinner to make the most of our one-day weekend!

Monday would once again find us continuing community ecology, albeit without the early risings!

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