Monday, May 24, 2010

Community Ecology (continued)

Monday, May 17th began with group preparation and data analysis from the previous week of data collection at Boiler Bay and Strawberry Hill. Our class was divided into four groups; a group of eight students were responsible for community structure data collected from the transect-quadrats and belt-transects, a group of four students were assigned to analyze invertebrate and algae tide pool diversity, another group of four students analyzed predatory whelk and sea star diets, and the final group of six students compared biodiversity at Boiler Bay and Strawberry Hill. After group preparation we had a lecture on the structure and dynamics of communities becoming meta-ecosystems. The lecture described a meta-ecosystem has "a set of ecosystems connected by spatial flows of energy, materials and organisms across ecosystem boundaries." Group presentation preparation was continued after lecture. During the evening we had a guest lecture from a marine biology graduate student at Oregon State University named Sarah Close. Sarah discussed her graduate work and research on nutrient dynamics and macrophyte (algae :) assemblage structure along the Oregon coast and New Zealand.
Tuesday had a similar schedule with group presentation preparation in the morning followed by the last lecture of the section on the diversity and stability of marine communities. When lecture was finished we had the rest of the day to finish the group presentations.
Wednesday began with group presentations in the morning in the conference room of the library. Each group created a Powerpoint presentation which included questions about their topics, hypotheses to predict the answers to the questions, graphs displaying the data, results, interpretations of the results and finals conclusions. After presentations we had another guest lecture, Alison Iles who discussed her graduate work and research on body size and dynamics of the intertidal food webs. Since our community ecology final was the following day we had independent study time after Alison's lecture.
Thursday was the day of our last BIO 450 final! After the final we enjoyed relaxation in the sunshine and counted the months until the next time we would have to take a test.
Friday marked the beginning of our independent research section. Individuals or groups were assigned times to meet with Bruce Menge, Sally Hacker, Sarah Henkel, and Dafne Eerkes-Merdrano about project ideas. Once the projects were approved groups had until 5:00pm to submit the research project proposal. The proposal included the motives behind the projects, hypotheses, background information, project methods of data collection, a time line, and the importance of the research project. The last two weeks of the term will include independent data collected, writing the research paper, and a final symposium of the projects.

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