Friday, June 4, 2010

Results: The Final week

The data have been taken, the numbers have been crunched, the papers have been written and rewritten, the presentations have been arranged, and now we are finally ready to present our project results in the 2010 BI450 student research symposium!

Samantha, Jack, and Aaron got to go diving for a week (for science!) and found that the black rockfish distribution along the South Jetty is complex – size is an important factor but there’s a lot more going on too.

Alyssa, Brittney, and Cameron found that the six-armed sea star comes out on the rocks at night and hides during the day, but their lab study showed that when it comes to eating, they don’t care what time it is!

Melissa found that as pH goes down, so do copepod hatch rates. Another reason why ocean acidification is REALLY BAD NEWS.

After a week of climbing around on rocks all over Cape Perpetua and Cape Foulweather, Sarah and Jennie found that local factors have the greatest effect on tidepool variability but that increased depth didn’t lead to the greater diversity they expected.

The Danielles discovered that although it is really hard to wade through deep estuary mud, it is doubly so if you stay out too long and the tide catches you! After washing the mud off, they also found something unexpected: Orthione griffenis parasitizes more female than male mud shrimp.

Caleb had a lot of cool results with his crab experiments, including that male Hemigrapsus shore crabs accumulate detritus in a patch of setae on their claws, and that this can feed them through a starvation period.

Shea found that to remove Pisaster from rocks without damaging them, the quicker you can do it the better! Also, a great way to transport them is in plastic baggies with water, because they don’t grip the plastic too hard and are easy to remove intact.

Matt looked at feeding differences in urchins with sunflower stars around, and though he did see that urchins eat less if there is a lurking Pycnopodia, he would need a lot more time and a bunch more tanks to demonstrate a significant result.

Wyatt and Kelsi went fishing and found that if you are a perch and want to have the largest, strongest babies, you should specialize in eating caprellid shrimp instead of gammarus. Yummy!

Emily and Shea developed mad algae-surgeon skills to remove the outer cuticle from Mazzaella blades, and found that unlike in terrestrial plants, that cuticle doesn’t help protect the algae from dessication.

Alex and Bekah’s experiment showed that octopus seem just as happy to find crabs by sight as by taste, as long as they get lots of crabs to eat! Also, that they have really good aim when spraying water out of their tanks to drench any nearby researchers. Those little suckers can really leave a mark!

After many hours of standing in traffic on the Alsea bridge staring at seals, Becca found that the temperature of the ocean water was an important factor in how many seals come up onto the sand bar for a snooze.

Finally, Kim looked at coloration of Pisaster sea stars related to the pigment levels of their mussel prey, and although the mussel colors have really vibrant differences, it wasn’t clear how or if that affected sea star color.

So here we are at the end. No more lab work, field work, data analysis, presentations, cold early mornings, exams, papers…. school is officially out! We’re happy to be finished, but equally we know we’re all a little sad to leave. No more bonfires, walks on the beach, fishing trips, Thai food, Gary the ground squirrel, Roxy the hummingbird, and more importantly… no more time together :-( We’ve had an epic 10 weeks, learned and partied in equal measure but always as friends. We all have the amazing people who work at HMSC to thank for the experience, and it almost goes without saying that we’ll remember this 10 weeks as one of the best of our college lives. Au revoir Hatfield, you will be missed!!

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