Monday, May 30, 2011

Marine Conservation Week
Monday 5/23 
              After a week of research we all buckled down and headed back to lecture.   This week we learned all about conservation science and policy, starting with a lecture on the current state of the oceans, followed by one on the effects of climate change and how it affects the oceans.   After listening to all the doom and gloom we had lunch, and plunged back into our lectures on emerging ocean uses.  We covered ways the ocean can provide energy by harnessing the wind, waves and tides.  Then, we learned about the importance of sustainable aquaculture. We ended the day by choosing parters and topics for our presentations at the end of the week.     

Tuesday 5/24 
               The day began with a lecture on marine reserves and protected areas,  and began discussing  proposed marine reserves in Oregon.  Then, we got to hear from Alix Laferriere and Melissa Murphey about their work on marine reserves for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.   They covered not only the science behind setting up reserves, but the policy work behind setting it up.  It is impressive the progress that has been made towards setting up marine reserves in Oregon.  Especially since it involves the combined efforts of fishermen and scientists (who admittedly do not always get along), as well as numerous non-profit, and government agencies.  After lunch we heard from Karen McLeod about her work with COMPASS, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea, and the work they do connecting scientists and policy makers.  After this we had a discussion on the importance of reaching out to the community and sharing scientific findings.  I think this was a great discussion and many of us now understand that although it is important to be knowledgeable understand the scientific process, science really only helps society when scientists are able to explain what their research means and understand how it actually effects peoples lives.  
Wednesday 5/24 
            Field Trip! Today we loaded up the vans and headed south to Cape Perpetua where Paul Englemeyer took us on a tour around Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary.  He covered a range of topics including the proposed marine reserve, water quality and how it affects the environment, and seabird ranges and habitats.  We headed to the top of the cape and made a pit stop to learn about research efforts in the creek, and take some awesome pictures! What a view from up there! Then we headed of to meet a fisheries technician who was sampling one of the fish traps.  We got to play with some fish and some of us were even brave enough to let the lamprey suction its jaw-less mouth to our hands!  At our final stop we learned about the habitat restoration work being done at the sanctuary, where trees had been brought in by helicopter in order to restore the creeks ecosystem.  Paul explained to us that even though large trees live at the most 300 years, dead trees continue to play a role in the ecosystem and create habitat for various birds and mammals and fish as the go from standing, two slowly being knocked over, and rolled into streams and eventually washed out to sea by storms. Each stage of its path towards the ocean it plays a different role whether its rotting holes are nest for certain birds, or providing a resting place to block strong river currents in the winter that would otherwise flush little salmon into the ocean before they are ready.  Truly fascinating!

Thursday 5/25
              The day started out with rain as we listened to a lecture on fisheries, before taking a trip to the docks to hear from Laura Anderson and Charlie Branford from Local Ocean Seafoods about the fishing industry, from the ocean to the shop. Laura runs Local Ocean and takes pride in that it only serves fish from sustainable sources. They took us for a tour of the fishing docks, and we got to meet some hard-working fishermen and hear them talk about their jobs. It sounds like fishing is a rough business but most of them seem to love what they do.  We then had a delicious lunch at Local Ocean before our final lecture on fisheries management tools.  Once we made it back to HMSC most of us spent the rest of the day finishing our presentations for the next day.
                                                                                   Friday 5/26
                Today we gave our presentations! Some of us were nervous, but luckily unlike next week’s presentations which is in front of an audience of family members and real scientists we only had to present to our classmates.  The presentations were very interesting and diverse.  We learned a lot from each other about things such as climate change, the shark fin trade, ocean medicines and noise pollution.  It seems there is lot more to ocean conservancy than what one might have guessed.  With such a complex set of problems it can sometimes be easy to feel pessimistic about the oceans futures.  But in our presentations many of us also presented some wonderful ideas for how to manage these future and current issues.  It is good to know that for many of us we are in field that yields us not only great opportunities to do what we love, but to also contribute to something greater than ourselves.  Good work guys!          

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Vacation Week/Projects!!!!

  This week we finally began our research projects. There was a wide assortment of research topics chosen by each group. Several students woke up early to work in the field at low tide, including some mornings that started before 4:00am. It was difficult for a few groups to get started. Some groups had difficulty obtaining the materials required for their project. Other groups had trouble acquiring the specimens they needed. However, a few lucky groups were able to begin right away without any impediments. 

Below is a list of all the groups and a brief overview of each project: 

Sarah Vojnovich, Alex Gulick, and Kelsey McCoy, are studying the social interactions of the saddleback clownfish, Amphiprion polymnus. Their project examines the behavioral changes of a female when placed in a tank with different numbers of males.

Cynthia Sells is working with previously collected data sets estimating biomass of local infauna and benthic organisms. Biomass at each trophic level is important to know when creating food webs that depict the ecological interactions between organisms.

Karl Biederbeck is performing a behavioral study on the sea star, Pisaster ochraceus. Desiccation is an important factor that sets the upper limits of many intertidal species. Sea stars behaviorally avoid desiccation by staying in the low zone. Karl’s project focuses on whether or not sea stars will move higher in the intertidal if the only available food source is located in an area that is above the normal range of a sea star. 

Stephen Nelson and Paul Dixson are also working with Pisaster ochraceus. Their project involves the juxtaposition of a lab experiment and an observational study. The lab experiment is a feeding trial examining prey preference patterns between the different color polymorphs of P. ochraceus. The observational study consists of performing field surveys to determine whether there is a difference in diet between the colors in the field.

Allan Chan and Steven Van Auken are working with their favorite invertebrate Cryptochiton stelleri, the gumboot chiton! Their research project consists of a lab experiment that involves six C. stelleri and a magnetic field produced by a Helmholtz Coil (borrowed from Jim Ketter of the OSU physics department). The lab experiment is to examine the effects of a magnetic field (Earth’s and an externally applied field) on C. stelleri’s movement because like most chitons, they have a radula that contains magnetite. Recording equipment was used in the experiment and was borrowed from Thomas Hurst in the NOAA department.

Casey Pollock and Erin Bruce are examining pipefish habitat preference, specifically if they change color to match the surroundings of their selected habitat. In order to collect the specimens needed they went seining to collect pipefish on multiple occasions. (The sein was borrowed from Wade Smith of the Department of Fish and Wildlife).

Amanda Brunner, Emily Pickering, and Lisa Neyman are working with the snail, Littorina sitkana. It has a trait-mediated response to an alarm signal given off by the mutilated flesh of killed individuals of the same species rather than the actual presence of the predator. They are testing to see if they will respond to the flesh of other dead species: another Littorina species, Lottia persona (a limpet), and Mytilus calfornianus, the California mussel.

Melissa Errend and Wendel Raymond are studying the effects of a simulated sculpin extinction among metapopulations. They removed all sculpin from several artificially created tidepools, made from a previous study, and are observing what fishes colonize those tidepools.

Vathani Logendran, Cela Sibley, and Jessie Johnson are working with juvenile Dungeness crabs, Cancer magister. Their project involves tethering juvenile crabs in both high and low areas of the mud flats and observing the predation rates. 

Reed Norton is working with walleye Pollock and determining the effects of ocean acidification on size at hatching. Climate change is affecting the pH of the oceans' waters. This has numerous ecological ramifications. The impacts of changing pH levels are being studied by several organizations. Reed is working in conjunction with NOAA.

It was a pretty relaxing week or a very busy week, depending on the intensity of each groups’ project. Some groups finished data collection by Sunday but a few projects are still ongoing. Overall it was a fun week working in our areas of interest. We played volleyball almost every day and even had a barbeque on Thursday, which was delicious!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Excel, Minitab, Powerpoint, and... VOLLEYBALL!

Monday 5/9
While some of us decided to sleep in, most of the class rolled out of bed to meet their group at the library by 9:00am to begin working on our data reports. As we opened our folders filled with data, many of us were "a bit" overwhelmed with the formatting, entry, and all around insane amount of data we had to work with. An hour into plugging numbers, we made our way to the lecture room to listen to our Laura give her talk, Structure and Dynamics: Communities to Meta-Ecosystems.

Laura, prepping for lecture

In this lecture we learned about some of the different models that help describe community and ecosystem structure, such as the Menge-Sutherland environmental stress model and the meta-ecosystem model. 

Back to the lecture room!

The rest of the day was filled with data entry and analysis, broken up with a special guest lecture by Jeremy Rose, titled Ecological impacts of ocean acidification. Jeremy's lecture gave us all a detailed insight to ocean acidification, specifically how it affects the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday 5/10
With the deadline quickly approaching, everyone began cracking down on their projects. After a bit of planning and outlining in the morning, we had our final community ecology lecture from Laura, Species Diversity and Stability in Marine Communities.
Reed and Stephen, playing close attention to lecture...

Some of the highlights of this lecture were when we learned about the different spatial scales on which diversity is acted upon, such as local and regional. Examples of factors that influence diversity locally are species interactions and nutrient availability. Regional diversity is considered more of a reflection of the species available, compared to their interactions.

Almost done with lecture!

 Despite the daunting amounts of Excel files full of data to still be analyzed, the majority of us decided to take over the volleyball court before the "outsiders-with-PhDs-who-insisted-on-building-a-fence-to-keep-the-pokies-out-of-their-feet" invaded our turf.

The fence

After about two hours of "music that robots would listen to" and total domination in our "homeslice," we were practically "prosauce." To wrap up the relaxation time for the day, a large group marched over to Rogue Brewery, decked out in their Hawaiian attire, in search of free beer. Feeling good, we all reconvened back in the library conference room to listen to none other than our New Zealander neighbor, Leigh Tait. He discussed his PhD work, Light competition and algal productivity. Leigh's talk focused on the benefits of increased biodiversity, including greater ecosystem production and stability. His research consisted of the synergistic response between canopy and sub-canopy plots of inter tidal algal species in New Zealand. He explained how light delivery is a complex process, and its use in productivity dynamics are different in complex assemblages. We finished off the night with a last-minute meeting for our projects, and hit the sack anticipating our presentations tomorrow.

Wednesday 5/11
After spending hours in the library staring at graph after graph of intertidal data, all our work had finally come together. We kicked off the morning with two presentations describing the community structure and site-level biodiversity at Boiler Bay and Strawberry Hill.

Wendel, Lisa, and Jessie presenting their data

Then came our typical break for coffee and donuts in the staff lounge, only this time it was even more eventful. Today was Casey's 21st birthday, and who better to share a birthday with than Dr. George Boehlert, the director of HMSC (marking his 21 + a few years birthday)! A birthday song was sung by all, and before long it was time to return to the lecture room to finish off the last two presentations.

Coedine anyone?

After listening to the final groups discuss tide pool diversity and predator diets, it was time to eat. While Casey took her usual nap for the day, Sarah and Stephen joined forced in the tiny kitchen of Winton to begin the secret birthday preparation. After hours and hours (okay maybe just a little over an hour) of slaving over a beautiful cake and chocolate cookies, the goodies were taken to the lecture hall to set up. Thanks to Erin's sneaky distraction, all went as planned. Casey was both surprised and delighted to walk into the community ecology review session, only to be greeted with sweets and birthday song.

High on sugar, we made it through the review and were let loose for independent study. This consisted of another adventure to Rogue, where the group met yet another surprise, Casey's mom! We shared a few drinks and munchies while Casey opened gifts. The group wrapped up the night with a beautiful walk back to the HMSC campus and a night full of community ecology review.
Note: As co-author of this section, I, Casey Pollock, would like to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone at Hatfield for making my birthday an absolute blast. I couldn't have asked for a better group to spend it with. You guys are awesome!

Thursday 5/12
Another beautiful day in Newport, right on time for our community ecology final. Just like every other test day, the sun and blue sky came out to tease us. Despite the distractions, we powered through the study day and finished any final touches on our organization. It was a relief for most to find out that the test was open-note. Once we were all done ace-ing the exam, we celebrated with a few hours of volleyball in the sunshine. It was great to see the entire class come together to play, and the additional "beverage of choice" on the rotational break made it worth the wait.

Our wonderful Professor, Laura, and TA, Dafne!

When dinner time rolled around, we all indulged in our homemade pizzas, thanks to Stephen and his crust making magic. Our picnic took place in the covered seating area, where we were joined by Laura and Dafne. To conclude the night, some of the group ventured down the street to Hoovers for an end-of-the-section/Casey's 21er celebration.

Details omitted.

Friday 5/13
Friday morning meetings at 9am... ouch. Dragging our feet, we met in the lecture room for the last time this week, greeted by Sally (she's back!) and Sarah Henkel. We discussed the syllabus for the remaining weeks and eventually broke off for individual consultations. Once the meetings were out, it was a race against the clock to get our proposals written by 5pm. When the deadline rolled around, our emails were sent, full of literature search results and research outlines. The rest of the week was ours to start on our projects (or not) and get some well deserved rest. Congrats to everyone for getting through another section of the program. Whether you like it or not, there's only three weeks left to go. Let's make the best of it, and maybe try to get some work done here and there.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Good Morning Intertidal!

Monday 5/2
After a restful weekend we started the community ecology section. We met our new professor Laura Petes and teaching assistant Dafne Eerkes-Medrano. Bruce Menge and some of his lab techs came by for a visit too. The next two weeks look really exciting! We are going to spend a lot of time in the field collecting data. We are going to have to put what we learned in the invertebrate, fish and algae sections to the test so that we can collect accurate data. The class has been divided into two person field teams that will collect specific data during our upcoming field trips. We will then analyze the data, and next week, present our findings.

Today we had two lectures. The first was a general overview of marine ecology with a review of data that we may encounter over the next two weeks. Second, Dafne gave a lecture on her PhD thesis work. She has been studying the effects hypoxia on the larval stage of many invertebrates. Tomorrow we head out to Boiler Bay at 6am for our first day of data collection!

Tuesday 5/3
Steven sleepily counts snails 
Today began with an early trip to Boiler Bay. With coffee and tea in hand, students set out at 6am in groups of two to three to either measure species abundance using Transect-Quadrats, or measure feeding and predation by two common Rocky Intertidal whelk species, Nucella ostrina and Nucella canaliculata. After four hours of thorough surveying, measurements, and observations students headed back to Hatfield to clean up and have lunch before the first lecture of the day. This lecture covered the spatial, species, size, and trophic structure and biodiversity of marine life communities in different parts of the world. After the lecture, field groups met in the library for raw data entry and analysis into excel spread sheets. The day finished off with a very interesting lecture by Sarah Close about her graduate work studying nutrient uptake, availability, and limitation in marine environments.

Wednesday 5/4
Lisa and Vathani discuss their data while Jesse looks on
We had another early start today. Instead of Boiler Bay we headed south to Strawberry Hill. We continued to collect transect-quadrat, belt transect, tidepool diversity data and feeding surveys of whelks and Pisaster ochraceaus. The weather cooperated which made the data collection much more enjoyable. When we returned to HMSC we had a lecture on how the environment effects species interactions. The lectures and field trips of this section have gotten a lot of students thinking about their research projects for later in the term. Some students began collecting species such as Cryptochiton stelleri, Pisaster ochraceaus, and others to use in their research. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing data entry, but some of us found time for volleyball.

Thursday 5/5
Happy cinco de mayo! We got to sleep in a little later today but we headed back out to the field to collect biodiversity and mobile predator data at Boiler Bay. The field teams broke into two groups. One went to Boiler Bay proper (where we have been going all term) and the other went to different part of Boiler Bay called Manipulation Bay.  Manipulation Bay got its name from being a research site for many OSU students over the years. Some students even witnessed seagulls feeding on the arms of a giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dolfeni) on the rocks! The weather turned a little nasty but it was not nearly as bad as earlier in the term.

Our afternoon lecture was on complex community interactions and community structure. One of the major topics was trophic cascades. Trophic cascades are a central part of ecology. First, a trophic level is defined as the place in the food chain that an organism occupies. A trophic cascade is the phenomenon by which top predators control the abundance of their prey and therefore indirectly affect the population sizes of lower trophic levels. Picture this example food chain. Killer whales eat sea otters which eat sea urchins which eat kelp. When killer whale populations are high they directly control the population of sea otters. The low population size of otters trickles down the food chain allowing for high urchin populations and low kelp abundance.

A group of students surveying biodiversity at Strawberry Hill
Friday 5/6
Last early morning! We set out to Strawberry Hill again but this time to collect biodiversity and mobile predator data. While it has been a very long week it was sad that it would be our last class field trip to the rocky intertidal. The biodiversity surveys were completed in 10 minute increments for a total of 120 minutes of surveying. We did surveys at low, mid, and high tidal zones in both wave exposed and wave protected areas of the site.

Our afternoon lecture was short, which allowed for students to catch up on sleep, readings and data entry. Next week we will be analyzing the data we collected this week. We will present our findings to our classmates on Wednesday night.

It has been a long week for Reed

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bring it on Algae!

MONDAY - 4/25
After an enjoyable Easter weekend filled with delicious food, friends and family, we prepared ourselves for a week of labs and lectures about algae. Monday began with the second lecture on brown algae where we learned about the morphologies of a variety of species including sacs, tubes, cylinders, crusts, and blades. Included in the lecture was a special life cycle where the species had two adult forms that were identical genetically but differed in morphologies. Following lecture, we found ourselves in lab practicing our microscope skills and discerning the difference between species based on macroscopic and microscopic differences. We used this information for our species profiles. After our process, we repeated the process with some red algaes. Did you know that red algaes are eaten by many cultures on every continent on our world? They are even used in a variety of cosmetics! After breaking for supper, some of us gathered in the lab for a review on green, brown, and simple red algae. Annette walked around to different tanks reciting the scientific names of the various taxa.

TUESDAY - 4/26
Our day started with part two of the red algae lectures. For this day, Annette taught us about the morphology and life history of red algaes. She helped us review some of the aspects of algae anatomy that tripped us up during our lab sessions including how to determine if the algae are multiaxial or uniaxial. That night found us beginning to work on our group projects. This project had the class divided into nine groups with each group assigned a particular algae morphology. For example, there were the coralline algaes, small brown algaes, and finely branched red axes. Each group was responsible for identify all their specimens and creating informational cards for four to six of their species to teach the rest of the class. This also involved creating Powerpoint slide cards that showed how to differentiate between two similar looking taxa.

 WEDNESDAY - 4/27 
Wednesday began with coffee and donuts at 10 AM, just like every morning should start! The majority of the day was committed to completing our group projects and preparing for our presentations that evening. Walking into the lab at 7 pm, we were greeted by treats provided by Annette and nine stations of slides and specimens. Annette explained to us that one of each group would remain at each station while the rest were allowed to roam, and then we switched after one hour. She and Margot each graded half of the room. Each person at the individual stations explained their own taxa to other students roaming around and asking questions. We all came to realize that the project led us to memorize the various species we had learned about in lecture and lab.

Thursday brought our final lecture. This lecture, however, brought a more personal point of view to the topic of algae because it covered Annette’s graduate work. The focus of this lecture was mainly on the effects of desiccation and herbivory of limpets on Mazzaella parksii, a common intertidal algae. It was explained to us that desiccation increases with elevation and herbivory decreases with elevation. The results showed that tetrasporophytes were more susceptible to desiccation, whereas gametophyte blades could grow in desiccation as they could hold more water, therefore outlasting the desiccation. Limpets were the focus of Annette’s herbivory studies. After many experiments, she found that the limpets preferred gametophytes over tetrasporophytes, thus increasing the relative abundance of the tetrasporophytes. In conclusion, tetrasporophytes were found more at lower elevations and near wave-exposed regions, thus being more susceptible to desiccation. Gametophytes, however, were found at higher elevations in protected areas, and therefore were preferred by limpets for grazing. The rest of day consisted of reviewing and studying for the exams that were to come the following day.

FRIDAY - 4/29
The end of the algae section was now upon us. The section had been long but our knowledge about algae was so great that it had seeped into our dreams! At 10 AM, we had our lab practical which consisted of twenty stations of various algae specimens. At each station, we answered questions about the scientific names, morphologies, and life histories of the specimens provided. Following the completion of our lab practical, we had a two hour break to eat lunch and cram as much last-minute information before the lecture final. After the completion of the lecture final, the sun greeted us for some games of volleyball and basketball, and Margot and Annette joined us!