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!

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