Friday, May 31, 2013

Week 9 - The final stretch

Week 9 marked the official start of the final research projects. People are well on their way with data collection and preparing to give their final presentations next week! We have a diverse set of  interesting projects this year! Here's what everyone's doing:

  • Alex, Ariana, and Kristin are looking at the growth rates of lettuce kelp (Saccharina sessilis) in response to various levels of light.
    But did it remember to wear sunscreen?
  • Sarah and Erin are studying the habitat preferences of juvenile Dungeness crabs (Metacarcinus magister) between mud and two types of seagrass.
Yes, that's a baby Dungeness.
  • Meghan, Megan, and Taylor are checking out the effects of predator presence on the grazing of littorine snails (Littorina spp.).
  • Tori and Virinda are testing the ability of the giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) to recognize different patterns as food signals.
"BEST THING EVER!" - Tori and Virinda
  • Paul and Jake are looking at the dietary preferences of kelp crabs (Pugettia producta) in response to kelp availability.
  • Ellen is recording the mitotic index (rate of cell division) in the tentacles of the painted anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima).
This is what science looks like.
  • Emily H. and Sheila are looking at the ability of purple sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) to escape predation from sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides).
  • Emily A., Eli, and Josh are looking at the preferred shells of hermit crabs (Pagurus hirsutiosculus) based on the shell's species of origin.
Unfortunately, some of their test subjects are a bit... crabby.
  • Cassidy is looking at the distance between the mussel bed and the water level in relation to the abundance of ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus).
  • Katie, Aubree, and Anna are looking at diets of baby sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus and Leptasterias hexactis in the presence of competitors.
Everyone hard at work!
Good luck with your projects, everyone! We'll see you for your presentations on Week 10!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Week 8 brought some new and exciting adventures, as usual. The class wasted no time diving right back into marine policy lectures on Monday morning. Some highlights of the day included guest lectures by representatives of ODFW on marine protected areas and also by Karen McLeod who works for COMPASS, a company that collaborates with scientists to help make science more accessible to everyone.

Despite the rain, Tuesday was equally as eventful. The class split into two groups and took a "dock walk" with either the head chef or owner, an alumna of the Marine Resource Management program at OSU, of Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport. On the docks, we learned about various fishing techniques and the differences in their sustainability. With a delicious and sustainably caught lunch in our bellies, we returned to Hatfield to hear Dr. Rob Suryan tell us about some interesting sea birds.

With another field trip on Wednesday, the week was jam packed with fun. The rain kept us from the pinnacle of Cape Perpetua but we enjoyed a damp hike through Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary with Paul Engelmeyer of the Audubon Society. We got a chance to see the ODFW smolt trap on Ten Mile


Creek and got rather "attached" to a adult lamprey that we found there. After that, Paul showed us some prime old growth Spruce habitat for a seabird called the Marbled Murrelet, which nests high up in the canopy of coastal forests.

Some of us began to feel the pressure of impending deadlines for papers and presentations due Thursday morning. We were divided into groups and assigned a specific issue related to marine policy to present on. Selected target audiences ranged anywhere from 6th grade students to Chilean policymakers. All in all, the presentations were a success and everyone came out of Week 8 a champ!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It’s now week 7 here at the HMSC. With our minds jam-packed full of knowledge from the previous sections we prepared ourselves for an additional presentation and test to finish the Community Ecology section. The presentation was divided into multiple groups based on the data collections from the previous week. Each group had a different kind of data, ranging from tide pool diversity to predator prey analysis, and therefore a different kind of presentation and focus. After two intensive days (Monday and Tuesday) studying and preparing in the library, the morning of the presentations finally arrived. True to our nature, the presentations were a hit! While the statistical analysis proved to be a formidable opponent each group pulled through with a hard won victory.

Celebrations were in order and several students rushed to the break room to enjoy their hard-earned, delicious, and FREE doughnuts. The celebrations were short lived however as our Community Ecology final was the very next day. People were frantically trying to prepare themselves for the test, and several students hit the books as soon as they finished their presentations.  There was a lot of focus as students tried to nail down what the differences were between apparent competition and regular competition, what determines species richness, and most importantly what the differences were between a regular Pisaster and a Kickaster! Fortunately it was an open note test which alleviated a lot of the pressure so that when test-time came around most everyone was ready…except for one unnamed student who had an apparent mix-up with the schedule.  Luckily, this student managed to make it in time and finish successfully (we hope)!

 A handy Identification guide by Alexander.
Day one of the Marine Conservation and Policy section began promptly the next day providing the opportunity for more group work within the following week and another challenge for the students of the BI450 class of 2013.  Will the students be able to overcome the depressing news that is the current state and affairs of marine conservation and policy!? Can we really make a difference before it’s too late?! And will Jake manage to make it to class on time?! We’ll find out this and more in the next week of BI 450!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

We began our section on marine community ecology this week with Bruce Menge. We have spent the last few weeks learning about the organisms in Oregon’s intertidal zone, and this week we got to learn about the bigger picture and how the organisms interact together and make up a community. Our field trips were very different this week compared to past field trips, even though we still visited Strawberry Hill and Boiler Bay. We had to get up before sunrise to catch the low tides along with spending several hours working in the field. This week, instead of searching for certain taxa, we have been learning several different community surveying techniques. Techniques such as conducting biodiversity counts, observing welk and seastar diets, determining tidepool biodiversity, and using transects and quadrats to determine biodiversity. 

Hard at work using transects and quadrats to determine biodiversity

We completed 120 of these quadrat surveys as a class
over the course of the week
Learning about the community structure in the rocky intertidal is important because it is a model ecosystem that could aid in answering some broader ecological questions and can be used as a baseline for other ecosystems and can shed light on better resource management. 

Each day after the field, we got together in groups and organized and analyzed our data, so that we can write reports on our findings next week. 

We had four guest lecturers this week (Sarah Close, Liz Cerny‐Chipman, Chenchen Shen, and Jeremy Rose) all PhD candidates presenting their research. It was exciting to see real world applications of what we were learning in class. 

Pachygrapsus crassipes
While we were in the field, we got to see some really interesting species that we haven’t come across in previous weeks. In Manipulation Bay (below the main parking lot of Boiler Bay), Aubree found a dead Longnose Skate, Raja rhina, washed up in the low intertidal zone, we found a Striped Shore Crab, Pachygrapsus crassipes, a spawning Pisaster ochraceous at Strawberry Hill, and a polychete in Yaquina Bay during survey practice.

Raja rhina 

Monday, May 6, 2013

The algae section continued with a trip to boiler bay. We were able to apply a lot of our new found knowledge in the field this time around as we individually identified and collected species for a presentation on a specific group of algae. Boiler Bay also presented us with incredibly diverse algae as compared to Strawberry Hill.

Alexander huffing some Prionitis. It smellls like chlorine, bleh
Annette gave us the great idea of making a horn out of some  washed up  Nereocystis we found

Much of the week was spent keying out and identifying algae species in the lab. The labs were divided by species type and key characteristics. It was during these lab periods that Paul and Jake made a startlingly and exciting discovery that rocked the algae world and rewrote the history books on Oregon algae. These two stellar algae pioneers identified an epiphytic species of Ceramium that has only been seen in the San Juan Islands of Washington State! The experts (Gayle) were called in to affirm the new species. Having identified it as Ceramium zacae, Gayle told the boys that their discovery would be archived in the Oregon State University collection and that their names would be forever enshrined along side their discovery. Rumors of a cash prize and visit from President Obama have been circulating following Jake and Paul's new found stardom in the algae community. 

Along with this exiting discovery, Momma Aubree turned 27 years young on Tuesday and celebrated in true fashion with birthday hats, birthday drinks and Octopus inspired birthday cake, Luckily no one got too crazy and stripped down to their birthday suits.... 

Unfortunately, the exciting events surrounding the new discovery were short lived due to the storm that lay ahead. The lab practical and final test were still off in the distance like a dark and ominous storm building off the Oregon coast. The students hunkered down in the library and lab, preparing for the worst. Some faired the storm better than others, but thankfully although the test left some bruised, battered and sleep deprived, it looks as though everyone is still afloat and will finish the course off strong.