Monday, May 9, 2016

Let the fun commence: Community Ecology

Monday morning was a late start, as we all enjoyed a beautiful day off.

Learning how to do the transect
quadrat method at Yaquina Bay.
Tuesday was the first day of the community ecology section, with the infamous Dr. Bruce Menge. We were introdu
ced to the section and had our first lecture on community structure and dynamics. We also had our first fieldtrip to Yaquina Bay where we learned how to do the transect quadrat method. The evening concluded with a special guest lecture from Elizabeth Cerny-Chipman talking about keystone predator loss.

Wednesday started out with another lovely lecture discussing biotic interactions and community structure. We partook in the weekly adventure to donuts down the hall as a quick study break, then resumed with the learning of biotic modification in communities. This transitioned to a special lecture highlighting the symptoms and ecology of sea star wasting disease (SSWD) in the Pacific Northwest. The exact cause is still unknown, however we learned the possible causes of SSWD could be due to warming ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, hypoxia, and the densovirus. In t
his presentation we also learned of the six symptoms a sea star can experience if suffering from the wasting disease, as well as its severe impact on the sea star population within the last three years.

A juvenile Leptasterias found at Yachats Beach.
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Thursday was a beautiful and dark morning, as it was the first of three mornings to begin at 5 a.m.! We split up into two groups, and set off into the foggy and dark intertidal. At Tokatee Klootchman and Yachats Beach, groups of two went around and put our skills to the test as we identified and measured species of sea stars using transect tape and quadrats. Two people at each site went around and surveyed as much of the intertidal as possible looking for signs and symptoms of SSWD. After three hours in the field those who were with Chenchen at Yachats Beach went to the Green Salmon for some delicious well deserved coffee and breakfast! Once back at Hatfield we had a leisurely long break with some data entry before returning to lecture to learn about complex community interactions. Later that day we had guest lecture from Alissa Rickborn who educated us about sponges and ocean acidification, which was pretty neat. We ended the night with some delicious Mexican food that was made with love by Ginger and Riley!
Early morning at Boiler Bay
doing the transect quadrat method.

Friday was another grueling and early start, but we still arrived and did it for science! This day we were at Boiler Bay and conducted quadrat transect data collection. We ventured out to the furthest exposed bench and worked quickly to beat the incoming tide. While we were working some pretty cute s
eals kept us company. We worked diligently for four hours and we saw a whale off in the distance, so our progress was slowed slightly in awe. Once we returned to Hatfield we had another stimulating lecture on recruitment patterns. We continued to work on data entry in preparation for the group projects. We ended the evening with Barbara Spiecker’s presentation on coral reef meta-ecosystems that was thoroughly enjoyed by the entire class.
Beautiful views over Boiler Bay on Thursday brightened
the students' spirits.

You would think that Saturday was a day to sleep in and wake up refreshed. But no! This was the final day of departure at 5 a.m. We explored Strawberry Hill and continued transect quadrat experiments. After three hours in the field we returned to enjoy a quick break before we had another lecture on variation in marine communities. The day continued with more entering and cleaning of data. As the long week came to end, all the students groaned as we realized there was only one day left to enjoy the weekend before Monday morning came around.
Foggy morning at Strawberry Hill with beautiful views again.

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