Monday, May 29, 2017

Week 8: Policy and Independent Projects

Enjoying the sun and spectacular view on Cape Perpetua while on the lookout for whales.
We started off the week with a beautiful hike at Cape Perpetua. Paul Englemeyer led us up to the top of Cape Perpetua and talked about Oregon’s marine reserves and conservation policies. His work involves rehabilitation of old growth forests for birds and stream restoration for salmon and other fish. We took a moment to whale watch from our high vantage point, but had no luck. However, a few sea lions were spotted playing in the water! We then walked along the Ten-Mile Creek trail, stopping from time to time to enjoy the scenery and talk about efforts to restore and protect the plants and animals in the area. We ate lunch along the creek and some students practiced their rock skipping skills while others waded into the water to cool off.
Hiking through the old growth forest at Ten-Mile Creek
Dr. Sarah Henkel and Paul Englemeyer showing us a map of northwest rivers and the health of the watersheds. Most of them (in red) have poor water quality.
Redfish Rocks, one of the first marine reserves in Oregon.
Oregon marine reserves are managed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. These sites are dedicated to research and conservation, prohibiting all removal of species. The protected areas range from 3 sq km to 36.5 sq km. The first marine reserves became protected in early 2012 with the newest addition at Cape Falcon, in 2016, for a total of five along our coast. Each reserve has different attractions, from hiking trails, to sea lion caves and lighthouses. Despite their differences they all give  unique views of our beautiful coastline.

On Tuesday we went down to the docks to meet up with Laura Anderson, the owner of Local Ocean Seafoods. She took us to the docks where we talked to some fishermen about their work. They told us about the various regulations placed on the fish they were catching and showed us what types of gear they used to catch different types of fish. Afterwards we filed into Local Ocean to enjoy a delicious lunch! Once back at Hatfield we had lectures on tools used to aid fisheries management and  science policy. Thanks to the great weather we were able to sit out on the grass for a discussion on science, policy, and ethics. During the discussion we talked about ways to communicate science to the public, career ideas in the field of marine biology, and the difficulties of writing research papers.
Food is life.

Wednesday was our final day of class. We had lectures about aquaculture and wave energy in the morning and gave group presentations in the afternoon. These were different than our normal presentations because we had to pick a non-science audience (i.e. state lawmakers) and provide non-partial information about a current issue to guide their decisions. It was more challenging than we expected to provide options without “telling them what they should want to do.” Regardless, communicating science to non-scientists is important and we need to learn how to do it effectively.  We also wrote practice op-ed articles about our presentation topic. It was a long day, but none of us could believe that eight weeks have flown by and we only have two left!
Dana and Melissa presenting about plastic pollution in the ocean.
Thursday we decided on our final research project ideas and discussed them with the teachers and TA’s. They helped us hammer out kinks in our methods or steered us in the right direction if we weren’t sure what question to explore. After the meetings we started writing our proposals, which were due at 5:00 pm, leaving us only a few hours to finish! Several of us got up early to collect organisms for our projects, taking advantage of some of the lowest tides of the entire year. The tidepooling was excellent!
Science has begun!
Friday kicked off the start of our final research projects! Many groups took advantage of the low tide and were out in the field by 6:00 am conducting surveys or collecting organisms. The sunshine was worth the early start!

By: Katie, Miranda, and Melissa

Monday, May 22, 2017

Community Ecology and Conservation Week 7

Image result for urchin barrens
Photo of an urchin barren from The Echinoblog
On Monday we had lectures on Structure and Dynamics: Communities to Meta-Ecosystems and Diversity and Stability. We learned that mesoscale and macroscale variations have complex effects on higher trophic levels. That complex interactions between biogeography and species of the coastal communities have various effects on the structure of the communities. Such as the interactions between otters, sea urchins, and kelp. When there are no otters to prey on the urchins, their population expands, as their population expands they start to eat the living kelp and leaving a barren benthic environment. Without the kelp to slow down waves and provide habitat for many species the diversity of the ecosystem decreases and the waves will change the dynamics of the intertidal area.
Later that day we had a guest lecture from Zach Randell. He talked about the role of kelp forests and his experiences doing scientific research within them.
An example presentation
Tuesday was a day for independent study and preparation for our presentations on our group research questions based off the data we collected in the field during week 6. We gave theses presentations Wednesday afternoon on topics such as Sea Star Wasting Disease, average size of Pisaster along the Oregon coast, and whelk diets. Wednesday night we had a group study session in the library in one of the conference rooms where we all went over graphs from the lectures and interpreted them.
Thursday was exam day for our Community Ecology Section, and then free time afterwards to enjoy the nice weather. We got most of the class out on the basketball court playing Bump, a game where you try to score a basket before the person behind you in line. It was a great way to de-stress after the test and bond as a class.
Friday was the first day of our Conservation and Policy course. In the first lecture we learned about the state of our oceans where we learned about how the oceans are not doing as well currently as they were in the past due to a variety of human activities such as overfishing, pollution and ocean acidification due to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Our second lecture was on climate change and its impacts on the ocean. The third lecture of the day was about how marine reserves and marine protected areas were designed and chosen. In the fourth lecture we then talked about how marine reserves were designed and implemented in the state of Oregon. We discussed the different stakeholders and what demands they had upon the placement of the marine reserves. They needed to be placed somewhere that would protect enough habitat to keep species richness high and to boost the productivity of the fisheries in the surrounding area. We ended the day with a brief lecture on sea birds in preparation for our field trip on Monday morning.

By David Fletcher and Nick Patrick

Monday, May 15, 2017

Community Ecology! Week 6

On Monday we kicked off our community ecology section with Bruce Menge and Jenna Sullivan. We started with an introduction lecture that outlined the schedule and expectations for the class. We then took a short field trip out to the intertidal zone of Yaquina bay, so we could practice the proper procedures for performing a transect-quadrat survey. After lunch we had another lecture by Bruce that gave introductory information about sea star wasting disease that Jenna finished during our evening lecture by covering the effects of the sea star wasting disease on the intertidal community. When Jenna first started her PhD she had wanted to study the life of star stars but the sea star wasting disease changed all her plans causing a major change in the environment by decimating the Pisaster population and changing the intertidal community as Pisaster’s are keystone species. They control mussel populations by predation keeping the mussel population out of the lower intertidal areas. Jenna is now studying the effect that adult Pisasters have on new recruit Pisasters.

Students examining a adult Pisaster Ochraceus.
Tuesday marked our first early day of the week, we met in the lab at 5:15 am, meaning if we weren’t out of bed and ready for fieldwork, by 5:30 am, we were going to be left behind. The group was split in two, one group went to Forgery Creek while the others went to Manipulation bay, both sites were near Boiler Bay. Most groups worked on belt transect lines to record arm lengths of all the sea stars along a ten meter transect with a two meter width. While they did this, one group worked on recording the state and arm length of different sea stars in the area. Even though the day turned out to be beautiful and sunny, the tide was on it’s way in shortly after we started. This lead us to not being able to do as many surveys as we would have liked, but we were able to get back to Hatfield early and play volleyball, nap, and have lunch. After we were all refreshed, we had a lecture on biotic interactions and the effects they have on the communities.

Wednesday marked another day of beautiful weather in the field with the class going to Yachats bay and another going to Tokatee Klootchman. Again groups worked on belt transects while a single group recorded different sea stars around the locations recording over 3,000 sea stars for the day! After a nice lunch break we had a lecture on environmental modification of biotic effects, which discussed the effect of different stressors on the creatures in the intertidal zone and had an early night for our third early morning.

Students performing transect-quadrat surveys.
Thursday we went to Boiler Bay and hiked down the rocky path to the tidepools in the typical Oregon rain. In the continued rain, we all grouped up and most of us did transect-quadrat surveys where we used a half meter square to observe the various algae and invertebrates. The few teams that were not doing the transect-quadrat surveys were collecting data about whelk diets. Whelks feed on mussels and barnacles. To survey them we measured their shell length (which indicated age) and determined whether they were feeding or not. This is important to understanding the life cycle of these snails. After the fieldwork, we entered the data and went to a lecture on complex interactions and community structure. This went through the prey-predator interactions that occur between marine animals and what affect them have on their surrounding ecosystem. To complete the day we went to a special lecture by Alissa Rickborn. She presented about the response of ocean acidification on Halichondria panicea, a common sea sponge on the west coast. She showed us her “homemade” aquarium set up where she can manipulate the seawater that fills the tank. In this tank she has constructed petri-dishes with a mesh top out of supplies anyone could get at Home Depot. She examined these petri-dishes every 5 hours until sadly, her aquarium contraption broke. She has fixed it and will be performing the same experiment, with a few tweaks, over summer 2018. After her presentation and demonstration we all went home to rest for our last 4:30 am wake-up-call.

A rainbow in between hail/rain and sunshine! 
Finally, Friday. After waking up at 4:30 am for the last time this week, we all gathered and left for Strawberry Hill at 5:30 am, arriving around 6:30 am. Here we went about performing the same tests we did on Thursday; we laid out ten transects and examined ten quadrats on each transect. During these examinations we were pounded with rain, sunshine, and hail in a conflicting pattern that left us cold and ready for lunch. After the lunch (and a nap!) we got back together for a lecture on barnacle larval transport. Barnacles are important factors to the rocky intertidal because despite living on top of the mussels and having seemingly no effect on anything around them, they provide another foothold in the elaborate web that makes up tidepools.

Overall, it was a fantastic week in the field. We all learned a great deal and had a lot of fun playing in the sunshine as well as stomping in puddles when it was rainy. We look forward to another great week at Hatfield in the 2017 BI 450 class.

by Heather Davis and Katelyn Stanley

Monday, May 8, 2017

Week 5

Measuring algae in a quadrat along a
  transect line.
            We jumped right back into algae with the beginning of week five, starting with a trip to Boiler Bay to complete our field studies. Despite the early morning and a cloudy sky with a few sprinkles, everyone was ready to go and gather the data needed for their projects. Once arriving at Boiler Bay, we all split into groups and scattered, taking advantage of the negative tide height to reach the lowest intertidal areas. After a few hours of collecting data, we collected people, getting everyone to the same spot so Allie could review algae identification with us.
A group discussing their field study.
            Back in the lab, we had a review of the ochrophytes, brown algae, and then completed our second lab assignment, keying out a brown alga to identify it. The afternoon consisted of a lecture on algal physiology and global change, followed by meetings with Allie or Miram for each team to discuss their data and how to analyze them. At the end of the day we retrieved our algae pressings from last week. We were excited about the results!
One of our finished algae pressings.
We started Tuesday morning with a lecture on Phylum Rhodophyta, the red algaes, followed by a lab demonstration identifying the many species we had in the lab. Using our newly gained knowledge of red algae, we completed four lab assignments, each identifying a different species. Following lunch, Miram gave a lecture about scientific writing, part tips and tricks and part reviewing our trawl reports from the fish section. The early afternoon was spent completing lab assignments and working on team projects. Our second lecture of the day, on algal communities. We rounded out the afternoon with a mini-review of brown algae and some lab clean up.
Wednesday morning saw our last two algae lectures, first marine angiosperms, land plants that have completely adapted to life in the water. Next up was algae and the food system, focusing on kelp. The importance of kelp forests has been discussed throughout the section, as they provide important ecosystem services including providing shelter for juvenile fish, and habitat and nutrients for many organisms. Because kelp is so cool and important, we wanted to share some of the ways humans use kelp. According to NOAA, we collect between 100,000 and 170,000 wet tons of kelp each year from California alone1. That’s a lot of kelp! We use kelp in products ranging from toothpaste and shampoo to various food products. Kelp pudding, anyone?
Porphyra sp. belongs to the phylum
                Rhodophyta and is used to make nori.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hatfield Wednesday without some coffee and (non-kelp) donuts to complete our morning. After donuts, it was back to class, where Miram talked to us about graduate school. Next up was a mini-review of the red algae. The teams also had another opportunity to meet with Allie and Miram to determine how best to analyze field study data. Our afternoon was spent in a combination of wrapping up team projects and enjoying the sun.
That evening, we reconvened in the lab for team demonstrations. The event kicked off with several snacks made with algae, as well as some non-algae cookies. Then we rotated around the room, learning from other teams as well as sharing our algae knowledge and the results of our field studies.
            Thursday was spent reviewing for the final. We began the morning with a review of the lectures, followed up with a review of all the species we had in lab. The rest of the day was independent study. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy the sun during our study breaks, as the fog remained the entire day and a thunderstorm rolled through.
            Friday brought the close of the algae section. We spent the morning studying, then ventured over to the classroom to take our final (the third one of the term!). A break between finals was profitably used to watch Mulan. The plan was to finish the movie before the lab practical, but since time flies when you’re having fun, we had to head back to the lab before the end of the movie. After completing the lab practical, we completed the quickest (and most water spilled) clean up yet. Then we were free for the weekend!
This end of this week marked the term’s halfway point. Time is flying by and somehow we’re now five weeks down, five to go.

1 NOAA. 2014. How do people use kelp? online. National Ocean Service: NOAA. Viewed 8 May 2017.