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

No comments: