Monday, June 5, 2017

Week 9: Individual Research

Week 9 marked the beginning of our individual research projects. The long weekend served us well as optimal low tides allowed for ample time of marine sampling in the intertidal. With lectures and exams finished, individuals and groups visited Boiler Bay, Tokatee Klootchman, Yachats Beach, and many other coastal sites to begin answering their research questions. Some projects include topics like gastropod abundance on varying algal species, factors influencing crab claw strength, density of Katharina around Saccharina beds, and the effect of parasitism on Upogebia pugettensis; a type of mud shrimp. The two week effort is to be concluded by the construction of a research paper and presentation open to the public. Symposiums will be held June 9th at the Hatfield Visitor Center.

Alanna and Sonora spend their morning moving 90 lb crab pots for their experiment at Tokatee Klootchman. All smiles :)

Haley and Tyler's urchin feeding experiment involving inclusion and exclusion of Pisaster.
The quick segue into the middle of the week dampened the responsibilities of field work and demanded attentive lab time. As if overnight, the lab was transformed from its dull, empty state to a factory of engineered curiosity. Previously bare bins now held an abundance of creatures of the intertidal, from sculpins to sea stars. Many of us carefully ran through trials of experimentation and intrigue. With minimal casualties, experiments started to fall into place.

Kate and David patiently observe feeding preferences of Pisaster in their handcrafted Y-maze. Troublesome sea stars were aptly nicknamed "Steve".
Sierra looks into shelter material preferences of tidepool sculpins.
In an interesting turn of events, the first octopus of the course was found! It is hypothesized that this is a young Enteroctopus dofleini. Sonora and Alanna found the little guy in a tide pool at Manipulation Bay.

A momentary greeting occurs.
Octopus are very smart and strong creatures. They can fit through almost any crevasse large enough for their beak. Interestingly, the arms of the octopus contain two thirds of their neurons. This makes the arms somewhat autonomous - they literally have a mind of their own! Disc-like suckers lining the arms can taste and smell anything they touch, allowing them octopus to sense nearby prey. When this juvenile octopus grows up, it can have up to 280 suckers per arm. That's like having 2240 mouth-noses. Best of luck to you, small friend!

A baby seal hangs out in the high zone of Fogarty Creek.

By the time Thursday had arrived, most groups were finishing their data collection. With the help and guidance of some awesome TAs, students began running (and troubleshooting) statistical analyses on software programs such as RStudio and Microsoft Excel. For some of the students, this was their first time working with statistical softwares such as R, but individuals quickly became accustomed. Many cups of coffee and tea were consumed in this phase of the research.

Chris outwits RStudio to form an ANOVA table.

A feast of freshly caught crab to end the week! 
In attempt to unwind after many hours spent on research, we closed out the week by spending an afternoon cooking crab! Students who spent the better part of the week catching crab wrangled their test subjects into pots and even grabbed enough crab for the whole class to enjoy. Specimens that weren't consumed were safely returned to the intertidal. Who knew science could be so delicious!

Friday also brought a bout of sunshine, which had many students basking in the sun all afternoon. It was truly a wonderful way to ring in the weekend.

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