Monday, April 22, 2019

Week 3: Ample Amounts of Algae!


Monday was a fresh start after a well-rested weekend to push us into our next topic: algae! We met our professor Sarah Henkel and our teaching assistant Miram before diving straight into the realm of greens, reds, and browns, oh my!

The section started with 2 introductory lectures before going to the lab and practicing identification. We had 17 algae and classified them by phylum, thallus, branching, holdfast, and reproduction (if we could see the difference!). We took a short lunch break before returning to learn about the history and evolution of algae through primary and secondary endosymbiosis and how these led to the formation of red algae (Rhodophytes), brown algae (Ochrophytes), and green algae (Chlorophytes). Sometimes, red alga look extremely similar to green algae, but it can always be differentiated by pouring boiling water on the algae which reveals its true color. The different colors each algae produces is specific to its phyla and the different accessory pigments located within the cells of the algae.

After this lecture, the class was divided into 9 different groups and assigned different phyla with varying characteristics. With these algae in mind, we ventured to Boiler Bay for our first algae field trip! We returned many of our beloved marine invertebrates to their rocky shore home and began learning about the different types of algae and how to identify them. We frantically took notes on the different varieties of algae and collected the majority of the genera we were assigned to find before heading back to the lab to clean-up and rest for the following days activities.

Sarah and Laura showing off the cool new algae we're learning about at Boiler Bay!

Annette teaching us how to identify algae species in the field.


To start off the day, we had two lectures featuring the topics of the life history and reproduction types of algae and green algae (Chlorophyta). Since we were unable to collect a large number of green algae from our field trip to Boiler Bay Monday night, we had our lab on the brown algae (Ochrophyta) and worked on determining the species in front of us. A dichotomous key, glossary, book on algae, and algae guide were given to us. In the evening, we geared up for our field trip to Seal Rock. Luckily, the path to the site was paved saving us the scrapes and bruises going down the cliff face.  Once at the site, we learned the different rock names, such as Elephant Rock, and determined which ones were the oldest vs. youngest. Half the groups went with Annette and half with Sarah to learn about the various algae species at Seal Rock. Everyone had fun climbing on the rocks surrounding the tide pools and finding our species. It was amazing to see harbor seals and sea lions swimming in the water. Also, a few sea lions slept on a rock with the water level being around 5 feet below the top. 

A sea anemone eating market squid eggs (Doryteuthis opalescens) in a patch of Neorhodomela larix at Seal Rock.

Megan's group thought they found Gloiopeltis furcata, but it turned out to be a Fucus spp. in its diplontic reproductive stage!

Annette showing us how to identify algae at Seal Rock!


Today we spent several hours in the lab learning to use dichotomous keys to identify different algae species!  Even though it was difficult at times, Miram and Sarah definitely helped steer us in the right direction.  We had to use both compound and dissecting scopes, so we were also developing those skills.  We also met with Sarah to go over our group project ideas for our treasure taxon before we collect our data on Friday.  Miram also showed us how to press algae, and we had a lot of fun arranging and pressing algae for our projects as well as pressing local flowers and leaves.  With our treasure taxon study proposal due at 9 pm, many groups met up in the library to wrap up that assignment. 


Thursday was the first day this week that the sun was not fully obscured by the clouds and it set a great precedent for today. We finished the last two labs for the section in the morning before attending two lectures. Lunch was two hours which allowed enough time for groups to finish any of their remaining labs and enjoy the sunshine outside. Everyone met back at the lab to review their lab demos for tomorrow’s early morning fieldtrip. Because of the 5:30 a.m. start, each group put together their materials bucket and headed home by 5:00 p.m. The rest of the night was filled with studying for the upcoming finals and the early day to come.


Today we woke up before the sun did!  We needed to get to our study sites at Seal Rock and Boiler Bay around low tide, which just so happened to be at 7 a.m.  Factoring in travel time and having enough time to gather data for our studies, we set out from the lab to our respective areas at 5:30 a.m.  We had a lot of fun, though!  Some groups measured pH, some measured the presence of certain invertebrates, and some measured the length of their treasure taxon.  After cleaning up and getting a bite to eat, we went to lecture.  We learned about the effects algae have on the environment and the other plants and critters within it.  Different algae species will be present in different areas depending on the biotic (i.e. herbivore presence) and abiotic factors (i.e. light) present.  Did you know that some sea urchins (like Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) eat algae?  After lecture, each team presented five of the species they collected for their algae type!  Some were long and slimy, some were iridescent, and some were bright, vivid colors!  Sarah and Miram also brought in some delicious snacks, so we celebrated the work of our friends and ourselves in addition to studying for our second batch of section finals.  In the upcoming days, we studied, finished up our treasure taxon projects, and slept in!

Charlie and Haley measuring the blade length of Mazzaella parksii at Seal Rock.

Eric, Emily, and Ashley measuring the invertebrates present near Callithamnion pikeanum groups at Seal Rock.

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