Sunday, May 19, 2019

Week 7 ALREADY?!

Monday 05/13: We switched gears this week from field-heavy work to more lecture/lab based work in order to prepare to write our community ecology data reports. We started our Monday off lecture heavy learning about dynamics of marine communities and diversity. Among these lectures we learned that living in an intermittent upwelling area, we get a higher diversity of organisms than other places with persistent upwelling or downwelling.This is because upwelling brings up cold, nutrient rich waters and not being persistent gives the organisms that live in these areas a chance to take advantage of this abundance of food. Too much upwelling and too much downwelling can lead to very low diversity, so it is lucky that we get to study here in the Pacific Northwest where organisms are abundant and diverse! To better prepare us for our writing assignment for this section, our TA Zech went over statistical analysis and figure preparation before we took our last data from our experiment in the lab. After a full day spent in the classroom, we gathered in the lab to take our final data on our predator rate experiment. We counted the amount of eaten prey (mussels) and measured them, measured each predator, and fed the snails, sea stars, and crabs one last time before terminating the experiment and taking the animals back to their habitats in the rocky intertidal. Our special lecture for the day on kelp bed dynamics was unfortunately cancelled so that our lecturer, Sarah Hamilton, could go out on a research dive and do what marine scientists do best! Today we took in a lot of information but our sore limbs thanked us for a break from the field. Now we have the tools to start writing our data reports and use the data we worked so hard to collect!
Last round of data collection for our predation experiment.

Tuesday 05/14:  Today was much appreciated by us students because it was an “independent study” day that our professors so generously scheduled in. We had today to prepare our papers and oral presentations that were due Wednesday and Thursday respectively.  Groups gathered, scattered throughout the library and in various apartments to start hatching out their ideas about the data we collected in the field last week. This wasn’t our first rodeo, however, since this was our third oral presentation and one of many writing assignments. We finalized our presentations and eagerly awaited everyone’s oral reports at 1:00 PM tomorrow.

Wednesday 05/15: Judgement day...the day we presented our research to the class. Although presentations were at 1:00pm, we all woke up early to prepare for the daunting task ahead. Some groups walked to the library to get in some last minute details on their powerpoints, and others practiced their speeches. We entered the classroom, and although we have already done three presentations in this class, those nerves still crept in. For the next two hours were listened to our classmates give compelling hypotheses and observations with some great data analysis. Some presentation topics included sea star reproduction output, mobile predator diversity, and analyzing predation rates. Finally, the nerves were gone and the presentations were over. We went back to our favorite study places and worked diligently on our reports that were due the next day. A few students decided to have a peer review session later that night, which was immensely helpful for revising our papers and making sure they were ready to be graded by our TA Zech. After the session, we snuck in a few hours of studying for our final, and with that, the day had come to a quick end.
Everyone did amazing on their presentations; their hard work paid off.

Thursday 05/16: The last day of community ecology was upon us, and these two weeks went by in the blink of an eye. We woke up early to study for our exam at 2:00pm, reviewing Bruce’s lecture slides and going over concepts we learned together. We ate a quick lunch and took our final walk to class as community ecology students. We had two hours to take the exam, and then the rest of the day was devoted to finishing up our reports that were due later that night. However, it was the seventh week of spring term, and we needed a bit of a break. A few students sent out invites for a potluck, and everyone brought a different dish to share. Among the smorgasbord of food was shepards pie, mac and cheese, spaghetti, sweet potato horderves, cookies, apple fritters, chips, cupcakes, and so much more food that we aren’t able to list it all. It was a great way to finish the subject and have some family time with our classmates. The night rolled to an end, the last of the reports were turned in, and we prepared for the projects section that would begin the next day.
Everyone getting ready to take the final!

A nice night with friends, eating too much food.

Friday 05/17: A brand new day and a brand new section! Today we finally started the long awaited independent project section. We started bright and early at 8:30 AM and listened to our instructor, Dr. Sarah Henkel, tell us about what to expect in the upcoming weeks. We received instructions on how to write our project proposals and then we were released to write them in our groups. Teams were scattered across the Hatfield campus working diligently on writing their project proposals which were due at 5 PM this afternoon. Groups also took turns meeting with our three instructors and two TAs for this course to talk about their projects are work out the kinks of their ideas. Once everyone was finally done with their proposals we could finally breathe a sigh of relief as the end of a busy week came to a close and excitement came for next week’s activities.

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