Spring semester’s greeting from our lab to yours! Hannah Reich and Nick Pagan here, back from our study abroad and not-so-abroad experiences. Now that we’re back, what better way to celebrate than to pick through the preserved macroinvertebrates we collected last summer! As we sift through stream muck with dentist-like tools and the same white plastic spoons we used months ago, the pungent smell of formalin and black coffee re-centers us in the lab. We are sorting through our samples, picking apart macroinvertebrates from stream muck, and will eventually identify every macroinvertebrate in our hundreds of jars.
I (Hannah) had a fantastic study abroad experience with the School for Field Studies (SFS) in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I lived on the itty-bitty island of South Caicos, a not-so-developed rock that I am proud to call home. While abroad, I took courses in tropical marine ecology, resource management, environmental policy and did a directed research project. For my directed research project, I used coral watch methods (www.coralwatch.org) to examine the extent and severity of coral bleaching on South Caicos reefs. This project entailed lots of scuba diving, transects, and examining corals, but without getting too close to them! While examining each coral, I used a coral watch color reference card to determine the lightest and darkest points on the coral. Though I miss scuba diving for school, I’m excited to return to the streams this spring and summer!
I (Nick) spent last semester at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Cape Cod on their Semester in Environmental Science program. I lived on a much more developed spit of land than Hannah, filled with beaches, bike trails, cafes and scientists. I spent the first half of the semester learning about ecosystem biogeochemistry and a variety of useful new lab techniques. As early fall transitioned into pre-winter, I started on my 6 week project, in which I studied macroinvertebrate community structure in streams affected by conventional and organic cranberry cultivation. To study this, I used many of the same methods that I am using for my macroinvertebrate study, such as surber sampling, picking and identification, as well as new methods like stable isotope analysis and nutrient analysis. I spent so much of my time processing invertebrate samples that I earned the nickname, “Bug Picker” from our beloved lab TA, Rich. You can see a video of my final talk at: http://videocenter.mbl.edu/videos/video/513/in/channel/19/ . Just like Hannah, I am eager to get back to my work in the Baker lab. I have a lot more macroinvertebrate picking to do!
Until next time, we’ll be processing samples and getting ready to get back out in the streams!
Hannah and Nick