Spring 2016 – Sediment Coring in Rhode Island

Hi. I hope that my abundance of field-work related pictures does not lead you to believe this is all I do. The vast majority of my time is spent in the lab or on the computer analyzing samples and data, and making figures and writing. These are all very exciting things to do. None-the-less, I am sharing more field work pictures because they are prettier.

Two field projects I helped with this spring involved sediment coring in Rhode Island.

The first project was to help Stephanie Spera collect sediment cores from Succotash Salt Marsh. Stephanie is a 5th-year graduate student in my department and she is teaching a Climate Change course at Wheaton College this semester. For this class, Stephanie wanted her students to gain firsthand experience with the idea of paleoclimatology. For a full description of the Succotash sediment cores, see my previous blog posts or “7oo yr sedimentary record of intense hurricane landfalls in southern New England” by Donnelly et al. (2001). In brief, sand layers in the sediment core represent local landfalls of past hurricanes, and so we can reconstruct the history of large storms.

The second project, also seen in pictures, examines the effects of nitrogen remediation in Narragansett Bay. First-year graduate student Sydney Clark is pursuing this project and plans to use nitrogen isotope in sediment cores to qualitatively assess the effectiveness of adding tertiary treatment to East Providence’s wastewater treatment plant. We collected replicate sediment cores from Swan Point in the Seekonk River, immediately across from the treatment plant and Sydney is now busy in the lab with these sediments.

Succotash Salt Marsh – March 20, 2016

Stephanie caps and cleans the salt marsh core. This core contains three discrete sand layers which were deposited when a hurricane made landfall and pushed the beach sand up into the marsh.

Stephanie caps and cleans the salt marsh core. This core contains three discrete sand layers which were deposited when a hurricane made landfall and pushed the beach sand up into the marsh.

Stephanie is teaching her class about past climate change. These salt marsh sediments record the history of hurricane impacts on the area.

Stephanie is teaching her class about past climate change. These salt marsh sediments record the history of hurricane impacts on the area.

Stephanie pounds the core tubing into the marsh sediments.

Stephanie pounds the core tubing into the marsh sediments.

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Chris pounds the core tubing into the marsh.

Chris pounds the core tubing into the marsh.

Swan Point, Seekonk River – March 26, 2016

Sydney gets a sediment core from the canoe.

Sydney gets a sediment core from the canoe.

Brown geology graduate student Sydney Clark holds a sediment core from the Seekonk River. Syndey is investigating Nitrogen pollution in Narragansett Bay, and in particular if the upgrades to the Swan Point wastewater treatment were helpful in reducing nitrogen levels in the bay. Syndey specializes in nitrogen isotopes is studying in the lab of Meredith Hastings.

Brown geology graduate student Sydney Clark holds a sediment core from the Seekonk River. Sydney is investigating Nitrogen pollution in Narragansett Bay, and in particular if the upgrades to the Swan Point wastewater treatment were helpful in reducing nitrogen levels in the bay. Sydney specializes in nitrogen isotopes is studying in the lab of Meredith Hastings.

Two sediment cores collected from Swan Point/Bollard's Point on the Seekonk River.

Two sediment cores collected from Swan Point/Bollard’s Point on the Seekonk River.

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Limnology Field Trip Part I

Hello blogosphere! Happy 2016!! We survived winter and the geology field season is ramping back up in the northern hemisphere. To kick off the 2016 fieldwork campaign I went with Brown University’s Limnology class, taught by Jim Russell, on a field trip to New Hampshire. The goal of the class is for students to become familiar with and proficient in all things related to lakes, and this includes field sampling. Six students, Jim, and I went to Pout Pond, near the town of Belmont, NH to take water measurements and samples. Students measured lake temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, alkalinity, and secchi depth, and took water samples to measure salts and nutrients.

Here are some pictures from the beautiful day.

Limnology class, 2016 (Well, half the class anyway. The other half will sample pout pond from a boat later this semester).

Brown University Limnology class, 2016 (Well, half the class anyway. The other half of the class will sample Pout Pond from a boat later this semester).

What's the secchi depth, Jim?

What’s the secchi depth, Jim?

Yinsui uses a kemmerer water sampler to collect water from 1 m depth increments. The vertical profiles of water chemistry, temperature, etc. can tell a lot about the state of a lake. For example, in 10 years limnology field trips, Pout Pond has remained permanently stratified, with a salty, dense layer of water at the bottom. Lakes with permanent stratification are called meromictic.

Yinsui uses a kemmerer water sampler to collect water from 1 m depth increments. The vertical profiles of water chemistry, temperature, etc. can tell a lot about the state of a lake. For example, in 10 years limnology field trips, Pout Pond has remained permanently stratified, with a salty, dense layer of water at the bottom. Lakes with permanent stratification are called meromictic.

Patrick, Nick, and Rebecca collecting water samples.

Patrick, Nick, and Rebecca collecting water samples.

Patrick measuring alkalinity using a colorometric test kit.

Patrick measuring alkalinity using a colorometric test kit.

Yinsui and Sydney filtering water for anion, cation, and nutrient analyses.

Yinsui and Sydney filtering water for anion, cation, and nutrient analyses.

Alkalinity titrations.

Alkalinity titrations.

The class samples Pout Pond in Belmont, NH on a beautiful winter day.

The class samples Pout Pond in Belmont, NH on a beautiful winter day.

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A Transit from Transit Street – The Blood Moon

I recently moved into a house on Transit St. in Providence. Legend has it that the house was built by the aunt of composer George Cohan (this was a big selling point for me, no doubt). But, that is only kind of cool in comparison to the etymology of the street name itself. Transit Street was so named because in the 18th century, it was considered one of the prime locations in the world to view the Transit of Venus (the passage of Venus between Earth and the sun) and astronomers from New England gathered there to watch the event in 1769.

The pictures below are not the Transit of Venus, but they do represent a planetary transit that I captured earlier this fall. It is the blood moon – a combination supermoon and complete lunar eclipse. I took pictures at 30x optical zoom with my Nikon point-and-shoot camera mounted on a tripod. I was pleased with the outcome from such a small camera. Enjoy.

The start of the lunar eclipse

The start of the lunar eclipse

Just about fully eclipsed

Just about fully eclipsed

The Blood Moon.

The Blood Moon.

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Kaktovik Oceanography Program, 2015

A view of Kaktovik, AK and the Brooks Range mountains.

A view of Kaktovik, AK and the Brooks Range mountains. Stunning.

This blog is about the Kaktovik Oceanography Program and the wonderful experience I had volunteering with the program in 2015. The KOP is an annual week-long natural science camp for local students in the town of Kaktovik, Alaska. It is hosted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (thanks Greta Burkhart and Allyssa Morris), and largely coordinated by Ken Dunton’s research group from University of Texas. Students spend the week thinking about ecosystems, evolution, geology, etc., and do a lot of hands-on field work in the local lagoons and coastal habitats. Our goal was to show the participants that doing science is not only important and interesting, but also fun and a potentially viable career path.

This year, thanks to an NSF grant to Brown University’s Yongsong Huang (PI), I was able to travel to Alaska to lend my geology expertise and to help teach in the science camp. The theme of the camp was “Life as an Arctic Scientist”. The pictures below will guide you through the day-to-day events of the camp.

Day 1: Life as an Arctic Ecologist. Students explored lagoon foodwebs, with the goals of understanding what factors affect where/how marine organisms live, and understanding how scientists collect and analyze data to make conclusions. We made measurements of habitat characteristics such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, etc. and used a seine to collect lagoon fish. Lastly, we set up an aquarium in the classroom and populated it with flounder and 4-horned sculpin (aka Myoxocephalus quadricornis, aka Kunyuk) from the seining activity. We monitored the aquarium every day for temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and nitrogen concentration, and thought about why these parameters mattered and why they changed.

Our classroom in the Kaktovik Community Center before camp began.

Our classroom in the Kaktovik Community Center before camp began.

Using a YSI instrument to measure temperature and salinity in Kaktovik Lagoon.

Using a YSI instrument to measure temperature and salinity in Kaktovik Lagoon.

vandorn

Transferring water from the Van Dorn sampler into a sample bottle, to be analyzed for nitrate and pH in the classroom.

Here we are seining along the shore outside of the lagoon barrier. Don't walk deeper than the waders! Students found much fewer fish (and no flounder) outside the lagoon compared to within the lagoon.

Here we are seining along the shore outside of the lagoon barrier. Don’t walk deeper than the waders! Students found much fewer fish (and no flounder) outside the lagoon compared to within the lagoon.

Day 2: Life as an Arctic Geologist. On the second day, we played with MUD. Or more accurately, we played with SEDIMENT. The obectives of this day were to 1) think about the relationship between environment and sediment, 2) retrieve a sediment core from the center of Kaktovik Lagoon to see if we could observe changes in sediment, and therefore changes in environment, through time. The students tested the hypothesis that KL used to be a lake, and that some time in the recent geologic past the lake was captured by rising seas to become the modern saltwater system that it is today. Unforunately, our sediment coring was stymied by sub-lagoon permafrost about 50 cm into the sediment, so we couldn’t get very old stuff. Oh well, worth a try, and that is sometimes what life is like as an arctic geologist!

UT student Carrie Harris demonstrates how to use a push-core.

UT student Carrie Harris demonstrates how to use a push-core.

KOP students getting ready to retrieve a sediment core. (photo: Ken Dunton)

Thea, JD, and Melanie getting ready to retrieve a sediment core. (photo: Ken Dunton)

Now what do we do? Carrie advises while Kim disassembles the coring device. (photo: Ken Dunton)

Now what do we do? Carrie advises while Kim disassembles the coring device. (photo: Ken Dunton)

Geologists showing off their awesome sediment core.

Geologists showing off their sediment core. (photo: Ken Dunton)

Yea, being a geologist means getting your hands dirty.

Yea, being a geologist means getting your hands dirty.

Here we take a look at sediment from a sediment core. We observed a clear differences between fine-graind/carbon rich and sand between different sites in the lagoon (and a nearby pond).

Here we take a look at sediment from a sediment core. We observed a clear differences grain size and color (ex. black fine mud vs brown sand) between different sites in the lagoon (and a nearby pond). (photo: Ken Dunton)

Retrieving a sediment core is fun, but the job isn't over yet. Here we look at opened cores to describe differences in the sediment characteristics between sites and through time. (photo: Ken Dunton)

Retrieving a sediment core is fun, but the job isn’t done yet. Here we look at opened cores to describe differences in the sediment characteristics between sites and through time. We thought about how those differences relate to the environmental characterstics of the sites (photo: Ken Dunton)

Day 3: Life as an Arctic Ecologist Part II. The third day of KOP began with a guest presentation by USFWS researchers. Claire, Will, Gabriella, and Damion talked with the students about their ongoing project to survey wild Eider population that inhabits the barrier islands along the Alaskan Coast. Such an incredible project and a great opportunity for the students to see science in progress. Participants had the chance to try candling eggs, a method where a light placed behind an egg illuminates the developing embryo.

The afternoon was marked by more hypothesis testing with the students. The goal was to compare the coastal ecosystems inside and outside of the lagoon barrier. Students made several hypotheses about how animals, water quality, and sediments might vary between these sites.

We also did more thinking like a geologist. Coastal erosion is a process of immediate concern for the residents of Kaktovik, with the barrier island eroding at a rate of 10 meters per year (compare to 2 meters per year historically). The students came up with a method to study the erosion rate year after year, and we took some baseline measurements. Students walked along the foot of the bluff marking GPS location of the bluff edge. Yearly transects should show the gradual retreat of the bluff face. Scary stuff, and it was apparent to the kids why this was such an important scientifict question to address. Unfortunately, the cause of bluff erosion acceleration is likely a combination of climate-related sea-ice loss, windiness, waviness, and permafrost thaw, all of which are more difficult to fix than to measure…

Carrie and the kids cuddle up to stay warm as they watch the older students seine for coastal fish.

Carrie and the girls cuddle up to stay warm as they watch the older students seine for coastal fish.

USFWS outreach coordinator, Allyssa, is on polar bear patrol, keeping the KOP participants safe and worry-free as they seine for fish.

USFWS outreach coordinator, Allyssa, is on polar bear patrol, keeping the KOP participants safe and worry-free as they seine for fish.

Marking the position of the bluff edge on the north edge of the island.

Marking the position of the bluff edge on the north edge of the island.

Balancing on a tundra-raft while taking measurements of the island bluff.

Balancing on a tundra-raft while taking measurements of the barter Island bluff. (photo: Ken Dunton)

While giant mud hills may be an awesome playground for this Kaktovik child, they are also evidence of a growing problem for Arctic coastal villages - retreating coastlines due to increasing waves, winds, and permafrost thaw.

While giant mud hills may be an awesome playground for this Kaktovik child, they are also evidence of a growing problem for Arctic coastal villages – retreating coastlines due to increasing waves, winds, and permafrost thaw.

Day 4: Life as an Arctic Hydrologist. Thursday was the first day of real school for the students, so, instead of kids coming to the community center for camp, the USFWS and UT crew went into the local school to speak with high school students. After school was out, Craig and Jeff, two UT graduate students, talked with kids about the water cycle and took them outside to try their hands at collecting soil water. Thursday evening we also held an activity night for the younger children of Kaktovik – it was a night of popcorn, juice, science-adventure-related movies and games, chaos, learning, and fun.

Cliff, Carrie, and Christina teaching in the Harold Kaveolook School. (photo: Greta Burkardt)

Cliff, Carrie, and Christina teaching in the Harold Kaveolook School. (photo: Greta Burkardt)

Day 5 ; Life as an Arctic Artist. Our final day of camp was a scientific recap followed by a cultural discussion and fish printing on t-shirts. For the cultural experience, Allyssa Morris (USFWS) put together a really nice presentation about different types of food eaten around Alaska, so the kids could think about the connection between their livelihoods and the resources around them. The presentation was followed by a smorgasbord of wild game from different parts of Alaska. So tasty. Most of the kids said their favorite food was either seal or whale. I didn’t get a chance to try either, but the local fish was delicious. Fish printing, or gyotaku, is a very old tradition, originally meant as a way for fisherman to prove how big a fish they caught. While some people still use real fish for their printing, we used rubber versions of local Arctic species to make our prints.

Fish Prints

Fish Prints

Day 6 and 7. The KOP finished successfully on Friday; we had two days to clean and pack up our gear, and this left plenty of time to look around the island, explore the lagoon, and just take in the scenery. Here are some general pictures from my time in Kaktovik. Enjoy

A beaded stream visible from the airplane between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay.

A beaded stream (and some ice polygons) visible from the airplane between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay.

polygons

More polygons and thaw lakes from the coastal region of northern Alaska.

Arctic Sea Ice! The ice was quite patchy near the coast, but was quite beatufiul. It ranged from bright white to quite dirty/dark.

Arctic Sea Ice. The ice was quite patchy near the coast, but was quite beatufiul. It ranged from bright white to quite dirty/dark.

Jawbones of bowhead whales laid out along Kaktovik Lagoon.

Jawbones of bowhead whales laid out along Kaktovik Lagoon.

A smokehouse in Kaktovik. Smoked fish is a staple food for many people. This room smelled sooo delicious. This is mostly Arctic Char.

A smokehouse in Kaktovik. Smoked fish is a staple food for many people. This room smelled sooo delicious. This is mostly Arctic Char.

Here the USFWS crew is in full mustang suit gear, heading out for a 4 day camping excursion to survey eiders.

Here the USFWS crew is in full mustang suit gear, heading out for a 4 day camping excursion to survey eiders.

I also spent one evening helping the UT hydrology crew collect some sediment cores from Kaktovik Lagoon. Here we are taking the zodiak across the bay to the sampling site. We were testing if or how far fresh groundwater can penetrate through sediment to the center of the lagoon. We actually found extremly hypersaline pore water in our offshore core (60-70 ppt). (photo: Greta Burkhardt)

I also spent one evening helping the UT hydrology crew collect some sediment cores from Kaktovik Lagoon. Here we are taking the zodiak across the bay to the sampling site. We were testing if or how far fresh groundwater can penetrate through sediment to the center of the lagoon. We actually found extremly hypersaline pore water in our offshore core (60-70 ppt). (photo: Greta Burkhardt)

Here Carrie and I are wrapping up a core for transport back to the USFWS bunkhouse in Kaktovik. What a perfect night for sediment coring in the Arctic Ocean.

Here Carrie and I are wrapping up a core for transport back to the USFWS bunkhouse in Kaktovik. What a perfect night for sediment coring in the Arctic Ocean. (photo: Greta Burkhardt aka polar bear guard)

It was so nice in fact, that we celebrated with a jump into the Arctic Ocean (ok, techinically Kaktovik Lagoon...)

It was so nice in fact, that we celebrated with a jump into the Arctic Ocean (ok, techinically Kaktovik Lagoon…) (photo: Greta Burkhardt, aka polar bear guard)

Greta Burkhardt, the polar bear guard, taking in the view.

Greta Burkhardt, the polar bear guard, taking in the view.

This is how we look for polar bears.

This is how we look for polar bears at the bone pile. (photo: Greta Burkhardt)

Nanook is the Inupiat word for polar bear. Here is a mother and her two 2-year old cubs. (photo: Bayani Cardenas)

Nanook is the Inupiat word for polar bear. Here is a mother and her two 2-year old cubs. (photo: Bayani Cardenas)

And that wraps up the highlights of the 2015 Kaktovik Oceanography Program and my time in Kaktovik. Thanks!

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Watershed Watch: Cunliffe Pond

Today Brown geology grads, undergrads, and postdocs celebrated our third successful season with the URI Watershed Watch program. The WW, coordinated by the URI cooperative extension, monitors about 120 RI water bodies on a weekly basis from May to October, all through the volunteer efforts of RI citizens. The long-term data (>20 years for some lakes) are used to assess restoration efforts, pollution impacts, climate change impacts, etc. Full information can be found at the URI-WW website.

Using the foldable boat, aka the ‘coin purse’, our crew has now monitored Cunliffe Pond for three years.

Map of the ponds within Roger Williams Park (inset shows location of RWP within Rhode Island). We monitor Cunliffe Pond.

Map of the ponds within Roger Williams Park (inset shows location of RWP within Rhode Island). We monitor Cunliffe Pond.

Specific measurements we make include, on a weekly basis: temperature, secchi depth, dissolved oxygen; on a biweekly basis: chlorophyll a; and three times per year: bacteria coloforms, phosphate, ammonium, nitrate, and cyanobacteria abundance. Here are some data highlights from our sampling effort, as well as some photos from the most recent sampling season.

Surface water temperature, measured weekly, shows a nice seasonal progression from May through October. Warmest temperatures are approximately 28 °C.

Surface water temperature, measured weekly, shows a nice seasonal progression from May through October. Warmest temperatures are approximately 28 °C.

Secchi depth information also reveals a seasonal progression. We noticed abundance submerged aquatic vegetation and clear water in May (high secchi), which was replaced by phytoplankton in June-August (low secchi, high chlorophyll a). Cyanobacteria (mostly anabaena) blooms were evident in mid-summer, but dissipated in the fall.

Secchi depth information also reveals a seasonal progression. We noticed abundance submerged aquatic vegetation and clear water in May (high secchi), which was replaced by phytoplankton in June-August (low secchi, high chlorophyll a). Cyanobacteria (mostly anabaena) blooms were evident in mid-summer, but dissipated in the fall.

Dissolved oxygen levels were variable, but generally lower during mid-summer due to higher water temperatures, and greater respiration related to high algae biomass. DO never dropped to critical levels for the bass population in the pond.

Dissolved oxygen levels were variable, but generally lower during mid-summer due to higher water temperatures, and greater respiration related to high algae biomass. DO never dropped to critical levels for the bass population in the pond.

Brown geology undergraduate, Allison Cluett, measures the secchi depth from the canoe.

Brown geology undergraduate, Allison Cluett, measures the secchi depth from the canoe.

Visiting scholar Carolynn Harris volunteering to measure dissolved oxygen concentration using a Hach kit. Here she is adding starch color indicator.

Visiting scholar Carolynn Harris volunteering to measure dissolved oxygen concentration using a Hach kit. Here she is adding starch color indicator.

Geology post-doctoral fellow Sarah Ivory prepares to deploy the water sampler.

Geology post-doctoral fellow Sarah Ivory prepares to deploy the water sampler.

Supplies for filtering phytoplankton from water samples. The filters are then frozen and sent to URI for analysis of chlorophyll a content.

Supplies for filtering phytoplankton from water samples. The filters are then frozen and sent to URI for analysis of chlorophyll a content.

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Sediment Coring RI-style

2015 is the year of New England coring expeditions for me. This spring we started out retrieving sediment cores from Siders Pond, MA for ancient DNA work (see previous post). Next I cored Providence-local Roger Williams Park ponds to assess nutrient pollution and heavy metal contamination since European settlement. If you have followed earlier blog posts on our weekly water quality monitoring, you may already be familiar with Cunliffe Pond in RWP. There are a total of 5 ponds in the park, all linked together by small streams and navigable by swan boat.

Arial vew of the RWP pond system. Arrows indicate direction of flow. Colored points are sediment sampling locations.

Arial vew of the RWP pond system. Arrows indicate direction of flow. Colored points are sediment sampling locations. (map from Matt Griffin; Brown University Chem1660)

Dave Murray is the environmental chemistry facilities manager at Brown. He oversees important instrumentation and also teaches a course called Instrumental Analysis. For this course, students collect environmental samples for the dual purposes of learning a variety of analytical techniques, and also for answering some outstanding environmental science questions. This year, students focused on tracing contaminants through the RWP pond network through space, time, and the food web. I helped a couple of students and Dave retrieve sediments for this project. The pictures below outline our field day of sediment collection.

Constructing a raft out of two canoes, two 2x6's, and a central coring board. Simple yet effective.

Constructing a raft out of two canoes, two 2×6’s, and a central coring board. Simple yet effective.

Paddling to the coring site near the historic Roger Williams Casino. These students want to test the spatial distribution of heavy metals, especially in relation to roadways, parking lots, and historic buildings. Their classmates did similar studies on benthic invertebrates and fish, to see if these contaminants make it into the foodweb.

Paddling to the coring site near the historic Roger Williams Casino. These students want to test the spatial distribution of heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), especially in relation to roadways, parking lots, and historic buildings. Their classmates did similar studies on benthic invertebrates and fish, to see if these contaminants make it into the foodweb.

Allan and Matt contemplate getting their hands muddy after a successful benthic grab sample.

Allan Huang and Ndubisi Ohah (aka Junior) contemplate getting their hands muddy after a successful benthic grab sample.

As any phycologist or sediment scientist will tell you, a simple kitchen spoon is a critical piece of field equipment. Here Allan samples surface sediment out of an Eckmen grab to be later analyzed for heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

As any phycologist or sediment scientist will tell you, a simple kitchen spoon is a critical piece of field equipment. Here, Allan samples surface sediment out of an Eckmen grab to be later analyzed for heavy metals and PAHs.

Matt rocks his first canoe portage.

Junior rocks his first canoe portage.

 

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Siders Pond ancient DNA

Analysis of ancient DNA, that is, leftover DNA from long-dead organisms, is a new and exciting area of research. It can give key insights to the history of human, animal, or plant migrations, the diets of ancient organisms, changing microbial diversity, and more. The method is frought with difficulties, mostly related to procurring and analyzing samples free of contamination. Because DNA breaks down over time, the amount of aDNA is relatively small, especially relative to all the potential sources of DNA contamination (for example from your hands, airborn dust and microbes, microbes living next to your environmental sample, etc.)

This spring the Brown University-Marine Biological Laboratory IGERT class set out to analyze aDNA in a sediment core from lovely Siders Pond, Falmouth, MA. This is a pond I have sampled multiple times during my time working at MBL and for the Semester of Environmental Science. It is a meromictic pond, somewhat brackish at the surface and quite salty in the hypolimnion (it receives Atlantic Ocean water during high tides and storms). The pond is in downtown Falmouth and is thought to have undergone significant changes during the course of Falmouth’s growth. The IGERT class wanted to test this using aDNA. The plan is to take a sediment core, generate an age model chronology for the sediment, and assess what types of organism turnover and diversity changes have occurred through time.

Here are pictures from our coring day. Data is so far unavailable.

Here we are on the lawn of a science-friendly Falmouth resident, assembling our coring platform.

Here we are on the lawn of a science-friendly Falmouth resident, assembling our coring platform.

Our coring platform consists of two pontoon floats, metal crossbars, and 2x6's. It is very stable and plenty big for 4 workers.

Our coring platform consists of two pontoon floats, metal crossbars, and 2×6’s. It is very stable and plenty big for 4 workers.

Anne and Longo ferry the anchors about 30 m from the raft to help secure our position. Four HEAVY anchors usually does the trick.

Anne and Longo ferry the anchors about 30 m from the raft to help secure our position. Four HEAVY anchors usually does the trick.

We have a barrel full of Siders Pond water, getting ready to push into the mud.

We have a barrel full of Siders Pond water, getting ready to push into the mud.

Morgan and Dr. Rand remove the core head from core IGERT15-1A-1.

Morgan and Dr. Rand remove the core head from core IGERT15-1A-1.

Our first core!! This 1 m of sediment represents appxorimately 500 years.

Our first core!! This 1 m of sediment represents appxorimately 500 years.

Morgan loves sediment coring. But who doesn't.

Morgan loves sediment coring. But who doesn’t.

The goal of this coring endeavor is to use ancient DNA, preserved in a sediment core, to learn about how this pond has been impacted by residential development since the pilgrims arrived at Cape Cod.

The goal of this coring endeavor is to use ancient DNA, preserved in a sediment core, to learn about how this pond has been impacted by residential development since the pilgrims arrived at Cape Cod. Here Longo, Morgan, and Steve, the three IGERT students, work to sample the sediment for DNA. The need to be verrrry clean and not sneeze on anything.

 

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ASLO 2015 – Granada, Spain

In March of 2015 I had the pleasure of attending a scientific conference for the Association for the Science of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). This year the meeting was held in Granada, Spain. So much great science! I gave a talk on past temperature changes in Alaska and what impact that had on lake ecosystems. Lake E5 is such a wonderful model lake!

I didn’t take many pictures within the conference, but want to share these pictures from beautiful Grenada and the surrounding area. Enjoy.

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Axolotl Day!

February 19 marked the first annual Brown Science Center Axolotl Day. I know what your thinking. Axolotl Day is a ridiculous concept. Well, you’re right. But, it is also pretty awesome and I was happy to be the guest speaker at the event.

Important Axolotl Facts: 1) axolotls are neotenic salamanders native to ponds just south of Mexico City, 2) they have a broad range of color phenotypes because of breeding for laboratory and pet purposes, 3) they are critically endangered or possibly extinct in the wild.

Enjoy pictures from the 2015 axolotl day.

 

Axolotl cake!

Axolotl cake!

Axie art competition - the adapted Brown Logo with axolotl sun won the prize.

Axie art competition – the adapted Brown Logo with axolotl sun won the prize.

Educating young minds on amphibian biology and ecology

Educating young minds (~60 Brown undergrads) on amphibian biology and ecology

Half geologist-half axolotl.

Half geologist-half axolotl.

Axolotl for a day.

Axolotl for a day.

 

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Wuhddah Winter

Hi, I wanted to share the awesome winter sport of snow mini-golf with everyone. This is a sport introduced to me by my uncle over X-mas break. If you’ve been trying to make the best of this snow-filled New England winter, consider adding this to your list of activities.

The basic tenents of the game are thus:

1) Miniature golf style holes are shoveled and built on a frozen lake. Make sure there is enough ice to be safe! Everyone needs to design one or two holes. We tried to be thematic and also used sleds/shovels/etc as props.

Hole #3

Hole #3

Hole #6

Hole #6

Hole #2

Hole #2

Hole #10 - The spiral of doom.

Hole #10 – The spiral of doom.

2) Use an ice-auger to drill the holes

3) Play golf. We used tennis balls and whatever golf clubs/hockey sticks/broomball brooms/skis were available as clubs.

Fore!

Fore!

JD chooses an x-country ski to chip up the hill. Interesting choice, but highly effective.

JD chooses an x-country ski to chip up the hill. Interesting choice, but highly effective.

Ky putts down the only land-based hole.

Ky putts down the only land-based hole.

The crowd gathers and the tension grows.

The crowd gathers and the tension grows.

Matching Christmas shirts. Gross or cute?

Matching Christmas shirts. Gross or cute? Either way, warm during a game of snow mini-golf.

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