Sunday, 4 June 2017

Week 3 : FGCU

Week 3 of this FIO field course, we were able to explore the biodiversity within various habitats of Estero Bay. Monday we started off our day with a early morning lecture from Dr. Douglass, followed by observations of lift nets and oyster beds. We were interested in the overall health of the oyster reefs , how oyster abundance compared among different sites and how they impacted the surrounding habitats. Once looking through the lift net samples and sorting out living organisms from nonliving ones, each species were recorded into data sheets. These results where later made into excel spread sheets comparing Shannon diversity index, species richness and biodiversity between different sites.

Tuesday we worked with Dr. Savarese studying the different layers of sediment taken from oyster reefs. We used a long metal poles to drive into the oyster bed equipped with adjustable handles, which helped drive the pole down as far as possible. Once the metal pole was full of sediment, we capped it off and cut it into 3 individual tubes, each labeled with arrows indicating which sediment layer was in each pipe. Unfortunately the core sample taken from my group slipped and was unusable. Using the other groups sample, we were able to tell exactly when coast transgression and regression occurred, and  possible organisms that  were alive during those time periods. After core sampling we took a break and visited a archaeology site that the University of Georgia students were working on, getting a sneak peak as to what Caloosa artifacts were located under layers of sediment. It was interesting to hear about the areas history as well as history of sea level rises and how they affected coastal formation.     

Wednesday we met back up Dr. Douglass, traveling to different sites within Estero Bay taking two core samples at each site and seining through them. Once each samples was seined through, we used a grid like structure made from PVC pipes, to record percent coverage of underwater sea grass. Each site seemed to be dominated by different species of sea grass, due to the factors such as light availability, water current, wind speed and turbidity.  After collecting the core samples, we took them back to the lab and sorted through each one, eventually making another excel biodiversity spreadsheet. 

Thursday was our last day in  Estero bay, as we worked with Dr. Mike, observing wind/current patterns and how they effected the flow of freshwater within the estuary. Using a grapefruit that we dropped in the different areas of Estero Bay and recording the starting latitude and longitudinal coordinates and then recording them again after 10 min. This strategy allowed us to visually see which way the water current was flowing and how wind and tides effected the direction the grapefruit was flowing in. I was surprised to see that freshwater from the Imperial river was flowing up north with wind direction and tides being the two biggest influential factors. 

Friday we took our third exam for the FIO field courses and said one last goodbye to Dr. Douglass and the Vester Marine. This week was full of hard work as well as adventurous. I highly recommend stopping by the Vester Marine center to admire all the different research currently going  on. The FGCU experience is something that I will never forget!   

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