The microbes are in charge (Pymatuning Wetlands 2015, Day 4)
After a breakfast of energy-rich waffles, the Pymatuning wetlanders slowly descended the rungs of the redox ladder into the world of wetland biogeochemistry. The microbes rule this world, and we examined the ways they make living by examining nitrogen, iron, manganese, sulfur, and carbon cycling in wetlands. Electron acceptors, photosynthesis, oxidation, reduction, aerobic respiration, diffusion, mineralization, nitrification, denitrification, sulfur bacteria, photosynthetic sulfur bacteria, redox potential, ferric iron, ferrous iron, nitrogen fixation, sulfer-reducing bacteria, extended glycolysis, heterotrophs, chemoautotrophs, facultative anaerobes, obligate anaerobes, methanogenic bacteria, cation exchange capacity, and other trophic-genic-ifications until our brains were full and it was time to cool off in the marsh.
We spent much of the afternoon at Pymatuning Creek Marsh, where the students established transects along the moisture gradient from the edge of the wetland to the interior, and quantified the distribution of vegetation, water-table depth, and pH. While the students collected data I had a little time to quietly explore the marsh a bit, and I took a few pictures…
It was hotter than yesterday and the deer flies (Chrysops sp.) were relentless. Much blood was lost. But we obtained the necessary data and managed to collect a few more plant specimens. This group of students has a fantastic attitude and they are all quite a lot of fun. We returned to the lab to press plants and sort out the unknown plant species that they encountered along the transects.
Tomorrow we will explore the lacustrine wetlands of Pymatuning reservoir, and visit a swamp and some shallow water environments to round out our “must-know” plant list for the first week of class.
And a few more students are now contributing to the twitter feed: #PLEwetlands
Posted on June 4, 2015, in Teaching, Wetland Ecology & Management (PLE) and tagged Biogeochemistry, Ecology, Ecosystems, Marsh, Microbes, Plants, Science, student activity, Wetlands. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.