The microbes are in charge (Pymatuning Wetlands 2015, Day 4)

A student clearly trying to closely examine the obligate anaerobic bacteria.  Or he fell in a hole.

A student clearly trying to closely examine the obligate anaerobic bacteria. Or he fell in a hole. (Photo: AS)

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.

Collecting vegetation cover data at Pymatuning Creek Marsh.

Collecting vegetation cover data at Pymatuning Creek 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…

My least favorite organism in the marsh today. (Deer fly, Chrysops sp.)

My least favorite organism in the marsh today. (Deer fly, Chrysops sp.)

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

"I'll carry this because it looks cool"

“I’ll carry this because it looks cool”

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Posted on June 4, 2015, in Teaching, Wetland Ecology & Management (PLE) and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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