The Pymatuning wetlanders wrapped up two weeks of the wetland ecology course today by first examining swamps and riparian wetlands and then heading out to Pymatuning Creek Marsh to collect the wells and data loggers that we installed last week. The collection of the wells proved difficult, but the students were creative and managed to recover them all.
We then visited Dr. Rick Relyea’s research laboratory where his research team told us about the interesting experimental work they are doing in ecotoxicology, community ecology, and behavioral ecology. The students had many questions, and it was nice to be able to give them direct exposure to this sort of cutting-edge research.
We returned to lab and spent the afternoon identifying and tallying our macroinvertebrate samples. We found many new macroinvertebrate types this year, and I am looking forward to seeing the results.
Today was exam day in wetland ecology, so the students spent the morning sharing their newly acquired knowledge of wetland ecosystems.
The course TA, Jessica Hua, then gave us a presentation on her PhD research, much of which is focused on understanding the ecological consequences of pesticides on the structure of aquatic communities and amphibian populations. Some of her recent work is here and here. After Jessica’s talk we took a tour of the “farm” lab, where Dr. Rick Relyea and his research group are conducting experimental work on the ecological effects of pesticides, as well as a broad range of other ecological topics.
We finished out the day by sampling two more wetlands for macroinvertebrates. We have now collected communities from four sites representing different predation pressures (i.e., ponds with and without fish) and a variety of environmental conditions (i.e., open and shaded). Tomorrow we will identify and quantify the organisms in our samples.