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Monday, August 29, 2016

The Extremes


An extremophile is an organism that thrives in extreme environments.

Extreme Microbes from Hydrothermal Vents


Extremeophiles

What is an extremophile?

Extremophiles are organisms that live in "extreme environments," under high pressure and temperature. Bacteria often form on the rocks near the hydrothermal vents. Pictured is the Sully Vent in the Main Endeavour Vent Field, NE Pacific. A bed of tube worms cover the base of the black smoker.

 Ref. (http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/extremophile.html)

 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Emily UR - Conclusions

Well the time has come to use what I've learned these past two years and try to get paid for it! Graduating in a week will open so many doors through which I'll be able to work outside, doing what I love. That being said, it's time to review and conclude my semester long research regarding Nutrient Pollution in Stormwater Management Ponds (SMPs).

Stormwater Management Ponds are man-made ponds designed to prevent flooding and act as a reservoir for the rainwater as well as the surface runoff that fills them from the higher elevations surrounding. These ponds generally have a weak current, if any at all and absorb sunlight all day which allows perfect conditions for algae growth and eutrophication of the water body. Nutrients and other debris associated with surface runoff and atmospheric deposition become introduced into the pond and feed these algae. I became curious about these sources so I came up with the official scientific questions of:
1. Does the setting surrounding an SMP influence the input of nutrients by surface runoff?
&
2. Does atmospheric deposition play a role in nutrient input?

HPSMP
 So  the pond to the left, HPSMP, is the Halifax Plantation Stormwater Management Pond located in Ormond Beach.

Below, TPSMP, is the Tuscawilla Park Stormwater Management Pond located in Tuscawilla Park in Daytona Beach.

TPSMP
Difference of water quality seen at each site in HPSMP
I decided to study these two ponds because of their locations and the area surrounding them. HPSMP is surrounded by 4 houses to its North, a golf course to it's South and a small path for residents and golf carts to cross to the East. I decided to take three samples from each pond since each side is effected by different environments hoping I would find some sort of variance of nutrient concentrations at each site.
Materials I worked with include:
  •  Field Journal
  • 4 2-Gallon Pail w/Handle
  • Hach 2100N Turbidimeter
  • Hack DR/890 Colorimeter
  • VWR Clinical 20 Centrifuge
  • NOAA Surface Weather Maps
  • 500mL Bottles for Water Samples
  • AquaFluor Handheld Fluorometer
  • Wide Mouth Quart-Size Mason Jars
  • NOAA Hi-Def Radar App for iPhone
  • Fisher Scientific MaximaDry Filter Pump
 My method used to answer my questions was rather simple; I wanted to see the difference of nutrient content before and after a storm to see how much content varied but I also wanted to see how much the rain itself contributed as well. So therefore my method was to:


1.      Three water samples from different sites in each pond were collected prior to a storm and brought to the lab to be tested for Total Inorganic Nitrogen using Method 10021 and Total Phosphates using Method 8048. Chlorophyll & Turbidity were analyzed using the AquaFluor and the Hach 2100N Turbidimeter, respectively.
 
2.      Tracking a storm using the NOAA Radar app, two buckets were placed around each pond to collect the rainwater associated with the later runoff. This water was jarred and stored in a cool, dark place for later analysis.
 
3.     Once the storm had passed, three new samples were collected from the same sites and stored in a cool, dark place for later analysis using the same methods listed earlier. 


My Results:

Measurements of Total Nitrogen

Measurements of Total Phosphates
Positive Correlation of Chlorophyll & Turbidity
 Very fun this experiment was. The storm that brought me the rainwater traveled across the Northwestern United States before it reached Florida as it is seen as the cold front (blue line with blue triangle) entering the state, proceeding on its way Southeast. I decided not to create a HYSPLIT model because it was an overcomplicated version of a regular surface radar map. Anyway, considering my results, I've determined that atmospheric deposition does play a role in nutrient input into the pond and that the setting surrounding a pond does play a role in nutrient runoff as well. Next time though, I'd like to collect a sample of surface runoff as it's entering the pond, for comparison.

Hope y'all enjoyed the ride!

Pedro UR; wrapping up

So, it's been an exciting semester. The most interesting by far. My independent research project was  to conduct a series of test in the canals off of the Matanzas river and the river it self and try to pinpoint a particular source which may be causing poor water quality. this Idea was brought up by a concerned resident, Mr. Charlie Faulkner.  Mr. Charlie Faulkner is convinced that a nearby water treatment facility with a not so squeaky clean track record may be contaminating the river and leading to excess nutrients flowing into the canals upon which his community was built. 

Flagler Beach Water treatment facility
My scientific question was , Is the treated effluent water discharge contaminating the canals? After conducting a transect of samples from North of the canals to the back of Mr. Faulkner's community and South of the discharge point. I have compared various results with criteria of the water body. one example is this.

The levels of chlorophyll found at the furthest point of the canal system (site three) of the transect Showed chlorophyll in this area exceeds the standard criteria. This one of  the major areas of concern because it is the furthest away from the fresh supply of water. The results of the research at this time do not prove that the treatment facility is damaging the canals or surrounding areas. In the future I plan to return to the Matanzas river and the canals to perform the same test. I feel that the conditions in this area may change during the warmer months of summer. If my future results validate Mr. Faulkner's concern I feel that the city of Flagler Beach will have to listen not only to me but, to the rest of the EST students of DSC.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Deanna UR- The Results Are In!

Q & A: Jeff sec. 50. What will you do if you don't catch any red drum and what does that tell you about the fact that you weren't able to catch anything and the current regulations?

Thanks for your question! If I was not able to catch anything I would assume that red drum in the area have been overfished and that perhaps the regulations should be adjusted to allow the population to grow again. This could be done by imposing a closed season, where a few months out of the year it would be illegal to harvest red drum in the area.



Total Red Drum Length Measurements- the green
represents the legal harvesting size.

Fortunately, that did not happen and my persistence paid off. We ended up fishing a total of six different areas in Flagler and northern Volusia County and caught a total of thirteen red drum. We fished eight or nine times, going to a couple of the same areas a few times. I did not always fish from the kayak, I fished from the banks a few times. Of the thirteen fish we caught, ten of them were legal harvesting size (18 - 27 inches in total length). To my surprise, ten of the fish we caught were caught in Volusia County and three were caught in Flagler County. My scientific question is: do the current harvesting rules and regulations for red drum in Flagler and Volusia County need to be adjusted? I would say yes based on my data. I would say that perhaps the harvesting bag limit for red drum in Flagler County (which is currently two per person per day) should be dropped down to one fish per person per day. Or perhaps increasing the Volusia County bag limit from one to two per person per day.


Fish Length by County- the green box represents
the legal harvesting lengths.
As far as what did I learn from my IRP, I surprisingly learned more than I thought I would. This project was a great way for me to learn more about my local environment and the marine life living in it, which is a plus considering my future career goal of being a game warden with FWC. Also, I typically prefer freshwater fishing but from this project I am starting to enjoy salt water fishing more than I originally used to. And of course any fishing trip is a reminder of how important patience and perseverance are.

"A bad day of fishing, is still better than a good day at work".

Victoria UR- Tigers, and Bulls, and Teeth!! OH MY!!!

Through thick and thin, you have to push your way to the top. It has been a long process, but the work has been accomplished.

Image result for bluefish
Bluefish
The fishing trip on Saturday was an interesting event. Fishing took place from around 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. inside the inlet of New Smyrna Beach. There were a lot of other people fishing and enjoying the beautiful day outside. Through the 2 hours we were out, the only fish caught was a 15" bluefish.




Although no sharks were caught during my research this semester, I was still able to collect data through online sources such as OCEARCH and the George Burgess International Shark Attack File as well as the information from Dr. Eric Reyier at the Kennedy Space Center.

With all of the information available, I was able to put enough into excel to make multiple graphs, determining how many of the sample were male versus female, as well as an average length of the species caught. The species found were blacktips (the most abundant), one bullshark, two great whites (the largest in length), and some tiger sharks.

Although there were others found in the area, there were no sex, length, or weight recorded. Most of the information found on OSEARCH we the tracking of sharks that were tagged in other states, like the great whites tagged in Cape Cod. But the satellite tags tracked one, who swam to the shore right off of Bethune Beach at one point in her recent travels.

Myself and my boyfriend out shark fishing
with Dr. Woodall and Dr. Osmon.
Due to many conflicts in schedules, I was only able to be in the field once myself, but in future research, a planned out schedule will make data easier to collect. While collecting data, it is not guaranteed to collect the data you set out to find.

In the end, I found that of the species I found had been collected, there were more Females than Males. I had a sample size of 17 sharks, with 3 that had not been recorded and are marked as unknown.

I personally feel like continuing this research on my own to determine what conditions may affect the catchability of the different shark species as well.

Q&A
Phaleisa-section 01
          What species of sharks can we find in the Atlantic Ocean?

Book cover to sharks found in the Atlantic.
To answer this question correctly, it would almost be a book, since there are just so many different species. I will answer in a more simplified way.

The major species found here off the eastern coast of Florida can include Blacktips, Blacknose, Sandbars, Tiger Sharks, Sand Tiger Sharks, Spinners, Threshers, Scalloped Hammerheads, Smooth Hammerheads, Bonnetheads, Lemon Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Great White Sharks, Mako Sharks, Blue Sharks, Sixgills, Smoothfin Dogsharks, Altanic Sharpnose, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Carribean Reef Sharks, Whitetips, and Bull Sharks.

Among these are others, but farther off the coast in deep waters you can also find Whale Sharks and Basking Sharks since they are so huge, they need deeper waters in order to swim. There are a lot of other species of sharks found all around the world. These are just some of the most common species found around here, although the Great Whites are found here, they prefer deeper and cooler waters and can migrate from Cape Cod, around Africa, and into the Australian waters. So just listing the sharks in the Atlantic doesn't always work for these guys.

I hope that answers your question enough, and Thank you for asking such an interesting one too.

Renee; UR: Welcome to the finish line!! Kinda....

This is my final blog for the Aquatic Environments Class! I know tis very sad... but I do plan to start my own blog in a week or two concerning my own continued research and any other related research I might come across in my travels through existence. So this is not an ending but yet another beginning! Now to wrap the semester up in a nice bow...

A pH of 4 or less is preferred by S. minor
 Sadly I have not yet received my results from the UF IFAS Extension so anyone curious as to how that mess turns out will have to come out to the Florida Lake Management Symposium in June. You can register for it HERE.

Luckily I had the means by which to take pH and redox potential readings as I mentioned in a previous post. Remember my lovely assistant?

400mV is the accepted minimum redox potential for
aerated wetland soils. Considering the dry state
of my bog the soil can be considered aerated.
There was no evidence of stark differences in pH or redox potential between the root zone and contrast samples. Hopefully more interesting numbers will come back from UF and give us a better idea of the details of the soil content.

Along with the data from UF I am considering taking a closer look at the flooding patterns within the big during the coming rainy season along with aiding Dr. Emmett in further study of the germination rates of S. minor's seeds and other seed dispersal mechanisms. Provided he doesn't mind the company and my tendency to talk rather constantly.

Once I have my new blog set up I do hope all of you will join me there for more carnivorous plant fun! Including some fun updates on my exotic babies here at home. A preview in two words: feeding time!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Samantha, CUR- Phosfurious



Today I come bearing great news !  As of last weekend (April 22-24)  I now have a whole of 10 data points taken within Canal Street Canal drainage basin, at discharge point.  As I mentioned in my previous blog, Polluted Perception having 10 data points, 5 taken during an Ebb Tide and the other 5 taken during a Flood Tide provides me with sufficient evidence of possible excessive (anthropogenic) nutrient concentrations being released into the basin.  Most importantly, in my last blog I spoke about noticing for the first time some chemical agents drifting in the canal basin more closely towards discharge point.  Saturday morning, April 23 called for a Flood tide at 9:27am.  With this being said Dr. Woodall and I not only found, what we expected, lagoon water "flooding" into the culvert system, there was also clear, noticeable water flowing outside of the culvert system as well. With a total of  1.40in. of rainfall this did not surprise us.  This suggested all of the water we were seeing, flowing out of the culvert system during flood tide(carrying cigarette buds, chemical agents, sticks, leaves) must be all of that rainwater runoff accumulating from the untreated CSC culvert system.  However, there was more needed to be done to be comfortable with this conclusion.  Ergo, during this sampling time, not only did I measure salinity at sub surface  (0.2 ppt;parts per thousand a measurement in which salinity is measured,expressing concentrations of constituents within the water.) salinity was also measured at ~1ft of the water column(33.3 ppt), showing a significant difference in measurements within the water column (between 0-1ft).  This was huge ! I wanted more data to determine the difference in water quality at discharge as opposed to the water quality further East within the basin.  I took a sample ~100m East of the Canal (towards the IRL), within this area, salinity measured the same as below surface at discharge (33.3 ppt) which makes sense.  So, in order to achieve nutrient concentrations, a water sample was also taken at the East end of the basin. Below lies the results.....


Within every water sample taken within CSC at discharge point, Total Phosphate (TP) levels exceed
 Florida Department of Environmental Protection acceptable TP criterion (<0.049mg/L).



With this data I was able to determine that subsurface water salinity measurements were much lower than salinity measured (same point) at the surface (1ft).  Also, I have shown here in the above graph that not only did Total Phosphate levels exceed FDEP TP criterion taken within this canal at discharge point, the only time that TP concentrations did not exceed FDEP criterion was when the sample was taken at the East of the CSC basin, towards the IRL at flood tide (measuring 0.01 mg/L). On this same day, only ~100m West of the basin, TP levels reached 0.62 mg/L. Which, not only was significantly higher than the same day sample taken farther East, this data point measurement was of the highest TP concentration out of all 10 data points taken at discharge.  If that doesn't suggest this TP is ultimately anthropogenic and leaking to this body of water through the culvert system, than stay tuned, I am not giving up on this Canal yet and much more research will be coming! 

Bibliography:


  • CoCoRaHS - Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network."CoCoRaHS - Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network. Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network., n.d. Web. 02 May 2016. <http://www.cocorahs.org/ViewData/StateDailyPrecipReports.aspx?state=FL>.


Emily UR - The results are in!

Well friends, it has been a moderately exciting journey, dancing for rain then analyzing water once it came. I realize now that the graph I posted last week was nothing short of a mess and rather hard to look at. I've decided to leave it where it is as an example of what NOT to do when making a graph. I apologize for any confusion, so this week I made two new graphs that represent the same data but more clearly. Note that there are no more -4,-5,-6 sites, instead I've used the original 3 site names for each and changed to a clustered bar graph to better show data from before and after the rain. Also, rather than using the Lower Halifax water quality criteria, I did some research and found the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) water criteria for ponds which is better fitted for the water I'm working with.

Ahh, yes, much nicer to look at. Notice, I made the rainwater a gradient blue colored bar just because there is no before or after for the rain. My results took me by surprise when I found not only that the rainwater contained the highest nutrient measurements of all the water samples, with the exception of HPSMP-2 site which I'll touch on momentarily. Also some sites experienced a decrease in nutrients after the rain despite the amount present in the rainwater I collected, while others experienced an increase. I have to look into why this is.
Now, I still have to work with the NOAA HYSPLIT computer model to see where the storm that brought the rain had developed and traveled over. This will help me determine a source for all the nutrients found. I collected a second sample of rainwater for comparison and while it contained less nutrients than the first sample, it still contained more nutrients than those found in the ponds so I plan to make a trajectory model for that storm as well.
Looking again at HPSMP-2, one can see that after rain, both levels of Total Nitrogen and Phosphorus had increased, the nitrogen levels dramatically. This may not be due to surface runoff associated with the storm though, I'm inclined to believe the results were of anthropogenic origin. Found at the HPSMP-2 site after the rain was this:

Fertilizer bag extracted from HPSMP-2 site
Truly a shame, but the damage is done. I attempted to speak with the people whose house lies directly in front of this site but there has been no answer at the door. 
Still to come are my HYSPLIT models which are to be generated soon and an update will be made this Friday when I conclude my project and reflect on it.
 Thanks for tuning in!

Dave, UR - Analysis continues...

Array with 0-degree collectors, the night before the dive
So last Tuesday, I finally got my design into the water.  The speaker we had selected to project tone in the water was supposed to be rated for a half hour in the water, at the depth of one meter. I had even opted to suspend the array on a stand, and made modifications to the target area, all with the intent of compensating for the speaker's depth limitations. The speaker made it for about a minute in the water before it was entirely inoperable. Needless to say, it is presently on its way back as a return.

In order not to waste the opportunity to test in the water, we opted to strike overflow gutter of the pool with a metal hook, in order to produce recordings for analysis.  I stood behind the target stand in each position that the speaker would have been, and rapped the overflow gutter ten times sequentially, to make sure that the recorded samples would have a reasonable degree of uniformity between iterations.  While this constituted a major deviation from the original experiment design, we determined that it could still provide for a proof of concept, and possibly still give us an indication of collector performance.

Carrying the target stand to the pool
For the things that went wrong, many more things went right, making the initial dive all the more worthwhile. All of the major structural components of the array and the associated stands all performed as they should, even despite a last minute change from 2" PVC to 1" PVC.  Stands submerged and recovered with ease, and all three collector shapes that were fabricated were tested. The 15-degree shape was removed from the dive plan the weekend prior due to maintenance downtime of 3D printers.

The Sparton PHOD-1 hydrophones were cabled with regular XLR microphone connectors and attached to digital audio recorders on loan from WDSC TV, and operated by DSC's own Jessie Guthrie. Thanks for the help Jessie!  All three hydrophones worked without problems, and stayed fixed in the array throughout the duration of the dive.

Array with 25-degree collectors mounted
All told, 45 raw audio samples were collected on Tuesday morning, and I sat down on Wednesday to perform an initial analysis of the recordings.  I used Raven Pro, and audio analysis tool from Cornell's Ornithology Lab to perform 30 different correlative analyses. I compared each 25 and 90-degree recording from each position to its corresponding 0-degree recording.

Through these comparisons, I found out a lot more than I expected with all of the changes and pitfalls considered.  First, the collectors did demonstrate an ability to enhance the collection quality of the hydrophones.  Second, initial assessments show that an increase in collector volume could result in an increase in performance, so that is being assessed as a possibility for more testing over the summer.  Moreover, it appears as though the 25 degree collectors performed optimally overall, so variance between shapes was demonstrated, satisfying the proof of concept.  More analysis is being done presently, to show how all three hydrophones performed in concert. Results of this analysis will be discussed here before I present on Friday, so keep your eyes peeled.
Array with 90-degree collectors mounted
Now I will answer some questions that were submitted by readers.
The first question comes from Aleecia, who writes, "So my question: dolphins (i think) travel in groups. When dolphins make their sounds (clicks, whistles) can you see the specific dolphin making these sounds? In other words, I can make sounds without opening my mouth. If i was in a crowded room and made this sound, how are you going to be able to tell it's me and then relate that to any obvious behavior? So what does a dolphin look like when they make these sounds? Is it obvious enough to know which specific dolphin made it?"
Aleecia, I am going to answer all of those as one, and say that there is a bit of body language that can be associated with some of the more aggressive buzzes, but otherwise visual indicators are limited. Dolphins have their auditory projection tissue back at the base of their blowhole canal, and that sound gets pushed forward through their forehead, that biologists refer to as their melon. As Dr. Herzing pointed out in her last presentation (which I included the YouTube of in a previous post), dolphins also have the ability to use their melon to point their audible projection 20-degrees to the left or right, since turning their heads suddenly in the water carries more consequence than turning ours in the air. This further complicates the task of researchers, but hopefully this tool will help, when fully developed.

The second question comes from William, who writes, "I have read articles where architects and some engineers are now creating buildings and various structures based on shapes found in nature. Have you considered looking at the shape of the dolphin's 'dish' and using that as your shape?"
William, there is much wisdom in following the designs of thousands of years worth of evolution, but in this case, I am not even sure how I would go about approaching the idea from an engineering perspective.  You see, dolphins lack an outer ear altogether, as it becomes problematic when constantly submerged, and even more problematic as depth increases.  Instead of using an outer ear, dolphins use their lower mandible for general sound collection. The jawbone is filled with extra fatty tissue to help capture and transfer sound vibrations, which are then transferred to a cochlea at the back of the mandible. Just like our cochlea, the sound vibrations are then safely transferred to nerve ganglia which get interpreted by their brains. Once those vibrations hit the ganglia, that is where our understanding of their sound interpretation stops, meaning that we have absolutely no idea what things actually sound like to them, nor do we have firm comprehension of their brain function.  It is for these reasons that I opted to start with something more traditional, though I will ponder the notion of emulating nature as I carry forward with my research. Great question!

Research presented at DSC's STEM Community Scholars Undergraduate Symposium, 29 APR 16



Thursday, April 28, 2016

Chris Browne, UR - IRP Wrap Up

E. coli (A fecal coliform)
     Alright, I have done nearly all the research I’m going to do, and here is a wrap up of the fecal coliforms found in our local waters. I will save just a few specifics and formal graphing for the presentation. I have been clarifying the differences between safe water and safe seafood. This data ranges a bit, and the biggest difference is that the FDA will classify the fecal coliforms as CFU’s per grams of food specimen. So it’s different then the water quality which is in CFU’s per m/L.
New Smyrna Site
    
      I found it interesting that this was the case, but in research and the amount of samples typically took, I have found that water samples can range significantly. In fact they can range so much so, that mostly all the studies that I found in water quality were based on monthly averages. However, there are desired levels of fecal coliform info that I have discovered.
Control-Tuscawilla-New Smyrna
     
      As stated last week, 800 CFU’s per 100m/L is considered to be unsafe for recreation use. Well ideal environment conditions (on monthly average) is considered to be <200 CFU’s per sample. Daily given samples should be no more than 400 CFU Studies indicate that individual tests can range greatly, so the main difference that I would improve on for a possible future experiment would be to test maybe every few days and take a monthly average. The individual test would be strongly effected by rain, tide, and current or normal conditions of any given natural environment.

Conclusions:     This IRP has given me some insight into the methods and water sampling that the EPA and local government partake in to determine water safety. I have found that this water near city point source outlets is not suitable for fishing, or recreational use. There could have been abnormal readings for these samples, but even cutting the number in half would have produced less then desired fecal coliform levels. The E. coli that was not found does indicate that the sewerage in these areas is being managed efficiently. However these waterways are not very clean, and should not be fished (or shell fished) around, which they sometimes are. That is also another indication to properly clean and                                                       cook any food harvested from these waters.

                                                                                                                                                         ~CB


Friday, April 22, 2016

Samantha, CUR- Polluted Perception

Happy Earth Day !

             This afternoon I revisited Canal Street Canal to take some various water quality measurements at an outgoing (Ebb) tide.  The Canal's oxygen levels were life sustainable measuring, 3.31mg/L.  In fact I even noticed a few different species of fish swimming around within the Canal.  Yet, visually, the water within the canal was unpleasant. My initial walk up to the Canal was shocking noting anthropogenic pollution instantly, with plastic bottles, snack wrappers, and an aluminum beer can which settled at the bottom.
One of 3 plastic bottles observed in canal
In my opinion, the most significant material observed today was various amounts of chemical agents floating within the Canal. I have been monitoring this Canal for some time now, with a total of 8 data points.  I do not recall ever noticing visual perception of chemical pollution.  As I mentioned, I currently have 8 data points of various WQ parameters within this basin, my goal is to have 10, half of the information taken during ebb tides and the other half with flood tides.  Tracking the tides is essential to my research, A flood tide "floods" the canal allowing water from the IRL to reach into the culvert system and mix with any fresh stormwater that may be within.  Thus, an outgoing/ebb tide allows the mixing of the fresh and brackish(slightly salty waters;typically <30parts per thousand(ppt) as opposed to normal seawater being 35ppt) waters, leading the fresh stormwater into the canal drainage basin and most likely into the IRL.   I will be out in the field all weekend (Sat. & Sun.) monitoring the water quality at Flood Tides.  I'm hoping to achieve significant data allowing me to determine this culvert system is contaminated and therefore contaminating the water body of this Canal which leads into the IRL. Have a great weekend everyone !


Chemical agents in Canal