Saturday, March 28, 2015

Courtney, UR- Importance of Horseshoe Crabs, Why Study Them?

Samantha K asked a great question: why study horseshoe crabs and is there some value to your research?
horseshoe crab fossil

Horseshoe crabs are the oldest living fossil, they have been around for 450 million years which is 200 million years longer than the dinosaurs! They have been able to survive through all of the plants major changes and remain unchanged which to me is pretty amazing! It still amazes me that even though they have been around so long there is so little know about these unique and very vital keystone organisms.

Red Knot
So what makes them so important? Well for one when horseshoe crabs spawn each female can lay up to 100,000 or more eggs in a spawning season. Both the eggs and larvae are a vital food source for various marine wildlife such as many species of fish, crabs, sea turtles and eel. Up to 11 different migratory birds need the eggs to replenish their energy during their migratory trip, the most noted being the Red Knot, a migratory shorebird that travels from the North Pole to the South Pole to breed. Without the eggs from the horseshoe crabs then the Red Knots among other shorebirds would not be able to make their very long migration and studies have shown decline in HSC populations has shown a decline in Red Knot populations. Studies have also shown that adult HSC are one of the most common vital sources of food for sea turtles.

The other important reason is the importance of HSC blood for humans. If you have ever had a vaccine or injectable drug then you owe it to HSC, their blood is vital in making sure all vaccines, injectable drugs, and medical tools and devices are safe for use. The blood of HSC immediately clots up when exposed to an endotoxin like bacteria, this is something that scientist have not been able to recreate and can only be obtain from the blood of HSC. So you owe your health to these pretty amazing organisms. If you look at one of my recent blog posts you can learn a little more about this.

The list can go on as to why horseshoe crabs are so important to our planet and humans alike. The value and goal of my research is to learn as much as possible about their spawning events to better help scientists protect beaches that they spawn on because their spawning is key to the survival of other organisms that rely on them, such as fish and crabs that we rely on to eat. We must also keep populations around so that we can continue to use their blood to benefit our health.

Jody's UR, Answers to Stacy S's Question!

Thanks for your question Stacy which was; we learn in oceanography that plankton blooms due to high nutrient levels can cause low levels of oxygen when the plankton sink and die. Do your ponds have fish and are there low oxygen levels in your ponds that could kill your fish?

Fresh surface water bodies do not contain plankton as do marine ecosystems. They do contain however photosynthetic organisms like aquatic plants and other particulate organic matter (POM) that die and fall to the bottom (hypolimnion) and this organic matter (OM) goes through a decomposition process, that is similar to the process that you learned in oceanography with plankton. This process called aerobic respiration that uses the lake waters free oxygen (O2) and gives off carbon dioxide (CO2). Thereby depleting the water of it's O2 concentrations that could cause fish kills. I have not sampled this lake for O2 levels yet, I should do that. However I have worked at this course for five years and have not seen any fish kills. And yes, all the ponds are very much alive and active with aquatic life. I see many frogs, minnows, bass and carp and quite often wading birds and occasionally alligators munching on them.
Here is an article I found during my research that you might find interesting!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Todd Singleton U.R. Collecting water samples in the creek that becomes The Tomoka River

While driving down Tomoka Farms Rd., S.R. 415, on November 25, 2015 during the heavy rains of Thanksgiving break, I witnessed copious amounts of flood waters exiting the property around the Tomoka Landfill. The flood waters exiting the property were so substantial that I could see small rapids flowing from the direction of the landfill into the ditch that parallels 415. According to the Orlando Sentinel it rained 7 inches to 9 inches.  It also rained very heavily the days preceding and after.      
 This situation concerned me because, I knew the flood waters were coming from the direction of the Tomoka landfill.  And, if I was seeing the flood waters at S.R. 415, it meant the flood waters crossed over the creek that becomes the Tomoka River.   
Because I know the infrastructure of landfills I wondered, “Did one of the landfill’s holding ponds or, leachate ponds, break or overflow?”          
Landfill holding ponds contain a: "a high biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and high concentrations of organic carbon, nitrogen, chloride, iron, manganese, and phenols. Many other chemicals may be present, including pesticides, solvents, and heavy metals" (Cornell WasteManagement Institute).

Look real hard, I am collecting water samples

 My scientific question is: 
 Does The Tomoka Landfill affect the nutrient levels in the Tomoka River causing it to exceed the EPA’s guidelines for acceptable levels?
To prove this I have conducted a transect sampling of surface water to see if the nutrient levels in the samples become dilute over distance.  So far, I have collected water samples from over 6 different sites over a period of 2 days.  The water samples are frozen because of the following factors:  gaining permission from property owners, weather conditions, access to four wheel drive vehicles, time constraints, help to haul gear.  
All field work performed at the collection sites was necessary because, it is the only way to prove or disprove my scientific question.  In addition, I want this project to serve as model (with exception to freezing of the samples) for others doing any research to find if the Tomoka River is affected by the Tomoka Landfill’s leachate.

Amanda, UR. Introducing my IRP

Hello, I'm Amanda Adams, a part of the wonderful IMES program at Daytona State College. The project I am doing actually started last semester on land when I became curious as to how many of the houses in my neighborhood use chemicals on their lawns.
One of the perpetrators in my neighborhood!
This semester Dr. Woodall has given me the priviledge of taking this project to the waters of Central Park. I take my dog from my house down Roble and around the park area. It's a beautiful park and my little guy loves it as much as I do.
I plan on sampling from the small lake at the top of the picture, the big lake in the middle of the picture, and the small pond by itself.
My scientific question is: Out of N, P, and Cu, which has the highest concentration in the waters of Central Park near my house? And, do these levels exceed what the EPA deems safe? 
I plan to go out on the lakes in a kayak and take 2 samples from the top lake, 2 from the middle lake and one from the small pond. I will take my water samples to the lab and run tests to see if there are concentrations of the above mentioned nutrients, and if so, how much. I will be able to input all my findings into excel to graph my results.
I have already been asked: why test for Cu? Where does Cu come from and if/why is it a problem in my lake? I can say that Cu has natural sources and anthropogenic. It is a naturally occurring metal but is also used in plumbing. Once it's aged it can start to leach out into waterways. I'm not certain that I will find any Cu but I want to test for it since our lab has the capability to test for the 3 nutrients I've listed.
Thank you for the questions and I look forward to uncovering the mysteries of a couple of the Central Park lakes once I get into the water. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Courtney, UR- Horseshoe Crabs and Environmental Conditions.

Horseshoe crabs are unique and very important marine organisms and there is so little known information about them. The spawning season on horseshoe crabs is very important because the thousands of eggs laid by eat female is a vital food source to many coastal and marine wildlife! Their numbers are decreasing and in order to help protect them we need to know more about them.
The underside of a horseshoe crab- intimidating but completely harmless
I have been lucky enough to be able to assist in the annual horseshoe crab surveys with the Marine Discovery Center. These surveys take place during the spawning season which has given me the perfect opportunity to study my IRP, "Is there a relationship between the number of spawning horseshoe crabs at Volusia County sites and the environmental factors such as salinity, water temperature and wind speed?"
Mating pair
Horseshoe crabs tend to spawn during high tides that occur during new moons or full moons. Sometimes wind surges can mimic a high tide which can be ideal to spawning conditions. I plan to gather my data by visiting various sites during the right moon and tide conditions. At each survey I plan to take down all environmental conditions in my field notebook such as water temperature, wind temperature, wind speed, etc each time I visit a particular site. I will take a water sample at each site using the correct sampling containers and methods to take back to lab to test the salinity with the optic refractometer. I will also be recording all live horseshoe crabs found, both pairs and lone HSC since the lone HSC are also considered part of the spawning season.
My results will compare the number of horseshoe crabs found at each site and the environmental conditions present using various graphs. This will show if there is a correlation between the number of HSC found and the environmental conditions in hopes that maybe we can learn a little bit more about these mysterious creatures.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Taylor - UR - Octopus Enrichment

My name is Taylor Reynolds and I am studying my Independent Research Project on Octopus Enrichment.
My Octopus Octavius!

Scientific Question: 
Does changing the octopus feeding conditions increase enrichment and exploration periods?

Enrichment pertains to giving animals in captivity stimulus (toys, playtime, puzzles) to increase happiness and health while living in a constant environment. I am studying octopus because they adapt quickly to their environments, are very intelligent and can become "bored" and unhappy which will decrease their health and make them self-destructive. (Examples of this are: hitting their heads against the sides of the tank and swimming sporadically around the tank).

So for three weeks, I will be studying a common octopus at the Marine Science Center. He is very anti-social at the moment since he is new to the tank, so we hope that this experiment will increase his activity and become more social in the tank with the other animals.

Each week, I will be changing the octopus food.
(Fed twice a day)
Week 1: Raw food
Week 2: Live food
Week 3: Live food with puzzle
—I will then be measuring how far out of his den/level of activity he is throughout the day(0-100%) and what color he is from 1-3 ( 1= white, 2= speckled 3= dark purple/red.)
Then I will be timing enrichment periods. These periods are where I will be playing with him. This happens in between feedings and I will time how long it takes for him to begin playing with the toy and how long he actually plays for. 

Robin..UR....Prototype Natural Oyster Mat Project

It started with a thought and a "want" for a natural, eco-friendly oyster mat. It was brought to my attention that it has to be cost effective, so I started work on a prototype. I have some information, but not all because there were some question that needed to be worked out, so "two" prototypes were made.

Prototype One.. 2 inches of sand was placed inside the form

  • then 36 oysters placed in the sand 
  • watered down the sand and oysters to compact the sand for a two inch leeway for concrete.
  • then concrete placed in over top of the oysters (about 2.5 to 3 inches)
  •  then smoothed out the concrete for proper finish
  • then set to dry    
Prototype Two..cement  was put into in the form

  • then 36 oysters were placed into concrete
  • then set to dry         
It took .03 second longer to put the oysters in place on prototype "one", also the clean up time after they were dry, plus the time of adding the sand into the form in the beginning, this was time adding up and did not look encouraging. 
Another problem in prototype "one" was that there was no way of seeing the concrete and some how took more product when finished, which made weight a problem. In prototype "two" it was simple, because when you wiggled the oysters into place it finished the concrete for you, also allowing you to use less product, better timing, and cleaner looking oyster mat.

Prototype #1                                                                                               Prototype #2

  While both were fun to make it will come down to the final numbers, (Cost, time,weight, and  transportation efficiency)                                   


Monday, March 23, 2015

Paul, UR--Colonization of fouling communities

When thinking about underwater communities that attach to docks, signs, bridges, boats and such, I would picture oyster beds or barnacles covering the bottom of boats. However when I went down to the marina where I am conducting my research, I was blown away at the biodiversity living just below the surface, never noticed by most of those that walk above. 
Floating docks with two different current velocities.

Just from walking from one side of the marina to the other, I could visually see that where there was massive clumps of life on the dock on the main river, on the dock closest to shore there wasn't nearly as much. This led me to question, How does the presence of current affect the successful recruitment of a fouling community?

First, what is a fouling community? Fouling communities are are communities of organisms found on artificial such as boats, docks, marinas, seawalls.

There are a wide variety of organisms that inhabit and create these communities such as, sessile organisms and predators, Brittlestarscrabs, shrimp, macro and red algae, stony corals which have a hard skeleton and octocorals which lack a hard skeleton, sea anemone, bivalves such as clams, mussels, oysters, or tunicates, sponges, sea urchins, feather dusters, sessile worms, bryozoans known as moss animals which are filter feeding invertebrates, hydrozoa which are tiny predators that have a stage in life known as hydroids where they attached to substrate.
PVC tiles.

 I will use Inlet Harbor marina in Port Orange to place 2 10cm PVC squares on two separate floating docks to determine how current velocity affects recruitment of marine biological organisms. 2 squares will be placed on the side of a dock that experiences a high current velocity while the other two will be placed on a dock that sits in very little current. These PVC squares will then be analyzed to determine which location has a higher coverage of marine organisms. Photos will be analyzed using image software and Shannon-Wiener diversity index.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Robin, UR.....Scientific Question Proposal IMES

Scientific Question: Is There a Cost Effective Method of Creating a Natural Base Oyster Mat
                        Vs   a Plastic Base Oyster Mat?

                I believe in my theory, the reports I have read, and what I have seen at the MDC!
 My problem is I need to show in a bar graph: “Time” and “Cost” “Plastic based mats” and “Natural based mats”, but because I don’t have the time or years of experience on my Natural based mats, I don’t know where / how to break it down on the graph to see the results?
                It was suggested to me to leave out what is the same (eg. gathering of the oyster shells) and start the cost and time comparison after that. Once I get some numbers on the Natural based oyster mats to compare to the numbers I have from the MDC on plastic mats that will help me. I guess what I need is a starting place (eg 7 mats or 14 mats), what is realistic?
            I have bulk cost but need to break it down into time per mat (eg. 7 or 14.) then put that info on a graph or do I keep those two (Cost and Time) separate and let the graph do the work as far as a visual, I suppose that is the whole idea of a graph is.
                      (rough example )

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Amanda, UR, A project that started on land

Hello fellow colleagues,

I am Amanda, a part of the wonderful IMES program here at Daytona State College.
I am fortunate to be doing a continuing project that started on the land with charting which yards in my neighborhood on the way to the park have been chemically treated. This semester to further my project, I’m taking it to the waters of Central Park near where I live. I’ll be sampling the waters in 5 different sites to test for Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Copper (Cu). The reason I find these particular 5 sites interesting is: 3 sites are surrounded by homes, 1 site is in the middle of one of the lakes further from the homes, and the 5th site is unattached to any of the lakes. The scientific question I have is: “Out of N, P, and Cu, which has the highest concentration in the waters of Central Park near my house? And, do these levels exceed what the EPA deems safe?”

Once I have all my water samples collected I will be running tests in our school lab to see what the concentrations of N, P, and Cu are in Central Lake. 

At Daytona State College we are fortunate enough to have a lab with a Hach Colorimeter and a vacuum filtration system to do the testing.

I am very excited to see what my water samples will yield. I look forward to sharing with you all in the very near future my progress as well as my findings.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Jody, UR...Golf Courses; Good or Bad for Surface Water Chemistry?

Hello my name is Jody and I am a student at Daytona State College and one of my classes this semester is OCE2013, Aquatic Environmental Science. One of this classes assignments is to do an Individual Research Project (IRP). The IRP topic I have chosen to do is a study and water chemistry analysis of two water bodies. I plan to compare a Golf Course (GC) ponds water and a typical residential water body's concentrations of Phosphorous and Nitrogen to see if there are any differences and if so how much and compare these findings to the EPA fresh water standards.
The scientific question I will attempt to answer is, How do concentrations of Total Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorous (P)in golf course and residential ponds compare to each other and EPA guidelines?
In the pursuit of answering this question I will take samples from these two water bodies using the techniques learned from previous water chemistry studies. I will bring these water samples back to the laboratory on campus and do a chemical analysis using the Hach Colorimeter finding the total dissolved concentrations for both N and P. The data findings will then be input into an excel spreadsheet allowing me to build a double bar graph displaying my findings. On one of our previous assignments we were asked to find chlorophyll concentrations, and the water body I used for those samples was the same lake in which I plan to use for my IRP samples. The findings from that assignment were quite high (see graph). The chlorophyll findings labeled  Jody's Golf Pond were over 35 micrograms per liter. These higher readings suggest that there are probably high concentrations of N & P as well, but we will not know for certain until my results are in. Due to a golf courses use of fertilizers more than likely the concentrations of these chemicals will be higher than other residential water bodies. But not necessarily, home owners use fertilizers too. I am interested in the results to know for sure whether Golf Courses are good or bad for the aquatic environment!  We shall see... 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Amanda, UR, Is there any copper out there?

I was asked if I think copper could be in the waters of our precious Central Parks. I have to honestly say I'm not sure but it wouldn't surprise me since copper can infiltrate waterways like other pollutants or nutrients in excess. Even though copper occurs naturally in elements and ores and is also used in household plumbing...ah! Household plumbing! If there is old plumbing, is it plausible that some of this old stuff could leach copper out and into our waters? Yes!
The link I've attached was quite interesting on origins and processes of copper per the EPA.

Illustration showing 55% runoff rate where ground cover is 75-100% impervious
These two images came from the website, I added these to show how man made vs nature impact our precious water ways. The website was also informative on ways we can help deter the problems of runoff.

Courtney, UR- Climate change and Horseshoe crabs

After talking to Annie Morgan this week I have decided to base my research more on the environmental factors affecting horseshoe crabs. There are just so many unanswered questions about them and no one really knows why their numbers are dwindling over the years. A lot of it has to do with harvesting and habitat destruction but this article that I found, "Climate change affects horseshoe crab numbers", also suggests that according to a new study horseshoe crabs could be sensitive to climate change which could be responsible for the decline in populations. Even though it is a small amount of change it still causes elevations to rise and the water to get warmer.

This a mating pair of horseshoe crabs, one of the main things I will be looking for in my surveying

This article is good example of why I am choosing to collect data on environmental factors such as wind speed, water temperature and salinity because there is just so little known as to why or what triggers horseshoe crabs to come to shore to spawn or what conditions they may prefer. 

Todd Singleton, UR Summary

A Van Dorn water sampler.  This devise is used to collect deep water samples.  
All blogs and verbal advice have given my project on : Possible Surface Water Pollution from a Landfill, a good direction to follow.
       The 1st  & 2nd blog has taught me to stay focused on:  defining the known contaminants associated with landfills, they are: "a high biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and high concentrations of organic carbon, nitrogen, chloride, iron, manganese, and phenols. Many other chemicals may be present, including pesticides, solvents, and heavy metals" (Cornell Waste Management Institute). Out of what I just listed what can be tested in the lab? And then I will take Dr. Woodall’s prior suggestion -”The reason for possibly testing with depth at the point of discharge is to make sure the density of the discharge isn't so heavy that it's dropping to the river bottom which would be where you would need to sample--you need to understand the behavior of your discharge in order to properly study it.”
Already I  know in the lab I can test [tracer-Salinity: surface & deep], Dissolved oxygen: surface and deep.   
Fine tuning my methods:
*USGS says that within 48 hours all tests of samples need to be performed, And I know now that organic carbon samples are to be filtered to remove suspended particles.   
*Just like in our chlorophyll lab the EPA recommends samples to include a measurement error which  also is the deviation of a true value. (see 3-10)  

       More on: Identify a tracer (to take along with the known contaminates) the tracer being salinity in this case.   Examples:   Two samples I took at the Tomoka River and International Speedway Blvd Bridge gave me a reading of 1 ppt. and 0.5 ppt. This site is near the start of the River.   Update:  Further samples were taken on the Feb 27, 2015 lab trip. These sites were much closer to a source of salinity: The Ocean/ The Brackish- Indian River.  A surface water sample taken at the US 1 bridge showed 2.2 ppt.  Further down the river at an even closer source of salinity, a surface water sample taken had 15 ppt.    
  FYI: The average salinity in the ocean is 35 ppt.     
         And now I need to consider a possible area of “point source” pollution or consider it as a non-point source pollution.   
     Point Source Pollution - "Pollutant loads discharged at a specific location from pipes, outfalls, and conveyance channels from either municipal wastewater treatment plants or individual waste treatment facilities. Point sources can also include pollutant loads contributed by tributaries to the main receiving water stream or river." - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2010a
  Non Point Source Pollution- Is a Wide subject most articles were from large areas, I need to fine tune this.   

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Taylor - UR - A look at Enrichment

As I have talked about before, my IRP is based on studying octopus and whether or not "enrichment" is beneficial in making octopus "happy" and more social in it's environment. But what exactly does enrichment mean?

As a child, and even as an adult, we all need time for activities/entertainment and play. Without this time, we become bored, unhappy and even depressed. We feel out of touch with things and the world. This resonates with many animals as well. There have been studies that show that animals with more complex and adapted brains need enrichment; these animals mainly include mammals and birds until it was discovered that cephalopods (in reference to octopi) have more advanced brains than originally thought and do need enrichment, especially in captivity. 
The fact that octopus can also adapt very quickly to their environments just like humans, means the quicker they can get bored of their environment and become unhappy. Octopus in captivity need daily if not more enrichment as they are confined to the same place rather than the ocean and will become bored of the same surroundings. So what happens when octopus get bored and unhappy? Well, unfortunately, octopi that are not happy will swim sporadically around the tank, hit their heads against the sides of the tank and in extreme cases, begin to eat themselves due to a disease that lives within the body. (This can occur just like any virus in the human body, when the immune system gets low, sicknesses can attack easily attack the body.) 
The article, "The Octopus: A Model for a Comparative Analysis of the Evolution of Learning and Memory Mechanisms" talks about some learning processes of the octopus. Octopi can go from being "frightened, hiding octopus to a pet-like animal that behaves in a friendly way." When they are given food, toys and other new, unfamiliar items in their habitat, they will explore, play and can result in a "positive learning process." So does an increase in enrichment increase exploration and expand into increased learning? I believe so. Octopus have a natural curiosity, so giving in to their curiosity and giving them new things to explore begins to enrich the octopus resulting in a happier animal that is not accustomed to the same surroundings.  These can all result in learning and adapting to new things.
Some methods that have been used to enrich octopus are to use items such as jars, blocks, tubes or pipe, anything that they can learn to open, find food in or climb on helps in enrichment as they explore. There are many YouTube videos that show some of these amazing play times!

Jody UR... Answering A Question!

One of the more recent questions asked regarding my IRL on Impacts of Golf Course's on the Surface Waters was... what are the EPA acceptable concentrations for N, P and Cu in natural waters? There was not a simple answer due to the fact that the EPA breaks up Florida's water into many categories. Marine, Fresh, Predominately Fresh, Drinking and such. The easiest to read data came from this site on drinking water contaminates and their Action Limits. Which are the highest limits allowed before action must be taken to avoid serious health risks. Anyway here is what I found...
Nitrogen (N)- as Nitrate 2mg/L - 6/mg/L (Dr.W  this is the way they wrote it!!!)  
                       as Nitrite  1mg/L
Phosphorus (P)  - 10 micrograms/L - 40micrograms/L
Copper (Cu) -  1.3 mg/L

Friday, February 27, 2015

Rob - UR - Humble Beginnings of an ArcGIS Project Undertaking...

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, for my Independent Research Project this semester I am working with a database of water quality data obtained by water quality volunteers with the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach. This data was collected between Jan 2013 and Oct 2014. In addition to this database, OCE1001 and OCE2013 Lab students have performed water quality sampling and analysis on the Tomoka River in Oct 2014, and Feb 2015.

Although I have not appropriately narrowed down the focus of my IRP, I have decided that I will be using ArcGIS 10.0 software to combine the data with a spatial component and create some type of water quality map that can be accessed by anyone who would like to access it.

So as a preliminary step, I have begun to start manipulating the data so that I will eventually be able to import the entire spreadsheet into ArcGIS. This is a major selling point, since ArcGIS is capable of importing data from a number of different sources; such as Oracle Databases, Access Databases, Excel Spreadsheets, and even CSV (comma separated value) Files. The first item I had to manipulate was the list of locations where the samples were obtained. In most cases, the Latitude and Longitude coordinates of the location were recorded in Degrees/Minutes/Seconds. In order to import the locations into ArcGIS however, the locations must first be converted into Decimal Degrees. This is quite simple, as there are 60 seconds in one minute, and 60 minutes in one degree. To convert to Decimal Degrees, first the seconds are divided by 60 to obtain the decimal value, which is then added to the minutes. The minutes+decimal are then divided by 60 once again to obtain the full decimal value which is then added to the degrees. This gives a full Decimal Degrees value which can then be imported as a point into ArcGIS.

All 31 water quality testing sites relative to map of Volusia County

Zoomed in on the layer of testing sites

Tomoka River Water Quality OCE1001/2013 Lab testing sites

Same sites, different base map

Amanda, UR., The Land meets the water.

As many of you know my project began on land last semester. I walked my neighborhood to see which yards where chemically treated and which were natural so I could avoid chemical lawns when walking my little dog to the park. However, this semester, I'll be taking it to the water!

If you remember the map from my previous post, you'll see I've actually highlighted (in the lavender blueish color) some areas of interest to me for sampling sites. I'm curious if there's runoff from my neighbors using these nasty chemicals.

The chlorophyll readings in the lab from my sample site showed: sample 1 the reading was 15.42  µm/L using 201 mL of filtrate, and sample 2 showed 17.25  µm/L using 100 mL of filtrate.

Per Dr. Woodall, we have the ability to test for nitrogen, phosphorous, and copper. Therefore, that's what I'll be testing. 

I drew a box around the 1 little stand alone body of water that isn't surrounded by houses and isn't accessible via the other water ways. This spot interests me for that very reason; I want to see if it has the same properties or contaminants as the others or none at all.

I'm getting excited!

Courtney, UR- Mysteries of the Horseshoe Crab

The east coast of the United States is home to one of four species of horseshoe crabs found in the world, the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus). My attempt to find as much research about information on how water parameters might impact horseshoe populations came up empty. In fact there is very little information on horseshoe crabs in general such as how long they live, are they like sea turtles and return to the beach of their birth, why do their spawning cycles revolve around the moon and where do they go 10 months out of the year when they're not spawning? So many unanswered questions that biologists and researchers have yet to answered and this article, Horseshoe Crabs Remain Mysteries to Biologists, touches on this information a little bit. In this article it also touches on how in Maine they tag horseshoe crabs with plastic tags for later identification.
Also I did read somewhere that they can tolerate many different levels of salinity which is one of the important factors that have kept them around for more than 500 million years!

Horseshoe crabs spawning at dusk, Limulus polyphemus, Delaware Bay, New Jersey
mass spawning on the beach

There are so many possibilities for an independent research project due to the little know information about horseshoe crabs! Right now because my internship, from what I understand, will involve collecting data that FWC can use in further research and conservation. I am interested in collecting information about what beaches in the Indian River Lagoon do horseshoe crabs prefer and what environmental conditions on these beaches make them so ideal for the horseshoe crab spawning? Once I talk with Annie this week I will have more of an idea of exactly how I want to do my IRP. I feel that there is so much I can do with this and I am really excited to begin my research, the more I read the more fascinating I find these extremely important marine animals!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Todd UR, Pondering Updates

I am really looking forward to the lab tomorrow on Febuary 27 2015. Mainly because it will be on the Tomoka River downstream from my test site.  It was suggested that I use salinity amounts as my key tracer in my project.  My prediction is that the further I get from the Ocean the less salinity my sample should contain. So far my first practice test holds this to be true. The tool I will use to measure the salinity levels is the refractometer.
SALINITY REFRACTOMETER shown with viewing screen (in background) with a 50 ppt sample applied.
According to the average salinity content in the ocean is 35 ppt (parts per thousand)
When I took a test sample last Friday, February 20 2015 at International Speedway Blvd. @ Tomoka River bridge my two samples showed 1 and 0.5 ppt and this is near the start of the River.
I was also advised to take my samples at different depths if I could get some guidance on why this is so important it would be appreciated.   Personal professional experiences would be great guidance!