For around four years, aquatic ecologist Scott Roberts has been at the Mountain Studies Institute (MSI) in Colorado, most recently serving as Water Programs Director. Mr. Roberts recently took the time to speak to EM about the MSI and its programs, starting with community and educational outreach. “We’re a not-for-profit, environmental education and research center based in the San Juan Mountains,” explains Mr. Roberts. “We do on the ground environmental research, mine hydrology, water quality monitoring, and forest health monitoring. . .
As Earth’s climate warms, so do its oceans. The ability of the world’s oceans—and the many species that live in them—to adapt to warmer conditions remains a mystery. Researchers are now exploring how benthic macroinvertebrates decompose wood falls, fallen timber deposits, at the bottom of the ocean to determine how much access to food influences biodiversity. Dr. Craig McClain, Executive Director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), spoke to EM about the research.
As wildfires are burning hotter, larger, and more often thanks to our warming climate, they are becoming more destructive and leaving more contaminants, debris, and runoff in their path. Researchers and policymakers are working to identify threats from wildfires to drinking water supplies, and Colorado-based US Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Sheila Murphy spoke to EM about some of the effects wildfire has on drinking water, and how experts might evaluate the risks.
Maine has long been known for its natural beauty and resources, and best practices for stormwater management are essential to preserve those features. The Youth Conservation Corps, a program of the Midcoast Conservancy, is working hard to help local Maine landowners ensure they are following best stormwater management practices and protecting water quality in the process. Midcoast Conservancy Director of Water Conservation, Garrison Beck, spoke with EM about the Youth Conservation Corps. . .
At Florida International University (FIU), teams are monitoring for signs of red tide using data buoys, and citizen scientist volunteers are learning how sea level rise is affecting Miami. Brad Schonhoff, the Program Manager for FIU’s Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment, Southeast Environmental Research Center, and Institute of Water and the Environment, spoke to EM about these innovative programs.
Utah’s Pelican Lake is a hotspot for fishing among locals and tourists alike, but for the past several years it has fallen upon hard times thanks to an invasive species. Recently, officials have been working to alleviate the problem and restore a more balanced ecosystem to the lake. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources regional aquatics manager Trina Hedrick spoke to EM about the process.
“Pelican Lake is a nationally renowned, blue ribbon fishing hole, and has been since the 1970s,” explains Ms. Hedrick.
The most voluminous of the Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake, rests at the heart of the local wine industry. Historically the lake has been a cool, clear body of water, but in recent times harmful algal blooms (HABs) have marred its crisp surface. Dan Corbett, vice president of water quality for the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, spoke to EM about what’s being done about HABs in the lake.
“I got engaged in the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association in 2014 as a volunteer for our stream sampling program, and I have been more and more engaged over time,” explains Mr. Corbett.
In Caribbean waters and into the coastal areas off Florida and Georgia in the United States, an exotic-looking invader is threatening local ecosystems: the lionfish. Unfortunately, lacking natural predators and being dangerous to fish thanks to its painful poisonous spines, lionfish aren’t easy to manage. Now, undergraduate students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have designed and prototyped an underwater robot that might be able to tackle this invasive species and help local fishermen make a profit, too, as much as $20 per pound.
Since the mid-1960s, Australian officials have noticed an “outbreak” in populations of the crown-of-thorns sea stars (COTS). More and more COTS were living on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) for unknown reasons—and this was a problem because these sea stars feed on live coral. A single COTS eats six to 12 square meters of the GBR annually. What constitutes an “outbreak” on the reef? COTS numbers jumping from around 65 per 10,000 square meters to twice that—and as many as 1,000 animals per 10,000 square meters.
The Animal Health team at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has been partnering with students from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering for years, but this last year the partnership expanded to include the projects from Shedd’s conservation scientists. Studying animal behavior in nature can prove challenging, especially when water is involved, but the teams proved they were up to it. Director of freshwater research Dr. Karen Murchie of Shedd Aquarium spoke to EM about the collaboration and the prototypes.
In July of 2016, several divers visiting the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and its coral reefs off the coast of Louisiana and Texas discovered that coral was dying. However, there was also a clear line in the reef. Below it, things were dead, and above it, creatures were surviving. Researchers like Sarah Davies, who had worked on that specific reef since about 2007, wanted to find out what was causing the die-off.
Engaging a Community for Rare Genetic Disease: Best Practices and Education From Individual Crowdfunding Campaigns
Genetic sequencing is critically important to diagnostic health care efforts in the United States today, yet it is still inaccessible to many. Meanwhile, the internet and social networking have made crowdfunding a realistic avenue for individuals and groups hoping to fund medical and research causes, including patients in need of whole exome genetic sequencing (WES).
Biological field stations exist all across the country, and now there is a brand new station in the Ozarks. The Missouri University of Science and Technology‘s Ozark Research Field Station is now open, and director Dr. Robin Verble took the time to speak to EM about the new station.
“We are brand new,” states Dr. Verble, who is the founding director of the station. “The University acquired the property officially at the beginning of January 2017. They spent most of last year doing the search search for a director, and they found me.. . .
In autumn of 2018, the West Fork Watersheds Partnership (WFWP) in the Houston area presented the final version of its “The West Fork San Jacinto River and Lake Creek Watershed Protection Plan” (WPP). The WPP aims to reduce polluting fecal waste in the area which threatens to contaminate drinking water sources in the region. The WFWP comprises local businesses, governmental agencies and individual people who hope to get involved as stakeholders.
Despite sometimes growing to a large size, manta rays feed on tiny zooplankton, microcrustaceans and mesoplankton with a unique filtration apparatus. Now, scientists are working to find out how the rays filter their food through seawater so efficiently with an eye toward revealing their secret.
Most filter feeders in the world’s oceans are sieve filters. These work by moving water past membranes with tiny pores in them that allow water molecules to past membranes with tiny pores in them that allow water molecules to pass through—but not tiny prey such as zooplankton.