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.
For almost a century, researchers and students from the University of Oregon (UO), have been doing marine science on the coast of Southern Oregon. The Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) has stood in its permanent location for nearly as long, providing unique opportunities for students and scientists alike. OIMB Education Coordinator Dr. Maya Watts spoke with EM about the lab and the educational and research activities housed there.
Gibraltar’s Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) is using an underwater webcam to launch a unique citizen science project. The aim of the project is to crowdsource observations of local marine life. Mr. Clive Crisp from DECC and Mr. Trevor Mendelow, CEO of View Into The Blue, the company that developed the equipment, described the project to EM. “We believe that engaging the public is key for ocean stewardship and conservation,” explains Mr. Mendelow. “Scientists have always strived to do public outreach, but few tools existed to make that a reality. . ."
Meandering through Southern Minnesota, you’ll find the Minnesota River, which drains all of the state’s lower half. There is also a lot of agriculture in the region, and the people in the area have been working diligently to reduce nutrient pollution in the river. However, progress has been slow.
“You know, we’ve spent millions of dollars on the river, and some types of pollution have not improved,” states Dr. Laura Triplett of Gustavus Adolphus College, an Associate Professor in Geology and Environmental Studies. “The Minnesota River is still terribly impaired.”
North Carolina is a paradise for anyone who loves being on a river or stream—but that’s only true as long as the water quality in those waterways stays good. Criss-crossed with numerous streams and rivers, the state is home to MountainTrue: a dedicated group of people working to protect watershed health in the state. Fortunately for them, they’re not doing that work alone. Southern Regional Director and Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan spoke to EM about the volunteer programs run by MountainTrue, and the ways those programs extend the reach of the organization.
The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) has been a hotspot for a broad range of environmental variability. Perched near Gothic, Colorado, an old mining town, RMBL, affectionately known as “Rumble,” exposes scientists and students to mountain ecosystems at only 1160 meters’ elevation on the bottom of the Black Canyon, all the way to the top of Uncompahgre Peak, at 4360 meters. Sitting pretty atop this natural theater for biodiversity is Executive Director and biologist Ian Billick.
A hue reminiscent of orange soda might be appealing at the diner, but in rivers and streams, it’s a sign of serious damage. Open pit mining, which excavates strategic minerals from huge open pits dug into the land, is particularly harmful to the environment, exposing metallic dust, radioactive elements, and other potentially toxic contaminants. These tailings can easily leach into groundwater and streams.
To deal with the damage caused by open pit mines across the country teams employ remediation techniques, depending on the specifics of the particular mine and location in question.
Biological field stations (BFS) are invaluable tools for researchers whose work takes them outside. But they’re also filled with opportunities for the general public—and when laypeople learn about science and nature at biological field stations, everyone benefits. EM spoke to Colorado State University assistant professor Jill Zarestky about her recent research on the ways learning happens at BFS across the US.
Among the most important water resources in the Lone Star State, the Edwards Aquifer lies beneath 12 Texas counties and is one of the most prolific and largest artesian aquifers worldwide. Almost two million people in Central Texas rely on the Edwards Aquifer for drinking water, including San Antonio and San Marcos. EM spoke with Paul Bertetti, Director of Aquifer Science for the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA), about the wide range of tasks involved in managing this important resource.
As scientists from around the world work to advance global understanding of polar ecosystems, biological field stations in arctic and sub-arctic regions offer a unique opportunity for investigators. The Tundra Ecosystem Research Station (TERS), a multi-purpose biological field station established in 1994, plays a key role in long-term monitoring of and research into the tundra ecosystem. Robin Staples is the TERS contact on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) for water quality monitoring that takes place in the Coppermine and Lockhart Basins. . .
In the wake of a hot, difficult summer, the extension team from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture discovered that different hand-held water quality meters may offer very different results for users. Discrepancies were particularly acute as to sulphates and total dissolved solids (TDS), both of which can seriously impact livestock health. Livestock and Feed Extension Specialist Cody Elford of the Agriculture Knowledge Centre in Moose Jaw spoke with EM about the study and its implications.
Dr. Charley Liberko of Cornell College’s Department of Chemistry has an idea he’s working to bring to fruition. “Imagine a remote village in an underdeveloped country whose only source of water is a stream contaminated with toxic levels of metal ions such as cadmium and nickel,” states Dr. Liberko. “The villagers take locally available woody plant material, soak it in potash, and heat it up for several days until the wood partially decomposes. They then filter their water through this material to remove the metal ions.. . ."
Sometimes scientists have to make an extraordinary effort to study the questions that concern them. In fact, they may even need to design and build labs to their specifications. This was the case with the University of Nebraska, Lincoln’s (UNL’s) Fish Conservation Behavior and Physiology Lab, which serves as a locus for research on water management best practices based on fish physiology—work conducted by up and coming scientists as well as more established researchers. Dr. Jamilynn Poletto spoke to EM about how the lab was built and the work that is happening there.