Plankton Metabolism, Seagrasses Continued, & Wonda

Hej hej!

Time is flying here in Lund. Hard to believe I’ve been living in Sweden for close to seven months now. The past couple of weeks have been ridiculously busy in my Aquatic Ecology class. We were given a new project to complete in groups of three regarding environmental change and plankton metabolism. Although the groups worked independently from one another for the majority of the project, we all worked together in executing the experimental design. We specifically wanted to assess the impact of increased temperature and increased dissolved organic material (DOM) on plankton metabolism and community structure. We therefore designed an experiment with four treatments; 8°C, 8°C+DOM, 12°C, and 12°C+DOM. The water sample used was collected from the Baltic and divided into 16 buckets (four replicates per treatment) after removal of zooplankton. The remaining organisms were phytoplankton, ciliates, flagellates, and bacteria. Each group looked at a different aspect of community metabolism, such as primary production, respiration, chlorophyll a biomass, community composition, bacterial abundance, and bacterial production. What made this project particularly unique was that although we carried out our analysis independently, the results were shared among all the students. Groups then had to use these results to create a report that linked everything together. That is, we were able to discuss how the community was responding, verses the response of only one individual organism. Why is this interesting you might ask? Well, I find it interesting because organisms do not exist in isolated systems in the natural world. The purpose of scientific experimentation is to try to explain what is occurring in nature. Although it is much easier to study an organism in isolation, since it excludes confounding factors, it can also lead to false conclusions because the study has removed the other interacting organisms. Monday at 4pm was the report deadline. My group and I managed to submit our paper a whole seven minutes early, plenty of time to spare

In addition to working on the aforementioned report, I have also been dedicating time to preparing for my 20-minute presentation on seagrass reddening this coming Wednesday. Like me, you’re probably wondering how on earth someone can talk about seagrasses, particularly on the topic of leaf reddening, for 20-minutes. Well, let me tell you… I have absolutely no clue. Actually, that’s not completely true. I think I can easily fill the 20-minute time slot. My concern though is how I can present this topic in such a way that my audience, a.k.a. my fellow classmates, find it interesting. As the presenter, I do feel it is my responsibility to gain the attention of my audience and I take this matter rather seriously. Why? Because what good will my own future research do if I cannot convey my ideas and findings to colleagues? Tricky tricky business these presentations are. I still have one more full day to prepare, but then the day of reckoning will be upon me (cue foreboding music).

Finally, I have to tell you about my kick-ass little red bike. I bought her at an auction during the first week of September. She had two flat tires, one working gear, and a chain as dry as the desert. Following a few Google searches, a couple of DIY YouTube videos, and a trip to the local bike shop, I was ready to begin her revival process. After applying a little TLC, Wonda (she needed a proper name of course) was ready to go, and man can she fly! I often wonder how much faster Wonda would be if I only fixed her rather prominent rear tire wobble, present due to the untimely disappearance of three spokes. Initially I was just putting off her spoke maintenance because of the cold, which was further exasperated by my winter laziness. However, after making it nearly seven months with this mad wobble, well, now it seems like a bit of a challenge to see if she can last until June. Come on, like you wouldn’t do the same…

Until next time,

Abby

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