Friday, February 23, 2018

Field Trip Friday: Florida Oceanographic Society and CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc.

Field biology continues with a two for one field trip day! We visited the Florida Oceanographic Society and then CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc. in Stuart, FL.

Dr Vincent Encomio gave us an overview of his work with Oyster restoration and Dr. Katie Tiling [former Wilkes Honors College student and PhD alumnus from FAU] explained her work with seagrass restoration. Both explained the concept of living shorelines. Below is information about what we learned.

The following information has been excerpted from their website.

The Florida Oceanographic Society is leading efforts in research, monitoring and restoring habitats in South Florida, particularly in the southern portion of the Indian River Lagoon. The Indian River Lagoon is North America’s most bio-diverse estuary, home to more than 4,300 species of plants and animals, including 36 rare and endangered species.

Vincent Encomio, PhD, Research Scientist, spearheads the effort to restore the oyster population devastated by fresh-water discharges into the estuary that began in 2005 and continues today! The oysters are critical to cleaning the water and providing habitat and food for up to 300 estuarine species.

The FL.O.O.R. (Florida Oceanographic Oyster Restoration) program actively engages the public in restoring oyster reef habitat. With the aid of thousands of volunteers, FL.O.O.R. restores oyster habitat by recycling shell, constructing reefs and growing oysters. 

F.O.S.T.E.R.’s goal is to restore seagrass populations into our estuary impacted by fresh-water discharges and algal blooms. Seagrasses are vital to the health of Florida’s waterways as it provides habitat, nurseries, and food for a variety of estuarine species. In Florida, we have the highest seagrass biodiversity of the continental USA with seven species!
The F.O.S.T.E.R. program relies on community-based restoration efforts to restore seagrass habitat. With a growing volunteer base, F.O.S.T.E.R. restores seagrass by collecting and growing seagrass fragments in nurseries, constructing seagrass planting units, and transplanting living seagrass into the estuary.

Part two of our trip took us to CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc.  Mary Jo Barkaszi, who is the Marine Mammal Programs Manager gave us a company overview and then specifics of her work with marine mammal acoustics.

CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc [from their website]
CSA Ocean Sciences Inc. (CSA) specializes in multidisciplinary projects concerning potential environmental impacts of activities throughout the world and offers a wide variety of desktop and field survey services. CSA is headquartered in Stuart, Florida, with regional offices in Tampa, Florida; Houma, Louisiana; Salinas, California; Houston, Texas; Port-of-Spain, Trinidad; Doha, Qatar; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Perth, Australia.



Ocean sound is a complex issue—CSA understands ocean sound. Whether it is detection and classification of marine species, noise measurement, sound propagation, predictive modeling, or soundscape characterization; we take the approach that one size does not fit all. CSA uses the best available science and technologies to develop risk-minimizing results with a suite of solutions from simple to complex. Ocean sound issues are large in scale both temporally and spatially, but also have many short-term, acute components, which is why CSA approaches this problem at a habitat or soundscape level. Ambient noise in the ocean will fluctuate greatly depending on both natural and man-made contributions within a region’s soundscape. Short-term measurements do not provide an accurate assessment of regional changes due to cumulative variations to sound levels, but can be useful in identifying specific contributors. To provide an accurate level of change detection, long-term monitoring is necessary in order to quantify the contributions of each source. At the same time, monitoring is required to ensure that the shorter-term, acute contributions are minimized. The timing of deployment is crucial in that the data collection occurring before, during, and after an influx of operations will provide the greatest return on the analysis. These acoustic data can be used to provide long-term information about the local soundscape and the activities that presently occur and, furthermore, can be used as a benchmark for comparison with a future soundscape.
Please follow the links to their website to learn about everything they are doing all over the world.

Field Trip Friday was again a huge success. It is interesting to find out what science is going on close to campus and the resources available to the students.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Field trip Friday: Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve

Our field trip adventures for Honors Field Biology led us to the Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve for a day of canoeing and mucking in the mud [dip netting] looking for treasures. Our field guide, Sarah is an excellent naturalist and spoke on a wide variety of topics [ecology, geology, history, wetland chemistry, and more]. It was very informative.

Grassy Water is a protected 24 square mile wetlands ecosystem on the northeastern edges of the Florida Everglades system. It serves as the fresh water supply for the city of West Palm Beach and other towns nearby.

It is a fun place to visit. They also have a great boardwalk and education center, for those not wanting to get in the water.

Here are the pictures of our day out in the field.

This is where we parked the canoes and went to try out our dip netting skills to see what lives in the mud. We put our catches in buckets then went to analyze them. Some of our finds included crayfish, dragonfly larvae, tadpoles and small fish. Don't worry, everything was released back into the water! Another successful trip. Thanks Dr. Wetterer

Friday, February 9, 2018

Field Biology class takes a tour of Jupiter Environmental Labs

The Wilkes Honors College Field Biology class, taught by Dr.  James Wetterer took a trip to Jupiter Environmental Labs and learned about all the interesting projects they do and got a firsthand look at analytical chemistry from chemist and owner Ed Dabrea.

Along with standard environmental testing, this lab also is involved in several special projects. Their website states some of them are:

Pharmaceuticals & Personal Care Products (PPCPs) and Endocrine Disruptors
Jupiter Analytix provides testing for PPCPs and Endocrine Disruptors. This testing is done by the latest generation HPLC/MS/MS, providing the lowest detection limits available for these emerging substances of concern (ESOC).

Real-Time Drug Monitoring Program
Jupiter Analytix provides schools with Real-Time Drug Monitoring (RTDM) — the first and only unobtrusive drug identification and measurement program of its kind. Educators will know what kind, how much, sudden increases, when usage changes, and if new drugs are being introduced to the student body. RTDM empowers educational systems with information to achieve a safe, drug-free environment so our children can thrive.

Special Projects
Research project for the Monroe County Mosquito Control District and Adapco, Inc. on the efficacy of a larvaecide used worldwide. This project required the development of a sampling/analysis program over multiple sites. Research grade protocols were utilized to ensure the integrity of the project. Data provided by JEL to the R&D department of the manufacturer will be used in ongoing studies to improve the delivery system of this product. Long term research project for chlorine substitute product being introduced to the market. This project consisted of creating and performing a long-term field study/laboratory analysis.

Here are some images of the students learning about each lab and how all the mass spectrometers work!

We also learned that Jupiter Environmental Lab provides summer internships for local students. Some of them end up working there. Here is an example of one of our HC students who has recently been hired to work at the lab…. [David Brothers] This student graduated with his honors college thesis on Antlions. Dr. Wetterer was his thesis advisor.

It was a great trip and very interesting to see this side of the science equation. Field Biologist collect samples and send them off to labs. Students got a full picture of what happens to their samples and how involved gathering the analytical data can be. Thanks Jupiter Environmental Labs!!

Friday, February 2, 2018

A class trip to Jonathan Dickinson State Park

The Field Biology class at the Wilkes Honors College at FAU Visited the Jonathan Dickenson State Park. The park biologist [Rob Rossmanithgave the students a talk about the 13 natural communities, including sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, mangroves, and river swamps that are inside the park. The Loxahatchee River, Florida's first federally designated Wild and Scenic River, runs through the park. We went out into the park to see first hand, some of the plants and discuss ecology.

We learned about prescribed burning and ecosystem management done in this park. We also learned about the ecology and conservation of the Florida Scrub Jay and went on a mini survey to find some of the birds in the park. If you look closely, you can see a scrub jay in the top of the tree.

We Climbed Hobe Mountain and saw great views of the entire park while getting a lesson on history and conservation of the different habitats in the park.

After the talks and tours were concluded, we went to the part of the park along the river so students could enjoy the water. It was educational and fun to be out in the park to learn from the park biologst. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Collecting Ant Specimens with Dr. Jim Wetterer

Last week we talked about the field biology class taught by Dr. James Wetterer. This week he took the class to FAU’s Pine Jog Environmental Education Center. Anne Henderson, the Director of Education, gave students an interactive introduction to the center and took us on a tour. It was very informative. Here are a few pics of that portion of the trip

Students read peer reviewed articles, and discuss field topics in class. The next class is spent out in the field. This lab (field) class, students learned how to collect ant specimens throughout the property of the environmental center. They practiced specimen collection and identification. Once the ants were collected, Dr. Wetterer made the identifications.

Here are the students in action

 Now being a field biologist requires some flexibility, because sometimes things go wrong out there. You also need a sense of humor. Here is a prime example…one student [who will remain nameless] used the wrong end of the ant aspirator and ingested an ant or dirt [we can neither confirm nor deny this incident]!! He was fine and the rest of us got a chuckle.

It is a big property, and more than ants live there. Last year I was lucky enough to find an animal skull. This year students were on the lookout for another…They did not disappoint. If anyone can identify it, please comment. One student also got a great photo of a snake.

All in all it was a great learning experience and it is fun to see Dr. Wetterer in action. He is very passionate about ants and makes every trip a great adventure.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Field Biology class trips

Dr. Wetterer’s BSC 4930 Field biology class gives students hands on experience by visiting local working biologists out in the field to learn about their research. Students are allowed to participate for a great hands on learning environment.

Yesterday (1/18/18) the class went to two locations. The first one was Manatee Lagoon. The students learned about the history and research being done locally with the Florida Manatee. Below are some of the pictures. When the outside temperatures fall, this FPL site is a warm water refuge.  The animals come in to regulate their body temperatures. Manatees need the temperature to stay above 68 degrees or they can begin to show signs of cold stress.
Here are some pictures from that trip.

Trip two was to the local Abacoa Greenway across from the FAU Jupiter Campus. Many of our faculty and staff are able to do field research in this spot. This day, Grad student Amanda Hipps (@biophiliamanda) took the class around to show us what she is doing with the Gopher Tortoise. Amanda is studying the ecology of the gopher tortoise symbionts [species sharing burrows of the tortoise]. Students got to participant in using burrow cameras to investigate the interior of the burrows, as well as the installation of a motion activated trail camera.

Here are some pictures of the class adventure.