Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jess - Plankton and the Surf-Zone

Most of my friends call me Jess but my full name is Jessica Noseff. Coming from the small town of Silverton, Oregon and being unsure of the exact career I want to pursue, I decided to take the cheaper route of attending a community college before investing a large amount of money in a University. I got accepted into a Scholars program at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon where I was introduced to an intriguing variety of people and also where I got to know an inspiring biology teacher that would encourage me to apply for the PRIME internship. When the opportunity for me to apply came up I had just found out that my boss would be moving across the state in May and I would be out of a job, so I didn't hesitate.

I've always been fascinated by the ocean and the beautiful creatures in it, but standing on the sandy beach, sometimes up to my knees in the water, I have always only admired it from a distance with a cautious respect. As far as learning about it, my knowledge extends to what I've seen on Planet Earth and other shows of the sort and not very much further. My human curiosity was a large instigator of my applying for this internship as well as my desire to experience something I have never gotten the chance to experience before.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, I am working under Dr. Alan Shanks from the University of Oregon with collaboration from a team of oceanographers from the Naval Post-graduate school, as well as Dr. Steven Morgan from UC Davis, on a three year grant studying how larval invertebrates are affected by ocean currents. We are spending the first month of my internship doing field work in Carmel Bay, which has a rocky shore and is considered to be a reflective beach. Using a kayak, we collect samples of zooplankton and phytoplankton from offshore waters and we use a hose and pump to collect plankton samples from the surf-zone. After preserving the samples, we count and differentiate the individuals and species in order to compare them to last year's samples collected from a dispersive beach, which has more water exchange within the surf-zone. Once we return to OIMB, we will be spending our time in the lab counting the samples. The third year of the grant (next year) will be dedicated to analyzing the data and publishing the results.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Drew - Ghost Shrimp, Mud Shrimp, and Isopods, Oh my!

My name is Drew Hill and I am an intern with the COSEE PRIME program at Hatfield Marine Science Center. My biology professor at Portland Community College told me of this opportunity to study marine biology and I knew that this would be a great chance to experience the scientific method and be a part of a science oriented community. I have been here just one week and I am glad to say that this going to be a great summer.

I am working with Dr. Brett Dumbauld (associated with U.S. Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University) and Katelyn Bosley Ph.D. student, on their investigation of burrowing shrimp in Yaquina Bay, Newport, Oregon. This first week has been a blur of touring the facilities (which are many), introductions to the dry labs, wet labs, offices, safety features, field locations (watch out muddy conditions in the future!), and I got to meet the shrimp.

A brief explanation of why shrimp are our focus is that they smother oysters with sediment when they burrow and churn up the mud. Oyster farmers have been spraying an insecticide on the mudflats where these shrimp grow during low tide to reduce the their population and protect the oysters. The problems associated with the use of carbaryl in a marine setting have not been fully studied but I bet there are some undesired effects on the ecosystem (more on this later). So what I understand so far is that an isopod parasite of the shrimp species can reduce the fertility of the shrimp. Maybe in conjunction with other pest management techniques, these parasites could reduce the shrimp population enough to bar the need for carbaryl. Either way, my role this summer is to help Katelyn figure out how many shrimp are in the Yaquina Bay area by taking sediment core samples. Using a statistical program called R, we will calculate a random sampling of the mud flats that should represent the larger shrimp population.

Moving on to next week, the tides are going to be perfect for taking core samples of the sediments and defining the edges of the shrimp habitats to be sampled before the 4th of July weekend. I am also focusing on learning the statistical program called R. From what I hear this is a cutting edge program that will serve me in future investigations but it is similar to C-prompt programs and needless to say, I am a bit nervous about developing a functional understanding of R.

I will leave you with one of the specimens that I worked with on Friday and watch out! These shrimp know how to use those claws. Enjoy the week.

Coty Spies on Costal Birdies Week #1

Hey yall! My name is Coty Krebs. I am an intern through the COSEE/PRIME program for the summer of 2011 here at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. I am a student at Linn-Benton Community College and Oregon State University majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry with an option in Pharmacy Science. My long term goal as a student is to become a well rounded scientist and a professional in the growing future of global healthcare. More specifically, I hope to work in the research field looking for new medicinal compounds from many marine and terrestrial lifeforms that will serve as alternative cures/treatments for diseases.

I chose this internship because I wanted to gain more experience working as a field biologist and to expand my knowledge of marine science. I am interning at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife office at Hatfield. Over the duration of this summer I will be involved in several different studies, which I will report about on a weekly/biweekly basis.
The study that I am currently working on is researching how the fireworks during the Fourth of July festivies disturb/effect a colony of birds residing on a rock in Depoe Bay, OR. For a period of one week prior to one week after July 3rd and 4th a masters student and I will be surveying the colony from two different vantage points while collecting data. We will be observing the birds behavior and nesting habits on a daily basis. Some of the data that we are collecting includes nest conditions, nest contents, total number of the nests, total number of birds and the bird's reaction to distrubances. To assist our obsevations we have taken pictures of the colony from the two different ground vantage points and from above in an aircraft. We then analyze the photos and give each visible nest an ID #. From these photos we can then orient ourselves with the colony and make more accurate observations. Next week there will be more techinques of data collection used, but until then this is all that I am doing.

So far I have really enjoyed my experience, both working as an intern with the U.S. Fish and wildlife office and amongst the other interns living in the housing here. Everybody here seems to be very friendly and determined to positivley influnece the progression of research here in the facilities.

Karyn - Week 1 at OIMB, Fantastic!

Hey everybody! I've been reading your posts and I think that we all have awesome research projects we get to be a part of this summer! My name is Karyn and I am a COSEE PRIME intern at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) campus in Charleston, OR. I have been a student at Portland Community College for the past couple of years and hopefully I will be co-admitting with Portland State University in the Fall. I plan on becoming a medical doctor and eventually I want to be a part of research and development and help improve modern medicine. This internship really appealed to my desire to experience research. Also, I have always been intrigued by the vast diversity of marine life and so I'm excited to learn more about marine science this summer.

My project this summer will be investigating wound healing in invertebrate larvae. I'm working with George von Dassow (Senior Research Associate for OIMB, University of Oregon). My project will basically involve me shooting at some cells on sand dollar larvae (called echinopluteus) with a laser creating a wound, and then following the larvae over a couple of weeks to investigate how the cells around the wound react to heal the wound. I'm really excited about this project and find the regenerative abilities of echinoderms quite fascinating!

In the beginning of the week we went out on the boat and dredged for sand dollars. This was my first time ever on a boat like this out on the ocean, so I was excited but a little nervous. I was asked if I get sea sick, but since I had never gone out on a boat I didn't know. Well the day we went out it was particularly rough, and I learned in the worst possible way that yes I do get sea sick. So rest assured the next time we go out on a boat I will take something for sea sickness before I step on the boat! However, I did have a good time on the boat before I got sick, and hopefully I'll get to experience the trip again when it's less rough out.

The rest of the week was spent simply getting acquainted with the equipment and also watching the development of the sand dollar (Dendraster excentricus) from fertilized egg to larva stage. I actually got to watch cell division right before my eyes as I watched through the microscope. It was really fun to watch. Nature is awesome! I have also learned to take pictures of the specimens under the microscope using a special microscope camera. This will be very helpful when following the wounded larvae over time and is a good way to document the activity of the cells around the wound.

Here is one of our sand dollars. George actually described this one as one of the largest sand dollar he's ever seen. I had never seen a live sand dollar before so this was a trip! I still get mesmerized by all the tiny little spines all across the the sand dollar's body. They can really move those spines fast! Now that we got a ton of sand dollars from the ocean, we can use these sand dollars to spawn eggs and sperm so we can fertilize the eggs and use the larvae that grow from them. Each morning we inject a sand dollar with potassium chloride which causes its gonads to spit out all its eggs if it's a female or sperm if it's a male. We collect the sperm or eggs in a beaker and work with them from there. We have to do this every morning because the eggs are only good for about 12 hours. What I think is really interesting is that we can't tell the difference between a male or a female by just looking at the sand dollar. We have to inject it with the potassium chloride and then find out if it spits out eggs or sperm to find out the sex of the sand dollar!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Akiko: Invertebrate settlers project

My name is Akiko Onuma, and I am lucky enough to be one of the COSEE Pacific Partnership PRIME interns. About a week ago, I wrapped up my finals and projects at Portland Community College and moved out here to the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, Oregon. It’s my fourth day here and so far I’ve had a pretty awesome time!

On my first day of the program, I met with my mentor, Dr. Richard Emlet, to get an idea of the purpose of my project. He told me about the many different invertebrates living in the two boat basins in Charleston. A few of them include colonial invertebrates, where hundreds of tiny individual organisms make up a larger colony. The organisms that I will be studying are called fouling species, meaning that they attach themselves to hard surfaces underwater. Most of them look like slime growing on rocks or boat hulls, which is how they got their name "fouling organisms".
My project will be to make a photographic timeline/identification key that will look at a variety of these marine invertebrates from when they are very small to when they are much bigger. Most of these organisms go through a larval period, meaning that they start off as a microscopic swimmer floating through the water. Soon, they find a hard surface and settle down on it, undergoing metamorphoses in order to attach themselves to the substrate. Then, they start to “grow” by asexual reproduction, which basically means making more of yourself in order to start a colony. It is the colony that is visible to the naked eye, and identifiable. So my job is to take pictures of these species from the time when they first settle (attach themselves to the surface of my petri dishes) until they are big enough to be identified.

This is the harbor where I will be deploying my petri dishes to collect settling invertebrates.

Harbors and marinas are often hotbeds for introduced and invasive species because boats will pick up and distribute these hitch-hiking species wherever they dock, much like the marks left by a child playing with a jar of glitter. One particularly important introduced species is called Didemnum vexillum. This colonial organism, which looks like pale orange slime growing on the rocks, is an invasive species. Scientists believe that this organism originally came from Japan, but it is showing up in docks all over the world. Didemnum has documented presence in Japan, New Zealand, France, Ireland, California, New Hampshire, and now recently has started settling in Oregon. Furthermore, once introduced, Diademnum grows rapidly and can cover large areas in a short period of time, out competing other native species for space and resources.

Diademnum is an introduced species to the Charleston inner boat basin, and has only been here for a couple of years.