Archive for July, 2013

     In 1976, The Endless Chain of Nature was first published. Written by Patricia Patterson Sturges (1930-2002), this book is based on the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study, which began in 1963. Patricia was very involved at Hubbard Brook and her grandson later became the first "third generation" researcher at Hubbard Brook. Patricia dedicated much of her time to educating children about science. Out of this devotion came The Endless Chain of Nature, a book that is accessible to middle-school readers and older.

     The Endless Chain of Nature follows the scientific adventures of researchers, just like us REUs. Key ecological ideas are introduced while an engaging story of real scientists solving real problems unfolds. This story takes place at the beloved Pleasant View Farm, where I am currently writing this blog post! Although the house has changed quite a bit, characters remain the same. We (the students) still interact with teachers and great scientists everyday! The 50th anniversary of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study was a prime example of great minds sharing their knowledge. Even after 50 years, Hubbard Brook remains a world-renowned scientific research site, and we can thank Patricia Patterson Sturges for spreading the word. Her book is a great way to get into science, and we encourage everyone to check it out at: http://endlesschain.pressbooks.com/.


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Mirror Lake Survey Raffle Winner!

Thank you so much to everyone who completed and returned the surveys regarding Mirror Lake. Liza and I are busy analyzing the responses and are looking forward to putting all of our results together. For those of you who do not know, included in the survey packet created by Liza and myself was an opportunity to enter a raffle for a chance to win a kayak, ATV, or snowmobile rental for two from Kelly Chase at OutBack Kayak in Woodstock, NH (http://www.outbackkayak.org). Without further adieu, the winner is.......

Ticket number 607657!

If this is your ticket number, please contact Liza at lltetley@plymouth.edu and she will get you all set up with Kelly. Thanks again to everyone who participated! Special thanks to OutBack Kayak for donating their time and resources to our research!

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Orchid Update

The week of July fourth, the long-awaited event happened- the orchids opened up and flowered!  I've spent a lot of time since then  visiting orchids that were known to be flowering this year and counting the number of pollinia that have been taken.  Pollinia are sacs of pollen that the orchid flowers have at their entrance so that anybody wishing to drink nectar will pick up these sticky capsules, bringing them to the next flower they visit.

A flowering round-leaved orchid in watershed 1. The red arrows point to pollinia.

I have been using the number of pollinia missing from the flower spike as an indicator of how much pollinator activity an orchid is experiencing this season.  I hope to be able to relate this to factors such as spike height, the number of flowers produced by the plant and the distance to nearest flowering neighbor.  This will tell us whether orchids benefit from having neighbors, and whether growing taller and producing more flowers increases their chances of pollination.

The other part of my orchid project has to do with motion-activated cameras which I placed on orchids to try and capture a sight of their elusive pollinator!  Unfortunately this didn't pan out like I had hoped although I did get this picture of what may be a bat?

A long-eared bat?

None of my cameras picked up any pollinators, so that was disappointing.  The orchid pollinator remains a mystery for now!  Hopefully as I start analyzing my data, some other interesting things will come from my project.


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Salamander Update!

"It's definitely Science...or a pet store" - Geoff Wilson

Six weeks into the ten week program, I finally got my REU project off the ground!  These nine tubs, located in the Henrietta Kendall Towers Lab next to Pleasant View, were completed Monday the 15th.  Each tub is designed to reflect a small area of rocky stream bottom, and the water is kept oxygenated by aquarium bubblers.  Six Two Lined salamander larvae were released into each tub.  Three tubs were then left as controls, three had a larger Spring salamander larvae added, and the final three had a Spring salamander larvae added inside a small cage.  Sixty total salamanders were collected from Bagley Brook inside the Hubbard Brook Forest, and will be returned after my study is over.

What each tub looks like inside, notice cover objects and Spring salamander cage made of PVC pipe

The inside of a PVC cage. The Spring salamander is in the upper left and the much smaller Two Lined salamander is in the bottom right.

What the heck am I doing with 60 captive salamanders?  Besides giving myself a headache, since I had to weigh and measure each one, I'm hoping to learn something about how the predation threat of the Spring salamander affects the Two Lined salamander's behavior.  Every other night until August 2nd, I will using a red light to visit the tubs from 10 pm until 2 am!  Spending 5 minutes on each tub, I turn off the bubbler and write down how many salamanders I see, where they are in the tub, and if they are active or inactive.  I just completed my second full night of observations, and Russell saved my life by making me some coffee partway through.  Hopefully I can keep staying awake!  Stay tuned 🙂


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Survey Update!

Our table at Mirror Lake

Liza and I have been busy creating, distributing, collecting, and analyzing surveys for the past few weeks. Our mail back surveys ended up being 40 questions long (we like to think it's a fun 40 questions), and take about 15 minutes. We hand delivered about 90 surveys to homes around Mirror Lake, on Mirror Lake Road, and up and down Rt 3. While the responses have been coming in slowly, it has been fun to see local opinions about the lake and how people value it. We have also been going to the beach at Mirror Lake to do a shorter survey with people using the area. We have spent the past three days interviewing people at the beach and are planning on doing a few more days this week since the weather is supposed to be nice.

Liza and Aubrey at the 250th anniversary ice cream social for the town of Woodstock

In addition to hand delivering surveys to homes and doing beach surveys we have tried to take every opportunity to talk to the general public about the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation and our project. We recently visited the ice cream social celebration for the 250th anniversary for the town of Woodstock. We talked to some locals, had some ice cream, and had a great time!

Back to the beach!

Aubrey and Liza

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LTER Review (Free Lunch)

A couple weeks ago, we (Sam and Carly) were invited to sit in with various grad students talking to the LTER review board about their experiences working at Hubbard Brook. In exchange, we received a free lunch, brownie included. Because we were thrown into the mix at the last minute, it wasn't until after this meeting that we found out what LTER actually means. LTER stands for Long Term Ecological Research, which is a program that studies ecological projects over time scales spanning decades to centuries. They focus on ecological changes and attempt to predict future responses to change. LTER currently consists of 26 sites, one of which is Hubbard Brook. They receive most of their funding from the NSF (National Science Foundation) and federal agencies such as the USDA Forest Service, NASA, etc.

The review board was here to evaluate Hubbard Brook as an LTER site, which happens every few years. The meeting was mostly for the grad students, with the reviewers asking them where their funding comes from and what they plan on doing after grad school. At the end of the meeting, they asked us how we heard about the REU program at Hubbard Brook. We both heard about it through professors at our schools. They also asked how we felt about life at Pleasant View Farm. We told them that we were learning a lot and having fun doing it. We also enjoy living with a couple of  the grad students because they have really showed us the ropes.We enjoyed the meeting and hearing what life might be like for us in the future when we go to grad school.

-Carly and Sam

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