Polar Extractives

Back in the lab, doing some chemistry on plant litter from Costa Rica.  I didn’t think to take photographs until I was almost done with this step in the process – just imagine these 24 vials times, say, 32… that would have made a cooler photograph.

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Using a 50:50 mix of methanol and water, I extract a tea from ground litter samples. Each one of the vials has about 0.05 g of powdered litter in it.
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These samples need to be centrifuged so I can remove the 'tea' extract.

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The glowing Stop button on the centrifuge.

A large crayfish an a wetland

The largest crayfish (at least, Orconectes obscurus) that I’ve ever encounter was probably about 48 mm in carapace length.  This is an extremely common species at Jennings’ Woods, where much of the graduate work done in the Kershner lab is done, but it is native from the Genesee River watershed (where its type-specimen was collected) westward through northeastern Ohio, including the West Branch of the Mahoning River and Breakneck Creek (part of the Cuyahoga Riva watershed) where this big guy was found.

I measured this specimen at 51 mm CL (which is about where the ruler is measuring – from the tip of the rostrum to the end of the carapace).  I’m not quite sure, but the last record holder was caught drifting down a stream, completely legless.  It was brought back to the lab, fed using forceps, cleaned regularly with a small sponge, and named Nubs.  He lived about a month, until he began to molt, but was unable to complete the process and died.

 

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The crayfish, as I mentioned, was caught in Breakneck creek while I was assisting a Conservation Biology in the Field course a few weeks ago.  The field location is owned, but little-used, by Kent State and includes some stunning forested wetlands.

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The Georgia Aquarium

As a birthday present, Jenn gave me two tickets to the Georgia Aquarium, which Allison and I visited this past weekend.  The main exhibit is divided into six distinct habitat types, from Georgian ocean shore and freshwater river/lentic species (including an exceptional tank containing the endangered Robust Redhorse (Moxostoma robustum), to cold salt water and oceanic species. The oceanic exhibit is the largest, containing FOUR whale sharks!  There is also a hallway display on the capture and shipping of the whale sharks… hence “What Can Brown Do for You?”.

To illustrate invasive species and their ecological consequences, there was a display on Lionfish (Pterios volitans) invasion of the Caribbean and movement up the Eastern US coast as far as New England.  I recall seeing some in Cahuita, CR too, although the display’s interactive Google Earth invasion history didn’t depict the lionfish’s migration into Central American coasts.  The lionfish display had the most lionfish I’ve ever seen… super dense.

By the way… I’ve moved to Atlanta, Georgia for anyone reading this that didn’t know, although I’ll be headed back to Kent tomorrow afternoon to process some samples and hopefully finish much of my other dissertation work.

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An attempt at small mammal trapping

Scott, Joe and I retrieved a single Peromyscus sp. (probably leucopus) mouse during a mammal trapping trial early this summer.  Joe had a position in Missouri trapping out mammals of all sorts from areas that they were not wanted, and he advised Scott in setting and baiting the Sherman traps.  Here, Joe weighs the mouse; soon after, it escaped…

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Helping Ramsa

While in Palo Verde last summer, I met Ramsa Chaves, a graduate student at Dartmouth College under Brad Taylor and UCR licenciatura graduate.  She  used the OTS station in Palo Verde as a headquarters for her research on insect communities associated with streams in the Guanacaste region. Her and one or more assistants traveled to local streams that varied in surrounding land-use and sampled emergent insects during the day, returning to sort and process the catch in PV in the evening.  I helped out one of those days to get a taste of her extraordinary and ambitious research project.  From memory, Ramsa aimed to examine responses of insect communities to land-use differences and how these responses play-out in aquatic-terrestrial linkages.

We sampled two streams that she and Jereme had set traps in and around three days prior.  In Quebrada Amores (lovers stream) within Reserva Biológica Lomas de Barbudal  emergence traps were emptied. The floating, triangular traps, as suggested by their name, capture adult insects as the emerge from the stream to breed and feed in the surrounding terrestrial environment.

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Quebrada Amores
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Ramsa and an assistant from Bagatzi cross the stream
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No mosquitos, cool air, cool breeze, beautiful stream... why would one choose to work in Palo Verde?
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Jereme uses an aspirator to collect trapped insects.
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Ramsa does the same.
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Without a bottle trap on top of the emergence trap, Ramsa enters into it herself.
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A trap sits, waiting to be sampled.

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Flagging tape labels the traps.

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Río Pijije drains agricultural and residential land, in contrast to the protected, forested land-use surrounding Quebrada Amores.  Emergence traps had settled ashore after a flash flood, and were not sampled, a common occurrence in the rainy season in dry forest areas.  Sticky traps (transparent over-head sheets covered in glue, basically) were placed from 10 to 100 m from the stream edge to sample flying insects as they moved from the stream outward into the the forest or, in this case, cow pasture.   In addition to sticky traps, we sampled using butterfly nets, which are not pictured here (probably for two reasons (1) I was sampling and (2) I knocked my net into a large paper wasp next and was promptly stung many, many times.  It was an extremely memorable event for me). Both sampling methods have hopefully painted a picture for Ramsa showing how insects respond from and to a stream draining catchment with different land-use patterns.

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Emergence traps...ruined.
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Jereme untangles the a trap.
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Rio Pijije

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A high and low sticky trap were set at several locations along a transect starting from the stream bank.
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Sticky trap...

Rio Madrigal

Spilling into the the Pacific north of La Leona Field Station in Corcovado National Park, Rio Madrigal was the only stream sampled that contained Characids, Mike’s fish of interest.  The river is relatively large compared to near-by streams and supports River Otter, as evidenced by scat.

Rio Madrigal - 02.02.2010 - 14.11.14

Rio Madrigal - 02.02.2010 - 11.25.51 Rio Madrigal - 02.02.2010 - 11.31.40

Rio Madrigal - 02.02.2010 - 11.26.36

Rio Madrigal - 02.02.2010 - 11.34.14