I work with some incredible grad students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Today, I’d like to highlight research led by Sophie Weaver, a student in the Biology & Wildlife department.
When asked about her research, Sophie likes to say she studies “P in streams.” Sophie is investigating how differences in nutrient availability might affect the growth of the organisms that make up the green scum, or microbial skins, that one slips on when crossing a stream. Besides phosphorus (the “P” in her descriptive quip), she also works with nitrate, ammonium, and acetate.
Sophie with her little blue cups.
After adding various nutrients to little blue cups, she launches them in her research streams. Post-incubation, she collects the cups to measure the abundance of autotrophs (critters that produce their own energy) and heterotrophs (critters that, like us, consume delicious things to produce energy). The ratio of autotrophs to heterotrophs can tell her something about how nutrients impact green scum composition. This research is important because stream microorganisms directly influence water quality and ecosystem function.
Sophie conducts her research at the Caribou-Poker Creeks Research Watershed (CPCRW), a pristine watershed located about thirty-five miles northeast of Fairbanks. Rumor has it that Sophie and her labmates been known to pursue the other wonders of CPCRW besides what fuels green scum growth, from chilling ciders in wee arctic streams to stripping down, jumping in, and cooling off on a “hot” Alaskan summer day.
Any regular reader of this blog will know I love collections.
Which is one of the many MANY reasons I’m devastated about the fire at the National Museum of Brazilian.
In summary: the fire burned for six hours and left behind ashes where there had been dinosaur fossils (including the reconstructed Maxakalisaurustopai), the oldest human remains in the Americas, Luiza, and the audio recording and documents of indigenous languages that are otherwise extinct.
We will never be able to replace these items and the knowledge they contain is irreplaceable. Our collective knowledge is worse off as a result.
And with the devastated feeling of the incalculable loss, we’re starting to take stock of how this could have been prevented.
Change creates winners and losers, and that includes climate change, especially at the top of the world. On the losing side of the environmental ledger we find the polar bear, floating glumly on its ever-shrinking ice floe.
On the winning side, a new apex predator is cruising northern waters.
Which might be causing problems for other species of whales… read about it here!
You’ll never go to dinner in the deep sea. It’s dark, vast and weird down there. If the pressure alone didn’t destroy your land-bound body, some hungry sea creature would probably try to eat you.
Fortunately for you, something else has spent a lot of time down there, helping to prepare this guide to deep sea dining.
For nearly three decades, robots with cameras deployed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have glided through the ocean off the coast of central California at depths as deep as two and half miles below.
Want to know who eats who, before you ask them to dinner? Read about it here!