Week 7: Phytoplankton galore!

Each week it get’s harder and harder to piece together the whirlwind that was my life in the past seven days, but here I am again to give it another shot. From what I recall, I seem to remember spending a significant amount of time with 2 liter bottles. Yes, that sounds about right. Which estuary were these bottles from though? Yaquina? Nehalem? Alsea? Umpqua? Siuslaw? A combination of the above? And what kinds of responses did they show again?

Digging deeper, I can confirm with 99.99% confidence that we conducted a phytoplankton limitation experiment with water collected from the Siuslaw estuary. While, I haven’t extracted and analyzed the chlorophyll from these samples yet, the in-vivo results seem to suggest that this particular estuary was both nitrogen and phosphorus limited in different locations. Given that the alder cover in this particular estuary was about 7.4%, compared to the largely “P” limited Yaquina which has 13.4% alder cover, this is an interesting result. Remember, alders are tremendous nitrogen fixers, and are huge source of the nitrogen that eventually ends up in these bodies of water. Looking forward to this week, we have samples from both the Nehalem system up north, and the Alsea system in Waldport. These systems have 5.15% and 7.9% alder cover respectively, so I would expect to see similar results, if not outright “N” limitation.

Alright, now to take a little step back from the data. This week will be week eight, and after this week we will have conducted a staggering six phytoplankton limitation experiments from the estuaries I listed above. Those two weeks we missed were my first week on the job, and the Fourth of July week. Other than that, I have helped conduct an experiment each week I have been here. It has been a tremendous experience, and I can’t even fathom how much I have grown as an aspiring scientist. I have also grown more and more intrigued by the field of Marine Pollution and Water Quality. It is an area of marine science which I am going to spend a considerable time investigating once I finish up this internship, and begin to contemplate graduate school programs. Alright, that’ll do it for this week. Until next time!

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