Finally some data!

Sampling sea grass in Winant Marsh

Phew!  Last week was a well deserved break from all of the field work that I did the week before.  Oddly enough, I was excited for a few days of data entry and acid washing.  So Monday was spent doing just that.  Since I was finished with data entry on Monday, Tuesday I went back to Winant Marsh to help a coworker with sea grass biomass collection to follow up on the flume experiment.  Fortunately that didn’t take too long, so I was able to go back to the office and lab for the rest of the day.  Unfortunately, the processing part of the biomass collection was a bit of a pain.  Wednesday was spent counting and measuring shoots, and scraping blades of sea grass for epiphytes that are living on the plant.  This took all day long and was rather boring, so I was happy to be done with it.

The next day I learned that we received our data from UC Santa Barbara.  We found that we had some rather interesting data.  For a little background, back in April, we ran an experiment to see if changing the nutrient concentration in our artificial sea water affected the ability of the marsh plants to uptake these nutrients.  According to our ISUS data, which we now know is not reliable, this didn’t matter that much.   The UCSB data on the other hand, showed a vastly different uptake rate depending on the amount of nutrients that were given to the plant. This was not good news because from our ISUS data, we relied on the premise that the marsh plants could only take up a certain amount of nutrients at one time regardless of the concentration made available to them.  Alas, this is not the case, we now know that if you give the marsh more nutrient rich water it will compensate for that and increase the rate that it takes up the nutrients.  If this doesn’t through a curve ball in our experiment, I don’t know what does.  Analyzing in this data resulted in us revamping our whole experiment.  Now our new question is to determine what the maximum amount of nutrients that a marsh habitat can absorb as well as what the rate of uptake is depending on the concentration.

After this redirection, we designed an experiment to try to answer this question.  Our new experiment for this week is to deploy three sets of chambers at two locations along the marsh at three different low marsh sites.  We will have four chambers at each site with four different concentrations.  We are hoping that once we get our data back from UCSB, we will be able to roughly estimate an equation for the nutrient uptake rate dependent on concentration.  So, the end of last week was spent preparing for this experiment, while this week will be spent out in the field and in the lab making sure everything runs smoothly.  I feel like now that I’ve finally gotten the hang of things, I now have less than three weeks left.  Nevertheless, it has been a great experience so far and I have learned a lot!

Check out my personal blog to learn about my life outside of EPA here:

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About Sara Duncan

Aloha everyone! My name is Sara Duncan and I am super excited to be spending this summer in Newport, Oregon with the Oregon Sea Grant Scholars Program. I grew up in central Massachusetts and am currently a senior at Hawaii Pacific University studying Environmental Science. I love being outdoors doing fieldwork. In Hawaii, my main project is to collect preliminary data on an ancient Hawaiian fish pond that is scheduled to be restored in the near future. I love being out there right next to the ocean especially because it’s so warm year round. Luckily, I was able to land this awesome internship with the Oregon Sea Grant for the summer and I am now in Newport working on a project for the EPA studying the nutrient removal of the wetlands in the Yaquina Estuary. I’ll have to admit though, that I am a bit cold here – average temp in the summer is less than 65°F! Stay tuned to learn more about my experiences! Also, check out my personal blogs: and

2 thoughts on “Finally some data!

  1. A classic case of scientific redirection! I anxiously await the results from this week’s experiments and fitting the curve for nutrient uptake. Great photo, btw!

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