A guest post by Marie Colom:
Students from the FIU undergraduate ecology club and SEEDS chapter, GLADES, gathered with members of other SEEDS chapters from Florida Atlantic University and Bethune Cookman University during the weekend (November 12-15, 2015) at the Archbold Biological Station for a 4-day field trip that consisted of workshops, field projects, data analyses, and a career panel- not to mention bonfires, star-gazing and relaxing by the lake!
During the trip we learned about the Florida scrub ecosystem and participated in a research project led by Dr. Reed Bowman, director of the Avian Ecology Lab at the Archbold station. In order to determine if oak galls are affecting acorn production, and thus Florida Scrub Jay abundance and dietary habits, we were sent out to the field to collect data by counting the number of galls on each of 16 tagged oak trees. These data were then combined with already existing data to be analyzed and presented to the Archbold faculty. Although the project yielded some interesting results, it seemed like more data need to be collected.
As SEEDs students, we received advice and encouragement from the Archbold faculty to pursue careers in the ecological sciences. A career panel consisting of faculty from local universities, such as University of South Florida and University of Central Florida, along with several state agency professionals gave us insight into the different paths we can take as ecologists or environmental scientists.
We also enjoyed a tour of the Buck Island Ranch, a working cattle ranch at the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center. One of the major studies conducted at this site is the “Ecology on a Working Landscape” which deals with methane emission from wetlands and grazed grasslands. One surprising result, so far, suggests that more methane is produced in the ungrazed wetlands compared to the grazed wetlands during the wet season.
The trip ended with a visit to Lake Annie; the water was warm, a group of us tried to catch water beetles, others read and the rest relaxed next to the lake. It was both a meaningful and inspiring trip for us all.
Students from FIU, FAU and BCU enjoy a tour of the Archbold Biological Station and MacArthur Agro-Ecology Research Center at Buck Island Ranch. Photo by Dustin Angell of the Archbold Biological Station.
See some more pictures HERE.