Goodbye Field Work, Hello Lab Work

This week marked a transition for the SEES team, as we saw our last day out in the field. As such, it was a busy day collecting final samples and taking out all of the collection objects without replacing them. The plates I stripped of removable sediment and promptly threw away–along with any leeches that were attached to them. I finally got to take out my brushes, which went…interestingly. Not as smoothly as I had hoped it would go, but regardless, some data is infinitely better than no data at all. I also collected some live plants to run analysis on the attached flocculant, which I’ll tackle in the lab next week.

Today, I spent some quality time with SAFL’s sediment lab, and worked on separating some more plate bags between sediment and water. A top priority for me going into next week will be ashing these samples, and filtering the water from them. As I have a full set of samples from this week to handle now as well, it’s imperative that I move forward here as efficiently as possible. It’ll get a bit sticky working in two labs a t once, at EEB and SAFL, but it is what it is!

Sun’s Out Flowers Out

I thought I’d switch it up this week and talk about something not research related for a minute. Being the avid plant and wildflower enthusiast that I am, I decided to share a few pictures of the flowering plants that we’ve seen out on the wetland so far. Some of them grow in grasses, and some of them grow in the middle of the cattails, like the purple one shown. Each new species of wildflower that I find is exciting because the wetland keeps showing me how incredible and diverse it really is!

In other news this week, Liz and I found what we thought was a cracked pelican or swan egg floating in the cattails. Thankfully, we didn’t find anything inside to really write home about. I managed to make it through this week without falling in the wetland trying to get into and out of the kayak, and even managed to take some cool pictures of some of the submerged aquatic vegetation that I might be looking to sample on our next trip out there. I collected my first run of plate samples, so I’ll have a great time processing smelly sediment samples next week in the lab!

Independence Day

This weekend was especially long because of the Fourth of July on Tuesday. We put our extra time to good use though, and spent it out on the town. Our friends from Team Za’gaaigan from up in Duluth came down to visit and it was awesome to all be together again! On Saturday we visited the Midtown Global Food Market for some authentic cultural food, and then walked into Uptown. On our way there, we stumbled into a Somalia Day festival, complete with alpacas and traditional Somalian dancing.

On Sunday, the group went out to Lake Calhoun. It felt great to relax by the lake and you could ALMOST make believe it might have been the ocean. ALMOST. It was pretty crowded though, and I’d probably like to go back on a different day that wasn’t the holiday weekend.

Finally, on Tuesday night we went to see the fireworks at Stone Arch Bridge.We ended up seeing them from a trail that goes down near the water in the woods, so it was definitely a new perspective! But When in Minneapolis on the Fourth of July, I guess it’s almost required that you watch the Stone Arch Bridge fireworks. Overall, it was a fun time, and I haven’t actively gone to see fireworks  for a few years, so it was awesome to finally be able to!

Friends in the Field

This week we went back to our field site to check up on our data sampling methods. Liz too some emergent, submerged, and detritus vegetation samples for her project, and I collected some sediment plates that I had put out last week, along with my mock vegetation refrigerator brushes that I’m going to analyze for sediment trapping. We had a few fun surprises though! There’s a family of swans that live on the wetland on the far side, and we’ve seen the male swan out a few times. This week he flew straight over us!

While Liz and I were checking our sample sites we saw frogs, water turtles, wrens, and yes, leaches. The mosquitoes and the leaches were more frenemies than friends but all part of the ecosystem! I also found that some fish or frogs had laid eggs on the underside of one of my plates. I collected the sediment and swiftly put them back under to (hopefully) hatch in a few weeks.

In less fortunate news, I tripped and fell trying to get back into my kayak after taking some sediment cores!My waders flooded up to my knees, which made for one very soggy rest of the day. We’re waiting on DEA incubation right now, but looking forward to a great weekend and Fourth of July holiday!

Deep in the Field

With a crazy week this week and last between visiting the kids at the Ojibwe summer camp and now our first week spending time in the field, it’s been hard to find a moment to take a deep breath! On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week we went down to Good Thunder to visit our field site, a wildlife preserve wetland area. Because the site is surrounded by so much agriculture (right now it’s soybeans but it can be corn too) this intensive row crop agriculture has resulted in a lot of nitrate pollution from fertilizers.

This week, I defined my research question of looking at the wetland  ecosystem in terms of sediment trapping. My methods for testing this topic are still in…preliminary stages. I put a few plates out in different locations throughout the main wetland to more or less see what happens, and I plan to actually start collecting concrete data next week when we go back. In addition to the plates, I used refrigerator brushes as mock plants, to gauge the sediment trapping potential of the submerged vegetation. I also collected total suspended sediment (TSS) [image 1] samples at the wetland inlet and outlet.


In addition to working on my own research question, Amy, Liz, and I have been working on nitrate assimilation in plant biomass (Liz’s project) [image 2] and have been setting up and running Denitrification Enzyme Activity (DEA) [images 3 and 4] in the Ecology Lab all day today. I’ll run my TSS through the filter tomorrow and we’ll do some loss on ignition (checking for organic material content of soil) and run a few more tests in the lab next week, and then we’ll be back out in the field Wednesday! Already can’t wait to put those waders back on!