This week team Z started at Fond du Lac learning how to use fish as a proxy for water quality. We suited up in waders, equipt with nets, and walked through some thick vegetation to get to our survey sites in Fond du Lac streams. We employed the technique called electroshocking to stun fish, identify and mark their occurrence, and allow them to recover downstream. I noticed that many streams are dominated by one species of fish and usually they are species that are tolerant to many and even poor conditions in streams, generalists. Species like Brook Trout are good indicators of clean, unpolluted waters. We saw some Brook Trout in a couple streams that we surveyed!
The second half of the week was spent in the lab and research farm. We pulled out our peepers this week and had fun extracting the pore water samples. Our experience at the farm caught the attention of local news outlets and we were featured in videos and articles.
Back in the lab we used a spectrophotometer to measure the amount of sulfide and iron in our samples and collected additional data with our samples.
This coming week we will do data entry and analyze the peeper data!
During this short week, I got to help with aspects of Arianna, Gage, and Matt’s projects while I wait to remove the peepers that I need for my data next week. I learned a lot about the methods that my lab partners are using and their cool projects. For instance, sharpie ink and organic matter will vaporize in a nearly 500°C oven!
During the long weekend I worked on some writing including my abstract and SACNAS application. I got to discover a little bit more of the area, watched some movies, and spent some time in nature. Can’t wait for data collection next week!
Most of the week was spent at Fond du Lac where we got Ojibwe history lessons, an understanding of the contemporary environmental issues that affect the tribe, and got our feet wet in the field helping with invasive species removal!
This week the Zaaga’igan team and I have become familiar with some methods and processes in the lab and have solidified our research questions. I will be focusing on how sulfates and iron affect algal blooms in water in which manoomin (wild rice) grows. To measure the chemical composition of the water, we take water samples using devices called peepers and rhizons. Peepers are plastic chambers that have 4 wells that capture water through filter paper. 3 of the wells are placed in the sediment and 1 is in the surface water of the experimental tanks at the research farm. Rhizons are similar to straws in that they suck up pore water (water in between sediment grains) into vacuumed glass bottles which create negative pressure.
This week this member of the columbidae family has caused a lot of controversy and has split the team up. Matt thinks this is an albino pigeon but I argue that it is a released white dove which is a rock pigeon bred to be leucistic. There is a big difference obviously. Are you on team Tori or Matt??
For fun this week the lab went to a trendy taco arcade, had a bonfire with many dogs, and played trivia at Pizza Luce! It was a lot of fun and a great way to end the week!
This week has been a little tough for me personally. After almost a decade of chronic kidney failure, my dad received a call from Mayo Clinic on Sunday saying that they were offering him a kidney from someone who recently passed in New York. They had to operate the next day. I was nervous all of Monday morning and afternoon but got news that his surgery was successful and the kidney began functioning after a few hours. It felt like things were finally changing. I told my dad that I felt good about about everything as my intuition is usually right. But the risk of rejection is still high.
Yesterday I got a call from Mayo that my dad had internal bleeding, he was in pain, and his kidney stopped functioning. They did an emergency operation which was successful in removing the hematoma. Today his kidney began functioning again… I really hope that he doesn’t lose his second chance. I’m still optimistic about it but it will continue to be on my mind for the next couple weeks during his recovery.
It’s amazing to think that just a week ago I was in Okoboji Iowa where I spent a month getting to know new people and building stronger connections with many familiar faces. I had an amazing time there, on the “Iowa Great Lakes”, but I remember thinking about and feeling how comfortable I was. Few times in my life have I left Iowa, a banal locus of comfort and contentment. I was excited to travel over 1,000 miles to a unfamiliar land of bears, cougars, and mountain goats!
Evening field trip to Goat’s Lick. There were beautiful views and got to watch mountain goats with their kids climb the rocky terrain.
I had amazing time experiencing the beauty of the park and getting to know everybody! We are all from different places and have different backgrounds, but we are all here for a reason and have more in common than not. I really appreciated this introduction to the next couple of months! I am excited for everything to come. I can’t wait to be reunited with everyone again!