Raystown, Oneida & Ontario

Happy Fall!

The past month has been far from boring.  So let’s jump right into it!

From September 10th -14th, the students at the field station spent a week at the Cornell University Biological Field Station on Oneida Lake in the Finger Lake Region of New York.  We woke up early on Monday and hopped into the vans for our long road trip.  When we arrived, I took advantage of the time of day and the location to take some pictures for Nature Photography.

The Cornell field station looked like old farm buildings in a field next to a lake, but the interiors were renovated and the labs had all the necessary equipment.  They have a lot of land that extends all the way to the lake where they have their own boats and dock area.

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Our first day of programming started at the Cornell field station with two presentations from the researchers from Cornell.  They presented information about the biology and history of Oneida Lake and shared their research projects with us.  We met the lab assistants and learned about the partnerships the lab has for their research.

We spent our afternoon studying the fish in Oneida by seining.  A majority of our group has taken Itchyology and they were able to teach me how to identify some fish.  We also found a Mudpuppy!

 

 

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The next day, we travelled to the USGS Lake Ontario Field Station.  The lake is absolutely beautiful!  We learned about the research that they do there, the lake’s history, and their role in the Great Lakes research.  They showed us their lab and equipment.  Their boat was not there at the time because it was being maintained, so sadly they could not take us out on the lake.  However, they were very informative and gave us great career advice.

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Lake Ontario

They also suggested that we go to the Salmon River Hatchery up the road.

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When we got there, the guide gave us some background information and then one of the fish culturists gave us a tour.  He explained how their operation works with the different species such as chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead.  We saw where they process the fish for eggs, where they raise them, and the tanks that they hold them in to grow.  It was very cool to see the operation that is so imperative to the fisheries and recreation in New York.

On our 4th day, we traveled to find a pine barrens environment and did some macroinvertebrate sampling in the stream we found at the end of the path.  We went back to Oneida Lake that afternoon where we went fishing and swimming in the lake.  I did not catch anything, but it was a beautiful day to enjoy the water.  That evening we had a shrimp and crawdad boil!!!

 

 

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We also enjoyed a campfire by the lake which was a great way to end our time at the Cornell field station.

On the way home, we stopped at the reknowned Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  We toured their collections of skins, the lab, and ichthyology specimens as part of the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates.  It was amazing to see this and how they process their specimens.  Preserving and collecting is a part of science I have not had much exposure to and I was really intrigued.

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Luckily, we did not miss Mountain Day at Juniata.  It ended up being the Thursday after we got back.  Since Mountain Day is held at Seven Points Marina on Raystown Lake, we took our field station’s boat to get there.  Talk about arriving in style!!!  To recap from my last post, Mountain Day is a Juniata tradition where classes are cancelled by surprise on a random day and students  and staff get to enjoy outdoor activities at the lake.

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The past two weeks, classes have been in full swing.  In Limnology, we have been going out and practicing surveying nearby streams.  We spent our whole day in a tributary stream in Trough Creek State Park.  I decided to skip on wearing waders that day because they always end up getting water in them for me.  So I wet-wadded in the stream while doing a pebble count, which involves picking up rocks at random points along a distance of the stream and classifying them by size.  I ended up swimming…

 

 

The following Limnology class, we had our midterm exam.  I cannot believe we are already halfway through the semester.  I feel like I just moved into the field station yesterday.  However, this place has become my home and I definitely never want to leave.

For Aquatic Ecology, we went out on the boat on Raystown Lake and performed zooplankton sampling in areas with differing nutrient richness.  We practiced identifying them in the lab and I thought it was so cool!  They have interesting structures and functions.  We preserved our samples and will do more identification,  comparing the sampling locations.

Nature Photography is going well and I am enjoying taking my pictures.  I notice the details of my environment much more now.  Here are some of my favorite pictures that I have taken so far:

 

 

My research project has been developed and we visited the site this month.  In the next few weeks, we will be doing our field and lab work to get our data for analysis.  We will be studying the effects of Acid Mine Drainage remediation on macroinvertebrate communities in Miller Run.  Miller Run has undergone a variety of remediation projects and the aquatic communities were surveyed in 2013 by Juniata students.  The downstream area is able to support aquatic life, but there was an overall lack of abundance.  Our team is going to see if there has been improvement in the past five years.

This past week, the students at the field station assisted the US Army Corps of Engineers with an aquatic vegetation survey of Raystown Lake.  We did rake tosses to pull up vegetation and used sonar to map along the shoreline.  We were specifically tracking the hydrilla and the milfoil issues in the lake.  This took two days, which meant spending two whole days on a boat.  Needless to say, I could still feel the rocking of the wake when I was eating dinner at the end of the night.  It was fun to learn how to identify aquatic vegetation and meet Army Corps employees from New York and Florida.

 

 

 

The last thing I want to mention is about my future!  On October 1st, the database of NOAA internships for Hollings Scholars opened up.  I now have access to many different projects from all over the country.  I am still figuring out where I want to go and what kind of project I want to work on.  I will keep you all posted on what happens.  Before I go abroad in January, I have to go on a site visit to confirm my internship and make sure it is the right fit.

Stay tuned!!  Until next time…

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads” -Henry David Thoreau

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