Saturday, August 8, 2015

We are the solution: phosphorous

Phosphorus is one of the key elements necessary for the growth of plants and animals and in lake ecosystems it tends to be the growth-limiting nutrient. In plants, phosphorus is essential for photosynthesis, respiration, seed production, root growth and other critical functions. Phosphorus in animals is critical for proper bone and muscle growth, metabolism, reproduction, and overall animal performance.  Phosphorus (P) largely limits phytoplankton growth in freshwater systems. Excessive P loading into lakes and reservoirs can lead to cyanobacteria blooms and potential toxicity.  
Reservoirs are impoundments of large rivers that drain extensive watersheds, advective flow, flushing rate, and residence time can also regulate phytoplankton dynamics.  For instance, during storm runoff and elevated flow, residence time can decrease to less than a week, while flushing rate increases. Even though soluble P loading can be high and available for phytoplankton uptake during these periods, rapid flushing that exceeds the algal growth rate can lead to anomalously low chlorophyll in the reservoir due to washout of the algal community. During lower flow, residence time increases, while flushing rate decreases. Anticedent P loads assimilated by phytoplankton during these periods can result in bloom development and chlorophyll increases because the phytoplankton doubling time now exceed flushing rate.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Phosphorous and its Missing Slice of Pie

The distribution of phosphorous pollution has been usually represented in a pie chart where it has had no place for the natural occurring phosphorous, hence the reason phosphorous is missing a slice of pie. 

It turns out that the water in the creeks are mostly made up of pre-event water, otherwise known as the water that comes from the ground, and soil. This is unlike the new water that enters the stream during a storm because of runoff and direct precipitation onto the body of water. So who cares? Why does it even matter if the creek has water from the ground or if it is from the rain? Well it turns out that this information is very important in the manner that it brings us a new piece of pie that has come from a pie that we believed was already whole.

Fair Enough

How fair is fair? Is fair being able to only order McNuggets from 11 am to 4 am? Why can’t I have chicken nuggets at 9 in the morning?  Maybe, its because those are the policies and regulations that are in place for distributing food. I could call customer service and ask them why I am limited to these certain hours. However, is calling customer service a fair process for voicing my opinion? Must I revaluate my situation? Are the policies and regulations fair? Similar to this situation is the situation that farmer’s find themselves in, but they are not just dealing with chicken nuggets.

My research focused on adoption of Best Management Practices (BMPs) within farmer social networks. These BMPs are practices that are proven to help reduce run-off and help improve water quality.  Examples of BMPs are putting in grass waterways, using no till, and developing nutrient management plans. For my research I was also interested in perception of fairness within the farming community and how that played a role in adopting Best Management Practices.

This Land Was Made For You and Me: On Property Rights Discourse and Lake Clean-Up Efforts

Myself with Dan Prestebak, favorite conservationist for the second year in a row:)
When I was deciding the title of my research project, the indoctrinated song "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Gutherie immediately came to mind. I remember singing the feel-good lyrics in elementary school, mindlessly and aimlessly without actually taking the words into account. Perhaps that was when I truly became American, when I was unknowingly singing about my right to land and land privatization. Truly, I wonder what elementary-age Eniola would have to say to current day Eniola if she found out that song would someday become part of the thesis of her now summer research project.

Monday, August 3, 2015

One Recipe for an Amazing Summer Research Experience

Our creative and amazing students gave us a blog post assignment this time around, and I have to say that I’ve found it daunting. Sorry, y’all, but I’m tweaking it a bit. The acrostic poems became haikus about my advisees, and I’m sorry to report that I just couldn’t find any embarrassing pictures. I know everyone is disappointed.

When I think about first impressions of my two students, Eniola and Melanie, I have to go back to their applications. Both of them immediately stood out to me as students I wanted to work with. They had thoughtful explanations of their interests in environmental anthropology, clear enthusiasm for working on the REU and with their fellow students, an amazing background in anthropology including fieldwork experience, and impressive letters of recommendation. I was definitely excited about prospect of working with them, anxiously awaited their acceptance, and looked forward to meeting them.