Hey Everyone! Welcome!
On Wednesday, my class and I went to Save the Bay. It was an interesting experience, and I’m glad I had the chance to see Biology in action, and do something hands-on and “real.”
If you’re interested, check out Save the Bay’s site: http://www.savesfbay.org
When we arrived, we were put to work watering:
Then to removing invasive plants:
After watering, pulling weeds, and a lunch break, we went out to collect data. Here’s the salinity meter:
One of my favorite parts of this fieldtrip, and a memory that I will hopefully will remember, is taking data and recording it. It was cool to contribute, and use real-world tools too.
I learned a ton on this trip: these are just a few of the thing I learned.
- Annual plants are plants that complete their growth cycle in just one year, from seed to death, while perennial plants persist year after year, with only parts of the plants dyeing over winter.
- Soil in the unrestored areas we measured was more acidic closer to the water, and more basic further away. I’d like to know why. Guess that’s something to explore further.
- Invasive species use the resources of other plants in the area, and are often resilient and hard to remove. Because these plants can spread so quickly, and destroy the work already done towards restoration, removing them is particularly important. Getting their roots out is essential, but takes practice; particularly when you’re working with pick axes.
Check out the virtual marsh to see data from our trip and other trips: http://virtualmarsh.org
Another wonderful thing about this fieldtrip is the direct connection we can draw to what we are learning in class.
Biodiversity, for example, is a huge piece of what we’ve discussed in class. Evolution, and the origin of biodiversity, through speciation, is fundamental to the study of life. This trip explored exactly how fundamental biodiversity is, and how much these organisms need other organisms to thrive in their home, to keep populations in check and to ensure that resources are distributed. We got a chance to examine various plants in various areas, and to work with Simpson’s Biodiversity Index- to get a hands-on look at how biodiversity is examined in the field.
Another thing we’ve discussed recently was the Levels of Organization. To me, I got a chance to see how population and communities came together when I looked at and worked with the invasive plants. These could grow here uncontrolled. They could quickly wreak havoc on an ecosystem. Because other plants and animal from their ecosystem were not present to keep population levels in check and these plants had not co-evolved with the native plants, they threatened to destroy the habitats of the native plants. To me, this made these systems come to life, and demonstrated what a community did, what an ecosystem did, why emergent properties are so important and how closely life relies on one another to continue it’s cycle.
I would certainly recommend the trip for others, and if there were one thing I could change about it, it would be getting the chance to do even more different types of work. We collected data and pulled weeds, but it would have been nice to at least hear about the other things Save the Bay does.
Being able to actually help Save the Bay- to actually make a difference was a tremendously important part of this experience. The chance to help out the Bay, and have a positive impact on our community was inspiring and made this experience worthwhile. Being able to make a difference is very important to me, and this helped me see how much the study of biology can contribute to the well being of this planet and our homes.
This field trip was most definitely worthwhile, and I’d love to have the chance to try other field trips with similar hands on work- for everyone reading this- go out and try this, if you have the chance. Getting to do biology outside of a classroom makes it fun and “real”- see how biology is applied in real life, and get a chance to help out.
And in the end, there was time for everything- time to explore the Baylands, dream about a new, restoration filled future, and examine the plant life and soil quality.
I wish I could promise you guy’s fieldtrip stories every post :). Until next time!
Thanks for reading,
Explore, Dream, Examine.