Projects

The influence of salinity on leaf-litter breakdown rates in tidal streams

Honors capstone project in Dr. John Olson’s Watershed Environments and Ecology Lab at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB)

Team

  • Project design: Dr. John Olson, Gretchen Wichman, and Alyssa Schaer.
  • Field and lab help: Lexi Yokomizo and Lex Cobarrubias. 

Timeline 

  • Jan. – Feb. 2021: First round of leaf packs deployed and retrieved in the field.
  • Sept. – Oct. 2021: Alyssa Schaer joined the project and we deployed a second round of leaf packs.
  • Nov. 2021 – Present 2022: Alyssa Schaer and I preparing 10 min. individual oral presentations for the CSUMB capstone festival in May 2022.

About

  • The first round of leaf packs were deployed for a month with electrical conductivity / temperature data loggers to see if conductivity influenced observed decomposition rates.
  • For the second round, we deployed four leaf packs per site and retrieved one leaf pack per week to see when decompsition rates peaked on a weekly timeframe. 

Importance 

  • In the context of seawater intrusion, aquatic microbial decomposers may process allochthonous carbon at an increased rate and emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Funding source

  • Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST).
  • Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC).

Assessing transport and retention of nitrate and other materials through the riparian zone and stream channel with simulated precipitation

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in the Dodds Lab at Kansas State University

Team

  • Experiment design: Dr. Walter Dodds, James Guinnip, Dr. Jessica Corman, Dr. John Blair, and Gretchen Wichman.
  • Special appreciation to James Guinnip who taught me lab work protocols like Lotic Intersite Nitrogen eXperiments (LINX) II method for processing stream water samples with an 15N-NO3 addition. 
  • Field and lab help: Anne Schechner, Molly Fisher,  Shaun Baughman, Lane Lundeen, Dolly Gudder, Justin Brisendine, and Alex Wohler.

Timeline

  • Apr. – Jul. 2020: Planned project remotely.
  • Aug. – Oct. 2020: Completed experiment at Konza LTER.
  • Nov. 2020 – Jun. 2021: Presented work at conferences. 

About

  • In the lower riparian zone, we set up rain sprinklers that ran for about an hour. 
  • The “rainwater” had an isotopic tracer, 15N-NO3, to detect hydrologic flow paths and nitrogen uptake.

Importance  

  • A new method for measuring riparian retention and release that accounts for uptake in both the riparian and the stream. 

Funding source 

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas (MAPS) grant.