Aquatic Ecology: Video Transcript

Olivia Richter [Class of 2017, Biology major and Environmental Science co-major]: I am involved in a lake ecology research project, where we're taking larval fish and trying to determine how they affect their environment and how the environment affects them and the other invertebrates in the ecosystem.

Amber Rock [PhD student in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology program]: I've always kind of been interested in just aquatic systems and the things that live in them and how they work. And so when I got here and Maria Gonzalez and Mike Vanni had just gotten a big grant to do this research, and I was super excited about getting involved with it and doing large scale experimental research and investigating some of these questions about how aquatic systems work.

Zach Alley [Class of 2015, Zoology major]: I got involved in this research when I started working with Mike two years ago. He brought up the idea of me doing a research project with one of his graduate students when I started the semester last spring. So, I proceeded to apply for a USS and went from there.

Olivia Richter: I started this research project as a first-year student in the FYRE Program, which works to have students get involved as freshman in any kind of research that they're interested in. So I met with a couple different professors on their projects, and the lake ecology sounded interesting to me. Some highlights have been definitely just getting to know everyone that's in the lab and knowing them on a more personal level. And then also just working with people that are genuinely interested in what they're doing.

Amber Rock: My dissertation research involves looking at how carbon is transferred through an aquatic food chain. Getting to work on a big project like this, out of the Ecology Research Center, it's a fantastic facility, just getting the experience of conducting these large experiments, working with large groups of people, managing large groups of people.

Zach Alley: We spend a lot of time out in the field doing a lot of fun stuff, sampling the streams and sampling fish and really getting out there and getting dirty, and it's a lot of fun.

Amber Rock: Today we're going to be sampling the larval fish, so the really small fish that have just hatched out in the lake. And we're going to throw a big net out and we tow it behind the boat. And we tow it at a speed where the adult fish are able to swim out of the way but the larval fish can't. So that way we catch just the little guys, and then we take them back to the lab and identify them and then we can, with this long-term dataset, we can investigate kind of the drivers of changes in population dynamics or in food levels and things like that in the lake.

Olivia Richter: I've had countless new experiences, especially this summer. I've learned everything from trailering and boating skills to basic lab techniques and then more specified lab techniques such as identifying larval fish and benthic invertebrates and measuring them and catching them.

Zach Alley: I've gained new knowledge in the field of statistics, and I've learned a lot about how to use general lab equipment as well as various sampling techniques.

Amber Rock: I'd really like to get a faculty position at a university. You know, I still have another year or two, so I'm just trying to finish everything up, but that's my ultimate goal.

Olivia Richter: I would love to join the Peace Corps after graduation, and then from there, ideally, go on to a graduate program, and I would love to be a wildlife biologist or work in conservational science.

Zach Alley: After I graduate I plan on doing work with a state fish hatchery or possibly go into the field of fisheries biology.

Amber Rock: The camaraderie that comes with working in a big lab is fantastic. You know, we have a good time, we do our work, but it's fun at the same time.

[July 2014]