Laura Page - Invasions Lab

Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL

My summer internship in the Marine Invasions Ecology Lab had three parts:

1)      Data entry for the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse

I had a small, but necessary, part in the entry of all the ballast water information from all ships entering US waters that are dumping ballast from foreign ports. Eventually the data I helped enter will be used to help guide policy making that will help restrict the spread of non-indigenous species.

2)      Helping my advisor, Libby Jewett, and anyone else in the lab who needed help

Libby Jewett is a graduate student with the University of Maryland, working jointly out of the Invasions Lab and the Crab Lab.  She is looking at the effects of low dissolved oxygen on fouling communities in the Bay.  Working with Libby was great, because I had a chance to travel down to VIMs, engage in some real field work, and ask lots of questions about graduate school.

3)      An independent research project

The best part of my summer was designing and conducting an independent research project.  My final presentation was titled “Impact of the Cryptogenic Bryozoan Victorella pavida on Early Fouling Community Development.”  I looked at the effect of the presence and absence of the bryozoan or ‘moss-animal’ in the Rhodes River here at SERC.  Victorella is believed to be native to the Caspian Sea area, and is the dominant structuring organism of the fouling community here at SERC.  I had three treatments of settling plates placed at two sites.  The first treatment group, Control, remained undisturbed in the water for the five weeks of my project and represented the natural Victorella community.  The second treatment, Gardened, was pulled up weekly and the Victorella carefully removed from the plates, in order to see what the community structure would look like in the absence of Victorella.  The third treatment group, Manipulated, was treated exactly like the Gardened plates without removing any Victorella to control for the disturbance factor.

I never got bored, because there was always something to do! The invasions lab is full of interesting, knowledgeable people, and there are many projects running simultaneously.  I enjoyed the chance to do a variety of things, from field work to computer research.  I made valuable contacts  in the field of invasions ecology and invertebrate zoology, and learned many useful skills, such as seining, tethering, and settling plate analysis.  I learned the practical aspects of designing and conducting a field experiment, something that will be very helpful if and when I continue on to graduate school. 

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