I landed a summer job in the lab of one of my favorite professors. I’ll be working on the long term research project conducting population studies of the streams flowing through the Arkansas Ozark mountains.
The first three day camping trip up to Gulf Mountain is for the former grad student in charge to hand off the project to the current grad student in charge.The work is grueling, monotonousness, hilarious, surprising, and best of all… outdoors.
2 30 foot seine net
2 15 foot seine nets
1 50 seine net
Camping gear for six
Three days worth of food: two breakfasts and two dinners. Remind everyone to bring their own lunches.
Extra batteries, battery chargers
Field note book
Datalogger for pH, temp, turbidity,
Data sheets for fish, data sheets for habitat assessment
5 gallon bucket
Clip boards and pencils
Bug spray and sunscreen
This is not an exhaustive list but you can get an idea of what goes into this type of field work. We arrive at a site, use dice to select which pool/riffle combination will be sampled. We bushwacked out to the first stream carrying the backpack shocker, 4 seine nets. dip nets, and all the peripheral gear needed to take the data. The former grad student began instruction. We all were experienced is some sampling but non of us were familiar with this particular project.
The sampling technique we will be using involving setting up block nets at each end of the pool and another block net at the top of the riffle (riffles sampled are up stream from the pool). Three researchers walk through the stream while the grad students electro-shocks. Fish are scooped up via dip nets and placed in a bucket. Three passes are made in each pool and each riffle. Then the fish are identified down to species, weighed, length measured and then returned to the pool. The process is repeated for the riffle and then all the nets are taken down and all the gear moved to the next riffle/pool that was randomly selected by dice roll. The habitat of each pool/riffle is also assessed. We measure length, width, depth in addition to substrate and cover composition along three transects within the pool and riffle. This data is recorded on data sheets.
We all jump in…. learning as we go. Falling in the stream. Dropping fish. Improvising when we discover a forgotten piece of equipment. It’s going to be a great summer!