Our experiment began 20 days ago with dry clothes and warm hands. Our final sampling days are now upon us and we have learned to deal with numb limbs and wet clothes. Most of us can hardly believe that only 20 days ago our knowledge of mesocosm studies was diminutive. Now as the experiment draws to a close we find ourselves engaged in conversations planning additional mesocosm experiments, commenting on ways to improve our protocol, and saying farewell to our international colleagues. The apprenticeship provided critical training in experimental design, best practices in ocean acidification research and interdisciplinary collaboration with experts in the ocean acidification field.
As we launch into May we were eager to start the analysis and piece together our story. Most of our time will be spent getting caught up on processing samples, comparing our data for statistical differences, and composing the first draft of our manuscripts (coming soon to the new Ocean Acidification Journal!). Throughout the experiment we were aware of the daily chemical trends (i.e., chlorophyll, pCO2, alkalinity, nutrients) taking place within each treatment. However, after spending the past 3 weeks hidden away in a dark room illuminated only by a small night light I am excited to see if any changes have taken place among the biological communities. Soon I will be able to determine if high CO2 has an effect on the abundance and biomass of the microzooplankton.
We have two sampling days left and the ending of the experiment is bittersweet. Many of us will miss the early mornings on the dock stuffing hand warmers into our gloves, taking turns measuring light levels with our perfect Licor, and listening to Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz greatest hits! But what we will miss most of all is comradely fueled by sharing stories and sarcastic jokes over a pot of dock side coffee.