Adventures in Statistics

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 11.47.16 AMDaneil Newcomb

While the mesocosm bags are still drying, there is no time for us to rest; presentations are in a little under two weeks, and data analysis has begun! To get us all started, Phil gave an incredibly useful and easy to understand lecture about performing statistical tests. There is so much information used to determine which test you’ll be running, and I’m glad to have learned it. Now I know I will be running the right tests on my data.

I am hoping to complete all of my data analysis within the next week. This gives me a week to prepare my results and conclusions slides for my presentation, which is hopefully enough time. Luckily, there will be a practice presentation between now and the final presentation. I am a little nervous, but also happy that we all have the opportunity to share our hard work with others. Yesterday I started looking for correlations between my data and others, and am excited to report that many of the correlations I was expecting are present. I have yet to have a chance to check from statistical difference between treatments though, which will be my next step.

This quarter has gone by so fast that I am baffled as to where my time has gone! It seems like only yesterday I was learning how to process my samples and now I have half of my first draft on my paper done, the experiment is over and mostly cleaned up, and my data analysis has begun. I cannot wait to see what the next week brings.


The Alpaca Farm

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 11.46.57 AMKelly Govenar

This weekend, I visited the Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm on the island.  The farm includes about 80 acres of land and a herd of about 70 alpacas.  The scenery is beautiful including lush grass, ponds, and lots of wildlife. It is an ideal place to raise alpacas.  The alpacas are very cute and gentle creatures; however, as much as I tried, they did not want to be pet.  I met one of the owners, Kris Olsen, who actually shows some of the alpacas at competitions. They are judged primarily by the quality of their fur.  Their fur is extremely soft and very expensive to buy. At the farm, you can buy many alpaca fur products including hats, sweaters, scarves, and yarn.  It is definitely worth visiting the farm to see the adorable alpacas!

Life After Sampling

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 11.46.57 AMKelly Govenar

Wednesday was our first day without sampling. Finally, I was able to sleep in and skip 7:45 am breakfast. I have never felt so rested. I spent most of the day relaxing in the sunshine.  Our busy schedule during sampling prevented me from venturing too far from the laboratories. Now I am trying to see more of the island and appreciate the beauty it has to offer. Kiely, Andrew, and I went to explore Eagle Cove Beach before dinner yesterday. Eagle Cove is located on the southern side of the island near American Camp.  The sandy beach and calm waters is an ideal place to launch kayaks or have a picnic.  The next places I want to see are British Camp and American Camp.

The majority of our group will be driving down to Seattle this weekend. It will be a good chance to relax, see friends, and begin writing our research papers. I will be meeting with Evelyn while I am in Seattle to talk about my project. It will be really helpful to discuss the results of the dilution experiment and speculate why the grazing rates changed as they did. We have a long month of writing ahead of us but I am looking forward to having plenty of time to write while exploring the San Juan Islands.


the path to the beach


a panoramic photo Andrew took of Eagle Cove

The Perfect Ciliate

meAmy Stephens

The end is near! It has been a long few weeks but I’m going to miss sampling once it’s over. I wont miss the cold or the rain but I will miss the gorgeous scenery and eccentric discussions with my OA team on the dock.

Phytoplankton counts have gone up since we removed the mesh caps. I’m especially happy because it has made counting phytoplankton under the microscope more exciting. With my spare time, I’ve decided to go back and count more volume to get a more accurate picture of the phytoplankton community. The near empty slides from T0 make me appreciate the diverse and abundant community we have now even more.

To continue my trend of sharing what I see under the microscope, I’m sharing the perfect ciliate that I found while counting T16 today.


“We are living in an aragonite sea”

Screen shot 2013-04-21 at 10.01.14 AMJennifer Apple

One of the benefits of conducting research at a world class facility such as Friday Harbor Labs is meeting visitors staying at the Whiteley Center. Advertised as a refuge for established scholars, it is a lovely retreat for those needing space to work. The benefit to the students is the opportunity to meet interesting people from many disciplines. While I have been here I have had the pleasure of dining with poets, writers, a philosopher and, today, a paleontologist from the University of Montana. George Stanley, Jr. is on sabbatical and is staying at the Whiteley Center for a week. He took the time out of his day to speak with our research team about sea chemistry changes and biotic consequences using ancient reef ecosystems as a model. He is the originator of the ‘naked coral hypothesis’ which states under acidic ocean conditions it may be possible for codrals to change and lose their skeleton and evolve to grow it again when the pH increases once more. Continue reading

The End Is Near

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 11.46.57 AMKelly Govenar

Yesterday, we met as a group to discuss our plans for the coming month.  As of now, Tuesday, T21, will be the final sampling day of our experiment.  This decision was made based on the prediction that the nitrate levels will drop to zero at this time and we only have enough supplies for 22 days total.  It is interesting that sometimes the lack of supplies limits the duration of an experiment. However, we will still get enough data to successfully write our research papers.  Once sampling is done, we will begin analyzing data and writing our papers.  All of us will be requiring data from each other, so it will be extremely important to meet as a group to collaborate and discuss our findings.  For my dilution project, the phytoplankton and micro-zooplankton counts and biomass (from Amy and Phil’s projects) will be necessary for me to analyze in order to determine reasons for changes in their growth and grazing rates. After the experiment is done, we plan on going on a few field trips and exploring the island more; we definitely deserve to have some fun after all of our hard work.


Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 11.47.16 AMDaneil Newcomb

Today is T14, meaning we are almost three fourths of the way to our original end date. There is some talk of possibly going a few days longer if trends are being seen, but we won’t know till we reach T20. After fifteen solid days of sampling early in the morning, I’ve started to lose track of the date and am functioning simply on the recorded experiment day. I’ve talked to others and they seem to be experiencing the same. When you work regularly on a schedule that involves weekends and suddenly you switch to a schedule where Saturday and Sunday are no different from the rest of the week it’s a little disorienting. The days of the week begin to blend together so it becomes hard to figure out whether it’s a Tuesday or a Friday. Continue reading