Monday, April 23, 2012

Wading In The Water

As the hottest month of the Belizean year rolls in, we celebrated by getting into streams and rivers and taking our stream ecology course!  Dr.  Laurie Furlong came down for the week to teach us all about the wonderful creatures and aspects of streams through lecture, field trips, identification of macroinvertebrates, and conducting small studies.

Nina (Gordon '13) and Brittany (Bethel '12) sampling for macroinvertebrates

We learned how important macros are to stream health, how energy is transported down the river, and about the current issues associated with freshwater use and its availability.

 Kirsten (Bethel '13) and Kelsey (Bethel '13) testing dissolved oxygen in the stream

On Tuesday and Wednesday we faced the heat straight on and went into the field to collect and sample different streams around Belize.  It was nice to get in the water, pick up rocks to look for creatures, and float flower petals down the river to see where they ended up (studying the retention of CPOM - coarse particulate organic matter - in the stream). 

While sampling at Caves Branch, we were joined by some enthusiastic young Belizeans whom we taught how to sample and collect macros.  They were quickly overwhelmed by all creatures they were finding!  It was encouraging to see young children learning and getting excited about the creatures that can tell us so much about how healthy the stream is.

One of the many caddisflies found this week

The exciting find for the week was the microcaddisfly, a very small caddisfly that makes a silk tube and attaches to rocks.

Overall a good, wet week of fun, excitement, and most importantly, learning!    

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