WKU Geology 311 students received first-hand experience in coastal sampling, measurement and analysis techniques on a March 26-29 trip to St. Petersburg, Fla.
Ten Geology majors and one Biology major participated in two days of field exercises working with scientists from the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science. Oceanography course instructor Margaret Crowder led the field trip along with Department of Geography and Geology Assistant Professor Lee Florea. The trip was funded through the Ogden College of Science and Engineering, the Department of Geography and Geology, and the Hoffman Institute.
The group spent their first day at Caladesi Island, an undeveloped barrier island within Honeymoon Island State Park, just north of Clearwater Beach. There, students participated in beach profiling, long shore current measurement, settling velocities and coastal plant identification. The second day involved work at three locations within Ft. Desoto County Park, in southern Pinellas County. Students measured water quality (temperature, salinity, pH, and dissolved oxygen), seined for fish and invertebrate counts and identification, estimated depth of light penetration, and identified and described vegetation (including mangroves and sea grasses) associated with each of the three varied locations.
Through the various exercises, students were engaged in coastal scientific research processes and learned about the interdisciplinary nature of both life and physical sciences in Oceanographic studies. Students received an appreciation for the delicate balance of coastal habitats and will use their trip experience as a basis for continued research into the potential effects of climate change on low-lying coastal areas. The class will present posters based on their research on “Climate Change and the Oceans” at the 2009 Campus Community Partnerships for Sustainability conference in late April.
Students who participated in the trip were Stephanie A. Bryant of Bowling Green, Grigory J. Burton of Columbia, Whipple Z. Durall of Greenville, William G. Hess of Bowling Green, Danielle C. Marsh of St. Charles, Ill., John M. Papineau of Albany, Monica R. Richards of Brownsville, Steven A. Rogers of Bowling Green, Jennifer E. Schultz of Scottsville, Megan E. Shirshun of Wayne, Mich., and Kyle M. Thomas of Elizabethtown.
Contact: Margaret Crowder at (270) 745-4555.