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ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES OF INCREASING DISSOLVED ORGANIC CARBON (DOC) IN ARCTIC TUNDRA
PONDS OVER THE PAST 40 YEARSGabriela Contreras, Vanessa L. Lougheed.
University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX.
The active layer is used to describe the uppermost layer of soil that thaws each summer in the Arctic. With a warming Arctic, permafrost is expected to thaw and active layer depth to increase. The Arctic tundra ponds at the International Biological Program (IBP) site in Barrow, Alaska, studied for the first time in the 1970s, represent one of the very few locations in the Arctic where long-term data are available on freshwater ecosystem structure and function. The objective of this study was to determine whether dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations in Arctic tundra ponds had changed over time and how thaw depth, temperature, and UV radiation have impacted DOC quantity (mg/L) and quality (SUVA254). Over the summers of 2010 through 2012, we collected water samples and measured thaw depth from 5 IBP ponds and compared these with 1970s data. On average, ponds were 2 °C warmer in the 2000s compared to the 1970s. Maximum thaw depth was 13 to 19 cm deeper, which affects the infiltration of surface water into the ground. Permafrost is very sensitive to temperature changes and deeper active layers likely released organic (e.g., DOC) and inorganic compounds. The exposure of the ponds to UV radiation can cause an impact on the chemistry of the water that can result in a decrease or increase of carbon uptake from the plants and organism.
This study will add to our understanding of the changes that warmer temperatures and environmental variables bring to the Arctic.
WETLAND SOILSAlexandria Kimball, Deborah Kirk.
Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, KS.
Our research focuses on the comparison of soil properties from 6 wetlands sites in an effort to better understand the geography of wetland/hydric soils, and the impacts that various management practices, past land use, water alkalinity, and surrounding vegetation and wildlife may or may not have on hydric soil properties. As a part of this study, we collected 18 soil samples from Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge near Mound City, Missouri; wetlands located in the southwest corner and the northwest corner of Clinton Lake in Douglas County, Kansas; Baker Wetlands located in Lawrence, Kansas; and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms Wetlands near Great Bend, Kansas.
93 UNDERGRADUATE POSTER ABSTRACTS
The sampled soils were then tested to determine soil composition; field, air-dried, and oven-dried moisture content;
particle size distribution and density; and soil bulk density and porosity. The next steps in this project are to test for pH, phosphorous, nitrogen, and saline concentrations; hydraulic conductivity; and electrical conductivity of the soils.
We are also focusing on the historical aspects of the Squaw Creek area by analyzing the change across time using satellite and aerial imagery. Our research will culminate in a paper and poster discussing the results of the soil tests and drawing insightful conclusions for the similarities and differences found in the soils of wetland environments.
ANALYZING IMPACT OF ANIMAL RUNOFF IN MAUNALUA BAY, HAWAIIBrian White1,2, Mackenzie Manning2.
University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, 2Kapi’olani Community College, Honolulu, HI.
1 The purpose of this research is to analyze the ecological effects of feral cat (Felis catus) waste runoff in the Hawaii Kai area and the Maunalua Bay. The cat colony being tested is located at the Hawaii Kai Park and Ride on Keahole Street. Feral cats are believed to have been brought via Europeans to O’ahu by the 1840s, but it is possible they were introduced during Cook’s many voyages in the 1700s. By 1866, the cats in Honolulu were so populous that Mark Twain remarked that there were “regiments of cats, armies of cats, multitudes of cats, millions of cats.” The focus of this project is to study the impact of a feral cat population on the Kuapa Pond inlet as well as possible contamination of the Maunalua Bay. We hypothesize that the high population of feral cats will lead to a decrease in water quality.
The water from the inlet leads directly out into the Maunalua Bay, a severely degraded fishery, and also flows near the Paiko Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary. Data will be collected from 2 testing sites, one upstream of the cat population and the other downstream using a YSI meter to check oxygen, salinity, conductivity, and temperature levels as well as ammonia and nitrate content using a LaMotte spectrophotometer. To determine water quality, the data from the upstream site will be compared against the downstream site taking into consideration rainfall, tidal interaction, and weather.
ANALYZING THE EFFECTS OF USING ALTERNATIVE PRESERVATION METHODS BY ISOLATING RNA, DNA,
AND PROTEIN FROM THE CORAL MONTIPORA CAPITATAAliah Irvine, Robert Richmond.
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI.
Coral reefs are important to the environment because they offer protection from natural disasters, are an essential habitat for numerous marine fauna and flora, and play an important role in coastal societies as a source of food.
Although coral reefs play an important role in the environment, they are under world-wide decline due to various factors such as land-based pollution, coral bleaching, and coastal construction. In order to improve coral reef health, researchers have focused on implementing genetic analyses of coral as a tool to indicate and quantify stress.
Preservation of coral samples from Montipora capitata in the field is generally achieved using liquid nitrogen. However it is expensive, can cause skin irritation, and is hard to transport to remote areas. In this study, RNA later, Allprotect, Ribozol, and DMSO were tested to analyze their efficacy in RNA, DNA, and protein preservation of tissues from the coral Montipora capitata stored at room temperature versus in liquid nitrogen. Samples were preserved at 0 days, 3 days, 5 days, and 7 days after collection with 5 replicates for each preservative. The extraction of RNA, DNA, and protein will be evaluated and analyzed to measure gene expression using PCR and western blots. The outcome of this project will provide researchers with alternative methods for the inexpensive transportation of samples and the extension of work time in the field.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PHOTOSYSTEM PHYSIOLOGY, PHENOLOGY, REFLECTANCE, AND CO2 FLUX IN A
CHIHUAHUAN DESERT ECOSYSTEMNaomi Luna, Christine Laney, Aline Jaimes, Craig Tweedie.
University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX.
Limited resources are available in desert ecosystems, which are highly susceptible to anthropogenic impacts such as climate change and overgrazing. Desertification and climate change are issues that hit close to the El Paso region and, in an effort to understand what is happening in our Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem, we are attempting to find new ways to monitor its progress. Although substantial progress has been made over the past decade, few studies have simultaneously examined how plant stress can constrain larger scale phenomena and how large-scale
COMPARISON OF POPULATION RESPONSES TO PHARMACEUTICALS AND PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTSSarah Baca, Diana Gomez, Elizabeth Walsh.
University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX.
Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCP) are chemicals of emerging concern present in our nation’s waterways, including important rivers like the Rio Grande which borders the US and Mexico. The river receives pollutants from industrial, urban, and agricultural returns, but little is understood about their impacts on aquatic life.
A rotifer population from an urban location, El Paso, Texas, (EP) and one from a remote location south of Big Bend National Park, Texas, (BB) were tested for acute and chronic toxicity from 4 PPCPs: caffeine, acetamidophenol,
triclosan, and fluoxetine. Results of 48 hr LC50 tests did not correspond to locality. For example, acetamidophenol BB:
319 mg/L, EP: 121 mg/L; fluoxetine BB: 0.06 mg/L, EP: 0.19 mg/L. In 6 d chronic exposures, GLMM analyses showed significant decreases in growth rates among treatments for caffeine, acetamidophenol, and triclosan, but not for fluoxetine, for both populations. An additional chronic exposure was conducted using 6 compounds at environmentally relevant concentrations. GLMM analysis did not show significant decreases in population growth for either population for this exposure. Sublethal effects were noted in chronic exposures; for example, even low concentrations of acetamidophenol (10 - 20 mg/L) resulted in the production of unviable eggs and, thus, negative growth rates. Our results provide insight into how these compounds impact aquatic invertebrates and data to better protect aquatic ecosystems.
MANGANESE EXPOSURE AND ALTERATION OF NEURONAL MORPHOLOGY IN THE PREFRONTAL CORTEX
AND STRIATUM ASSOCIATED WITH DEFICITS IN COGNITIVE AND BEHAVIORAL FUNCTIONFernando Uribe, Donald Smith.
University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA.
Observational studies have shown that early exposure to manganese (Mn) impairs cognitive and behavioral functions in children. While these effects also have been shown in animal model studies, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying these deficits are not well known. The objective of this study is to determine whether elevated Mn exposure during peak periods of neurogenesis alters the morphology of striatal neurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and striatum of adult rats using Golgi-Cox staining and unbiased stereology techniques. Longs-Evans male neonate rats (n = 9/ treatment) were exposed daily to oral Mn at levels of 0 or 50 mg Mn/Kg/d from postnatal days (PND) 1 to 145. Whole brains were perfused in situ and then prepared using Golgi-Cox staining for neural morphology analysis following the manufactures recommendations (FD Neurotechnologies, Inc.). Our next steps will be to section brains (150 mm) and quantify neuronal morphology including dendritic branching, spine density, dendritic length, and number of synaptic spines along a dendrite in the PFC and striatum using light microscopy and Neurolucida software.
We hypothesize that Mn exposure will produce reductions in dendritic length, branching, and spine density based on reports that neonatal Mn exposure causes hypofunctioning of striatal dopamine activity in the adult animal brain.
These results will help fill an important knowledge gap in the mechanisms of how early-life Mn exposure causes learning and behavioral deficits in children.
95 UNDERGRADUATE POSTER ABSTRACTS
COMPARING AGE AND GROWTH RATES OF RED SNAPPER (LUTJANUS CAMPECHANUS) AMONG VARIOUS
ARTIFICIAL REEF SITESRuben Palacios, Michelle Sluis, Matthew Streich, Jennifer Wetz, Matt Ajemian, Gregory W. Stunz.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX.
Red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, is a large, predatory reef fish belonging to the family Lutjanidae. The species is found throughout the shelf waters of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and supports economically valuable recreational and commercial fisheries. Regardless of these attributes, the GOM’s red-snapper population is considered overfished and has been in this condition since at least 1994. Although some enhancement efforts like artificial reef development have been conducted, the overall effects that artificial reefs may have on productivity and ecosystem function, particularly on red snapper populations, remains unknown. Specifically, the question of whether artificial reefs actually increase production, or in this case, increase growth rates of this species, needs to be addressed. This study was designed to compare age and growth rates of red snapper among different artificial reef types. These structures vary from cut-off pile jackets to liberty ships. Sagittal otoliths were extracted and aged using annular rings. Findings from this study will provide new age and growth data for red snapper from various artificial reef structure types.
This information can help fishery managers understand the role of artificial habitats in the life history of red snapper, enabling better conservation for this important fishery.
INVESTIGATION OF SOIL IMPACT ON THE CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND AROMA FLAVOR PROFILES OF
TEXAS HILL COUNTRY SYRAH WINESHwan-Ghee Choi1, Joseph Hinojosa1, Lisa Morano1, Kenneth Johnson1, Jay Neal2, Aaron Corsi2.
University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, TX, 2University of Houston, Houston, TX.
1 Terroir refers to the climate, soil type, and topography’s effect on the flavor profiles of harvested crops. As part of the USDA-funded project Rocks to Wine, soil samples were collected from 6 Texas Hill Country vineyards to investigate the soils’ effects on Syrah grapes and the wine flavor profiles. Four replicate Syrah vines per vineyard were flagged, and soils were collected at depths of 30 cm and 50 cm. Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy will be used to determine the geochemistry of each soil for each of 24 vines. Soil texture will also be analyzed to determine the percent sand, silt, and clay for each location. From August to September, 24 batches of Syrah wine will be made, one from each vine, to compare the flavor and aroma profiles to the soil information at each individual location. Wine chemical composition such as total anthocyanins, tannins, pH, and percent alcohol will be determined. We will also score the aroma and taste of the wines using sensory analysis for over 10 flavor and aroma characteristics such as strawberry, black pepper, etc. We will use multivariate statistics to investigate trends in soils’ effects on the characteristics of the Syrah wines to try to unravel the connection between terroir and fruit flavor.