Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day Two:first day in the Field. Dana D'Agostino posting

Our first day in the field saw us piling into the caravan of vehicles, headed for Prince William Forest Park. We pulled off next to the stream and gathered our gear; waders, dip nets, pH meter, clipboards and the backpack electroshocker.

We trooped through the woods to our first test site; a third order stream. The weather was hot and humid, with a few clouds in the sky. We all made sure to cover ourselves with bug spray and sunscreen. Gene and his crew began our expedition by working downstream, shocking and collecting the fish.

Summer's group trailed behind, collecting physical parameters including stream depth, pH, stream width and stream flow. We recorded our data and moved downstream, collecting at three separate sites. While this site is considered "pristine", we made note of debris that littered the stream, including glass and plastic on the banks.

Everyone was fascinated by the variety of fish caught in our nets. Using the dip nets, we traipsed through the water, swishing and swirling, attempting to gather as many macroinvertebrates as we could. Specimens were transferred to collection jars, to be identified later.

Following a short break, we switched teams and began surveying a second order stream. It was interesting to note the difference in diversity between the two streams. Fewer species were found in the second order vs. the third order. The stream was also narrower and the flow was a bit slower.

By 12:30, we were ready to call it a day and head off in search of food. We went to Wegman's and indulged ourselves in the great variety of choices; sushi, pizza, subs, Chinese and Thai buffet, panini, salads, etc. Once our hunger was satiated, we piled back into the vehicles to return to our hotel.

In the breakfast room at the Holiday Inn, we laid out our tools to ID our macroinvertebrates. Pans, dissecting scopes, forceps and probes along with several liters of isopropyl alcohol. Specimens were sorted into trays and then identified with the aid of the dissecting scopes and Gene's expertise.

Dinner was at the local Mexican restaurant. Everyone enjoyed the tacos, burritos, enchiadas and salsa. Our waitress appeared to be a neophyte; she seemed flummoxed by the large group of people and kept running back and forth fetching ice and drinks and things she forgot.

Back to the hotel to listen to our guest speaker; Laura Grape from the North Virginia Regional Comission (http://www.novaregion.org/index.aspx?NID=8) She spoke to us about global warming and land use with an emphasis on sea level rise. How will residents deal with a projected rise in sea level of up to 5'? Will insurance rates rise so much that no one will be able to afford to live on the coastline? Will properties be abandoned as more and more coastline is gobbled up by the rising water levels?

After a verrrrry long day, we all bid each other good night and headed off to our respective rooms. Another long day awaited us in the morning and we needed to catch up on our sleep in order to be ready for more field work the next day.

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