Eco-Studies Wrap Up

This week marks the end of my spring studies in Ecology, a thorough intorduction to the theories and practice by Ed Bedecarrax at the Center for Habitat Restoration. Not only have I learned tons about the ecology and the complicated complex of issues in protecting the natural world, but I’ve had a great time, outdoors with a purpose.

May 6th was the Mountain Lake Symposium at California Academy of Sciences. This event brought together students from junior high to graduate school, to share the results of their studies on Mountain Lake this spring. This is the only freshwater lake in San Francisco, and its been heavily impacted over the years, from non-native plantings, highway construction, and runoff pollution — now undergoing a restoration program. My groups research focused on the changes in water quality and zooplankton since the restoration began, conclusively showing improvements in water acidity and clarity since removing eucalyptus from the lake shore. The difficulties of the science of ecology — in data collection, analysis, and synthesis — were evident when trying to coax some results about zooplankton (in excel — surprisingly robust and straightforward to use, with vbScript). I presented in front of a large group, quite a thrill!

Later, we met with some of the researchers at the Academy, and had a tour of the Ichthylogy collection. Imagine 200,000 bottled and pickled fish, in a vast room, on shelves to the ceiling. Bizarre and fascinating. A new jellyfish had just been identified, though it wasn’t viewable yet. Did see an anglerfish — ferocious, disgusting looking deep sea fish, with bioluminescent lure growing off the top of its head. Not bizarre enough already, the male anglerfish is a sexual parasite — much smaller, it attaches and fuses to the female, and eventually loses all internal organs except for testes. Biology is much weirder than science fiction.

My article on Mountain Lake for the CHR Newsletter, and a collection of resources on Mountain Lake.