This week was my first week of my internship at the Huston-Brumbaugh Nature Center (HBNC). This internship is research oriented in which we assist with various sampling\documentation of flora and fauna in the area (and really assist with anything else that needs doing around there). I’ve never done anything biology related before but after this first week I’m really excited for the summer.
It should be noted that no creatures are harmed during research and anything caught is let go by the end of the day.
HBNC is closely associated with the University of Mount Union (mostly with the life sciences departments). Classes will often times do labs down at HBNC and other times people from HBNC will come up to Mount Union. This summer one of the professors is looking to do a lab with her class for Fall semester and as such needs water samples. HBNC also looks to continuously catalog as much as they can so this summer two birds are being killed with one stone with us pond sampling.
“Netting” is the technique of getting a sample of the life that’s living in the pond. One simply puts the net into the water and scoops out whatever they get. The water drains out leaving the living organisms in the net, at which point they all get transferred to a bin filled with the pond’s water. And then the fun (and extremely tedious) part comes because now ALL of the organisms have to be sorted and cataloged. That gets quit hectic when many of the organisms are almost at microscopic level.
“Plankton Sampling” is a means of seeing on a microscopic level what’s swimming around in the pond. The net is thrown into the pond (in a cowboy sort of way because the net is heavy and needs to be thrown far) and then quickly pulled back in so as to only get water from the top of the pond. A sample of the water is then put into a sampling cup. Using a microscope, microorganisms can be identified from the sample.
“Fish Trapping” is a method used to see what kind of fish are living in the pond. The net used is an elongated metal barrel with two small openings at each end. The ends are designed so as to allow the fish to swim into the trap but not out of the trap. Two slices of white bread balled up are used as bait to attract the fish. We usually let the net sit for an hour before we bring it up to see what we got. Often times we will also get other little guys in the trap too.
Catching A Water Snake and Frog
In one of the lakes there are some water snakes that hang out down there. Today we saw two of them. Adam (our supervisor) was with us and when Courtney (the other research intern) spotted one, Adam got really excited because he’s heard of people spotting them but has never seen them himself. We watched them for a while and then Adam tried catching one. They move VERY fast.
We lost sight of them so went back to cataloging. Later I strolled over to the pond and by sheer luck spotted one of the snakes. I immediately grabbed a net, plunged the net into the water, and scooped it up. I didn’t think I got it but then I saw something move and realized I had caught the water snake. Adam was kind enough to hold the snake for us. The water snake isn’t poisonous but it will bite. It also lets off an unpleasant smell when it feels threatened.
I also caught one of the many frogs that hang out in the pond as well.
Bonnie is the beekeeper at HBNC and Wednesday we got to see her do something called “Beehive Scooping”. Basically the Worker Bees surround the Queen Bee as their way of protecting her (they have some beefy security for her) but now the hive has to be put into their bee box. So Bonnie (being the brave lady she is) scoops them up to put them into the box. I was able to get as close as I did because the bees get disoriented as they’re being scooped up so they’re not in “attack mode”. Their number one priority is keeping the Queen Bee safe.
These bees with their butts sticking out are letting off an odor in an attempt to scare away enemies.
And these bees are doing their thing by making honey in their honey comb.
This sport takes a certain technique to it since butterflies and dragonflies fly away so quickly and the nets used are open ended. Basically the challenge is “closing” the net so they can’t escape. That can be done by flipping the bottom of the net over or using your hand even. A small sample cup can be used to hold the little guy for observing.
Adam showed us the proper way to hold a dragonfly for observation. Holding it gently by the wings or gently by its midsection ensures its safety but also gives you a really nice view of it as well. If you let the dragonfly go but it continues to stay it’s not because it likes you so much, it’s because it’s sun bathing because it’s cold.
Other Cool Findings
On the way back from sampling we spotted a snake and were able to get some cool photos of it.
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