How is it the last week already? It seemed like just the other day I drove to UWF for the introductory week. This week covered wetland ecology and watershed impacts looking at coastal uplands. Monday we took a hike through the Blackwater River State Forest which was home to the long leaf pine. We learned about the different vegetation and how fire plays an important role in the ecosystem. Without the affects of fire, the vegetation would become to dense and would choke itself out. We were also able to see the different types of carnivorous plants that live here, the White Top pitcher plant, Red Top pitcher plant, Yellow Top pitcher plant, Parrot pitcher plant and the Pink Sundew. We also evaluated different creeks and determined how healthy they were. We looked at Juniper Creek, which was healthy and Carpenter Creek, which was unhealthy.
Tuesday we looked for coastal groundwater discharge using a RAD7, radon detector. We specifically scanned for Radon 220 due to its short half life, 55 seconds. A shorter half life makes it easier to detect were a seep is. Later that day we took a tour of the EPA lab, Environmental Protection Agency and learned about there current experiments on fish, amphibians and coral. We also looked at the different types of technology they use in the field to collect data.
Wednesday helped a grad student in her studies by taking seagrass, water, and light data. We used quadrants to observe the seagrass cover and also took core samples of them. We used a PAR to see how much light penetrates the water at different depths. We met back up later on campus to look at the trends of our data.
Thursday we went to the beach! We used a high tech and expensive piece of equipment, a grapefruit, to determine how strong the currents were that ran along the coast. Pensacola is one of the most dangerous beaches to visit due to their strong rip currents that are present almost always. We also looked that the vegetation that lives on the sand dunes.
Friday we took a trip to coastal dune lakes in Walton County, about an hour and a half car ride from campus. We used canoes and kayaks to observe the ecology and water quality around the water.