Kirill and Ted prepare our net on board the Kozhov. Photo: K. Woo.
The latest issue of the bulletin of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography featured a number of exciting international outreach projects, including our own work [pdf file] on Lake Baikal!
Our outreach project focused on facilitating communication between Russian early career scientists and the public, as well as enabling a young Russian researcher to work with a large international and multidisciplinary research team. The young Russian PhD student who worked with us, Kirill Shchapov, had the opportunity to work with our team and to speak about Lake Baikal to students, scientists and members of a local NGO.
Elena and Sabine showing Steve the Baikal plankton cultures – careful, we have to keep them cold! Photo S.E. Hampton, 9 November 2013
Last week Steve and I visited the Baikal crew at Kellogg Biological Station to exchange results and new ideas for collaborations on the Baikal project. KBS has a famous history of important work in aquatic science, and it is always a special destination for limnologists.
It was especially exciting for us to be there while there is so much activity around culturing the Baikal plankton isolates from the summer field season, and at a time when all of us have projects with new results we are puzzling over and needing lots of feedback. Paul showed us some results of the genetic characterizations of the microbial community of Baikal open waters, hot off the presses, and we speculated wildly about the many new species that the team might be discovering – wild speculation is the most fun part of new results, and the hard work of figuring out what is actually going on will soon displace the wild speculations! We discussed Danny’s nutrient-temperature phytoplankton experiments, and interesting possibilities for developing niche models for the phytoplankton based on both observational and experimental data. Continue reading
Two weeks ago, while delivering an invited talk about our Baikal project at Michigan Technological University located on the south shore of L. Superior, I was struck by the many similarities and important differences between Lakes Superior and Baikal . While at Michigan Tech, I toured the university’s impressive new Great Lakes Research Center and I met with multiple scientists – remote sensing experts, stream ecologists, limnologists, fishery biologists, and algal biochemists – who are probing fascinating processes within L. Superior or its watershed. Also, during my visit, I toured the local area with my hosts, Dr. Charlie Kerfoot and Lucille Zelazny, and through them I learned about the rich history of the local area.
Both lakes are amazingly similar physically, chemically and biologically. For example, both are cold, oligotrophic (low in nutrients) and share similar water transparency and photic zone depths (Table 1). Furthermore, both lakes are responding to contemporary climate change with their surface temperatures warming and duration of winter ice cover shortening significantly. Continue reading
While many excellent photographs have been posted here (and will be posted in the future), we also need a place to store, share and organize our Baikal photographs in large quantities. We have a few hundred of them…
Anyone interested can see them here: http://baikal-dimensions-photos.tumblr.com/archive.
Team members: to upload the photographs you would like to share with each other and the rest of the world, go to tumblr.com/dashboard and login. If you have not received the login info form me please e-mail me.
If you grind up a human being, they say, and extract DNA from the whole thing and nextgen-sequence it, you get 85% bacterial reads. As some of our colleagues know very well, if you sequence DNA from a diatome algae culture you get 85% bacterial reads. So when sequencing wholesale Epischura, guts and all, we were fully expecting to get a metagenome (rather, metatranscriptome). It’s a very interesting task of its own, the metagenomics (metagovnomics as some of my Russian colleagues call it), but it’s not what we wanted in this case. Fortunately, the partial transcriptome we obtained consists mostly of the right sequences. Vast majority of ORFs that could be identified to a phylum have been identified to Arthropods; of those that could be identified to an order – to Copepods, sensum latum (two leftmost bars on the bottom histogram).
As expected, more sequences have a closer hit in Drosophila or other insects than in Daphnia.
The summer is winding down, and yesterday we continued a string of recent goodbyes by seeing off three more members of our team. Lev and Katie are currently en route to Moscow and then back to the States, and Liza, an undergraduate from Irkutsk State University who has been working with us all summer, is back in Irkutsk just in time for the start of the new school year. The biostation is nearly deserted now that most of our group as well as all the field course and summer school students have left.
Of our entire team of over a dozen people only Ted, Kirill, and I remain in Bolshie Koty. Over the next ten days we’ll be cramming in some final experiments, the most important of which will be assessing feeding rates of Epischura baikalensis. Additionally we will be finishing up the “eggsperiment” (measuring egg production of E. baikalensis at different temperatures), preparing Cyclops and Daphnia samples for transport to the States, and doing some more work with the parasite Saprolegnia. Though it’s not quite over yet this summer has already been a huge success, and we’re looking forward to carrying the momentum forward for the next ten days.
Irkutsk State University undergrad Victor Leonov works with Lev off the back of the Treskov. Photo: Ted Ozersky
A highlight of our team’s Siberian summer was the circum-Baikal sampling expedition that we undertook between August 7 and August 19th. The planning for the cruise started while the lake was still frozen solid and continued until just hours before we actually boarded “Professor Treskov” (the research ship of the Baikal Limnological Museum), so it was an enormous relief to see how smoothly things went during the expedition. A combination of good weather, great crew and, of course, the backdrop of Lake Baikal made for an excellent cruise, both for the doing-science part and the having-fun part. Continue reading