As much work as we can cram into every Baikal workday

Steve Katz snorkeling to collect sediments, in the hunt for Baikal diatoms. 29 July 2012 Photo SE Hampton

Following the normal trajectory of field operations, the team has started to see the end of the field season approaching and has focused very tightly on data collection and finishing up projects before leaving Bolshie Koty. So, not so many blog updates have been possible, though many exciting things have occurred – I thought I’d summarize a few here…

Teo was able to isolate strains of one of our focal phytoplankton species, Aulacoseira baicalensis, and he is working on starting cultures for longer term work. Here’s one of the photos he used to capture measurements of the cells, and another of Steve diving to collect some sediments for Teo to examine for diatoms.

Aulacoseira baicalensis, an endemic and ecologically very important diatom in Lake Baikal. 29 July 2012 Photo T. Nakov.

Many experimental successes are already transpiring as well!

Lots of Epischura have been sweltering in the heat of a set of multi-level temperature experiments that Katie, Marianne and Kirill have been running. Larry and Lev have now complemented these experiments with some new work on copepodite responses to temperature, and are starting to set up preliminary experiments to examine Epischura response under various levels of oxygen depletion.

Ted and Kirill using a hand winch to pull in the plankton net, with red lights on their headlamps since Macrohectopus is sensitive to light. 21 July 2012 Photo SE Hampton

And the Dimensions crew caught a big collection of Macrohectopus between 2am and 5am on the night of the new moon. Macrohectopus is a predatory pelagic amphipod that remains in very deep water at night, and comes into shallower water at night to feed, so it was important that we hunted in the deepest darkness of night possible.  As the sun was rising upon our return, Ted, Kirill and Katie set up Macrohectopus feeding experiments to run while we all got some shut-eye!

Epischura colonized by an oomycete, which may be both parasitic and saprophytic! 29 July 2012 Photo T. Ozerzsky

Ted seems to be running too many experiments for me to keep track of, but one exciting and unanticipated set of lab activities that developed in this field season has been the opportunity to work with an oomycete that colonizes Epischura.

A Baikal sponge with lots of amphipods. 29 July 2012 Photo SL Katz

I wish I could say that this photograph of Lake Baikal’s beautiful sponges relates to the research that Steve and I are doing, but it’s really just from some snorkeling we did to collect amphipods for Lev.

The real research that Steve and I have done has taken place mostly in the High-Performance Computing center we recently created in our dacha.🙂 We continue to work with our Russian colleagues to analyze their long-term plankton data, and the research really moved forward by leaps and bounds here where we had the possibility of talking in person with Lyubov and other Baikal plankton experts at length about the analyses. We made a big breakthrough on understanding winter dynamics of Aulacoseira baicalensis, and less exciting but necessary progress (details I’ll classify as “boring but important”) on finalizing the analyses of long-term depth trends for the plankton that I presented at ASLO a few weeks ago.

We call this the High Performance Computing Center, since we gave up our desks in the lab to the newly arriving students! Here Steve is saying “R-square = 0.71”! 29 July 2012 Photo SE Hampton

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One Response to As much work as we can cram into every Baikal workday

  1. Pingback: Snorkeling in Lake Baikal | Lake Baikal Dimensions of Biodiversity

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