We have had many TERFers help with aquatic community research projects over the past few years, but this year we had the opportunity to get both SIFTers and TERFers up to their shoulders in new experimental tanks at Tyson!
Post-doctoral researcher Dr. Simon Hart is studying aquatic-plant community assembly in habitats of different sizes. To do this, he is artificially colonizing 112 ponds of varying sizes with 20 or so species of plants collected from ponds at Tyson and Shaw. During the first week of July, Simon had SIFTer and TERFer assistance getting the plants put into the experimental ponds. Helping with this project entailed the following tasks: (1) the aquatic plants were roughly rinsed to remove fish eggs, (2) the plants were separated and weighed, with the weight determining the amount required in ponds of different sizes, and (3) the plants were carefully and systematically added to the ponds (just like planting terrestrial plants, but underwater).
This educational collaboration between Washington University's Tyson Research Center and the Missouri Botanical Garden's Shaw Nature Reserve is designed to engage St. Louis area high school students in scientifically-based exploration of the natural world. Linked programs of field training (SIFT) and field research (TERF) provide teenagers with experiences that realistically reflect research in environmental biology. Participating teens learn a variety of field investigation skills and then have the opportunity to put those new skills to work assisting career scientists with real research projects.