Field & Lab work at the Coastal Studies Center


John Lichter and ES 201 students, spring 2012

John Lichter and students in Perspectives in Enviornental Science, Spring 2012

Students taking courses in biology, earth and oceanographic science, and environmental studies, routinely visit the Coastal Studies Center to conduct field and lab work. Students in Perspectives in Environmental Science study forest plots and collect data on tree growth. These data are used to examine the rate of carbon sequestration occurring on the property using growth as a proxy. Scientists have wondered whether rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations will lead to rising uptake of CO2 by plants, since CO2 is required for, and perhaps limits the rate of, photosynthesis. This “fertilization affect” hypothesis predicts that as the concentration of CO2 rises, plant growth (and thus carbon sequestration) will also increase. After the outdoor lab, students analyze the data and add it to a long-term dataset started by Professor Lichter. The class also learn tree ID on the property and discuss the natural history of Maine forests.

Earth and Oceanographic Science students and faculty use the boat at the Coastal Studies Center dock for sampling and surveys, conducting chirp sonar surveys, bottom sediment grab sampling, hydrographic profiling, eelgrass surveys and time series sampling of water properties.

Professor Nat Wheelwright and Lab Instructor Shana Deeds bring students in their Behavioral Ecology and Population Biology class to the property to learn to identify common trees and shrubs, and to collect insects, and fungi.

Mudflats adjacent to the marine lab are explored by Amy Johnson's Biology of Maine Organisms class. Black worms and clams are gathered and brought back to the lab for study.

Students in Biology of Marine Mammals, taught by Professor and Bowdoin Scientific Station Director Damon Gannon, conduct sound transmission experiments off the Bowdoin dock to investigate differences in how low- and high-frequency sounds propagate in shallow water; they also investigate how background noise affects the detectability of a specific signal. The goal of these experiments is to understand the constraints on communication and echolocation imposed by the environment.

Beyond field and lab excursions the farmhouse and terrestrial lab are utilized for class discussions, student presentations, and more informally by Bowdoin students who come to walk or snowshoe on the trails, or study in the farmhouse on Sunday afternoons.