Well, I just finished what (might) be the last draft of my thesis before my defense and also just finished my last teaching assistantship of my Master’s career. In between searching for jobs (anyone need a good ecologist?) I’ve had some time to look through some of the pictures my students took in the Florida Atlantic University Freshwater Ecology class I was TA’ing this summer semester. It was a great class, and we got to do and see some very interesting stuff – although as I was helping teach the class I didn’t photograph quite as much as I would’ve liked. But, fortunately I had a couple, and also one of the students in the class, Jen, graciously let me use her photos – so most of them in this post belong to her.
So, after finishing up my thesis field work and delving into the deep dark corners of my house to write for months on end, I got to get back into the field and some of my former haunts with this class and Dr. Dorn (the prof. for the class, and my graduate advisor) got to show them some of the wonders of a world present right among them (though seldom considered).
To initially introduce the class of some quantitative ecology field methods, we brought them to a retention pond behind the Davie campus.
Passive aquatic traps:
Fyke nets (I’d love to give these a shot for Rainbow Snakes!)
Some of the bounty:
Jaguar Cichlid (I think):
Next we got to take a look in two of my former study wetlands in Jonathan Dickinson State Park. This was a lot of fun, we picked two of my sites that were right next to each other – sandhill lakes of similar size – and looked at the invertebrates in the two in terms of species assemblage (generally) and size structure.
The Florida Park service (via park biologist Rob Rossmanith) was gracious enough to help us with site access deep in the scrub:
Site 20: lot’s of fish.
Long story short, some low activity invertebrates, but mostly fish.
Site 19: fishless. Mmmm.
As seen from the ridge above it.
Some of the catch; Buenoa sp., Damselfly larvae, Procambarus fallax and Anax junius larvae (and I think another species of dragonfly too):
Barkin’ Treefrog (Hyla gratiosa)
This one I’m not 100% on, as I didn’t catch this size class during my field work. I think a barking treefrog young of the year, but I’m not too sure.
A leopard frog, showing the telltale “soul patch”
The particularly impressive Pinewoods Treefrog, Hyla femoralis:
Cricket frog larva and adult:
We found only 4 tadpole species total in the pond; though I know of at least 6 species that breed there. From left to right: Barking Treefrog, Pinewoods Treefrog, Cricket Frog, Leopard Frog.
We also visited some other wetlands of interest in the area;
A seepage bog filled with sphagnum: a rare site in Florida.
And a cypress strand which hadn’t filled up for the wet season yet. in the high, dry strand itself we found this Lethocerus sp. under a board:
And nearby in a ditch was the last water in the immediate area:
But even in this primordial soup was life – seminole killifish, mosquitofish, black acara and one watersnake (not captured for obvious reasons). Dr. Dorn was brave enough to sample the puddle with a bar seine – you can see the contents in the background and one of the seminole killifish in the foreground.
and a Black Acara:
And in the sand nearby were plenty of Oak Toads living it up in their post-metamorphic life.
And one last site to briefly dip-net for the day; the fish-filled site 5. Not much going on here besides fish, unfortunately.
Finally, the last week of field work involved going to the Loxahatchee River via the Riverbend Park put-in. It was some people’s first time in Kayaks; so an interesting time for sure.
Turtles were aplenty:
I even outfoxed a couple with the dipnet.
Hazards were many:
We did some dipnetting, including a couple in the group trying to net some big fish at one of the dams.
…and crabs among the snail beds:
I wanted to dip this Vallisneria (Tapegrass), but the flow was a little too quick:
And on our lunch break I took to looking for snakes:
And was rewarded soon thereafter with a Brown Watersnake, Nerodia taxispilota:
We also turned up some water lettuce at one of the dams, which provides excellent habitat for a wide range of herps and invertebrates:
more dragonfly naiads:
And the ever-abundant P. fallax
And also the invasive Insular Apple Snail
Then something amazing happened. I took a dip into the water lettuce and thought I’d gotten an amphiuma. On closer inspection it proved to be an American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) elver! I’d spent hours (and days) looking for these (and their predators) in Fisheating Creek; now to have one turn up haphazardly in a dip – wow.
We got two in one dip, this one and an even smaller elver – and then one of our group saw a larger (~2ft) one down by the second dam – it singlehandedly made an already-excellent class that much more worth it – need any more be said?
Thanks for viewing all, hope you enjoyed.