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THE ENSO Phase III Community

Welcome to Phase III of the ENSO Student Research Campaign: "Water in Our Environment". You can share ideas, upload documents and post questions.

If you join this Community as a member, you will receive an email from other members who post to the forum, and your posts will be sent to everyone, so join us and start posting!

The group that was involved in the Global Water Quality Collaboration (GWQCG) will now be conducting their study on the GENESIS thread under the ENSO III Project. Please follow the link if you are interested in joining, participating or interested in following their work.

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Amazing Organism Area

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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

Amazing Organism Area

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
There is an old saying where I come from that goes: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Please use this area to put in a picture of any organism that is of interest to you as well as some information about it. Fishing off my in-laws dock in Florida I baited my hook with a shrimp and pull in a sting ray. The stingray has a sharp, venomous barb on top of its body where the tail joins the trunk. The barb is bony with serrated edges and very sharp tip. The venom is toxic and can actually be deadly to humans. If you swim in the waters of the west coast of Florida, you need to do the stingray shuffle, pushing your feet along the sand to "scare" the stingray out of your path. I have attached a picture of my stingray below. So what lives near you thats more interesting than that??
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Amazing Organism Area

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
 Good News Section - Below is a picture of a "sea cow" aka manatee. Good news for these for these aquatic mammals from a CNN Internet article is: "Citing significant improvements in its population and habitat conditions and reductions in direct threats, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed downlisting the West Indian Manatee from "Endangered" to "Threatened" under the Endangered Species Act." My in-laws live in Edgewater, Florida and have as many as 14 of these beauties living in the canal a block from their house. Manatee Fun Facts: Their teeth grow throughout their lifetime (no visits to the dentist), they can eat up to 10% of their body weight each day (don't I wish) and they were once thought to be mermaids (rumor has it the way the light was reflected caused sailors not to be able to see them clearly). Anybody else have some good news??
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Amazing Organism Area

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
Even as a child I was very interested in water (as shown by the photo below). It was amazing how just watching it could keep me busy for hours. It wasn't until later on that I learned many of the unique properties of this substance such as: excellent solvent, low viscosity and high mobility of liquid water, high surface tension, expansion on freezing and reaction with carbon dioxide which are just a few used in the erosion and weathering of rock. As taken from the book "The Wonder of Water", according to geographer Yi-Fu Tuan, Chemist John Dalton (of Dalton's Law of Partial Pressure fame) in a celebrated paper he read to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical society in 1799 asserted that the fitness of this great cycle of life on Earth (aka. the water cycle) and especially its ensuring that terrestrial regions receive an endless supply of water is relatively self-evident and was one of the first elements of natural fitness allluded to as evidence of providence. So why do you study water?
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Amazing Organism Area

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
In America we honor our veterans today during Memorial Day. Here is a good news veteran story: One-quarter of the world’s marine life call coral reefs home. Not only are these reefs some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet, they provide food, protection, income, and new medicines, generating $375 billion in goods and services each year. Sadly, 60% of the world’s coral reefs are either dead or in decline. Scientists have discovered, however, that our reefs are incredibly resilient if stresses are removed. The reefs can be saved, but time is of the essence.Combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan know a pain and trauma that is so concentrated, it is almost impossible to work through. On top of this, converting military training to non-military work only makes things worse. FORCE BLUE is the answer for both these American heroes and coral reefs in trouble.FORCE BLUE trains select Special Operations veterans to preserve and restore coral reefs by transplanting coral to ensure its survival, removing invasive species, and working to relieve other man-made stressors. One such veteran is FORCE BLUE co-founder and Recon Marine Rudy Reyes, who portrayed himself in the HBO TV series Generation Kill. Rudy is a highly decorated veteran of multiple combat deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa. Rudy also struggles with PTS, and has faced endless difficulties transitioning back to civilian life. At one point, Rudy even spent a full year in rehab for what he openly admits was his addiction to “drugs, alcohol, and violence.”Rudy, like so many veterans, feel lost upon returning home from deployment due to lack of a positive mission and a team to help carry out that mission. For over a decade, Rudy operated as a highly trained Special Forces combat diver, but had never been recreational SCUBA diving before. This changed when he took a diving trip to the Cayman Islands. One friend stated by the second day Rudy’s smile was back…and by day four, his purpose. Shortly after, the idea was hatched to bring in more of his Recon Marine brothers from all branches of service, in addition to marine scientists and coral reef conservationists to form FORCE BLUE.For these veterans, putting their training to use once again for a positive purpose is life changing. For coral reefs and the world, their work will go a long way to saving these much needed ecosystems.  Thank you veterans for all you do!!
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Amazing Organism Area

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
Making a Difference Monday (sorry, I'm a day late with this)
When I retired, I became a volunteer at Mote Marine Labs in Sarasota Florida.
Here is one of the cool things their people are involved with.

New College Student Constance Sartor scuba dives in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Credit: Constance Sartor

Corals that tolerate heat stress may harbor different bacteria than others, reports a New College undergraduate thesis study conducted in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This critical information may help scientists find or raise corals more resilient to increasing temperatures projected with climate change. For her undergraduate thesis for New College of Florida, senior Constance “Coco” Sartor worked with Mote Marine Laboratory Staff Scientist Dr. Erinn Muller to study a unique batch of corals in Hurricane Hole, U.S. Virgin Islands, which were particularly resilient during a coral bleaching event caused by elevated temperatures in 2004-2005. Sartor examined which  bacteria were associated with three main coral species: Orbicella annularis (boulder star coral), Diploria labyrinthiformis (grooved brain coral), and Colpophyllia natans (large-grooved brain coral) to understand how they may relate to heat tolerance.[font=tablet-gothic, “Most corals can only withstand small thermal thresholds, so when you find corals that show remarkable heat tolerance like those in Hurricane Hole, you wonder if they may be able to withstand our rapidly changing climate,” Sartor said. “Corals may seem super simple upon first glance, but they’ve got this whole ecosystem of hundreds or thousands of bacteria thriving within. If you want to understand a coral’s heat tolerance, you not only look at the coral itself, but also its unique bacterial signature which is indicative to its regional success.” A coral colony comprises coral animals called polyps that have mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationships with both bacteria and zooxanthellae, the resident algae that give corals their color. Corals worldwide are threatened by climate change impacts such as temperature increases and ocean acidification, coral disease caused by harmful bacteria and other microscopic life forms, pollution, overfishing and more. When corals are stressed by things such as heat or acidification, the polyps force out the zooxanthellae. This is called coral bleaching and it is the cause of death for many corals. Within the past 15 years, scientists have found increasing evidence that temperature changes influence coral health and disease, including corals’ resident bacteria. For example, a 2008 report of research led by Mote scientist Muller demonstrated for the first time that elkhorn corals had more outbreaks of white pox disease during heat stress. The corals that bleached became likelier to die from the disease. In 2006, published research by Dr. Kim Ritchie showed that stress from warming water could leave elkhorn coral with fewer beneficial bacteria and more disease-causing bacteria. Today, scientists want to understand why some corals survive heat stress better than others — important knowledge for nursery-raising hardy corals to restore depleted reefs. In 2004-2005, coral colonies in some parts of Hurricane Hole, Virgin Islands, were not as affected by the bleaching event as those in other areas. Mote Marine Laboratory, in partnership with Dr. Caroline Rogers from the U.S. Geological Survey and Dr. Ross Cunning of the University of Miami, developed a major research project to determine the influence that both the bacterial community and the zooxanthellae have on the corals’ ability to tolerate heat. Sartor’s research focused on the bacterial microbiome — in this case, the collection of different bacteria associated with an individual coral or coral species. The project was funded by a NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program grant awarded to Muller in 2016.[font=tablet-gothic, In February 2017, participating researchers took samples of corals from Hurricane Hole and from nearby reefs that suffered greater impacts from previous bleaching and disease events. After processing, they found that certain bacterial groups had higher relative abundance in resilient corals at Hurricane Hole compared with less resilient corals at the other reef sites. This difference between sites came in multiple “versions,” specific to each coral species. “We have a better idea of what the bacterial community looks like in the corals in the resilient site,” Sartor said. Prior to this study, no one knew what made the corals in Hurricane Hole resilient; however, now, “we have found a certain bacterial signature that may influence [the corals’] resilience.” One of the next steps is to sample corals in other resilient sites and to determine commonalities among the bacteria. Through identifying similar bacteria between corals in Hurricane Hole and other resilient sites, researchers can try to determine the ecology of those bacteria as well as their potential as probiotics. If beneficial bacteria are identified as key players within the microbiome of corals, then scientists can screen for their presence in other corals in the wild. Additional, scientists may ultimately even be able to treat corals with a probiotic to increase their resilience.
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Amazing Organism Area

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
Crazy Caddiesflies
If any of you have done studies involving macroinvertebrates with water quality studies you will probably know that the three main groups that indicate good water quality are Mayflies, Stoneflies and Caddiesflies. The last group has always intrigued me because of its ability to build their own houses. An artist named Hubert Dubrat found an interesting way to use this amazing skill of this organism. See below at the end of interesting facts.

INTERESTING FACTS (From EcoSpark website)

  • While caddisfly larvae tend to closely resemble caterpillars, caterpillars have many appendages along their abdominal segment (called prolegs). Caddisfly larvae, however, have only a single pair located near the tip of the abdomen.
  • The cases that caddisfly larvae construct provide protection from predators, but also provide camouflage, helping them blend into their surroundings. Caddisfly larvae have very soft bodies, and the case also acts as a barrier from the abrasive substrate.
  • Caddisflies are closely related to butterflies and moths.
  • The shape of the cases, along with the types of materials used to create them, vary between different caddisfly species.
  • When the female goes underwater to lay her eggs, she can stay under for up to 30 minutes while she glues her eggs to submerged rocks and vegetation. She does this by using air that is trapped on her tiny hairs for oxygen.
  • An artist named Hubert Dubrat uses caddisflies to create unique sculptural forms. He removes caddisfly larvae from their existing cases, and then places them into an environment containing such materials as gold flakes, precious gems, and pearls, and leaves them to make cases out of these materials. Since he started experimenting in the 1980s, other companies have used this method to create jewellery that can be sold.
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Amazing Organism Area

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
I'm not sure what it is like where you are but between the rain we have been getting and the sunshine, the flowers produced by the plants have been amazing (as seen by the pictures of my wife's lillies). Make a difference today! Go out and plant a tree or just take a walk in a natural area and enjoy the beauty and complexity around you.
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Amazing Organism Area

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
Make a difference Monday!  (Lessons from Nature)
A friend of mine gave me a grape vine while I was shopping at our local hardware store. After going home and planting it, I watched as it grew. The branches extended far beyond the vine but I noticed it was not producing any fruit. (photo #1) After a quick search on the Internet, it said that grape vines will put all of their energy into increasing the size of their branches if they are not pruned or cut back in the spring. I tried this and much to my delight the plant is loaded with grapes this year! (photo #2) Once pruned, the plant used the extra energy to produce fruit. Life Application: Many of use get so busy with many things, we fail to be truly productive because we are spread too thin. By prioritizing what we do and cutting out extra things, we are able to focus on what is truly important. (John 15)  Enjoy the day.
Side note: Since I am half Croatian a big shout out to my Croatian friends on yesterdays big victory over Denmark in the FIFA World Cup Finals. What a game. Next stop, Russia.
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Super Sunday News

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
It's official -- spending time outside is good for you: Living close to nature and spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits -- according to new research from the University of East Anglia. (Translation: The more time you spend doing water quality studies outside, the healthier you will be!)
A new report published today reveals that exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.Populations with higher levels of greenspace exposure are also more likely to report good overall health -- according to global data involving more than 290 million people. Green space' was defined as open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation as well as urban greenspaces, which included urban parks and street greenery.
"We found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with diverse and significant health benefits. It reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration."People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress.
In fact, one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people's levels of salivary cortisol -- a physiological marker of stress.
So this week go out and spend some time enjoying the wonders of nature (and while your at it, bring along some water quality testing kits :-)
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Make a Difference Monday

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
I live near the Hudson River in New York. A bunch of teachers went out on a canoe trip to Iona Island, one of the many tidal wetlands that help filter the river water. The NYS DEC is working on a project to take back the wetland that has been overtaken in the early 1990's by Phragmites australis, an invasive plant that produces a monoculture where it grows. They successfully remove the invasives using glyphosate and then allow nature to take its course. We saw areas that had been covered with phragmites returned to a state that included mostly native plants dominated by cattails. With the more natural conditions, a more diverse bird population has returned: 
At-risk species supported at this site include the Pied-billed Grebe
(migrant), Osprey (migrant), Bald Eagle (use Iona Island in winter),
Northern Harrier (migrant), and Golden-winged Warbler (possible
breeder, seen occasionally near reservoir in Doodletown). Other
species documented here include the Acadian Flycatcher, Louisiana
Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, and many other
common species. Doodletown supports an unusual diversity and
abundance of breeding warblers and other songbirds. More than 165
bird species have been documented at the site. Iona Island provides
wetland habitat for characteristic species.
It's Monday, go out and make a difference!
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Skipper Butterflies (or not)?

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
When is a butterfly not exactly a butterfly and a moth not exactly a moth? Skippers share characteristics with both and are sometimes hard to distinguish.Skippers are members of the Lepidoptera family that do not fit the cookie mold for either butterflies or moths. They are usually small and have a rapid, fluttering, 'skipping' flight style that is difficult to follow. They are classed in the family Hesperiidae and are not actually considered true butterflies, but they are more closely related to them than they are moths.Physical characteristics include antennae with a 'hook' on the end. Butterflies have clubbed antennae and moths have feathery antennae or simple straight filaments. Skippers have a thick, fuzzy body more in keeping with moths and larger compound eyes as well.These little guys are generally recognized by their dull brown, tan or pale gold colors and are often overlooked in the garden. It's a shame, because these are some of the most entertaining insects you can find. They have good eyesight and are seldom still for more than a few moments. They skip from flower to flower and prefer plants of the Asteraceae family.One of the most unique habits some Skippers have is the tendency to hold their fore wings and hind wings at two different angles. This gives them a little 'fighter jet' appearance and as as quick as they are, it is a great description. There are also spread-winged Skippers and those that hold their wings vertical. These tend to be larger members of the family, however they are still on the small side in the butterfly world.Some were spotted in our wetland (see photo below). I also saw some zipping around our butterfly bush in the back yard. They are fast!!
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Jewelweed (aka. touch-me-nots)

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
Jewelweed is a widespread and common plant that occurs in moist, semi-shady areas throughout northern and eastern North America. It often forms dense, pure stands in floodplain forests and around the forested edges of marshes and bogs. Jewelweed also colonizes disturbed habitats such as ditches and road cuts. It can be an aggressive competitor in its favored habitats, and is one of the few native North American plants that has been shown to compete successfully against garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), which is a non-native invasive weed that threatens many eastern North American forests.
Seed Dispersal
Seeds produced in insect pollinated flowers can be forcefully ejected up to two meters away from the parental plant. Physical disturbance of the seed pods such as by the touch of a passing animal can stimulate the sudden ejection of the seeds. This feature allows the genetically recombined seeds to be transported away from the growth zone of the parental plant and, thus, possibly be placed in an environment that is slightly different from that of the parent. This feature is also the source of two common names for jewelweed: “touch-me-nots” and “poppers.”
Human Uses
The leaves and stems of jewelweed contain fluids that are rich in the chemical “lawsone.” Lawsone has anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties that can ease the irritation of a number of types of dermatitis (including reactions to poison ivy, stinging nettle, and insect bites) and has also been used to help treat human fungal infections like athlete’s foot. The chemical name of lawsone is hennotannic acid. This orange-red dye can be extracted from the leaves and is used as a hair and skin coloring agent ("henna").
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Amazing Organism Area: Butterfly Bush

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
Nature is amazing. When I was younger, I learned about pioneer organisms and how they are the first ones to grow in very harsh conditions. The butterfly bush, unlike the lichens, was not a part of this group. However, it seems that this wonderful smelling plant that has been providing butterflies and skippers all summer with nectar has found a way to grow in conditions that would be considered not very hospitable. It is my hope that the members of the GENESIS group become like this bush, not just collecting data but figuring out ways to improve the conditions in their area. When I learned from our friends in Nigeria that the water they were testing contained bacteria that was making people sick, I prayed there was a way something could be done to help. A friend of mine gave me a book and in the book it talked about "Mission: Water for Life". This group provides wells for people around the world that don't have clean drinking water. I'm not sure how or if it would be possible to get this group to provide a well where this water in Africa was tested but I am looking into it. Hopefully, others can do the same in the areas they are working, seeking to make the world a better place. Enjoy the day.
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Dorian Wood Janney, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Amazing Organism Area

Padawan Posts: 46 Join Date: 7/13/12 Recent Posts
Water is essential to life- without freshwater, we can't live more than three days. As we search for life on other planets and moons- we are following those who may have water. All life as we know it must have water to survive. What could be more essential- and no wonder we simply are enhralled with water as we gaze at waterfalls, watch the waves pound the sand, and enjoy the stillness of a lake reflecting the landscape around it from its surface. 

Learning about the water in our environment: How do we get our freshwater in our region? Where does it come from? How do we know it is clean? Where are the different water bodies in our region? How is water used in our region? Do we have enough water to meet our needs? Are we impacted by having too much water during heavy rains?

All these are essential and meaningful ways for students to enage with GLOBE protocols and better understand the most essential resource they have in their region- and will also make them more understanding and better stewards for their environment. 
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Robert Connick, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Amazing Organism Area

Padawan Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/18/12 Recent Posts
Totally on board with creating students that will become good environmental stewards. Something special happens when you get the kids outside and away from technology (or at least getting them to use technology while they are outside). That is definitely one of the goals for GENESIS. Thanks for chiming in Dorian :-)

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