Saturday, July 15, 2017

Randomness

Well, friends, it's been over a week since my last post, so I suppose I should catch you up on what's been happening in the lab.

The fouling panels in Eel Pond are beginning to show very promising results. (Ok, let's be honest, they've been showing good results for a while.) There are now obvious, macroscopic differences between panels with different removal treatments, and I'm getting very excited about my data. (I love when my fouling panels have significant differences!)

Check out the photo below. These are three fouling panels from three different treatments, deployed right next to each other in Eel Pond. You can see right away how different they are. The panel on the left is in the "remove nothing" treatment, and you can see that a large percentage of the panel is covered by Botryllus schlosseri - that's a black ascidian that grows in sheets. However, there are also a number of yellow tree-like bryozoan colonies on the right side of the panel. It's a good mix.

The panel in the middle shows a very different community, because this panel is in the "remove ascidians" treatment. As you can see, it is dominated by those tree-like bryozoans, but it also has some flat, encrusting bryozoans - the orange circles at the top. The panel on the right is in the "remove hydroids" treatment, and it again is very different. It has some of that black colonial ascidian, Botryllus schlosseri, in the bottom right corner, but it's mostly dominated by Ascidiella aspersa, a solitary ascidian. Those are the large, blob-like animals covering most of the panel. I have no idea why a fouling panel that had its hydroids removed would come to be dominated by a different species than a panel with nothing removed.

Three fouling panels in different experimental treatments in Eel Pond.
For the record, there are four other "remove hydroids" panels in my experiment, and not all of them are dominated by Ascidiella. I think there's an element of randomness in my experiment: some panels were just colonized by a species that grew and took over.

My results are getting ever more interesting as the summer goes on. I look forward to analyzing the data!

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