A Summer Of Research on the Belgrade Lakes Comes To An End For Biology and Environmental Studies Students

Corey recording data on the new boat.

After 9 weeks of research, we have studied 3 ponds, examined 72 research sites, taken 144 sediment samples, collected 144 macroinvertebrate samples, placed 72 algae traps to examine phosphorous levels, deployed 56 rock traps, performed 72 turbidity tests to examine water quality, and thrown 72 plankton tows to determine zooplankton concentrations.  Data analysis and sorting of specimens will continue throughout the upcoming school year.  Aspects of the data will be presented at the North American Lakes Management conference this November and a complete data analysis will be available in May 2013 at the Colby College Student Research Symposium (see Colby’s website for details).

Personally, it has been a joy to be a part of such a unique interdisciplinary program that encompasses such a diverse range of research.   For example, under the guidance of Professor Bruce Rueger, the Geology Department made sediment maps of entire lakes.  Later this year, we can match sediment trends to our research sites to determine where shoreline development ceases to affect the sediment type. Students in the Chemistry Department and Professor Whitney King have helped us through many troublesome moments and have also contributed valuable research on the tipping point of eutrophication.    In addition, we look forward to comparing our data on water quality to the demographic maps that Economics students and Professor Donihue created this summer to see any trends or connections between water quality, population and property values in the Belgrade Lakes Watershed.  Nick Kondiles ’13 also examined ‘Sense of Place,’ which we found was a crucial part of the community of the Belgrade Lakes Watershed.  Support for our project and the willingness of homeowners to allow us to use their properties for research stems from their desire to help sustain the home that they love.  We look forward to next summer, when we hope to see an even higher level of integrated research from multiple departments at Colby College.

As the summer comes to a close, I asked some of my co-workers to reflect on their experiences on the Belgrade Lakes this summer.  Marianne Ferguson ’14 said “this summer was definitely a learning experience for me.  I learned that everything in the field doesn’t always go as you may plan.”   Corey Reichler ’13 said that “this summer was an invaluable experience and I am very grateful for the wonderful opportunity that Colby College and the Belgrade Lakes Watershed provided.”  Corey and Marianne’s words perfectly described all 6 of our experiences.  We not only worked well together, each of us the compliment of the other, but we also had a team of approximately 25 people that we could reach out to for support.  We had two invaluable professors, Russell Cole and Cathy Bevier and a great T.A, Abby Pearson.  We received a lot of help in the field from Laura Morin ’14, Chris Greenlee ’14, Grace Reville ’14 and Erzsebet Nagy.Corey was spot on with her reflection; we truly had an invaluable experience.   We learned an immense amount this summer and stuck it out through rain, thunder, wind, lost traps, and little mishaps here and there.  We are truly grateful to have the opportunity to study and possibly improve the health of the Belgrade Lakes.  Thank you for your patience, taking us into your homes, letting us use your bathrooms, feeding us meals, and most importantly for your overwhelming enthusiasm.  Without the efforts and excitement of the Belgrade community, our research would be pointless.

Enjoy the rest of the summer on your lakes and continue to be involved!

Stay Smart,

Emily Arsenault ’14, Colin Cummings ’14, Monica Davis ’13, Marianne Ferguson ’14, Drew Mealor ’14, and Corey Reichler ’13

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