Aquatic Ecosystems Analysis Course


Sampling in Waquoit Bay. Credit: Helena McMonagle

Aquatic Ecosystems Analysis Course Overview
The core course lectures cover both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems from the point of view of biogeochemistry and important ecological processes. In the field and laboratory we will start out in the first eight weeks of the core courses with an intensive study focused mainly on local ecosystems –ponds and estuaries within the Waquoit Bay watershed adjacent to Vineyard Sound, West Falmouth Harbor on Buzzards Bay, and grassland, forest and suburban sites in the towns of Mashpee and Falmouth, MA.

Sampling for plankton. Credit: Tom Kleindinst

Collecting plankton for aquatic lab. Credit: Tom Kleindinst

Aquatic Field Work Sites
There are four local sites used for aquatic fieldwork that offer an array of conditions to be studied: West Falmouth Harbor, Childs River/Waquoit Bay, John’s Pond, and Sider’s Pond.

West Falmouth Harbor: Small salt water embayment adjacent to Buzzards Bay on the west coast of Falmouth that is impacted by the plume from the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Child’s River/Waquoit Bay: This is a system of small estuaries on the outwash plain along the south coast of Falmouth. This site has been eutrophied by groundwater contaminated with nitrogen from septic systems in densely settled sections of the watershed, resulting in the disappearance of eel grass in this system.

John’s Pond: A freshwater kettle hole pond with a deep basin (~ 20 meters) that is seasonally stratified.

Sider’s Pond: A salt- stratified meromictic pond about 15 meters deep that displays strong vertical gradients in oxygen, sulfate, nitrate and ammonia, which illustrates anaerobic processes in marine and brackish water systems.