Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tiny Creatures and Water Chemistry

A recent article in the online and print magazine Aeon brought light to the subterranean world of the ocean deep, a world governed in part by pteropods, a type of plankton, whose population stability has been affected by the changing PH of ocean water:

"Researchers are also doing their best to glamorise pteropods, in an attempt to garner public attention and funding. They are trying to rebrand pteropods and their ilk as ‘charismatic microfauna’ and with good reason. The roiling drama of the planktonic world is wilder than any savannah or jungle. It is a theatre of ambush predators, hermaphrodites and mucus-hurling cannibals."

PH, water quality, and the close-up study of tiny organisms are important parts of the Mountain Institute's educational program up at TMI, and visiting students study the links between stream life, stream habitat, and stream chemistry to understand the complexity of water health. Take a look at the relevant article in Aeon and look at our website for more information on our watershed programming.

Students study the role of iron and conductivity in the stream ecosystem.
A student tests sample water for dissolved oxygen.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Trail Maintenance Program will run again in 2014

Salamander egg treasure.
Collecting and cutting wood.
The Spruce Knob Mountain Center is located in West Virginia, a beautiful state of mountain, rivers, and forests. More than 80% of West Virginia is forested, home to a variety of ecosystems which support a huge biodiversity of salamanders, a thriving population of cold-water loving brook trout, and big-footed snowshoe rabbits.  In part because of excessive logging at the turn of the 20th century, the West Virginia state government took early measures to buy and restore cut-over land and create protected areas. Close to the Spruce Knob Mountain Center lies the Monongahela National Forest and several areas of managed wilderness, within which many kids get the opportunity to camp, backpack, and explore for the first time. With the creation of the Mountain Trail Monitors program in 2013, many young adults also get to participate in trail maintenance and land conservation. In the summer of 2014, the program will run again and be open to interested high-school students. The program, a service-learning alternative to traditional summer camp, is free of charge; food and supplies are provided for. For more information on the program, visit, check out the article on MTM in our newsletter, browse some news coverage, or read a few first-hand stories on our blog from 2013. 
Tromping through the woods.

Credits: First two photos from the archives, third one is Gilman students in Fall, 2013.