Students Examine Turtles, CAFO Impact on Water
While their friends were studying abroad, doing internships or simply enjoying their break, some chemistry and biology students at Alma College spent the summer on campus working on a variety of research projects with faculty.
Not only were the students conducting research, they practiced presenting their work. Every Wednesday throughout the summer, students and faculty gathered for a lunch and presentation. Each student had a chance to present their research and findings and answer questions from other students and faculty.
Clarklake junior Darren Shaw, working with Larry Wittle, professor emeritus of biology, studied the effects of light on turtle pigment. Past research from faculty biologists John Rowe and David Clark found that if turtles were exposed to light, they would be light colored; if they lived for a period of time in a dark environment, they would be dark. In addition, if their habitats were switched after a period of time, their colors would also change.
Turtles were the objects of summer research.
Shaw found that a particular hormone, MSH, is released in turtles in darker environments, making their bodies darker. His theory was confirmed when he injected the hormone into a light turtle, turning it darker. He demonstrated the power of the hormone to the group, using a lizard because it changes color more quickly. After the injection, the green lizard started turning brown after about 30 seconds and was completely brown within two minutes.
St. Louis, Mich., senior Charles Bunce worked with Rowe and Clark collecting threatened spotted turtles from Yankee Springs near Hastings and running spectral analysis on various parts of their body — spots on the shell, spots on the head, and the chin.
“Our hope is to see if there is any change in the intensity of their coloration over the months,” Bunce says. “If so, this sets us up for experiments in the future to determine why exactly it is that they change.”
Alma junior Mallory Quackenbush worked with geology instructor Murray Borrello on a geochemistry analysis of water samples taken upstream and downstream of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. She is measuring and observing the nutrient loading impacts of these facilities on the streams over the course of the summer.
“I am interested in agricultural processes and the most efficient and beneficial farming practices,” she says.
Posted: Thu, August 27th, 2009 at 8:43AM