Articles from Field Dispatches

Testing hypotheses in artificial streams

November 15, 2016 - 9:33pm by Anonymous (not verified)

Ella has been able to collect detailed data on gas emissions from 13 hippo pools, in addition to the 12 hippo pools we sampled last year. This will give her a nice range of hippo density and river flow level in order to test how these two factors influence gas emission levels. However, all the variability often present in the field can often make it difficult to accurately determine the influence of various factors, so Ella designed an experiment in the artificial streams to test her hypotheses more directly.

Greenhouse gases from hippo pools

November 15, 2016 - 9:17pm by Anonymous (not verified)

Over the last few weeks, Ella has been collecting water samples from a lot of different hippo pools in order to measure how hippo pools may contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases. Hippos load a lot of carbon into pools through feces, and as that feces decomposes, it uses up the oxygen in the water and the decomposition process emits greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Ella is studying how the number of hippos and flow of the river influence the quantity of greenhouse gases being emitted. 

Thank you Caitlin!

November 14, 2016 - 11:57am by Anonymous (not verified)

It’s been a really busy few weeks! James’s experiment is underway, Ella is busy collecting samples in the field and Chris is getting ready to start a big experiment. Fortunately, our friend Caitlin Staley came in to help with fieldwork this week. Caitlin is a senior in high school in Nairobi, and she is interested in pursuing a science degree in college, so we were excited to give her some field experience in ecology… and super grateful to have her help!

Can we make a hippo pool in a bottle?

November 13, 2016 - 10:36pm by Anonymous (not verified)

This summer Chris set up one of the big experiments for his dissertation. He is interested in studying the influence of the microbial community on biogeochemical cycling in the bottom of a hippo pool, and the interacting effects of carbon loading and microbial community structure on those effects. He came up with a really clever way to test this by developing small “hippo pools” in 1 liter bottles, which allowed him to have lots of replication across different treatments. In total, he set up around 150 bottles!

The migration

November 10, 2016 - 12:02am by Anonymous (not verified)

We drove up to the Old Mara Bridge today and could see huge expanses of the wildebeest herd as far as the eye could see, meandering across the savanna in straight lines, as they follow individuals they’ve seemingly randomly picked as the leader. 

James' Farewell

November 9, 2016 - 11:56pm by Anonymous (not verified)

After 6 weeks of studying, sampling and running an experiment in the Mara, it’s time for James to head home. For his farewell dinner, we pulled out all the stops with bacon cheeseburgers and cold Tuskers! 

The Yale Mara Field Crew

November 9, 2016 - 11:27pm by Anonymous (not verified)

We have had a great team of folks in the field this summer. David was able to come for 3 weeks, to help teach the food web course and start two big experiments, and it was so great to have him in the field for that long. His visit also overlapped with both Ella and James’s trips, so we had our full Yale team together. Good folks make all the difference in fieldwork, and this season, we truly couldn’t have had a better team.