So we’ve survived the practical remembering the species names exam, and apparently most people did really well! Congratulations to most people! Pat on the back to those of us who are just glad to have been able to write something down.
Our reward for finishing that exam is a) writing a report (that isn’t part of the grading system, and will be covered elsewhere) and b) sitting another exam! This is more my kind of exam, well, please note I am saying that before the exam happens. But it’s 4 long answer questions, over 5 hours although we aren’t expected to stay for the whole thing. So basically we’ll get a few questions which you have to answer with a short essay, including concepts that we’ve read about in the papers (cause I’m sure we’ll all have read the papers) and that have been in lectures. It’ll be fun! Why? Cause we get to think! Rather than just remember how to spell things, although it’s looking like I’ll have to remember how to spell Euphausiids.. hmmm..
So, I have decided, very generously, to share with you the studying for this exam. It’ll be wild, it’ll be wicked, and god forbid! It might even be educational too! I might add in little cartoons for you. We’ll see how much I want to procrastinate.
So, firstly, we’ve gone through and got all the questions that have been written into the powerpoint presentations we’ve had, these include:
How does oceanography affect benthic biota? – I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “Probably a lot”
Are all fjords alike? Or all locations in a fjord? – Again, out on a limb, “Probably no”
Are there characteristic Arctic and Atlantic communities? – “mmmyyyeeesssss”
How will climate driven changes in oceanography impact Arctic benthic systems? – Temptation to say “Many lots”
What factors might determine depth zonation in Arctic Benthos? – Good question
How are structure and function linked? – You remember the mud slicing and worm identifying loyal readers? That’s to answer this one
What is required to determine whether a system has been impacted? – Quite a vague question, but always always always need to start with an understanding of the baselines, ie. What it was like before
What are the benefits and drawbacks of using the benthos to study impacts? – There’s a really big one, it doesn’t move a lot!
What is different about the Arctic? – Looking for something a little more meaningful than “it’s cold”
How can climate change impact benthos and higher level predators? – Good question
How do we detect changes and uncover the responsible mechanisms? – We could employ Sherlock Holmes, or get our brilliant science hats on
How can we use the benthos to reconstruct past climate? – This is actually really awesome, and you can use mussels (among other things)
You should feel free to jot down your own answers to these questions as we go, just as you should feel free to dust on top of the fridge or send in every single work related receipt to the tax department.
So what’s next?
We’ll read some papers and come up with some answers to those questions and more.
Right now I have a very exciting paper open in front of me, from 2008, looking at shrimp recruitment and the factors that result in lots of shrimp and the factors that result in not so many shrimp. This is important because lots of people like to eat shrimp (though personally I am a prawn person). Good old Pandalus borealis. Basically all sorts of things impact on how many shrimp you get in the next year. And you can see some of them below (and possibly the reason I followed science rather than graphic design as a career).
The Shrimp and Euphausiids compete, so the more Euphausiids the less shrimp.
As one might expect, the more baby shrimp you have one year the more toddler shrimp you'll get the next year.
And then baby cod eat baby shrimp, so the more baby cod the less baby shrimp.
It's only slightly more complicated than that, because at different ages the shrimp are more or less vulnerable to different factors,
But there you go, you learnt something! And so did I.
Happy days are here again.
Now only 30 papers to go