Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology: Video Transcript

Narrator: Miami students can explore a variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats at field research sites that are located just minutes from campus. At the university's Ecology Research Center, undergraduate and graduate students conduct ecological studies with their faculty mentors or complete projects as part of their classes.

Andrew Fielding [senior]: So it's been a great opportunity. I've learned a whole lot [such as] how to identify different plants. I've probably learned 30 different plants, that I never knew, in the past 3 days. So that's been going well. I've been developing a website for the project.

Narrator: In tanks that simulate shallow aquatic habitats, students investigate the effects of pesticides on tadpoles and frogs.

Chris Distel [Ph.D. candidate]: We're really concerned about amphibians because they're declining all over the world…which is a big problem, because amphibians are really valuable. Some of the predatory species tend to eat aquatic invertebrates, like mosquitoes, which can have major effects on mosquito outbreaks and problems that people can experience in their everyday lives. Tadpoles, young frogs, also eat algae and they are a major herbivore in aquatic systems. So problems with algae can be controlled, in many cases, by an abundance of tadpoles. Now, our work is interested in how pesticides, particularly the short-lived insecticide carbaryl, interact with competition between 2 species of tadpoles. And we have found that, in the presence of carbaryl, competition is changed. The species that you'd expect to be the superior competitor in many situations is no longer the superior competitor. The other species begins to have a competitive edge and our concern is that in many areas, even with low doses of contamination from pesticides, we can start to see one species that's typically abundant getting edged out by another species. And that can lead to declines…and losses of amphibian species can lead to algal blooms, mosquito outbreaks and, in my opinion, one of the saddest things, [a reduction in] the valuable biodiversity that we have in this part of Ohio.

Ben Bulen [senior]: So, coming to Miami, I didn't think I'd want to do research but then I got here and…it's a great program they have that Miami offers. So I got into the lab and I really enjoy it. It's not just sitting around staring at computers all day. We're out here. We're actually doing very interesting work with amphibians and it's a great opportunity.

Narrator: Here students observe and document prairie vole behavior within small animal enclosures.

Miami students also participate in research at nearby Hueston Woods State Park. They study larval fish habitats at Acton Lake and perform water quality analyses of the streams that feed this lake.

Kelly Bricker [Master's candidate]: Working in the Vanni lab and, especially my education here at Miami University, has taught me that science should definitely be taught hands-on and I hope to take that with me into the classroom when I go to teach high school biology…try and get as many hands-on experiments and field research and outdoor work as I can fit into the classroom, as well as the lecture material that [my students will] need to succeed later on.

Narrator: These samples are then examined in one of the university's research labs.

Andrew Skinner [senior]: Working in a lab as an undergraduate was a pretty big opportunity and something I've really strived for being at Miami University. I had a class with Dr. Gonzalez and she mentioned to the class that she had a position available so I approached her and was given the opportunity to work in her lab and I've been doing so for the past 2 years. I work here over the summers and throughout the school year — working on research projects, helping graduate students with their work.

Narrator: If you have a strong interest in learning about the natural world and improving the environment, check out field research opportunities at Miami University.

[June 2009]