Summer students study Belgrade
A group of six interns from the College spent their summers conducting research on the Belgrade Lakes. Under the guidance of Oak Professor of Biological Sciences Russell Cole and Associate Professor of Biology Cathy Bevier, Emily Arsenault ’14, Colin Cummings ’14, Monica Davis ’13, Marianne Ferguson ’14, Drew Mealor ’14 and Corey Reichler ’13 studied the shorelines of three different ponds and 72 research sights in order to determine the effects of development on lake health. They also worked in conjunction with other groups on the Hill working on the Belgrade Lakes at the time.
The group of interns built upon the progress made by College interns in previous summers, this time adding a third type of sight to their research. The students had previously studied and compared the effects of developed areas and undeveloped areas on lake health, but this year, they also looked at developed areas that have environmental precautions in place. Their goal was to determine whether any of the precautions, such as increased vegetation or using specific fertilizers to avoid pesticides, would affect lake health.
According to Davis’ write-up in a blog detailing the intern’s summer research, the students collected “144 sediment samples, 144 macro invertebrate samples, placed 72 algae traps to examine phosphorous levels, deployed 56 rock traps, performed 72 turbidity tests to examine water quality and thrown 72 plankton tows to determine zooplankton concentrations.” They will use these findings to analyze overall lake health and see what areas are particularly problematic.
The interns were self-sufficient in utilizing a new College pontoon boat to travel around the sights and gather research from the shorelines. As a result, they gained new skills and learned to overcome challenges. “I can recognize sediment types, look at insects and see where there was a difference between the different development areas,” said Arsenault. “I also enjoyed being outside and I developed different skills, like learning how to drive a boat.”
There were challenges, however, to navigating the water on their own, such as mending broken boat equipment. On the interns’ research blog, Ferguson wrote that “this summer was definitely a learning experience for me. I learned that everything in the field doesn’t always go as planned.” Reichler, who also commented in the blog, said, “This summer was an invaluable experience and I am very grateful for the wonderful opportunity that Colby College and the Belgrade Lakes Watershed provided.”
The students and their advisors, who spent much of the summer in the lab monitoring the researchers’ findings, will extend aspects of their internship into the fall and spend time analyzing the information gathered in the field this summer. Some of the research will be presented at the North American Lakes Management conference this fall, with the full research being presented in May at the Colby Student Research Symposium.