Tracking Stream Metabolic Regimes in Austin-area Waterways

The Stream Metabolism branch of the FRI Urban Ecosystems research stream has been conducting research on the metabolic processes that drive energy exchange in Waller Creek. In addition, our team also has the goal of understanding the impact of a water restoration facility in the middle of Waller Creek. Dataloggers that record Dissolved Oxygen (DO), light penetration, pressure, and temperature have been placed at 4 sites along Waller Creek. Two of the loggers in Waller Creek have been

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Leaky Waders, Airtight Bonds


               Ultimately, the purpose of the Urban Ecosystems Research Stream is to study and understand the effects of restoration and urbanization on Waller Creek. Understanding how humans affect our surroundings on a small scale (the creek) can help us create a more comprehensive picture of how our species affects the environment as a whole. I could write about how this entails analyzing numerous amounts of complex data

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Team Chemistry

The Chemistry Team in the Urban Ecosystems stream have been conducting “canned” experiments. These experiments have procedures that already written out for students to follow, and are designed to help us become familiar with the instruments that we will use later for our independent research. My team conducted two canned experiments. One of these was designed to find the amount of caffeine in two different samples of coffee using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry. It was important for us to become familiar with this instrument so that we can use it to determine the amount of

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Glyphosate’s Impact on the Environment and Humans

Pesticides were introduced as a way to combat insects or other organisms that harmed cultivated plants or animals. They were intended to make life for humans simpler, nonetheless, the overuse of these products has led to dangerous consequences that threaten the careful balance of nature. Glyphosate is a major ingredient in Monsanto’s popular pesticide, Roundup. As is the case for all other pesticides, it is possible for glyphosate to be transported in stormwater runoff, contaminating nearby bodies of water. My research plan is to study the glyphosate

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Waller Creek Bacterial Snapshot

Three weeks ago, on January 31st, students from the Urban Ecosystem stream in UT’s Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) met at their lab at 9AM and proceeded to collect water samples from Waller Creek at sites around Austin. These students belonged to two research teams within the stream: Naturalized E.Coli, and Molecular Source Tracking & Fecal Indicator Bacteria (MSTFIB). We sought to establish a baseline bacterial level for the creek, or in other words, figure out what the average bacterial levels were for the 12 sites we sampled. Some of our sites were north of campus (Hancock

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The Value of Formal/Informal Green Spaces

The FRI’s Urban Ecosystem stream has a purpose of assessing the relations, health, and values of green spaces within cities. We focus on the health of city environments so that it may be easier for policy makers and other influencers to make important decisions based on concrete, relevant, and reliable data. The Habitat Assessment team, the branch of the UE stream in which I am a part of, has a goal to help shape the value of our urban ecosystems. We want to be able to take the greenery from cities and turn it

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Learning Curves and Teaching Labs

In the Urban Ecosystems stream, we frequently analyze data through the creation of calibration curves. A calibration curve is a plot of absorbance (y-axis) vs. a minimum of three standards against their known concentrations (x-axis). Calibration curves allow researchers to determine the concentration of a substance in an unknown sample by comparing the unknown to a set of standard samples of known concentration. For the project that I am on, LCMS (liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry), calibration curves are an integral part of our research. However, I would argue that there is one

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Coyote spotted in Waller riparian area

12 January 2018 

A new species for Waller Creek?!  This is the first documented coyote, Canis latrans, that we know of on Waller Creek. A neighbor spotted it walking along the riparian area of Waller Creek at Hancock golf course. Coyotes are a natural part of our ecosystem and are not a threat to people. It is encouraging that coyotes find Waller Creek a suitable habitat, but these are wild animals that should not be treated like pets -- including not feeding them. Check the City of Austin 

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