OSCAR Student, Chris Martin, Works on Food Web Analysis

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My absolute favorite part of the OSCAR research experience has been putting together the data collected and analyzing it for meaning.  In this photograph, I was presenting the culmination of the entire summer’s research project at the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center (PEREC).  It was such an amazing experience to be able to perform my own research, connect the dots of all the data, and be able to say, “This is what I now know about this research that was unknown before”.  It was truly an awe-inspiring feeling!  (Even if it left me with 20 more questions than I had had before).

And now for a bit of shameless ego stroking.  I was particularly proud of the food web I created in this photograph.  This specifically filled me with pride as it combined several different avenues of research into a singular cohesive, meaningful piece.  I took the results from the stable isotope analysis and combined them with the results of the stomach content analysis to create a food web.  This food web displayed input percentages of carbon and nitrogen from external sources into the aquatic ecosystem, calculated the specific trophic levels of each organism, and connected each organism to its consumer.  By doing this, we can now see what is coming into the food web from where, and how it is moving through the food web once it has entered.  To me, that is pretty darn cool.

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