Tag Archives: research

Research Brings Invasive Jewel Cichlid to the End of the Line at the Brackenridge Field Lab

Ms. Laura Dugan and Commander Ben with captured invasive species

Earlier this year, I met Ms. Laura Dugan during a Science Under the Stars event at the University of Texas at Austin Brackenridge Field Laboratory, and she talked with me about how the invasive Jewel Cichlid shatters native ecosystems.

Ms. Dugan is pursing a doctoral degree in biology, and she is studying the effects that the invasive species, Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis guttatus), is having on the native species, Minckley’s Cichlid (Herichthys minckleyi), found in Northern Mexico.

She invited me to help her with her research.  I was a little nervous, since I had not worked on a university science project before, but I was looking forward to it because I thought that I could learn a lot and it could help in the fight against invasive species.  Plus it sounded like fun too!

Rounding up the usual suspects

Commander Ben hunting Jewel Cichlid at the Brackenridge Field Lab to help with invasive species research

For two days last week, I worked with Ms. Dugan to collect both the invasive Jewel Cichlid and the native Cichlid from the field lab’s outdoor circular water tanks.  These tanks were so big that I couldn’t put my arms around them even if I tried.  Some tanks just had invasives, just natives, or a mixture of both.  The tanks were covered with a net to keep fish from jumping out.

First, we put down the pipes for all the tanks so they could drain, and we turned off the inflow of water.  We gave the tanks a few minutes to drain about 3/4 of the way down.

With the water drained, it was easier to catch the fish.  We used larger nets for the adults and smaller ones for the babies, the “fry”.  Both types of fish liked to hide in the algae, but they were no match for us. We caught a lot!

We put the fish in pickle buckets with water, and we wrote the tank number on blue tape that we stuck to the side of the buckets so we knew where the fish came from.

After we collected all the samples, we took the buckets back up to the lab building where Ms. Dugan started using them as part of her doctoral studies.

Ms. Laura Dugan, Ms. Jeanine Abrams McLean, and Commander Ben examining the Jewel Cichlid, an invasive species

Ms. Jeanine Abrams McLean also volunteered to help Ms. Dugan.  I met Ms. McLean earlier this year during her presentation at the Brackenridge Field Lab entitled, “Contagion: How Emerging Infectious Diseases Impact Amphibian Population Declines”.

Thanks, Ms. Dugan, for the wonderful opportunity to work with you and learn more about invasive species.  I can’t wait to see the results of your research and to see you again at the next Science Under the Stars!

Your friend,

1 Comment

Filed under Brackenridge Field Lab, Invasive Species, Jewel Cichlid, Laura Dugan, Minckley’s Cichlid, Ms. Jeanine Abrams McLean, Science Under the Stars, University of Texas, UT Austin

Planetary Moon Smackdown: Triton versus Europa

Why does Dr. Britney Schmidt find Triton so compelling? If you’re looking for a young surface, covered in methane, with a bizarre geology, look no further than Triton. Oh, and did we mention cryovolcanism too?

Dr. Schmidt is a research scientist at The University of Texas Institute for Geophysics. Her talk, “Life on Europa? Exploring Jupiter’s Icy Moon”, is part of the awesome Hot Science – Cool Talks series, presented by the Environmental Science Institute.

This is part six of Commander Ben’s interview series with Dr. Schmidt.

Watch the entire video series about possible life on Europa with Dr. Schmidt.

Leave a comment

Filed under Astrobiology, Astronomy, Cryovolcanism, Dr. Britney Schmidt, Environmental Science Institute, Europa, Extraterrestrial life, Galilean moons, Hot Science - Cool Talks, Jupiter, Neptune, Triton, University of Texas, University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, UT Institute for Geophysics

Does UT Austin believe in Aliens? Life on Europa Hot Science

I loved seeing Dr. Jay Banner, director of the Environmental Science Institute, on the University of Texas at Austin campus (and I think he strayed onto “The Drag” too) interviewing all kinds of people, asking them if there’s life on other planets.

They had hugely varied responses from yes to no to ahhh…maybe.

This is a great video promoting the next Hot Science – Cool Talks about possible life on Europa, one of Jupiter’s icy moons. Dr. Britney Schmidt, research scientist with the UT Institute for Geophysics, will be presenting her latest research on Europa during the talk.

Watch the video to see what other questions Dr. Banner asked, and be sure to come to the next Hot Science – Cool Talk presentation on Friday, April 13, 2012, to learn more about Europa with Dr. Schmidt.

Commander Ben…signing off

P.S. You won’t believe what I did the other day! I had breakfast with Dr. Schmidt, and I had a great video interview with her about Europa, astrobiology, how she became a scientist, and more. I’m working on the videos for upload, and I look forward to sharing them with you soon. I learned so much from her, and I know that you will too!

Leave a comment

Filed under Astrobiology, Dr. Britney Schmidt, Environmental Science Institute, Europa, Jay Banner, Jupiter, University of Texas, UT Institute for Geophysics