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August 2017
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2017 monthly meeting dates
Starting in September, please join us the 3rd Tuesday of each month for LUQ monthly meetings, held remotely via GoTo Meeting. Generally, there is a 45 minute science presentation by an invited speaker followed by LUQ business and news discussion. Meetings will be held on the following dates this year:
 
September 19, 12 pm eastern
October 17, 12 pm eastern
November 21, 12 pm eastern
December: TBD due to holidays

 
CTFS-ForestGEO Workshop
 
The Luquillo LTER co-hosted the 2017 CTFS-ForestGEO Workshop from 16 July - 1 August 2017, in partnership with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. This is the second workshop of a new two-year RCN grant focused on "Integrating functional, phylogenetic and genetic components of diversity for an improved understanding of forest structure, dynamics, and change”. Over 60 participants from around the world worked in small groups focused on specific research topics, including seed-seedling dynamics, spatial pattern analysis, carbon storage and dynamics, spatial analysis, growth and mortality patterns, demographic modeling, tree growth from dendrometer bands, etc. Students Monique Picón, Aaron Hogan, and Andrew Quebbeman participated from LUQ. Jess Zimmerman and Ariel Lugo gave presentations on the history of research at the site and on the forest ecology of Puerto Rico. Jess Zimmerman, Chris Nytch, and Aaron Hogan led a field trip to elfin forest and to the Luquillo Forest Dynamics Plot at El Verde.
 
Vermont-Puerto Rico High School Student Exchange Events
By Noelia Báez, Schoolyard Coordinator

At the end of March, the second Vermont-Puerto Rico high school student exchange took place.  This year, a group comprised of 4 Puerto Rican science teachers, 8 high school students and me traveled to Vermont and New Hampshire for 5 days full of educational and cultural experiences.  On March 25-26, we visited Hubbard Brook LTER Experimental Station in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  There we met up with science teacher Meghan Wilson and 10 of her students from Vermont’s Hartford High School, and learned about northern hardwoods forest dynamics and the importance of snow cover.  The weekend workshops were led by Ashley Lang, a PhD student of the Department of Biological Sciences Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Dartmouth College.  Our group snowshoed through the woods and learned about the forest composition and trees species such aspen, hemlocks, black and yellow birch.  A forest composition workshop was provided during which the students compare long term data from the forest dynamics plot at Hubbard Brook with data from Luquillo LTER demonstration plot in terms of tree growth and species composition.  We also visited the Climate Change Across Seasons Experiment (CCASE), and learned how global warming could affect seasonally snow-covered ecosystems in this region.  The students studied snow cover evaluation techniques such as measuring the thickness of layers and calculating snow densities, and were introduced to the concept of snow insulation and its relationship to soil fertility.      
   
         

On March 27, we returned to Vermont where the Hartford High School community welcomed us and Meghan’s students led two blocks of science classes where they performed lessons related to clean and renewal energy.  As with last year’s exchange, the Spanish teachers again incorporated our group into their classes, where there were a multitude of gastronomic activities related with authentic food from Latin American countries. 

The following day, the VT delegation presented at the 9th Annual VT EPSCoR Student Research Symposium, hosted at the Dudley H. Davis Center of the University of Vermont in Burlington.  This event showcased the results of the students’ projects they had conducted over the course of the school year.  The research themes presented included the presence and abundance of macroinvertebrates as bio indicators and the chemical and physical parameters of numerous streams located throughout PR.  This research experience was shared among a broader audience that included high school student peers, undergraduates, scientists, managers, government officials, and other interested state and local groups.

                          

This summary encompasses most of the activities and many of the people who collaborated to make this effort possible.  Special thanks are due to the PR students and teachers, as well as Michael J. Winslow, Livia Donicova, Janel J. Roberge and Veronica Sosa, members of the VT EPSCoR Team who supported us throughout this adventure!  Their efforts help builds the foundation for an on-going program of cross-site and cross-cultural interchange, where students from VT and PR have opportunities to explore, experience and learn about science, and take on active roles as young leaders. 

        

In June, we participated in the high school students and teachers training week part of the VT EPSCoR: Basin Resilience to Extreme Event (BREE) Program in the Lake Champlain. It was held in the Saint Michael College in Colchester, VT during June 19-24th.  Eight PR teams participated this year, the largest group of PR students and teachers participating since 2007. During the 2017-18 school year they will be conducting stream projects using macro invertebrates as bio-indicators to determine water quality and river health. In March of 2018, they will return to VT to present at a students symposium.

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9th Luquillo LTER Schoolyard Student Symposium
By Noelia Báez Rodríguez, Schoolyard Coordinator
 
On May 15, 2017, the 9th student symposium for the Luquillo LTER (LUQ-LTER) Schoolyard Program was held at the Sciences, Math, Technology and Languages School José Aponte de la Torres in Carolina. The theme for this year’s symposium was “Documenting Changes in our Ecosystems through a scientific, cultural and creative exchange.” More than 40 students and teachers participated from 10 public and private schools around Puerto Rico.  Additional guests and supporting staff included Dr. Jess Zimmerman, Lead PI of the LUQ-LTER, Dr. Omar Pérez, professor of Biology at the University of Puerto Rio, Río Piedras Campus (UPRRP), Dr. Jorge Ortiz, Dean of the Environmental Sciences Department at UPRRP, Christopher Nytch, UPRRP doctoral candidate in Environmental Sciences, Edgardo González of the Center for Landscape Conservation, Raúl Reyes, graduate student at the UPRRP School of Architecture, Isabelita Correa, Director of Pa’ Los Duros School, Andrew McFadden, LUQ-LTER Information Technology specialist, Carla López, Luquillo CZO (LCZO) Technician, Nemesis Ortiz, recent graduate of UPRRP, and Mayrelis Narvárez, Education Consultant for the Forward Learning educational consulting company.

We had a full day of activities for this year’s symposium due to the increase in the number of participating schools and the evolution of the program’s activities.  The morning commenced with the short movie, “Water from El Yunque”, filmed by Fresh Water Illustrated, where some of our teachers and students from Carmen Feliciano Middle School in Palmer, Río Grande played starring roles alongside the aquatic wildlife.  Next, we welcomed Raul Reyes, former student of Juan Ponce de León High School in the town of Florida, who participated in the Schoolyard program during 2009 and 2010. He gave a motivational speech on the broader impacts of his experiences gained through involvement in science educational programs such as Schoolyard.  We concluded the morning session with a virtual symposium between the Puerto Rican Schools and three New Mexico schools that participate in the Sevilleta LTER Schoolyard Program.  Audrey Kruse, the education coordinator for the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP), was the organizer and the moderator on the New Mexico side. During this exchange, our students and teachers had the opportunity to interact and share their research findings with peers and field questions from the audience, which included family and friends.  The research topics presented from both Puerto Rico and New Mexico included anthropogenic effects on the stream water quality, ecological benthic macroinvertebrates as bioindicators of healthy aquatic ecosystems, water rights in the Río Grande border area, monarch butterfly habitat in New Mexico, people’s perceptions of snakes and coyotes, and students' understanding of climate change and its impact on local species.

During the afternoon session, the Puerto Rico students presented their Data Jam project exhibitions. This was the second year we’ve held a Luquillo LTER Schoolyard Data Jam. Our students and teachers were challenged to work with LUQ-LTER, LCZO and USGS data collected during the 1994 and 2015 droughts. Eight schools participated in the Data Jam and developed projects related to drought effects in the Mamayes River, and the Loíza, Luchetti and Dos Bocas Reservoirs. They explored relationships such as rainfall vs stream flow, and temperature vs soil humidity in El Yunque. Part of the Data Jam model is a creative component where students have to share their project in a non-traditional way to develop communication skills and reach a broader audience. The students showed tremendous ability with their creative products, which included a children’s book about the Taínos relationship with the Mamayes River and the effects of disturbances on stream flow Mamayers River, a skit based on the story of The Little Prince that highlighted the impact of global warming, and original drawings, songs, short stories and poems describing the effects of drought on the Loíza Reservoir.

Through the virtual symposium and data jam efforts our students demonstrated not only their research findings, but also their commitment to the development of long-term research in the high school arena.  We offer special thanks to the teachers, parents, and LUQ-LTER collaborators who served as guides in the learning process throughout the academic year.
CZO Paper Receives Editor Highlight
 
Adam S. Wymore, Richard L. Brereton, Daniel E. Ibarra, Kate Maher, William H. McDowell. 2017. Critical zone structure controls concentration‐discharge relationships and solute generation in forested tropical
montane watershed. Water Resources Research 53(6).

"This paper examines the role of landscape characteristics (i.e. “critical zone structure”) across multiple watersheds (including smaller tributaries) in controlling solute production and transport patterns through concentration-discharge (C-Q) relationships. This is accomplished through multiple quantitative approaches including Principal Component Analysis, power-law functions, and a solute production model. Through these analyses the authors find important relationships between C-Q relationships and catchment lithology and vegetation. They suggest that phosphate, rather than dissolved organic carbon, may serve as a useful indicator of catchment function. Additionally, their result on the relative efficiency of solute production between small tributaries and large rivers is interesting. Overall this paper makes an important contribution to extending long-term, C-Q analysis in relation to critical zone structure and solute production/export in tropical catchments. In addition, the use and comparison of multiple quantitative approaches for analyzing C-Q relationships provides a strong example of robust analytic methods that will be of value to researchers from a variety of disciplines."
Former LUQ Schoolyard Student Wins Award

                         

Rocío del Mar Avilés Mercado, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras student and former Luquillo LTER Schoolyard student, earned the Special Award for Ability and Creativity in Research at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) celebrated in California this summer.

The award was given by the Chinese Association of Science and Technology (CAST). A total of 1,778 students from 78 Countries participated in this event. Ms. Avilés Mercado,17, received her award for her research entitled (in Spanish): "La localización subcelular de HuR es afectada por la fosforilación de p38 MAPK en Células-T activadas" and will go to Hangzhou, China to participate in the 32nd edition of China Adolescents Science and Technology Innovation Contest (CASTIC).

See local News on this event: https://www.elnuevodia.com/ciencia/ciencia/nota/jovendebarranquitasganapremiodeinvestigacioncientificaeneeuu-2338267/

Recent Publications
González, G., and D.J. Lodge. 2017. Soil biology research across latitude, elevation and disturbance gradients: a review of forest studies from Puerto Rico during the past 25 years. Forests 8(178).
Click here to access this article

Murphy, S. F., R.F. Stallard, M.A. Scholl, G. González, and A.J. Torres-Sánchez. 2017. Reassessing rainfall in the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico: Local and global ecohydrological implications. PLoS One 12(7).
Click here to acces this article
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