LUQ-LTER February 2016 Newsletter
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Thank you to everyone who attended the LUQ planning meeting in January!
Join us by computer or phone via GoTo meeting on the following dates for the LUQ Monthly Meetings!
Feb 23: 3 pm AST 2 pm EST
March 29: 3 pm AST, 3 pm EDT
April 26: 3 pm AST, 3 pm EDT
May 31: 3 pm AST, 3 pm EDT

Meetings are generally ~ 1 hour of scientific presentations and discussion followed by a general business meeting. The link/phone number to join is sent out via e-mail before the meeting.
LUQ REU Applications Open

We are now accepting applications for the Summer 2016 internship in Tropical Ecology and Evolution at El Verde Field Station. The internship will run from May 30 - August 5. 

Application deadline: 28 February 2016

The program will offer students the opportunity to have hands-on experience fields such as:
- Aquatic insect ecology
- Web-spinning spider ecology
- Plant-animal interactions
- Plant population biology
- Soil and leaf litter fungal diversity

Students receive a stipend for the ten weeks duration of the program.  Round-trip plane ticket from home institution to Puerto Rico will be reimbursed, up to a maximum of $600.  The program will cover housing at El Verde Field Station.  The National Science Foundation and the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, fund the program.

The program is limited to undergraduate students pursuing a bachelor degree at a college or university during summer 2016 that are US citizens or permanent residents.

Application materials and further information can be found at

Field Protocol Workshop for Teachers
On November 21, 2015, the Luquillo Schoolyard LTER Program conducted an eight hour field protocol workshop, welcoming two of our former Schoolyard participants: Glenda Almodóvar and Diana González, and two new teachers, Arlene Gómez and Yomaira Ortiz from the Carmen Feliciano Middle School in Palmer, a local El Yunque community. The objective of the workshop was to learn about field methodologies for assessing forest dynamics, stream ecology and soil characterization at El Verde, in addition to data collection, entry and analysis.

During the workshop, the teachers were organized and trained by UPR researchers and graduate students in the methods of three data collection protocols within the rainforest setting. (1) The teachers studied stream structure, shrimp and water quality of one of the tributary of Quebrada Sonadora. Stream structure measurements included stream width and depth and stream flow. Water quality measurements included dissolved oxygen, presence of nitrates, and phosphate, turbidity, and pH. Shrimp measurements included size and abundance. (2) The teachers examined forest structure in a permanent study plot established for the ongoing students’ internships, located near the Luquillo long-term forest dynamics plot. Program participants measured DBH and height and identified species for every tree in a given area. (3) The teachers studied soil characteristics along a slope near the forest study plot. They measured soil texture, compaction, infiltration, and moisture at the top, middle, and bottom of the slope, and were introduced to more sophisticated equipment such high-end soil moisture probe and bulk density coring tools.   

Guiding the teachers were Dr. Omar Pérez Reyes, Christopher Nytch, and Seth Rifkin, Research Manager of the Luquillo Forest Dynamics Plot. The teachers and the mentors conducted a brief analysis of the data, comparing their results to those collected in previous internships. In addition to the regular data collection activities, Adriana Herrera, a post-doctoral technician at El Verde Field Station, together with Sarah Stankavich, LTER Coordinator, lead a night walk that focused on discovering the nocturnal biodiversity at El Verde.  

Each teacher chose one protocol that they would like to conduct with their students during the spring semester.  They will return to El Verde with up to 20 students in the coming months to be trained in their chosen protocol, and they will also have the option to use LUQ LTER data sets to develop an ecological research question that leads to a presentation at the 2016 LTER Schoolyard Annual Symposium.


LUQ's first "Data Jam" was held on Nov 20, 2015

On November 20th, 2015, 22 science teachers from private and public schools in Puerto Rico participated in a six-hour Data Jam Workshop hosted at the Forward Learning facilities in Guaynabo. During the workshop, teachers had the opportunity to work with the 1994 and 2015 drought data and parameters such as stream flow, rainfall, reservoir height and soil moisture obtained from LUQ-LTER, LCZO, and USGS databases to investigate a basic ecology question and develop a claim-evidence-reasoning PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate their findings. Excel and PowerPoint training was provided by Dayánez Torres from Forward Learning. Following the workshop, the teachers will conduct data jams with their students back in the classroom over the course of the school year, motivating them to use ecological data collected in the Luquillo Experimental Forest by the LCZO, LUQ-LTER and USGS to create a project that presents the data in a non-traditional way. Students will be able to submit their creative projects for consideration to present at the annual symposium at UPRRP in May. Those teachers who successfully implement the data jam with their students are eligible be invited to participate in a Fieldwork Protocols workshop for the subsequent school year.
The success of this effort was achieved through the collaboration among several partner groups and individuals: Dr. Steven McGee and Noelia Báez, LUQ-LTER educator representatives; Dr. Jess Zimmerman, LUQ-LTER Lead-PI; Bill McDowell, LCZO Lead-PI; Miguel León, LCZO Information Manager; Sra. Dilia Haddock, PR Department of Education Science Director; Alexis Torres, President of Forward Learning, and Mayrelis Narváez, a science educator consultant for Forward Learning.
Dr. Joseph Wunderle Awarded 2015 Ralph W. Schrieber Conservation Award
The American Ornithologists' Union awarded IITF scientist Dr. Joseph Wunderle the 2015 Ralph W. Schrieber Conservation Award. The award, established in 2005, "recognizes extraordinary scientific contributions to the conservation, restoration, or preservation of birds and/or their habitats by an individual or small team." Congratulations, Joe! View the full article from AOU here
White House Water Summit

On March 22, 2016, the Administration will host a White House Water Summit to raise awareness of water issues in the United States, and to catalyze ideas and actions to help build a sustainable and secure water future through innovative solutions. This event, which builds on the December 15, 2015 White House Roundtable on Water Innovation and other Administration activities, will bring together representatives from Federal, state, regional, local and tribal levels, and from other stakeholder groups, to discuss and advance progress in this important area.
As part of this effort, the White House is issuing a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and institutions from all sectors to take new, specific, and measurable steps to address key water issues, such as drought or flooding; water availability or quality; water-use efficiency; water security; ecosystem requirements; or others. If applicable, announcements of these steps may be incorporated into official materials for the White House Water Summit, and involved individuals may be invited to participate in the White House Water Summit and/or related events.
For more information on this event (including links to examples of commitments made in response to previous White House calls-to-action), and to submit your input, click here.
Tamara Heartsill-Scalley and Grizelle González holding a hardcopy of the 1st special issue of Caribbean Naturalist on the 16th Caribbean Foresters Meeting. See the contents of the issue here.
Recent Publications
Dalling, J.W., K. Heineman, G. González and R. Ostertag, R. 2015.  Geographic, environmental and biotic sources of variation in the nutrient relations of tropical montane forests. Journal of Tropical Ecology, Special issue on RCN – TMF.  Published online. DOI:10.1017/S0266467415000619
Click here to access this article

Figueroa-Nieves, D., McDowell, W. H., Potter, J. D., and Martinez, G. 2015. Limited uptake of nutrient input from sewage effluent in a tropical landscape. Freshwater Science DOI:10.1086/684992.
Click here to access this article

González, G., and T. Heartsill-Scalley. 2016. Building a Collaborative Network to Understand Regional Forest Dynamics and for the Advancement of Forestry Initiatives in the Caribbean. Caribbean Naturalist 245-256.
Click here to access this article

Heartsill-Scalley, T. and G. González. 2016.  Introduction: Caribbean forest dynamics and community and regional forestry initiatives. Caribbean Naturalist 1-12.
Click here to access this article

Meléndez-Ackerman, E., J. Rojas-Sandoval, D. S. Fernández, G. González, A. López, J. Sustache, M. Morales, M. García-Bermúdez, and S. Aragón. 2016. Associations between soil variables and vegetation structure and composition of Caribbean Dry Forests. Caribbean Naturalist 176-198.
     Click here to access this article

Ramseyer, C. A., and T. L. Mote. Atmospheric controls on Puerto Rico precipitation using artificial neural networks. Climate Dynamics (2016): 1-12.
     Click here to access this article

Scholl, M.A., J. B. Shanley, S. F. Murphy, J. K. Willenbring, M. Occhi, and G. González. 2015. Stable-isotope and solute-chemistry approaches to flow characterization in a forested tropical watershed, Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico. Applied Geochemistry 63:484-497.
Click here to access this article
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