November 2016
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LUQ Important Dates

January planning meeting: Jan 10-Jan 12, 2017
Site review: March 27-31, 2017
Annual meeting: May 31-June 1, 2017
2016 Monthly meetings
Nov 17th at 1:15 pm EST, 2:15 pm AST
Dec 22nd at 1:15 pm EST, 2:15 pm AST

All meetings are online via GoTo meeting
The Puerto Rico warming experiment (TRACE) has officially begun
After seven years of planning, development, and construction, not to mention a whole lot of hard work, the Tropical Responses to Altered Climate Experiment (TRACE) is finally underway!!! We “turned up the heat” at the end of September and have been successfully warming the understory plants and soils of three 12 sq. m plots 4 degrees celsius above that of our three control plots.  A recent article in The Guardian ( covered the days leading up to us turning on the experiment!
We are monitoring numerous effects of warming on understory plants, soil, roots, microbes and nutrient cycling to not only assess their response to increased temperatures but also to improve our ability to accurately predict future climate. This is the first experiment of its kind to be conducted in any tropical forest and has understandably been filled with many unexpected challenges.  We have overcome these obstacles in large part due to the collaborative work and support of the Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research! We greatly thank the many collaborators, mentors, technicians, students and volunteers that have helped us throughout the initial development of the project and the collection of pre-treatment data. 
For more information about the project and its progress, please check out our website:
Tana Wood cleaning debris from the heaters prior to turning them on. Photo credit: Daniel Grossman
Aura Alonso cleaning the dummy heaters of the control plots.
Photo credit: Gabriela Reyes
Figure taken from the datalogger software, showing the differences in temperature between the warmed plots and the control plots, as well as air temperature (black line).

How ‘Big Data’ Changed the Science of Ecology

Professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering Mike Willig discusses how participating in 'big data' science has changed ecologists as researchers, and as people.

Article originally by Christine Buckley for UCONN Today

"When newly minted assistant professor Mike Willig arrived in the Luquillo mountains of Puerto Rico in summer 1982, he did what he’d always done: He went into the forest at dusk, spread a mist net between two poles, pulled out his field notebook, and waited for bats.

He was confident, based on years of graduate school experience from Brazil, that he’d catch dozens, or even a hundred.

Over the course of 10 hours, Willig captured just three bats. Determined, he went out the next night, and the next. For five weeks he spent nights in that forest, catching three or four bats nightly. When he finally had enough for his experiment – to observe the bats feeding on their favorite tropical fruit – the fruits had gone sour.

But a few nights into his foray, he noticed the forest was crawling with walking sticks. Each night, while waiting for the rare bat, Willig caught the stick insects, took their measurements, marked them, and let them go. The resulting publication documented how much the insects moved, what they ate, and how many there were. The next summer he returned, this time with eyes only for the walking sticks.

“I was a poster child of what it meant to be an ecologist at the time,” he says.

Ecologists, he says, generally focused on one abundant animal or plant, in one small area, for a short time period. But modern ecologists have learned that to understand how Earth’s life works, you have to think bigger, and longer-term.

“Ecologists finally realized that if you want to understand the plot of a movie, including the protagonist and the antagonist, and how it all unravels, you don’t restrict your attention to two frames of the movie,” he says. “The LTER program revolutionized that.”

Read the full interview here

LTER Schoolyard News
Students Help with Beach Cleanup
In September, a group of 103 students collected 83 bags of trash and debris from Playa Ojo de Agua in Manatí. Schoolyard teachers Rose Trinidad and Elliot Lopez helped coordinate the cleanup; students from LUQ schoolyard school Juan Ponce de León in Florida participated in the event. Read the full article here.

Schoolyard Teacher Recognized by The American Society of Sciences
Arlene Gomez, science teacher at Escuela Carmen Feliciano in Rio Grande, received the Lucy Gaspar Award for Science Education from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Gomez is involved with the Programa de Escuelas Sustentables (PES), a program through the Corporación para la Sustentabilidad Ambiental (COSUAM). She also participates in projects from the Center for Science and Math Education Research (CSMER). Congratulations Arlene! Read the full article here.

Training Week for VT EPSCoR RACC Program
LUQ Schoolyard teachers and students participated in the High School Student and Teachers Training Week of the Vermont EPSCoR Research on Adaptation to Climate Change (RACC) Program. This program works to integrate high school teachers and students, who participate as a team in a research effort.

All the teams attended a residential training week from June 20-24, 2016 at the campus of Saint Michael’s College in Winooski Park, Colchester, Vermont. During this week, they were introduced to the interactions of climate, environment, society and land use policy involved in the RACC research program. They also learned field-based research skills and launched their research projects, which they will carry out from July 2016 through March 2017. The teams’ research topics are related to macro-invertebrates as water quality indicators in rural and urban streams in Puerto Rico. In March 2017, the teams will return to Vermont to share their findings at the annual VT EPSCoR Student Research Symposium, where they will present a poster or an oral presentation.  This year, they also had the opportunity to explore the city of Montreal for a day, along with with Vermont students and science teacher Meghan Hewitt from Hartford High School.  This activity is part of an on-going student exchange program between PR and VT.

The following teachers and students participated in the program:
- From Juan Ponce de León High School in Florida - teachers Elliot López and Rose Trinidad, students Alana Quiles, Darissy Matías, Tanairi Reyes Pérez, and Francisco Pérez
- From the Specialized Art School Ernesto Ramos Antonini in Yauco - teacher Glenda Lee Almodóvar, students Andrea Rivera and Jaleisha Vélez
- From the
Academia María Reina in Guaynabo - teacher Yiria Muñiz, students Camelia Iturregui and Julyanice Cruz
- From the
José E. Aponte de la Torre Science, Math, Technology and Language Specialized School in Carolina - teacher Rosaliz Rodríguez, students Jean Paul Ortiz and Shanick Pagán
- From
the Robinson School of San Juan - teacher Felix Marcel Torres Alcala, students Hector Fuertes and Jose Ramírez
New Publications
Hall, C. A. S. 2016. The Road to Renewal.
     BioScience. doi: 10.1093/biosci/biw130

Click here to access this book review
Copyright © 2016 El Verde Field Station, All rights reserved.

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