Two students are currently working on the following projects:
Tom Stevens: (faculty mentor - Bonnie K. Baxter, Westminster College)/Mercury Biogeochemistry in Great Salt Lake: The Role of Microorganisms in Methylation
Austin Wood: (faculty mentor - Bonnie K. Baxter, Westminster College)/Mercury Biogeochemistry in Great Salt Lake: The Role of Microorganisms in Methylation
Additional research is being conducted through our B.R.I.N.E. initiative.
What about the birds?
What happens further up the food chain to the birds that eat the spiders? In spring 2012 Dr. Christine Stracey, Assistant Professor of Biology, hopes to begin answering that question and others about our feathered friends at the lake. With the help of students she will study land dwelling birds on Antelope Island including Sage Thrashers, Western Meadow Larks, Sparrows, Redwing Blackbirds, and Brown Headed Cowbirds.
Dr. Stracey hopes to collect blood samples from the birds and then band them with a unique pattern. The blood samples will reveal mercury levels in the birds that she will compare to a group of similar birds living near a lake without high levels of mercury. The unique banding pattern will help her identify individual birds by sight, making parts of her research much easier: compiling winter survival rates, determining whether or not a male and female pair stay together, and tracking a bird’s movement between Antelope Island and the mainland. She hopes to determine the role of the lake in these behaviors. And it’s possible the mercury levels in Great Salt Lake also have an impact
Spring of 2012 marks the start of Stracey's research that will continue over the next several years. "It's always exciting to start a brand new research project because you never know what you're going to find and what direction the research will take," Stracey said. At GSLI we're eager to learn what she and her students will uncover in their research.