How Is Scientific Sampling Done? Duquesne to Host a Science Day at Wingfield Pines

Posted on April 9, 2014

How do scientists monitor water quality? What processes do they use to remediate contaminated water and land? How do they study fish?

Curious adults and children are invited to see science in action on Saturday, April 12, between noon and 5 p.m., when Duquesne, in collaboration with the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT), presents Science: A Day with Duquesne at Wingfield Pines.

Since 2007, the University has been working with the Allegheny Land Trust to return the 80-acre former golf course and swim club in Upper St. Clair and South Fayette townships into a public recreation area, remediating abandoned mine drainage into Chartiers Creek. This event will allow the public to watch their behind-the-scenes work.

“An overwhelming majority of the public are interested in science and value scientific research,” said Ed Schroth, adjunct professor of biology. “I have found that hikers and visitors at Wingfield do often ask and want to know more about our work there.”

The partnership with the University has brought monitoring, education and sustainability together, said ALT Stewardship Director Emilie Rzotkiewicz. “The research Duquesne students provide to ALT supports our conservation work by reassuring us that our passive treatment system is working,” she said.

At the event, teams of undergraduate and graduate students will be:

  • Sampling microbes: In researching nature’s ability to fix itself over time, Dr. Nancy Trun, associate professor of biology, and her students are beginning a long-term project to study the microbes involved in bioremediation, identify their metabolic capabilities and continue sampling throughout the year to determine if the concentration or identity of the microbes changes seasonally and impacts Chartiers Creek.
  • Electrofishing: Dr. Brady Porter, associate professor of biology, and his team assess the ecosystem by sampling the fish populations in separate ponds and wetlands. Since 2010, the yearly electrofishing of ponds has allowed  comparisons of the diversity of the species and determining where different fish can survive.
  • Monitoring water quality: Schroth and his students have collected and maintained data—pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity, turbidity and alkalinity—on the passive filtering system since it was built.

Wingfield Pines Conservation Area is at 1550 Mayview Road, Upper St. Clair. Parking is at the bottom of the hill, through the upper gate. The park is open to dogs on leashes.

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