Biodiversity in Watersheds

Throughout my experience in B-SURF prior to this week, I have been immersed in engineering approaches to various biological issues. However, this week, I was exposed to multiple different topics through the Chalk Talks, and I was amazed by how wide the scope of the study of biology really is. I was especially interested by Lali’s presentation, as her research is so different from mine and serves such an important purpose.

Lali’s research looks into the impact of urban development on the biodiversity of aquatic insects. Her lab focuses on the the watersheds of two creeks in the Durham area: Ellerbe Creek, which has a lot of urban development, and New Hope Creek, which has much less development. She is taking samples from two points on Ellerbe Creek with 90% urban development and 75% development, as well as one point on New Hope Creek  with 9% urban development. She is using sticky traps to gather bugs and count the amount and type of bugs at each point and then comparing them. Her hypothesis is that Ellerbe Creek will have less biodiversity and more resilient insects than New Hope Creek, as when it rains, the water in Ellerbe Creek rises much more and causes sand to form , resulting in there being no rocks for the insects to hold on in turn making it more likely for them to die. New Hope Creek rises much less following rain due to less development, resulting in there being more rocks for the insects to hold on to.

I loved Lali’s talk because even without being an expert in biodiversity, I feel like I very clearly understand the methods and purpose of this research. I also enjoyed how she talked about the way in which this research could be used to apply to humans and our everyday lives. I found it cool how this research could be used to look into socioeconomic inequities in resources used to improve the environment and how its results could have effects on the Raleigh population, as this population drinks water that comes from Ellerbe Creek.

I’m happy that I was able to learn a lot from all of the Chalk Talks, and I feel that I learned a lot from Lali’s in particular.

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