COOPERATIVE GEOLOGICAL AND BIOLOGICAL FIELD STUDY OF PIGEON CREEK LAGOON, SAN SALVADOR ISLAND, BAHAMAS
Using 0.25 m2 PVC grids, and recording data on underwater tablets, students identified and recorded the occurrence of plant and sessile invertebrates along transect lines across the lagoon. Since most shallow water tropical fishes are territorial, students were able to generate a general species inventory for the lagoon. Sedimentological analysis utilized both surface grab samples from the coarser tidal delta and channel, and 1 m long cores, extracted along transects across the main lagoon. Sieved sediment samples were examined in order to determine the nature and origin of calcareous sediment. Physical data were collected using Hondex© digital depth sounders, Brix© salinity refractometers, and Enviro-Safe© laboratory thermometers.
Initially, not every student sees the value of cross-discipline training, but by the end of the field project all of the students gained an appreciation for each other's disciplines. Most students, without prompting from faculty, came to realize that science disciplines are not mutually exclusive and do not operate independently of each other. More importantly, students gained valuable team experience and a background for conducting a cooperative research program with publishable results. Elements of this project have already been published in the American Journal of Undergraduate Research.