Macronutrient Inputs in Humboldt Bay: Collaborative Oceanographic Field Work and Research within the 2019 Senior Capstone Project at Humboldt State University, California

Rebecca Floyd1, Otilija Borisovaite1, Arianna K. Bowley1, Jeffrey R Burr1, Jake R. Cupp1, Jenna Davey1, Courtney Dressler1, Cherisse E. Figueroa1, Robert Freiberger2, Davina M. Hernandez1, Willem J. Kernkamp1, McKenna M. Rayburn1, Wesley Warren1, Tamara Beitzel Barriquand1 and Christine Cass1, (1)Humboldt State University, Oceanography, Arcata, CA, United States, (2)Humboldt State University, Chemistry, Arcata, CA, United States
Field Cruise I and II (OCN 495/496) is a year-long senior capstone course required to graduate with an Oceanography degree from Humboldt State University. This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to apply their accumulated knowledge to real-world applications as well as gain experience in leadership and collaboration. This poster outlines the experiences of the 2019 cohort, comprised of thirteen undergraduate students, assessing macronutrient inputs in Humboldt Bay, California. In order to gain firsthand experience conducting oceanographic research, we constructed a research project from start to finish. We began by finding an interesting scientific question that could be addressed during the semester, reading the pertinent literature, writing our proposal, and culminated with a final project report and generation of multiple scientific posters. Our project measured springtime macronutrient concentrations in Humboldt Bay to assess whether freshwater inputs introduced excess nutrients into the system, and investigated potential connections between macronutrient concentrations and phytoplankton biomass. Phytoplankton and water samples were taken at ten stations from the R/V Coral Sea and eleven shore stations. Samples were later analyzed for phytoplankton abundance and community structure, as well as chlorophyll and nutrient concentrations. Additionally, CTD measurements of the water column were taken at the ten R/V Coral Sea stations to provide hydrographic data and assist in identifying freshwater inputs. Throughout the process of collecting and reviewing the data, we became intimately familiar with a host of sampling methodologies, and how to properly process and analyze data. Here, we discuss the process and main findings of our capstone project, and how this collaborative experience has better prepared us for careers in oceanographic research.