AP Environmental Science (APES) students are monitoring the pond this year through each season, measuring the amount of Dissolved Oxygen, Nitrites, and pH every couple months, and also documenting the life they are finding in that ecosystem.
Pond? Yes, there is a small pond on O’Neal’s campus located behind the maintenance building.
The goal is to both test the health of the ecosystem and observe what that area looks like throughout the year in the hopes of better understanding how the pond can be utilized on campus.
So far student observations have been as follows:
pH: about 5.5 so slightly acidic
Dissolved Oxygen: ranging from 2ppm (Parts per million) to 10ppm depending on the season. This has been fluctuating quite a lot, and for comparison, a DO of 2 is quite low while a DO of 10 is quite high. DO is necessary for aquatic life.
Nitrites: 0, so there is limited to no fertilizer runoff that we have detected
Life: Most of the life is still not yet identified, but anecdotally students have seen lot of macroinvertebrates, frogs, and dragonflies, as well as a large amount of wetland vegetation such as cattails.
In the long term, Dave Williamson, APES instructor and science department head, has reached out to a local botanist to visit in the spring to help the students create a plant inventory of the wetland with the possibility of creating a field guide. A second piece of the project would be identifying any rare or invasive plant species. If these exist in the area, it gives students an ongoing annual project of invasive species removal/control, or rare species protection/propagation.
Focus on O’Neal’s “pond” and the creation of an outdoor research laboratory is part of this year’s Fund-A-Need item titled Research and Robots. It will be put up for donation bids at O’Neal’s Denim and Diamonds Auction Benefit on February 23rd. Donations can also be made online.