Microbial Minds Working Together!

Aaron Mills and Rima Franklin, Kennedy Space Ctr

Terrence, Artie, and Renee

Aaron examines bacteria from the cave at Wekiwa

Kate collects a surface water sample at DeLeon

Kate analyzes the water samples for nitrates

A collaborative effort!

Upon arrival at Wekiwa Springs State Park, the Cambrian Foundation team was greeted by the excited and supportive park personnel. Two microbial ecologists, Aaron Mills, Ph.D., and Rima Franklin, Ph.D., joined us from the Kennedy Space Center for the day of sampling. After carefully reviewing microbial collection protocols, the dive team began to stage their gear near the spring vent. As the dive team was suiting up, Paul, Lee, Artie, James, Josh, Kate, and Tim were busy using the HydroLab to analyze surface water quality data and staging their video and photography equipment. Amy, Rima, and Aaron fielded questions from curious bathers. Terrence and Renee entered the cave each with a no-mount configuration, and began the journey back into the constrictive passages that feed the Wekiwa Spring system. At several points along the sampling transect, bacterial colonies were collected, and their respective depths and locations were noted. After 32 minutes of bottom time, the divers emerged with all samples in tact. Everything went smoothly for the dive team, and the samples were safely brought to the surface. Upon arrival at the surface, the water samples were analyzed for pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, oxidation-reduction potential, specific conductance, turbidity, and temperature. Nutrient analyses were performed to examine the relative concentrations of nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia both in the groundwater and in the surface waters of the system. Drs. Mills and Franklin were intrigued by the various microbes extracted, and they were excited to move on to our next destination!

The momentum that we had from successfully obtaining microbial samples at Wekiwa Springs was carried with the team to DeLeon Springs State Park where we were welcomed by their curious and hospitable staff. At this site, Artie joined Terrence and Renee, and they headed for the solution tube to begin their descent into the cavern zone. The flow was initially quite strong but dissipated as the cavern widened. This is a good example of Bernoulli’s Principle at work, where the speed of a fluid decreases as the opening through which it is passing increases. The same sampling protocols were utilized at both DeLeon Springs and Wekiwa Springs State Parks.

The purpose of these dives was to obtain water samples and bacterial samples in order to document the species present and understand what biogeochemical factors influence their presence in these karst systems. Everyone was happy that the day of collecting and sampling went so safely, smoothly, and efficiently, and we look forward to the continuation of this project. We would like to thank Aaron Mills, Rima Franklin, and the Florida Park Service for their cooperation and support.

Cambrian Foundation Team
James Barbour, Longwood University, Farmville VA
Tim Cobb, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg VA
Kate Douglas, Boston Sea Rovers/Frank Scalli Internship Program
Rima Franklin, Kennedy Space Center FL
Lee French, Longwood University, Farmville VA
Aaron Mills, Kennedy Space Center FL
Josh Owen, Legare R. Hole, III Memorial Scholarship,
Lynchburg College, Lynchburg VA
Paul Sharp, Longwood University, Farmville VA
Artie Ahr, Cambrian Foundation/Rollins College, Winter Park FL
Amy Giannotti, Cambrian Foundation/FL Park Service
Renee Power, Cambrian Foundation
Terrence Tysall, Cambrian Foundation

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