On Wednesday, June 10, the students of the MRESI Institute visited Lower Lake Mary near Flagstaff to explore some initial inquiries. Each group, by coincidence, did a comparison between the main body of Lower Lake Mary (situated directly against the dam) and the marshy area directly below the dam. This inquiry led to a discovery of significant differences in dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide, hardness, and pH levels between the water above and below the dam.

On Friday, June 12, MRESI students divided into groups according to the types of projects that interested them. Based on the results from our first venture to Lower Lake Mary, Maureen, Doug, and Jamaica were interested in finding out what changes take place in water quality and organisms as ponds become isolated from a shrinking body of water, such as a lake. Is there a correlation between pond size and the water quality and organisms found therein?

We chose Lower Lake Mary as our site because it provides excellent opportunities to compare isolated ponds of various sizes with one another and with the main body of the lake. Upper and Lower Lake Mary were originally created to float logs down a long valley. Upper Lake Mary usually holds quite a bit of water, but Lower Lake Mary gets most of its water from snow melt and continues to shrink over the warmer months.

We felt our question presented us with an opportunity to study dynamics that are unique to Lower Lake Mary. We hypothesized that water quality and the variety of organisms (species count) in the water would decrease as isolated ponds shrank. Our most severe limitation was temporal: we would have liked to extend the study over several weeks, so that we could look at factors other than pond size, such as distance from the main body of the lake, or the amount of time since isolation.



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