January 2, 2009, we went to South Side Lake Bonney to treat one of our long term research project. We have three different sites, and at each site we add water to some plots to tell how a change in the climate may influence the nematodes. We had already visited the other two sites, and were surprised to find that the plots on this last site were under water.
BEE plots at SSLB overflown

Usually these plots are very dry and feels like a desert to the animals in the soil, but that is not the case right now. This is not the first time that the water levels have increased. The increase in water is caused by the warm weather we have had in December, and the change will have a great effect on the soil animals. Therefore, we decided to set up a new experiment together with the stream team to find out how all this water influence which species we find in the soil and where they are.

The preparations for the experiment took some time, and we were further delayed by bad weather, but on 8 January we went to the site to set up the experiment. We took some pictures of the stream, which has been named Wormherder Creek, from the helicopter, and as you can tell it is rather big.
View of Wormherder Creek

One of the things we wanted to know was how the water moved down the hill and how fast. To do this we added some salty (not the regular type of salt we use for our food) water up stream using pumps. Here you see Mitch and Tracy with the pumps used, while they were trying to coordinate when the salt needed to be added to the water.
Mitch and Tracy at South Side Lake Bonnie during the tracer experiment

We also wanted to know how much water were in the stream, and here you see Anna from the stream team preparing to measure just that.
Measuring flow in Wormherder Creek

After some time setting everything up and trying to coordinate people (there were a lot of us) we were finally ready to add the salt to the water and begin to collect samples. Everybody were assigned to a spot along the stream, where they would be taking samples every 5 minutes for about 40 minutes, then a sample every 10 minutes for about 2 hours and finishing off with collecting samples every 5 minutes for about 40 minutes again. After this we begun to collect samples from the ground water in other part of the area and with all of these samples we can calculate how fast the water moves down the creek and where it flows.
Sampling at Wormherder Creek during the tracer experiment

After we had collected the main set of samples we still needed to collect a lot of other samples, both water samples and soil samples to look at the soil animals. At this point the sun had disappeared behind the mountains and it suddenly became much colder.
Night time at Wormherder Creek

Some samples needed to be collected during the night, but most of us still chose to get comfortable in the sleeping bags. Uffe had to stay close to the stream to collect samples every hour
Preparing for the night

while others got a nap closer to the helicopter landing site
Camping for the night at SSLB after the tracer experiment

The last samples were collected at 10 am the next morning, and after that we packed all of our gear so we were ready to go home. Part of the team had to visit other sites during the day, while the people staying behind got to take a well deserved nap in the sunshine as they waited for the helicopter.

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