On March 23, 2011, Dr. Peter Park, Assistant Professor of Biology, took his BIO112 Ecology students on an outdoor lab trip to Nyack Memorial Park. Preparation for this trip included a special permit from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and permission from the Vilage of Nyack Mayor and its Board of Trustees.
The activity itself involved seining, a method of fishing that involves dragging a large net used to trap aquatic organisms. No fish were harmed during the activity, but some were taken aside for a quick photograph before release.
Other professors also joined in on the teaching. Dr. Michael Huster, Professor of Physics, taught the students about the composition of sediment in the river bottom, and Dr. Wenbo Yan, Assistant Professor of Biology, was present to take photographs and records of student findings along with Dr. Park.
This lab activity, like others in this course, culminates in a student lab report and reflection assignment about the experience. During the trip, the students caught many individuals of two species of fish, American Shad (Alosa sapidissima) and Banded killifish (Fundulus diaphanus), and some freshwater clams.
An integral component of the BIO112 course consists of several outdoor laboratory activities, which have included life table analysis using demographic data collected from Bronxville Cemetery (in collaboration with Dr. David Weir, Professor of History), a survey of forest fauna and flora in plots within Tackamack Park, and this survey of animal life in the Hudson River.
BIO112 students also studied feeding behavior in a community classroom fish tank established by Dr. Park, which served to introduce basic principles in statistics. However, as of last week, the students have said that the Hudson River seining activity was their favorite lab of the class thus far