Nothing to (formalde)Hyde! – Week 3 Update

After three long weeks, this week we finally had some fresh eggs to dissect. My lab partner and I have been doing dissections for a few months so we are pretty good at clean, fast dissections and hadn’t gotten too rusty in our time away. We added the embryos we dissected this week to the freezer where they can sit until we are ready to do RNA extraction from them.

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If at First you don’t Succeed, TRI(zol) Again! – Week 2 Update

Mondays are long but last Monday felt extra long as we were out of wet lab. We spent the day researching the RNA extraction protocol used in our lab and comparing it to the manufacturers’ protocols for the various steps in our procedure. It was an arduous task as we use so many different materials and machines, so there was a lot to research. The protocol we use in lab was made quite a few years ago and unfortunately it is not noted where it was originally derived from so it was our goal to find the protocol which was edited to create ours. After a full day of research we came up empty handed – however we are still looking into who created our protocol as it is important to know where it came from and what (and why) changes were made. The day was not spent in vain however, we made many discoveries about different techniques we could incorporate into the protocol which may help the efficiency of our runs and we noted these to try in the future.

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Meetings, Protocols, and Eggspensive Machines! – Week 1 Update

After a brief summer, last week I made my way back to the ‘burg. My summer of birds began with a meeting with my advisor and we established a general plan for the next 10 weeks. Since this summer I will be continuing work that I have already been working on during the school year, it didn’t take long for my Natalie, my lab partner, and I to get back into the swing of things.

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First Week

Here is my report on the first week of work on my research project. So far, everything has worked out in one way or another.

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Corticosterone hormone as an indicator for environmental mercury stress in migratory versus resident bird species

Abstract

The goal of this project is to learn more about how migration affects a bird’s reaction to environmental mercury stress. I will be measuring corticosterone (CORT), a stress hormone, as well as mercury in feather samples from a migratory and nonmigratory species. I expect that nonmigratory species will exhibit more mercury but less CORT in their feathers. The constant exposure will naturally select birds that do not overreact to mercury poisoning. Overreaction to mercury tends to lead to reduced reproductive success. Therefore, it acts as a direct selective pressure on birds in mercury-polluted environments. With this information, we can learn more about how mercury pollution in one area affects wildlife on a continental scale.

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