Event Calendar

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May 2017

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Science Seminar: Response of a temperate hardwood forest to excess nitrogen

Science Seminar: Response of a temperate hardwood forest to excess nitrogen

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 11:00am - 12:00pm
Event Location
Schmidt Conference Center

Speaker: Frank Stuart Gilliam, Marshall University Professor

Pre-registration Required
No

Event Details

Dr. Frank Gilliam teaches ecology and plant ecology at Marshall University in West Virginia. His research focuses on the movement and cycling of plant nutrients within terrestrial ecosystems, and forest community ecology. He is especially interested how forests evolve after a disturbance (secondary succession), species dynamics in the herbaceous layer of forests, and the various factors that influence how species change in the herbaceous zone.

Our midday seminars are open to the public. Because they are directed to a scientific audience, they are more technical than our monthly evening lectures.

11:00AM - 12:00PM
 
 
 
 
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Archaeology Dig Day

Archaeology Dig Day

Saturday, May 13, 2017 - 9:30am - 3:30pm

The SERC Archaeology Lab is looking for volunteers to help excavate sites on our campus in Edgewater, Maryland. Volunteers will work alongside researchers and citizen scientists to excavate units, sieve sediment, and wash and sort artifacts. 

Pre-registration Required
Yes

Event Details

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Photo: Samuel Lo

In general, we ask that participants at the Saturday Dig Days are at least 10 years old. If you have an interested child under the age of 10, please contact me as special permission for younger children may be granted on a case-by-case basis. All volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a participating adult. The general activities in archaeology are fairly straightforward (digging, sieving sediment, washing and sorting artifacts). We provide all training and materials. We work outside on uneven terrain, and ask that participants wear close toed, sturdy shoes.

The dig day will be happening even if it rains, or if it is hot. It if doesn't rain or if it is only drizzling, we will be working outside, so please dress to be comfortable and in clothing that can get dirty. If it does rain, there will be opportunities to work in the lab (close-toed shoes are required in the lab too). 

Please contact Alison Cawood (443-482-2271, cawooda@si.edu) if you would like to sign up. 

9:30AM - 3:30PM
 
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Conserving Threatened Orchids: The Flower-Fungus Connection

Conserving Threatened Orchids: The Flower-Fungus Connection

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Event Location
Schmidt Conference Center

Speaker: Melissa McCormick (SERC)

Pre-registration Required
No

Event Details

Showy orchid
The showy orchid, Galearis spectabilis. (Photo: Melissa McCormick/SERC)

Summary: 
Roughly 10 percent of the world’s plant species are orchids. This huge family has long fascinated scientists and been prized by collectors for its strange and often showy flowers. However, orchids are often among the first casualties from environmental degradation. Of North America’s approximately 220 orchid species, 1 in 4 are globally threatened and nearly all are threatened at the state or federal level. Past conservation efforts have had very little success. Orchids’ dependence on pollinators and mycorrhizal fungi leaves them vulnerable to habitat change, making conservation and restoration efforts especially challenging. The North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC), based at SERC, was founded to help conserve native orchids using research on orchid-fungi relationships and populations. In this lecture, Melissa McCormick will show how SERC research has identified critical points in orchid life cycles that can be altered to increase orchid populations. The SERC team is seeking to test how managers could use these techniques to improve orchid conservation. NAOCC is also developing seed and fungus collections so these techniques can be applied to orchids across the country. 

SERC's free evening lectures are held every third Tuesday of the month now through October in the Schmidt Conference Center, from 7-8pm. Doors open at 6:30. Lectures are free and open to all—curiosity is the only prerequisite!

7:00PM - 8:00PM
 
 
Science Seminar: Getting Gross - Characterizing Unexpected Sources of Methane

Science Seminar: Getting Gross - Characterizing Unexpected Sources of Methane

Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 11:00am - 12:00pm
Event Location
Schmidt Conference Center

Speaker: Paul Brewer, SERC Postdoctoral Fellow (Biogeochemistry Lab)

Pre-registration Required
No

Event Details

Note: Because SERC science seminars are directed towards a scientific audience, they are more technical than our monthly evening lectures.

Summary:
As the second-strongest greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, methane (CH4) plays a critical role in our ability to mitigate global warming.  However, global inventories of CH4 sources and sinks are not adequately constrained to provide efficient options to decrease atmospheric CH4. It has proven difficult to accurately predict CH4 fluxes from terrestrial ecosystems with only the existing knowledge of net ecosystem fluxes (e.g., soil surface flux), pointing to a need for understanding the hidden, gross CH4 fluxes (e.g., belowground) that compose net fluxes. In this seminar, SERC postdoc Paul Brewer will talk about research on methane fluxes in agricultural soils like those in the North American Great Plans, as well as research into how trees in upland forests are emitting methane.  In the agricultural study, bare soils had short-term CH4 production controlled by available organic matter and long-term production controlled by soil moisture. However CH4 production in vegetated soils was strongly affected by an undetermined source, possibly rhizosphere microsites or macrofaunal guts.  These results reveal there are complex mechanisms underlying the well-established decrease in net CH4 sink capacity of tilled soils and that other management choices.

Healthy upland trees are a newly discovered CH4 source, but little is known regarding the biological source, physical flowpaths, plant physiological effects, and environmental controls of this unexpected flux.  An automated gas sampling array has been developed and deployed for ongoing hourly quantification of CH4 and CO2 fluxes made alongside measurements of environmental properties and molecular analyses. This approach will provide a detailed, novel dataset that should allow the characterization of the size and governing factors of temperate tree gas fluxes.

11:00AM - 12:00PM
 
 
SERC Open House
Bay Optimism

SERC Open House

Saturday, May 20, 2017 - 10:00am - 3:00pm

Celebrate Bay Optimism at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's annual Open House! Admission and most activities are free. See event details for information on free school parking, on-site parking passes and boat tickets.

Pre-registration Required
No

Event Details

While it's no secret that Chesapeake Bay has its struggles, there's a wealth of reasons for hope: ospreys returning, blue crabs rebounding and seagrasses taking back their territory. You can be part of the celebration this year. Dig for artifacts. Wade into the river for fish. Talk to a scientist. Discover environmental success stories that ecologists, policymakers and citizens like you make happen every day. So go ahead: Release your inner optimist!

Female SERC staffer holds horseshoe crab for visitors to touch

Parking Details and Boat Tickets:
FREE PARKING is available at Central Middle School/South River High School (221 and 201 Central Ave E, Edgewater, MD, 21037) where you will catch a shuttle bus to SERC. As an alternative to free parking at the school, a limited number of $12/car passes may be purchased online for parking available on SERC property (647 Contees Wharf Rd). A limited number of boat ride tickets may also be purchased online for $8 (children 4 and under ride free). Handicap-accessible parking is available for free on the SERC campus with handicap tag. Food and drink available for purchase with complimentary water stations on campus. All on-site purchases are cash only.

Buy boat tickets and parking passes

(Third-party site)
Online ticket sales end at Friday, May 19 at 1pm! Some boat tickets may be available for purchase onsite (cash only).

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What you can do:

  • Cruise on the Rhode River  ($8/person; ages 4 and under free - purchase online or cash only onsite)
  • Take a hay ride through the forest
  • Climb the weather tower and discover some good news about air pollution
  • Take a seine net into the river to search for fish and other aquatic life
  • Explore the Mathias Lab and get a glimpse of how scientists conduct experiments
  • Join an archaeology dig at the mansion ruins and learn how you can become a SERC citizen scientist
  • Like us on Facebook to take part in a scavenger hunt, with a gift card to Killarney House or Pirate's Cove for the winner!
    Morning hunt: Clues to the location of the mystery animal posted on the SERC Facebook page at 10:30, 11:00 and 11:30.
    Afternoon hunt: Clues to the location of the mystery animal posted on the SERC Facebook page at 1:00, 1:30 and 2:00.

The SERC Open House will go forward rain or shine! All purchases on campus are CASH ONLY. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes that can get muddy. And don't forget to bring your sense of adventure.

Special thanks to all our sponsors!

Premier Eco-Sponsor

Logo: Chaney Foundation

Major
Eco-Sponsors


Logo: Mom's Organic MarketLogo: First Mariner BankLogo: Environmental Quality ResourcesLogo: Whole Foods Market

Eco-Sponsors

Logo: Buan Consulting, Inspired SolutionsLogo: The Brick Companies, 125 Anniversary, Creating Memorable Places

10:00AM - 3:00PM
 
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