Ecological Society of America 2018

The Ecological Society of America held their annual conference on August 5-10, 2018, in New Orleans.  This was my first time attending and I have to say that I was overwhelmed!  There were over a thousand scientists in attendance and the wonderful individuals I met were as diverse as the ecological subject areas that were being studied.

I went to the meeting with Megan, a fellow grad student working in Jason Knouft’s lab.  I was pleased to be able to present a poster of my recent work and had some great feedback from one of the editors of one of the British ecology journals.  I was also glad to see Kara, a former member of the lab.  We enjoyed an evening on Bourbon Street, a must for any trip to New Orleans.

While I heard a lot about some very interesting science programs and areas of study, one of the sessions that I found most inspiring was one on the importance of communicating our science.  Based on my insights from that session, I am re-kindling my blog and I have every intention of posting regularly so that my massive throngs of readers (Hi, Mom!) can hopefully glean something from my own thoughts on science…

​Thanks for reading!


Megan and Kara joined me on an evening visit to Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
Danelle Haake

Bike With Your Boots On – 6/23/2018

Bike With Your Boots On is a a citizen science initiative with the Missouri Stream Team to get people out exercising and testing local creeks. For this outing, we met at Fults Field near River Des Peres and split into groups to cover the most ground. At each site we tested for things like conductivity (how much salt in in the water) and the PH of the water. Other science thing were measured that I can’t remember. These values are sent to Jefferson City where they will be added to a database keeping track of the health of local creeks.  Here are some of the photos of our event.

Hogan Haake

START Mentor Hike – 4/18/2018

Danelle spends a lot of time volunteering with the Missouri Stream Team.  She started with them in college doing water quality monitoring.  Now she helps with a variety of things, including planning and attending river clean-ups, doing water monitoring with River des Peres Watershed Coalition during Bike With Your Boots On, and being on the board of Stream Teams United.  She recently became one of the first START mentors – a group of trained monitors who help newly trained monitors gain confidence and experience.  As a ‘thank you’ for signing up, the Stream Team organized a special guided hike of the LaBarque Creek Conservation Area with Mike Leahy, Natural Areas Coordinator with MDC.

A tiny snake met us as we started up the path into the conservation area.  While it looks big in the photo, its head was less than a half inch wide.

Spring flowers were just coming out, including these Dutchmen’s breeches.

Mike described the unique sandstone geology of the area and how that made it different from most other nearby streams which are in limestone geology.

There are many interesting rock formations in the conservation area, including places like this where the stream flows through a hole in a large rock down into a cavernous grotto.

Our new mentor team enjoyed wearing the bright yellow vests to keep track of each other.

More new spring flowers, this time rue anemone (above) and yellow bellwort (below).

Karen took the opportunity at a brief rest stop to tell us a bit about her knowledge of the region.

Spring wildflowers weren’t the only new growth.  These fiddle-heads would soon become fern fronds.

We all enjoyed the opportunity to have an inside look at one of the newest and most unique conservation areas in the St. Louis region.

Danelle Haake

Danelle’s Research – 12/17/2017

Danelle needed to go out and get data from her stream sites. It was a Sunday and I had time to go with her. So we went out and I got a glimpse of what her research looks like. While the field work isn’t anything too exciting, it was fun to be outside and with her!

You can only collect the data you find. We had to give up on this site because she couldn’t find the equipment deployed. Later she went back with Kevin (who helped her install it) and found it.

What you can’t see from the photos is how cold the water is. Its hard work reaching in and grabbing  monitoring equipment from under the water to download data. Danelle is tough and her hard work is amazing!

Hogan Haake


Rachel’s PhD Help – 8/27/2017

While participating in Operation Clean Stream the day before, Danelle rekindled a friendship with some fellow students. Rachel in particular was asking for help with some of her PhD research. Danelle saw that we were free and offered our help. So we went out to Tyson Research Center

Four 2,500 gallon rain collectors for watering the plants.

I’m carrying one of the soil dividers for Rachel’s project.

Rachel standing in one of the holes that we’re digging.

Rachel’s roommate, Shreenidhi Vasudevan, showing off her muscles.


Nothing like a selfie with others 🙂

We dug holes till around 3pm when we had to leave for something else. I could have kept digging all night, but the three girls were done. We ended digging nearly half of the holes needed for the research, so it was a job well done!

Hogan Haake