a. Earth and Planetary Science is a broad discipline, and frequently connects with the biological sciences. The interaction of the solid Earth (i.e. rocks) and the fluid Earth (i.e. water and the atmosphere) factor heavily in how things grow. EPS students made this exciting connection while hiking through the forested highlands on the Big Island of Hawaii.
b. 360 Video: 79, 81, 83; 360 Photo: 80, 82—Pu’u O Umi Natural Area Reserve Although much of the vegetation on Kohala has been removed due to cattle grazing, early land users realized that the forests were a critical source of freshwater. Even without rain, tree canopies intercept water fog water. The forest here is very wet, and home to many plant species. Here, water is not limiting, but the plants may experience nutrient limitation (nitrogen or phosphorous). These elements are essentially recycled, so new growth in the forest only occurs as old vegetation decays and releases these nutrients. In the Pu’u O Umi Natural Area Reserve, EPS students conducted vegetation surveys, dug soil pits, and got a bit muddy while soaking in the science.
Figure 1: EPS students pause in a misty forest to learn about how nitrogen cycles through the atmosphere, soil, and vegetation.