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  • Lydia

Dumplings for breakfast

The pattern of our days settled into a rhythm. Up early for a breakfast of dumplings stuffed with meat and vegetables, fried bread sticks and pickled vegetables. Then we would load the car and wind our way up from the small village and into the mountains. The weather was perfect after the first day’s snow and now we worried about sunburn rather than frostbite. After spending the first few days investigating larger lakes contained in the geopark we went further afield to sample smaller lakes away from tourists prying eyes. The landscape supports many small lakes, either as part of the volcanic formations, or on poorly drained soils. We found one such site nestled close to Motianling peatland, a site where Dr. Kunshan Bao has investigated carbon storage capacity, dust flux and atmospheric deposition of pollutants during the Anthropocene. I hope to compare pollen collected from the Motianling peatlands to what we find in the small lake, and wonder if I will find a similar record of vegetation change and fire events, or something completely different.

Gaochan Lake was only 600m from the road, but the marshy terrain and shrubby Birch made the going tough. The lake itself was surrounded by a squelchy wetland and a vegetation mat extending out into the water which I found incredibly amusing to bounce up and down on. Our small team quickly inflated the boat and started the water sampling. But no site is perfect, and the abundant aquatic vegetation at this site made collecting a good sediment core tricky. After several attempt’s, we moved to unvegetated waters and collect some excellent organic-rich cores. I couldn’t wait to get them back to the lab and see what stories they might tell about the landscape. In my excitement (and general clumsiness) I managed to miss the vegetation mat and fall into the lake. Luckily my last emergency chocolate cheered me up.

While sampling the lakes for zooplankton I spotted several chironomids, dragonfly and caddisfly lava. There were abundant zooplankton in this small freshwater lake and we hope they record the presence or absence of pesticides. The small lake was teaming with critters-but sadly for us it was too late in the season for tadpoles and we were unable to test the local population for signs of the chytrid fungus. We did manage to catch and swab some small froglets found minding their own business around the lakeside.

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