Located just five miles from Washington & Jefferson College near Pittsburgh, Penn., the Abernathy Field Station serves as a unique outdoor ecology classroom for students, faculty, and researchers.
The AFS encompasses many different ecosystems, including mixed deciduous forest, a stand of conifers, several spring seeps, two larger perennial streams, a wetland, and a mowed field. A diverse assemblage of birds, salamanders, fish, small mammals, and white-tailed deer find shelter throughout the 57-acre plot of land.
To help enhance the classroom learning experience and provide background data for environmental researchers, a NexSens real-time weather station and stream monitoring system was installed.
At a stream site along Jefferson Run, researchers installed a YSI 600LS Sonde to collect temperature, conductivity, and stream level data and send it to a 4100-iSIC data logger with radio telemetry. The sonde is secured in a PVC deployment pipe for protection.
Nearby, a Vaisala WXT510 multi-parameter weather sensor collects data on six essential weather parameters and sends it to a radio-to-phone data logger. All information is then transmitted via landline phone to a computer running NexSens iChart software in the college’s biology department. Additionally, a WQData Web datacenter hosts all information in real time on the biology department’s website.
With this system in place, both faculty and students have easy access to the data they need to study the structure and function of the ecosystems through both coursework and independent research projects.
Aerial Image Credit: Washington & Jefferson College