Monday, May 20, 2013

Etang Lachaux Lake Study

North end of lake.  A good birding spot!
“This was perhaps the best single locality I found below 1,000 ft. for ground collecting.” said PJ Darlington Jr in 1934 of the lake Etang Lachaux, back when the population of Haiti was 2,550,000 (250 per square mile).  PJ Darlington was there to collect ground beetles (see Psyche Dec. 1935, Vol. XLII, No. 4, West Indian Carabidae II: Itineraryof 1934).  When my team from the University of Kansas and I were there this month to collect water quality data, Haiti’s population stood around 10 million, or 930 people per square mile.  And the land around this lake was cropped, even on the rocky hillsides.  One hillside was rocky with a new highway perched along the edge.  

Sampling locations and path walked around lake.
Etang Lachaux is near Camp Perrin on the southern peninsula, near Les Cayes.  My team did a baseline study there on 4 May 2013 to collect basic water quality data and to map the lake.  There are several springs with almost quicksand like substrate along
the north shore of the lake, which our 14 year-old tag-along Bobby helped us to navigate.  The Minister of the Environment said the lakevolume decreases every year during the dry season (which is supposed to end in May), but 2013 and 2012 have been unusually low, which doesn’t bode well for the carp and tilapia he stocked.  A full report is forth coming.  Email me (Debbie Baker, debbieauc at if you would like more information.  Please post comments if you know anything about this lake!

Sampling a spring at the northeast corner of the lake.

South end of the lake.  Farmers plant crops to the edge hoping they will get a crop before the rainy season.

New highway overlooking the eastern edge of the lake.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Water quality workshop in Camp Perrin

Dr. Huggins demonstrating the secchi disk.
A recent outreach event of the Audubon Center was coordinating a water quality workshop presented by environmental scientists from the University of Kansas.  The Ministry of the Environment for the South Department hosted the event at their office in Camp Perrin.  Twenty workers from the Ministry, ORE, and other groups attended the workshop.  Using the local lake Etang Lachaux watershed as an example, Dr. Donald Huggins, Dr. Gary Welker, and Debbie Baker discussed with the group the various human activities that impact the watershed and how to mitigate these.  They donated a secchi disk to the bureau, a simple water quality measurement device that people can make themselves.  We ended the day with a tour of
the NGO Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (ORE).