Bug Days Part I: “Its about to get real” (16-Mar-2013)

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This afternoon, some of the band embarked into the field to collect samples… REAL SAMPLES!!! WITH REAL BUGS!!! FOR REAL SCIENCE!!!

The team (Melissa, Ester, Wenbo, and Myself) met up at 1:30pm in lab to grab gear, which included: Sweep nets, Beat trays/sticks, Vials with 95% ETOH, Label paper, pencils, data sheets, and of course our BrandSpankinNewHighFashion Pooters!!! After a quick tour through the fancy new bug equipment, we set out to the field site!

We started out in East block. As our team meteorolgist, Jenn, for-warned in the previous post, the weather was a bit toasty, just enough to warrant a siesta if not for the bugs that needed collecting. Before tackling experimentally-marked trees, we quickly practiced using our sweep-nets and aspirators in the grass and following the collecting protocol on non-experimental trees. Once we were comfortable with this we proceeded to the first tree. Rather than split up into two teams, we decided to work as a single AWESOME unit! Each of us took possession of either a Sweep-net or a Beat Stick and Tray, aligned ourselves up with respect to the tree’s shadow, and then tackled each tree with about two seconds of glorious synchronized thrashing.

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“Attacked from four sides at once, the trees never knew what hit em…”

After these “thrashing events” we would sit around each tree with our loot, poot up any invertebrates we saw, and then take turns pooting them into the respective collection vial. Vials were given labels with both a tree number and a collection date on them. On a datasheet (Modified from the experimental numbers that Will gave us) we jotted down the time of each collection.

Once Louie and Kermit arrived things went a lot faster! Louie (and, by proxy, Kermit) went ahead of the collection team to scout out the next tree and prepare collection vials. Once we got in the groove, we became super proficient, averaging 3 MINUTES PER TREE!!!

At the end of the day, after about 3 hours, we completed the entire East Block, consisting of 43 trees!!!

…Yea we were awesome!!!

We did, however, encounter occasional hurdles that would sometimes slow us down.

For instance, sometimes we would encounter this:

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yep… two trees… rIgHt NeXt ToO eAcHoThEr!!!! This made our synchronized protocol somewhat challenging. Ultimately, we just reached in the best we could and took our four swipes…

Additionally, we had some trouble locating some of the trees (which sometimes drained a lot of time)! Our map was a little small and some numbers were hard to distinguish. Perhaps, a bigger map would be useful. We also noticed that some of the numbers on the map were missing from the experimental data set and vice versa. Is this map using a slightly different data set? Now before ya’ll flip out… we stuck to sampling numbers on the data set, not those on the map. So to be consistent, we should stick to the data set for future sampling periods.

Also, one of the marked trees had a considerable amount of poison oak growing around it. The team decided to nix this tree from the experimental group. Now, we may be bad-ass ecologists, but we don’t need to be pooting up poison oak if we can help it…

Lastly, we noticed that 3 of the experimental trees on the East Block were missing blue flagging and that 2 of those were also missing sticky traps. We decided to sample from them anyways. However, we’ll have to decide later whether or not we can still use the trees with missing data on them.

Anyhow that’s that! Tune in soon for more eco-bloggy awesomeness!

Good luck with the west block kiddos!

4 responses to “Bug Days Part I: “Its about to get real” (16-Mar-2013)

  1. I think the p-oak might have been around 74 (it’s noted in our field data). I think the trees that still need blue flagging are 170, 177, 179, and 181. (Again, it’s on the datasheet.) If you’ve got yer R skills already tuned up, you should be able to change the size of the map plot, and make a full page version where you can read the numbers. I just posted a couple of new pdf maps for the east and west block to the SmartSite.

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