Staying Dry and Brainstorming in Lab


Since we last met our group has been busy brainstorming and coming up with testable questions. Many people dove into the literature, while others worked to refine their specific field related questions. We came together today to do a group brainstorming session that started with putting our ideas on this  brainstorming google doc. It was full of really great ideas but they were all very diverse so we began by naming some trends. We organized questions into categories named “plants”, “animals”, “both”, and “other” but they still seemed evenly split! Louie suggested we discuss the following.

  • Big Picture Papers

    • It’s easy to get pulled to either think of the big picture, or to understand the nitty-gritty of our field site. Both are important and we must find a way to include both in our study. Balance is key!
    • People found the following interesting…
      • incorporating history
      • invasive species and their impact on ecosystems
      • looking at interactions in a bi (or multi)directional way instead of unidirectional
      • understanding interactions on a gradient depending on environmental factors.
  • Reading with a Purpose

    • We’re moving into the part of our process where we will need to read… a lot! It’s ok to read a paper only for what we need or think is interesting. Big picture is ok.
  • Entry points

    • We will be creating a list of organisms, keywords, journals, and authors that are interesting to us. This will make it easier for us to organize our thoughts.
    • Lists link (Don’t use this list for lit searching – it’s not randomized! Use the randomized version below.)
  • Randomization

    • We randomized the list above by using a randomizing function in column D. The equation was =rand(). This creates a whole column of random numbers. We then sort the lists by column D. This effectively randomized our lists.
    • Another way to do this is by using R. We first download the google sheet as a “comma separated value sheet” or “csv”. We then use R to generate a report that randomized our lists.
    • We now all have 2 organisms, a keyword, a journal and an author to search over the weekend. The goal will be to create an annotated list of cool papers to bring back Tuesday to discuss. Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 2.40.55 PM.png
    • But how do we narrow our focus down???
      • —-Brainstorm again—-
      • What methods are accessible?
      • Aquatic or terrestrial?
      • How do we incorporate Phylogenetics?
      • Putah Creek piqued several people’s interest…
        • Salmon, nutrient influx
      • Mistletoe as a parasite. What trees does it grow on and what trees does it not? Why?
        • Does urban development increase mistletoe growth?
        • How do birds effect distribution?
      • Seasonality is going to be important as we continue forward. The field is going to change as it gets hotter.


We took some time to analyze what we have in the lab and found lots of random and awesome stuff. Such as:

  • Fly paper
  • A ton of nice insect nest, but no aquatic ones
  • Quantum meter–> measures how much light a plant sees. Good to measure canopy cover or thickness of brush.
  • Glass containers that look like  baking trays
  • Growing lights


  • List of seasonally unavailable organisms
    • (live) salmon
    • flowers/pollinators (somewhat limited)
    • vegetative experiments on plants
    • migrating birds
  • Seasonally available organisms
    • mistletoe
    • dormant insects
    • active insects (later into season)
    • most trees
    • turkeys
  • Budget ~$660
  • Time: Our class ends in June.

Agenda for next time:

We will use this class to discuss all that reading we will do over the weekend. We will get in groups of 2 groups of 3  and 2 groups of 4. We will be switching groups with each different discussion topic

1:40-2:00  Discussion on Organism 1

2:00-2:20  Discussion on Organism 2

2:20-2:40 Discussion on Keyword Research

2:40 -3:00 Discussion on Journal Research

3:00-3:20 Discussion on your Author

3:20-3:40 Discussion on Louie and Marshall’s picks

3:40-4:30 Whole group processing.  How has what we learned affect our agenda for Thursday?

Remember to think of the big picture as you continue your reading and exploring!!

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