Decisions, decisions

We started class Thursday with everyone asking a question they hoped would be answered either today–like Kyle’s, “Where aredsc01070 the sticky traps?”–or through our experiment–like Rachel’s question about possibly removing top predators if indeed spiders are that and the larger effects that will have on the community structure, especially involving secondary predators. One of the large sentiments was that we are all antsy to get out in the field since many of our questions on set up and community structure are hard to answer without actually doing some in-depth observation.

After this discussion, we broke up into our three groups to come up with next steps so that we could be outside setting up as soon as possible.

The lighting group did quite a bit of reading on how to measure lights as well as come up with some possible options for us, including LEDs and sodium burning lights, which cover different parts of the spectrum. John has also contacted the Lighting Center and Erik in order to get some more information. The group also looked into battery power since these lights will be on every night for about 4 weeks and are now deciding on whether we will be using a single battery for multiple apparatuses or one battery per.

The botany group’s main concern is germination time of our possible pladsc01074nts. During their time together, they researched plants that we could either grow quickly or could buy and that have herbivores out this time of year. The group came up with strawberry plants (buy), alfalfa (grow from seed–7 days to germinate), Brassica nigra (seed?), and another Brassica that is more agriculturally used. Marshall is also working on getting tomato plants from his friend. This group confirmed that alfalfa has many herbivores and strawberries attract slugs. While slugs may not be attracted to light, their predators, the ground beetles, have been known to be drawn to it so this could yield some interesting results.

Last but dsc01071not least, the pilot/observation group reported on their outing on Wednesday night and some future goals. That night they caught a few orb weavers close to street lights, as well as a plume moth, and observed a few unidentified plants with chewing damage, likely due to caterpillars–a good sign for us. During their time in class, this group went out and collected the sticky traps that had been put around campus previously. These traps had 42 arthropods close to the lights, 17 mid distance, and 13 arthropods far from the light, which is good news. The group also tried to identify the chewed on plants, but with no success. This group, along with possibly the plant group, intends to get together this weekend and look for more isolated lights closer to the ground and observe what is happening as well as start setting up pilot experiments in the next week. The goal for Sunday is to dig up some mustard plants and plant them under a light or not and observe differences.

All groups hope to make decisions Tuesday, including ordering lights, ordering plants, and getting a firmer grasp on how to do our study.

In the spirit of making sure we stay on track, we set up a tentative schedule with a few hard deadlines

  • Week 9: Plant seeds, decide firmly on plants, read relevant papers, come up with an ideal apparatus and lab     study set up
  • Week 10: Plant and pilot, get materials and start building apparatuses
  • Finals Week: ”  “
  • Spring Break: Soft deadline to start field experiment
  • Week 1: Hard deadline to start field experiment
  • Week 2: Lab study up and running, collecting data
  • Week 3 and 4: Collecting data
  • Week 5: Soft deadline for field study to be done
  • Week 6:
  • Week 7: Hard deadline to be out of the field so we can do stats and write our paper

We closed with deciding what we wanted to do next week:

  • 1:40-2:40  Lighting and Plant options presented and decided upon to be ordered with budget in mind.
  • 2:40-3:40 Observations and data collection races
  • 3:40-4:20 Discussion on time budget and what is actually feasible based on previous exercise
  • 4:20-4:30 Discuss what should happen next class

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