Monday, April 27, 2009

Final Days then Home Sweet Home!

On Friday, one team went out to accomplish three plots accessed by kayaks. I remained at the bunkhouse to complete zoo and then was lucky to head out to Honey Island Swamp to gather caterpillars on a plot. The water had subsided finally but the plot we landed on had limited life. My guess, most life diminished in the flooding waters.  I believe we found approximately 15 caterpillars from our plot. In our plot, we also accessed the plant life by calculating the number of leaves on every piece of vegetation.  As you can imagine, this can take quite a bit of time.  (by the way, this is done on EVERY plot) On this plot, we found a large population of Chinese Tallow.  Scientist Mark had us assess the number of leaves on each plant, then pull it out to remove it.  His rationale was because it causes the soil to be toxic and kill other plants around it.  Additionally, only one type of leaf rolling/curling caterpillar has been identified as eating this vegetation. Rebecca is doing an additional project on this topic, so our find was exciting!

On Saturday, the team came together to clean our bunkhouse at Pearl River Wildlife Management Area and pack up our gear.  We headed back to the Park View Guest House, unloaded and were back to work in the science lab at Tulane University.  We set up the "zoo" and hung all the bags as well as entering all the collections from Friday.

On Sunday, we met again at the lab for a final zoo analysis. We also entered all the plant analysis for the plots into the database.  We said our farewells to the captured larva and headed out for some sight seeing.  A few of us went to Jazz Fest, while others headed to the French Market for shopping.  We ended the day with a late-night dinner at Ninja, a sushi bar.

On Monday, I headed home and arrived safely, after an uneventful flight. It is exciting to share my newly gained knowledge and my mind is filled with so much information, it is really boggling.  My class will be sharing the blog during our school's Science Night.  

Below was received from Lead Investigator, Rebecca Hazen:
During our 7 days in the field last week, we:

-collected 513 caterpillars from 13 families in plots and general collections.

-reared 19 parasitoids (and many more are likely to be on the way!...)

-completed assessments for 10 plots, which translates to estimating 2,033,790 leaves from 785 square meters of bottomland hardwood forest and Cypress-Tupelo Swamp.

Are you interested in learning more?  A fellow team member, Ms. Liz Coleman, shared the following site, which offers great information.  Butterfly School


At April 28, 2009 at 7:15 PM , Anonymous Mom said...

Wasn't sure when you were leaving for home but didn't think you were staying all weekend. What a trip for you - sounds like you had fun and met some new friends. Can't tell you how impressed I am with your work and ability to take something unusual (like caterpillars) and turn it into a topic I couldn't wait to hear more about each day. Glad you're home safe and sound - talk to you soon. Love you, Mom


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