Wednesday, June 26, 2013

First Few Days at H.J. Andrews

Oops.  The date is off by 100 years

We are finishing up our third day at HJ Andrews LTER (long-term ecological research) Experimental Forest.    As part of the Research Experience for Teachers program, I will be working with a researcher studying the disturbance ecology in a forest/meadow ecosystem.  The research area at Bunchgrass Ridge has been a open meadow ecosystem for a long time but it has been invaded by tree species.  The principal researcher is Charles Halpern and he has a team of several students and two forest service employees.  The research is looking at the changes in plant diversity after the removal or burning of trees.  I have two students working with me, Liam and Shannon.

The first few days have involved learning lots and lots of plants.  Most of the plants are plants that I have probably passed thousands of times without a thought.  It is exhausting to learn all of the plants.  I am getting to know the anatomy of grasess, and the differences between asters, the difference between rubus and ribes, and many scientific names. Some things are ranunkulus.  We have also done a few practice plots and calibrated our observations.

I'm also getting to know all of my new roommates.  My roommates are my students and a group studying flower pollinators.  There is one studying log jams.  He doesn't live with us but he is here most the time.  So I guess he lives here.

In the other building there is a team looking at spotted owls and another one tracking birds through bird calls.  Those are just the teams that are here now.  There is much more happening.  Tomorrow is HJA day.  We will get to learn about all of the projects.

It has been raining like crazy for the first few days.  I have some camera pictures of us all sopping wet, but I don't have my camera cord.  I will put them up when I can.

.pdf of some of our plants that we are working with and learning to identify.

I have been trying to eat as many of the plants as possible while we are studying them.  I think that the ones that I eat are the ones that I am learning the fastest.  Calochortus subalpinus has a bulb that can be eaten raw or collected and roasted over a fire.  But the flower is very beautiful so you should avoid picking it if possible.  I pulled up some thistle root but forgot to eat it.  Vanilla leaf (Achlys triphila) can be dried and hung in the house to repel bugs.  Wall lettuce tastes like bitter lettuce and its scientific name translates to "lettuce wall."  Arianna from our team also pointed out that grand firs (Abies grandis) taste like Christmas and douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii) tastes like Portland.  I'm not sure about the taste of Portland, but they definitely taste different.

I also learned about machine learning.

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