Thursday, July 25, 2013

Other Projects: Pollinators and Spotted Owls

Liam, Shannon, and I were able to help with two other projects this week.  We went with our roommates that are studying the interactions between pollinators and with Steve Ackers who studies spotted owls.

The morning began with a flat tire.  Many of my favorite trips have included flat tires.  While collecting snakes and lizards with Portland State University our school van got a flat in we were stuck in Lodi.  On a trip with students to Costa Rica, we had a flat tire which gave us a chance to learn how to salsa dance.  In Mexico, I was on a bus taking me to catch a boat.  The bus got a flat near the end of Meet Joe Black in Spanish.  I missed the last ten minutes, but I haven't felt the need to find out what happens.  This time, we just practiced the safety dance that we learned two days earlier.

Liam and Fabian
Shannon and Scott
The pollinators work in meadows much higher and steeper than our meadows at Bunchgrass.  This crew counts the number of flowers within a three square meter quadrat and then monitor the number of interactions that invertebrates have with the flowers.

Amanda taking soil samples
 Soil samples are also being taken from the various meadows to help get a better idea how the different meadows compare.

 Any pollinator that the crew is not able to identify by sight is collected and preserved back in the lab.  Each specimen is given a number that corresponds with their data sheet and is sent back to Oregon State University.

Each researchers has a different scientific question that they are trying to answer with the collected data.

Our day was not a very busy day for pollinator activity, but it did give us a chance to spend some time within HJ Andrews.

Spotted Owls
We also went out with Steve Ackers to look for spotted owls.  He had one individual he was trying to track down.  This male owl had been seen in a different area of HJA and he wanted to see if it stayed there or came back to an area that he had been found before.  If we found it, Dr. Ackers also wanted to observe its behavior to determine if he was mating or caring for a brood.  Here is an OPB report that I found that discusses some spotted owl issues.

Dr. Steve Ackers (Sorry it's so blurry)

Steve has a pouch full of mice and some recordings of spotted owl hoots.  He carries everything on himself in-case he needs to quickly run after an owl.  On this night, the owl flew quickly over to us and did not seem interested in going anywhere else.

After identifying the owl from a band around its ankle, he begins to set mice out on the trees to see how the owl will behave.  I tried to put a few series of photos below.

 If this male was paired with a female, it would have made a call to her after receiving the food and their could have been some calling to offspring, but this male just hid his mice poorly in some moss.

After we went through all of the appropriate field protocols, we were able to sit an watch the owl for a while.  It was a hot day, and the owl did not seem interested in moving very fast.  That time also gave us a chance to discuss the natural history of owls, the conservation, and the struggles with trying to understand and protect them.  Right now, spotted owl numbers are still declining and they are facing several different forms of environmental stress.

We needed to go back and get ready for bed but Dr. Ackers said that he would be taking a break and then going back out after dark to see if he could get any responses in areas that have traditionally been homes for owls, but more recently do not seem to have any.  He planned on being out until 2 AM.

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