Summer field work in full effect

July 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: CPCRW, Field Work 

I can’t believe it’s already mid-July! The mosquitoes are still out and biting my face when I’m trying to concentrate on measuring the trees. The constant buzz can be unnerving after a while, and it’s unfair when they fly up my nose. We’ve had good luck with the weather. Summers in the watershed are definitely beautiful! We also haven’t had any bear encounters but we know they’re out there. Footprints in the mud give them away.

Despite the mosquito – nostril interactions, it’s been a productive summer of measuring trees.  One of the five measurements we make is water potential, which indicates the degree to which plants are stressed by not having enough water available.  I use a pressure chamber, which I can describe in more detail later. Since the birch trees are tall and pruning poles are hard to get to the research site, I use a 20 gauge shotgun to shoot branches down.  My aim has gotten pretty good as the summer has progressed. I’m 5 for 5 at each site (5 rounds for 5 trees)! I used to use 7 or 8, but I’ve honed in my skills.

Using a gun in the field as a plant ecophysiology “tool” requires coordination between myself and our field technician, Mark. We are always concerned about safety – as Mark collects tree and soil cores for water isotope analysis, I head in the opposite direction to shoot down branches. With my bright pink headphones on to protect my ears from the gunshots, I can’t hear a thing.