Another year is upon us!
We have several specific purposes with our lab exercises in this class. They were, firstly, designed to give students practical experience that mimics what professional ecologists, natural resource regulators or environmental consultants would do. The students conduct a variety of environmental assessments throughout the semester....use their results to make recommendations and write a professional-style report of their findings.
They apply skills that they've learned in past classes (such as in our 200-level Field Methods in Ecology class), and new techniques they are taught in this class throughout the semester.
Week one is primarily devoted to a site visit and reconnaisance. The entire property is walked....different community types are identified...and a guess is made as to how the site fits into a landscape context.
Based on this assessment, they break into groups and find locations for their first long-term monitoring initiative on-site: camera traps!
During week two....it was time to head back....service the cameras and delineate the boundaries of the habitats/communities on-site.
BUT, the weather found a way to make things more interesting. Twenty-four hours before lab this week....the temperature was in the mid-50s. Normally, I would say this is unheard of for January 'round here, but looking back at a blog post from last January reminded me that this is becoming the norm.
And they say climate change is a myth!
Anyhoo, the warm temperature was not all that was in store for us. When I left the house on the morning before we had lab, it was still warm and misting. All of the snow that we had gotten previously was completely gone.
But things changed suddenly. The temperature dropped drastically over the course of a few hours and the mist turned to snow. By mid-afternoon, it looked incredible outside!!
Perfect weather for field work!
This required students dividing into groups and selecting one of their habitats/communities....following the periphery and recording GPS points.
We also checked the cameras....and the usual suspects showed up....
The White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)...note the raw-looking pedicel where the antler recently came off....
The Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
The Todd (Vulpes vulpes)
But that snow....I can't pretend I don't love it!