April 30, 2019

Field Trip 3 Journal Entry

Today was a lot warmer and it was not as windy as last week, when the trees were shaking and the wind was piercing cold. My feet and socks were soaked this time around because my trash bag was defective and allowed water from the walk to the conifer forest to seep in. Since the week had been particularly rainy, the entire farm was more wet and the brook water level had risen significantly. When we first entered the forest, I immediately noticed the tiny green leaves sprouting from the ground. This was most likely due to the wetland emerging at the edge of the forest. There technically should have been little growth on the coniferous forest floor, but there seemed to be a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees, leading to increased growth on the floor. In the 15 minutes of silence, I heard more birds this week. The breeze was present again but not as forceful as last week. There was an excessive number of flies and mosquitoes, probably due to the forming wetland and warmer temperatures. I realized there must be ticks, various insects, and microbes harmful to humans in the forest. It brought to my attention how field researchers must first prioritize their safety when conducting research in potentially harmful ecosystems. It was difficult to sit in silence for 15 minutes with the bugs flying around our faces so we were walking around during it. There were not as many organisms this week, but there was an increased number of plants.

We found many different types of leaves, both sprouting directly from the ground and on bush-like structures. There were a lot of earthworms in the ground, as well as maggots, indicating that the soil was nutrient rich--unlike an ideal coniferous forest. It reminded me how in class we talked about how the coniferous forest on Foxcroft farm would be gone in 10 years. This is a really saddening thought, even though it will be replaced by more biodiversity. It's amazing to think about how many niches and mini ecosystems exist in a single place and how many will be lost over time because the world is constantly changing and evolving.

In addition to plants, we found big orange ants deep in the dirt. We needed to dig a lot to find them and capturing a clear image was even harder. Trying to locating and identify an organism is more difficult than I realized before this lab. It shocks me how field researchers execute this process with species never before discovered without any references or comparisons to make. It was also really hard to train our eyes to see the tiniest organisms with our eyes, especially if they were extremely mobile. These three past experiences on the farm have really taught me to appreciate the work that field researchers do in order to benefit the scientific community and the world as a whole.

Posted on April 30, 2019 02:35 by arnimbalkar arnimbalkar | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 23, 2019

Field Trip 2 Journal Entry

Today was a particularly windy day. It was a significant contrast from last week which had light breezes through the conifers. This week, trees were shaking and there was a biting cold. During the 15 minutes of silence, I heard many dead leaves being rustled by new animals which appeared since last week. There were significantly more birds (peepers maybe) going back and forth from trees to build a nest. There were more flies/bugs near us which we could hear buzzing in our ears. This week it was warmer so we heard walkers alongside us venturing on the road. Sitting in silence really helped me realize the powerful force of the wind. It seems like a mere obstacle when we're so focused on finding organisms under the soil surface, and we seem to forget what a huge role it plays. Its power disperses seeds, creates new habitats, and destroys old ones. During the spurts where the wind disappeared, I felt the fresh rays of the sun briefly before their pleasant warmth was disrupted by louder wind. Meanwhile, the conversational chatter of the birds was pretty consistent in the background.

This week we found many of the same organisms such as different types of fungus and mosses, but also a plethora of new ones that we needed notice before. We spent more time digging in the dirt this week, since last week taught us that they are countless things hiding beneath our feet. We were able to see skunk cabbage sprouting up near a wetland that was beginning to form at the edge of the forest, most likely from the recent excessive rain. We tried to dig up the soil in the water but did not have as much luck finding organisms there as we did in the dry soil. This week, I surprisingly found a tiny salamander buried near a moist tree stump. This was easily by far the highlight of the trip. This little guy was extremely excited and jumpy (probably from fear), and I was able to capture a video of him. We also found many bundles of spiders on the forest floor. There were some more brown droppings scattered on the floor, as well as new plants with varying shapes. We found a dead caterpillar covered in black fuzzy which we could more closely examine as it wasn't moving. The fact that we found such different species from last even though we were in the same tiny plot of land amazed me. There is so much more biodiversity surrounding us than I realize, and a simple walk in nature can be tremendously eye-opening.

Posted on April 23, 2019 03:24 by arnimbalkar arnimbalkar | 0 comments | Leave a comment