Before it gets lost forever in the shuffle, I wanted to post just a couple pictures from the third week of my Pymatuning Ecology Lab field course.
On Monday of the final week, the 3 student groups finished up their data collection and got to work entering numbers into spreadsheets, calculating some parameters using GIS-software, and framing an outline for their final report and presentation which were both due on that Friday. The frog diversity group had hours of acoustic recordings to go through in a wildlife “music” software platform. Looking for the visual signature of amplitudes and frequency and sound waves, they quickly were able to train themselves to pick out green frog from bullfrog from other species from the surrounding din of nighttime noises that one might usually hear around a swampy wetland. The water quality group had one more site to visit before coming back to the lab to sort through and identify collected specimens and make sense of how their water quality metrics matched up with aquatic biodiversity. The small mammal group completed the last of their 480 trap nights (!!) and were rewarded with the first confirmed meadow jumping mouse capture in recent PLE history. All told they captured nearly 40 small mammals throughout their best attempt to estimate population size using mark-(re)capture techniques and gauge diversity between different forested and field habitats.
For the midweek, starting on Tuesday at noon and returning Wednesday night, we made our annual expedition to Pennsylvania’s reintroduced elk herd near Benezette. We have exceptional access to a truly beautiful campsite right in the middle of the restoration zone and we were treated to some great elk encounters, a good discussion with the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s elk biologist and excellent water conditions to make use of the local swimming hole. I even coerced about half the students on an early morning hike that traversed almost 6 miles of state game lands hills and hollows.
We wrapped up the end of the week with group presentations, a small final exam, and a Thursday evening pontoon boat ride out onto the lake to spy on the local eagle nest where 2 adults and several sub-adults gave us an excellent show.