Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hiking in the name of science

We didn't really just take Edda hiking on Saturday just for the fun of it. We did it in the name of SCIENCE! Jeremy's coworker, Doug, lives on a large property to the north of us and he is an ecologist and has been doing plant surveys of his property for over a decade now. There are a number of observational experiments going on and the one we went to yesterday involved counting herbaceous plants in various 2x2 square meter plots. This is Doug:

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We tromped through a meadow which had just been farmland only ten years ago and it was interesting to see how the landscape changes from farmland into woodland. So this is about waist to head-height tulip poplars, the type of tree that is in our backyard, two or three times the height of our house. These tulip poplars have been hit with some disease that first turns the top leaves brown and will eventually kill the tree. I was very sad to confirm my suspicion that the dogwoods in our area are also dying off slowly. I've noticed that a few houses in our neighborhood have dying dogwoods in the front yards and the ecologists on our trip told me that it was true that in a few years - the most likely scenario is that most of the dogwoods in the area will be gone.

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We (Jeremy, me and Edda) actually did very little counting since to us, everything looks pretty much the same, but it was fun to hear the names and to learn a few of the plants growing up in our own backyard.

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And here's Natasha, our research dog. I think I should have picked an area of science where I could have a research dog along, I guess that would be ecologist, geologist or forester. I guess I do have my dogs with me all the time these days, but I don't think it's very much fun for them sitting under a desk at my feet.

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