It’s almost fall and the field season is winding down. Yesterday it hailed here in Denver (technically Lakewood) and some of it has stuck to the ground, looking like snow. The air is crisp and the leaves are starting to turn. And I am clinging to summer while I watch it slip through my fingers having gone much too quickly.
It’s been a great field season. My coworkers are wonderful and I will miss them so, especially Sam Andres, my co-star in this adventure. She will be moving on soon and I wish her the best of luck. She has been awesome to work with and I know she is going to do some awesome things!
This summer we often ventured to the western slope, to the drought plagued lands past the Rocky Mountains. While the drought is pretty depressing to witness, I must admit I like the heat and enjoyed baking out in the sun. We worked with a lot of cool plants. Unfortunately conditions were rough and many either didn’t flower or I missed the flowering. What was really cool was learning the different monitoring methods. Some plants we did demography monitoring, where data is collected for tagged individuals over many years. Other plants were tallied by the numbers of vegetative and reproductive individuals. Yet others we did frequency monitoring. Each method is applied depending on the life history of the plant, some of which aren’t completely known. Methods are taken from the Measuring and Monitoring handbook. This handbook goes really in depth into the statistical methods necessary for sampling sufficiency and for appropriate analysis. Math isn’t my strong suite so learning these formulas is super helpful for me!
Though many of our rare species occur on the western slope, we had other fun destinations as well. We traveled to northern central Colorado a few times, surveying plants in the Kremmling Field Office. One trip we collaborated with a botany class from a Colorado University. We always had a solid crew of individuals always ready to help us whenever we worked in Kremmling.
One fun adventure was near Canon City where we helped local BLM specialists identify a possible rare species to monitor.
One species that we monitored was in a vastly different ecosystem than what we normally worked in. This was Eutrema penlandii, a small alpine plant. This trip was a challenge because we were working in cold, wet climate with a lot of people from different agencies. We needed to ensure that monitoring efforts were done consistently across the various groups of people, many who had a lot of experience and weren’t about to be ordered around by interns. Though past years there had been some monitoring inconsistencies, we managed to keep it all together and collect some good data!
While we completed a lot of monitoring and I am very proud of our work, we also had some fun adventures along the way.
Our adventures have been great! Though I will be sad to move on in ~6 weeks time, I will always remember this experience fondly:)