TRDU For What?!

Hi all! It’s been about a month now since I’ve arrived in Boise, and I have to say, when I first moved here I was very excited to experience the only Western state I haven’t been to! (Other than Alaska) So far, there have been no disappointments. Boise is actually quite the happening city, and it’s been really fun living in such an outdoorsy, active community. Coming from a bike-friendly city, I did not expect Boise to be as cycle-friendly as it is–everyone rides everywhere and is always mountain biking! Also, there is a river that runs through the entire city so I spent some time last weekend kayaking through town! I’m definitely considering investing in getting my own while I’m here . . .

Anyway, on a work related note, it’s been amazing getting to be out in the field nearly every day. I think about how during this time of year many people get “spring/summer fever” and stare out of their office windows yearning to be outside. I feel very lucky we all have the chance to spend our time working in the great outdoors, and it definitely makes working in 98 degree heat worth it. So far we have mostly spent this month doing Habitat Assessments for sage-grouse and SOS collections. I am amazed with some of these species we are collecting–particularly grasses–with the very small timeframe we have to get the seeds when they are ready for dispersal but not too late when they are all gone! I think Elymus elymoides is going to be a tricky one, especially because there is such variation in maturation within each individual within the population.

Coming from a mixed background of both wildlife and botany, I have been chosen by a mentor with a similar background and is a wildlife biologist for the Four Rivers Field Office. Although he is young in comparison to most mentors, I am so impressed with the knowledge he has of plant diversity and the interaction between the habitat and the animals utilizing it. I’ve really learned the importance of having knowledge about the system as a whole–geology, plants, wildlife, weather patterns, etc. Too often I think people find their niches and become enveloped with solely that aspect, and I’ve been shown with a more multi-faceted approach to one’s job title, more work and more progress can be accomplished. (Shout out to Joe!) I have definitely been inspired by the ambitious nature of my mentor and am able to see and experience the translation of data collection to analysis and output, which often is a process most seasonals do not take part in.

Our crew is pretty tight-knit and in the field we have come up with some pretty interesting ways to remember plant codes and make HAF transects pretty fun. For example usually when Tragopogon dubius is spotted, one of us will break out into TRDU for what?! We even came up with a music video for it while driving back that involved cows, multicolored lights, and TRDU seeds dispersing in the wind . . . It’s probably the sun making us a bit loopy, but I do have to say it’s nice being surrounded by fellow science nerds who understand how exciting it is to find a particular plant or animal.

We are leaving for Mid-vale tomorrow to do some camping and more HAFs before everything completely dries up. Hopefully, we’ll see more wildlife (We saw a bear, coyote pups, and a blue grouse last time)–supposedly we’ll be by an area with sage-grouse so I’m hoping we get to see one! In the meantime to satisfy my wildlife nerd-outs, I’ve become pretty obsessed with all the insect life that thrives out here in the sagebrush desert. It’s amazing the diversity that is out there! And turns out all those holes in the ground aren’t snake holes, most of them belong to insects!

Found this terrifying black widow while collecting Poa secunda

Found this terrifying black widow while collecting Poa secunda

This tiger beetle was trying to fight my camera just feet from the black widow den

This tiger beetle was trying to fight my camera just feet from the black widow den

At one of the Pony fire sites, these colorful long-horned beetles were on nearly every Sego Lily. Yay pollination!
At one of the Pony fire sites, these colorful long-horned beetles were on nearly every Sego Lily. Yay pollination!

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A Mormon cricket spotted at a recent burn site.

A Mormon cricket spotted at a recent burn site.

 

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