After the first six weeks of our internship, we are finally ready to begin seed collecting!! Almost…not quite. Unlike the previous Spring, when our field office apparently experienced record high amounts of precipitation, this year was quite the opposite. We did experience some precipitation, but mostly in the form of rain, and much later than to be expected. So, we were a bit dismayed, as there were a handful of days our mentor would send us somewhere to look for a specific population, that perhaps the year before had bloomed out phenomenally, but this year, practically nonexistent. It wasn’t too frustrating, but rather a bit unnerving for my partner and I, as this was both our first SOS internship, and we were worried that maybe we were missing something or weren’t looking in the right habitats. However, anytime our mentor was out in the field, she reported the same lack of spectacular blooms she’d seen at this time of year in previous seasons, which gave us some comfort.
Unfortunately, the timing of our CLM internship training also played into an overall loss of potential seed collections. It’s a bit of a conundrum, because the training was truly excellent. It was loads of fun getting to familiarize ourselves and work at the Chicago Botanic Garden for a whole week, and the speakers were all personable and full of useful information! It just ended up falling on a week that was a prime seed collecting window for where we’re at in Wyoming. Not to mention, the week before our training in Chicago, our mentor had a training of her own that she needed to attend, so we missed both the first and second week of June for collecting seeds. And the first two weeks of June are pretty critical for many of the potential collections we’d spent the last three to four weeks scouting for.
So as of now, we’ve only made a couple full collections. Many of the populations we revisited had either already seeded out, or been severely damaged due to insects. BUT our mentor seems very determined that we’ll find more populations in habitats of higher elevation, and makes the point that this is a good opportunity for the SOS team to branch out and try to make collections that have never been made before 😀 Keep your fingers crossed that next time I report, we’ll have made more progress!
BLM- Lander Field Office.