That was a quite a week in the ditch. The grass was tall, and the milkweeds were (mostly) short. Hats off to those of you stalwart few who really had to go find your plants in the very high grass – nicely done.
Some of you might have met some folks from my lab out there – we eventually found, renumbered and tagged all of the plants on transect 2. Putra and I did 516 back to 400 on Saturday afternoon, Tab and Darren and Putra did 199 to 280 on Sunday afternoon, and I just finished the last ones this morning. If we got to the plants before you did you probably found your plants pretty quickly, but if you got there before we did, it might have pretty tough to find your plants – props for breaking trail out there. The photos above show some before and after photos after we cut some of the grass around some plants, and tied a piece of white flagging tape to make it easier to find next time. It should definitely be easier next time.
I was able to run a quick analysis of the first week’s data, and those reports are up on the shared drive now, along with a summary from last year. I haven’t had a chance to really examine the data closely, but it looks like we got some data from virtually all the plants, though most (223 of 314) were not emerged yet. Looks like we found about about 19 monarch eggs out there on 83 live plants – that’s nearly one egg for every 4 live plants! More details in the data. Yay, data! I will continue to tweak the report through the season, but I’m just glad it is running now.
A couple of things are going to be happening this week that I wanted to tell you about:
First, I’ll get the rest of the milkweed assignments out to you by tomorrow, possibly tonight.
Second, some folks from my lab and I will be planting some replacement plants on Wednesday afternoon. I’ll take a close look at last year’s data to see which plants were totally dead last year, and we’ll replace them with seedlings. We’ll make a note of it in the datasheet.
Third, the city will be mowing some of the grass out there next week. I will be installing pretty tall pin flags at all of the milkweeds to let the mowers know to avoid our plants. I’ll probably try to do this over the weekend, since they will mow on Monday or Tuesday (the 11th or 12th). You’ll start seeing the pin flags next week.
A few words about data entry:
Please remember to fill out the “entered by/date” field on your datasheet when you enter it!
A data entry tip which helps save time: if you want to quickly enter the same data in a sheet (like the date or your names), you can just enter it once, highlight it and the cells below and press Ctrl+D (⌘ + D on a Mac) to quick fill a sheet down without dragging (which often messes with formatting). This is much faster and more accurate than typing the same data repeatedly.
In a few cases, folks couldn’t find specific plants out there at all. I don’t think this will be common going forward, but the correct thing to do would be to enter them on the data as “ERROR” and explain in the notes. You wouldn’t want to assume they are NE or DEAD or ALIVE, since you didn’t find the plant.
On to week 2! Assignments to come shortly.
Almost forgot – toad!