Week 3 Recap:

The results from this week were a little slow in coming – there was a bug in one of our analysis scripts that kept it from running. With a little sleuthing, we were able to trace it back to an error that happens when someone isn’t represented in the dataset for a week. One person wasn’t in the dataset for week 1, but we didn’t figure it out because there as a scripting error that made the project weeks off by a few days. When we corrected that error, the coded tried to calculate averages, realized that there was no data for one participant in week 1 and choked. We fixed the bug now, so let’s look at the data!


Looks like the plants are continuing to emerge, with increasing numbers of ALIVE plants, and decreasing numbers of N.E. plants. Approximately one larvae per 8-9 plants on average, though they actually seem pretty clumped (see the map below). We are seeing approximately one egg for every 4-5 plants on average. Here is the overall pattern over time:


I’m a little worried that some folks might be moving a little too fast out there – several of you are averaging less than 2 minutes per plant, and recording several plants as N.E. within the space of less than a minute. I’ve definitely seen some indications in the data (and anecdotally) that small plants are getting missed (e.g., they are recorded as ALIVE one week, N.E. the next, and ALIVE again the third week). Sometimes you have to look pretty close to see the plant emerging, and you have to look for clues (dead stems, tags) to find them. It helps to have a good search image for the plants, but they are pretty variable in leaf size and shape, so you have to be pretty careful and take you time out there.

Cool patterns with eggs and larvae – do you think we’ve already seen peak egg density out there for the spring? It looks like caterpillar densities and sizes are increasing.


I haven’t talked much about this figure yet. Can you figure out what it is showing? Hint: 3-28 and 4-11 are dates, and “plant.area” is a measure of plant size, and “cat.length” is caterpillar length. Why would a figure like this be useful? It should get more interesting as the season goes on.

I mentioned a map – here it is:


One last thing – mentor meeting this Friday in Mr. Bastin’s class from 2:35-4! We’ll have a group of undergrads, faculty and perhaps some recent grads and grad students. All questions are fair game – project stuff, science stuff, school stuff – we’ll do our best to answer.






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