8-25-2016 SB Visit

Hello and Happy Friday!

I am excited to announce that the season for E. eriocarpa is definitely winding down. In comparison to the pant counts from our last trips, we have noted a dramatic decrease in the number of living individuals at the Davy Brown sites and the Nira sites.However, we were unable to make this comparison at the Red Rock sites. 

[DBT site above, looking visibly less dense in comparison to previous visits]

Due to the Rey Fire, Paradise Road had been closed, and an evacuation order was in place for campers and residents of the area. Looking at the map below, the Red Rock sites do not seem to have directly been burned, but the hillside of the Upper Oso Site has most likely been directly affected by the fire. When the Road opens, I plan of driving out and checking for myself.

As for the plants and sites I did access last week, there are a few things I noted that are worth mentioning:

At the Davy Brown Road site, there are still over 100 plants, but qualitatively speaking, there appear to be fewer left at this site in comparison to previous visits. DBR also matches DBT and Nira in the sense that none had a single living umbel, and pods were few and far between at all three sites as well.

Another general trend I have noticed at all 3 sites was a decrease in the number of other organisms on the plants such as small milkweed beetles, leafhoppers, grasshoppers, etc. Absolutely no Monarch larva was found at any of the sites either.

[ash was just about the only thing we found on the plants during this visit]

I believe Nira had the most dramatic decrease in number of plants within the last two weeks, going from 72 individuals on August 2nd, to 55 individuals on August 25th. Needless to say this leads me to believe our visits will take less and less time as the season progresses.

[photos of Nira above]

Based off of these observations, I can say with confidence that the season is beginning to end. I have bee lucky enough to have volunteers to go out every two weeks, and now more are stepping up to begin to enter the data as well. I will be training volunteers and members of Dr. Villablancas’ research group Andrew Jess and Carly Scanlan in how to correctly enter the data on my day off tomorrow, which will expedite the process as well, especially considering Sal has started college again, so he can no longer help out. 

I will leave you with a slightly off-topic side note from my little vacation I took this last month, backpacking to Mt.Whitney. 

On our first day I was heading towards Shepard pass, and I kept noticing a plant that looked like some sort of narrow leaf milkweed, but I didn’t think much of it. Then near the end of the day just before the last set of switchbacks, I noticed this unmistakably familiar bug in the middle of the trail!!!

We were above 10,000 feet!!! To me, it’s amazing that the small milkweed bug can thrive in such a wide scope of environments. I was way too excited about it, so I had to share. 

Until next time,

Ashley Fisher

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