Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Since I was out in the park and had some time I decided to head towards Yellowstone Lake via Dunraven Pass/Mt. Washburn to look for Elk and Bison. As I got close to Mt. Washburn I decided to go to the fire outlook on the top. It's always closed in the spring so now was my chance to get to the highest point in the park. It is a 2.8 mile hike up an access road that is used by the Rangers that staff the outlook. There is a more difficult route up the front side of the mountain but it was closed due to grizzly activity. I took my bear spray and headed up at 9:50 AM and figured I could do it in one hour. After the first 1000 yds I thought I was done. Going from 1100 ft in Lexington to 8800 feet can take it out of you. But I turned it around and made it to the top at 10,243 ft in just under 1 hour. The weather turned nasty with rain/freezing rain, so I didn't spend much time at the top but I did meet a nice couple from Canada and they took my picture.
Of course a quarter of the way down the sky opened up to blue but it made for a nice descent. You can see the blue sky in the photo of fire killed trees below.
I then headed further south towards the lake into the Hayden Valley hoping to see large herds of bison or elk. I did come across a huge herd of bison ~300 crossing the road. No pictures I have plenty of those. I turned around and headed for the Gardiner Basin to start sampling the exclosure. It will be seeded with winter wheat on Thursday and I want to get a thorough sampling of the planted and now dead barley biomass, plus sample the areas where the barley didn't grow but A. desertorum did despite herbicide treatment. One interesting outcome of the fence and the planting of barley is that a pair of sand hill cranes now spend a large portion of their day feeding on the large number of grasshoppers as well as the barley seed heads. In the picture below taken at 7 this evening the male is getting a little upset with me getting too close and is letting out a loud warning call.
Tomorrow more sampling and a talk for the Yellowstone Center for Resources and USDA-NRCS.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I'm going out to get soil samples and give a talk on the latest data. Much of it from last spring and all of it analyzed by Maya and Camden with the technical expertise of Kelly Hemminger.
Getting ready to board.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
We had lunch at the Sawtooth deli in Gardiner. It was snowing and raining in Mammoth so we are going back later to hike the hot springs before dinner at the Town Cafe. After lunch we cleaned up the lodge and now we are waiting to head to the hot springs. The weather still looks bad, but as we have learned it could be sunny in Mammoth and the weather will change, probably in the next 10 minutes.
That's all for now. It's been a great trip all around.
Perhaps we will get some pictures of the wolves that have denned up near Mammoth (the former Canyon Pack) and will share them later. But if not. See you in Lexington. We are leaving for Bozeman at 4:45 AM for our 7:30 flight.
After field work we came back and packed up the lab and I finished the presentation for the Yellowstone Center for Resources for tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
We stopped at Mud Volcano/Churning caldron (yes correct spelling). Pretty cool geology even though it smells like rotten eggs. The video below is of the Churning caldron.
Then we stopped at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
On the way back through, and now with blue skys, we got to see the same Grizzly grazing on some fresh green grass from 100 yards. Plenty of pictures were taken.
On the way back to Gardiner we got stuck in yet another Bison jam. I took some close ups this time.
When we got back to Gardiner clouds were still to thick to do soil respiration using the solar panel so we hit main street Gardiner and did some souvenir shopping. After an hour it looked clear so we set up to do species specific soil respiration. I took half of the group back to the lodge to sieve soils for future analysis and on my return back to Gardiner (25 min later) the weather had turned quickly and put a stop to respiration after one replicate.
Within 10 minutes of leaving the field site we got to see a rainbow over Gardiner and the sun quickly came back out.
Tomorow we hope to get soil respiration done and we will take our final soil cores from the SBU experiment and remove our fungal soil tubes that we installed 10 days ago. Then it will be time to pack up samples and the lab and get them back to Lexington. Time flies.....
Monday, May 4, 2009
Tomorrow we will set up another lab urease incubation experiment and go back out to GB to quantify soil respiration for species specific soils.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Above is a Bufflehead duck that was being harrassed by a Barrows Goldeneye duck (Below).
So after we finished the Slough Creek hike we headed back towards Specimen to find an ALDE waypoint. Nearly to the destination we see a load of RV's, cars and spotting scopes. We happened upon a grizzly eating an unknown (to us) kill on the Lamar river. The waypoint we were looking for turned out to be on the river bank and probably 1/4 mile from the grizzly so we didn't look for ALDE, but we got great pictures and video, once again. We are really fortunate. Seven wolves and 2 grizzlies on three different kills, all within 3 days.
Tomorrow we will be conducting another lab incubation of soils with simulated bovine urine and an inhbitor of urease. Plus we will be going out to quantify soil respiration in the field and sample soil in the restoration site prior to seeding (which may occur this week).
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
This wolf crossed the road in front of us near the old Picnic stop in the Lamar valley. We then looked to the left and saw it's partner still on a kill. We couldn't see the kill but knew it was there based on all of the birds hanging around.
This is the wolf that was still on the kill and then left and gave us a good opportunity to get pictures.
Evening update: After an exciting (close to once in a lifetime) morning we came back and took a quick brek. Then we went out to set up another SBU experiment in Gardiner Basin. The weather the day before didn't make for the best 24h sampling so we started over again.
Not a bad field site (when the sun is shining)
Tomorrow we are going to head down to Old Faithful and Canyon and then sample our SBU expeiment in the afternoon.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
After getting the experiment started we headed into Mammoth to see if the Canyon wolf pack was around. No luck, but on our way back out we saw 2 doe Bighorn Sheep crossing the road. The picture below is of one of them.
Tomorrow we plan to get up early and go looking for wildlife, we still need to see grizzly and black bears. Then we will finish sampling our lab SBU experiment and then count fungal plates. The bacterial plate counts were actually too successfull. Most of the plates had too many colonies to count. We will repeat this experiment when we return to W&L. But our control plates are still clear as day, not a single colony, so it is possible to perform sterile microbiology at 6,300 feet in a lodge.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Today began with light snow and 20F temperatures.
I had a meeting with Mary Hektner. Mary works for at the Yellowstone Center for Resources-National Park Service and is the coordinator of the restoration project in the Gardiner Basin. We scheduled our coffee break presentation to YCR staff for May 7 at 10:30 where we will present the data we have collected and our plans for follow up experiments after we return to campus. While I was in the meeting everyone else went to the Albright Visitors center at Mammoth Hot Springs and watched a movie about the park (still 2 more to watch, they let you choose). We then returned to the lodge to finish our soil incubation tubes. This method is based on a paper published in 1940 in which soil bacteria and fungi (collectively called soil microbes) are collected by burying a glass tube that has thousands of small holes and is filled with nutrient agar. After a period of time the tube is removed and the agar is removed for the determination of diversity and abundance. We modified this method by cutting out channels in plastic centrifuge tubes and gluing on a 37 micron nylon mesh through which fungal hyphae and bacteria could pass but most, if not all, roots cannot. We filled them with agar and an extract of soil collected from one of the four species of interest (A. desertorum, P. secunda, E. triticeum, or, A. cristatum) . This will allow us to investigate changes in soil organic matter quality and any possible anti-microbial properties of the soils. In the video below Becca, Camden and Brittany are pouring agar into the soil incubation tubes. While we don't have a sterile lab to do this work in we do have an alcohol lamp, low humdity and low temperature on our side.
Becca, Camden and Maya installing the soil incubation tubes.
Not a bad view for a lab.
Tomorrow we will be plating out soil bacteria and fungi for most probable number counts (a measure of abundance) and collecting soils from a reminant native grassland in the Gardiner Basin and surface soils in the GB to determine the seed banks of the 4 species of interest. We may take a dusk trip out to look for wildlife. Still need to see a grizz from a safe distance. Today we saw a coyote try to take down a yearling Elk. It wasn't going to happen, but fun to watch nonetheless.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
In picture above from left to right: Becca, Brittany, Maya, Mackenzie, Camden and David
The lab at the lodge.
Back to the lodge by 9:45AM and then back to working on making soil culture tubes and making soil extracts for bacterial and fungal counts.
Snow has stopped now (4:15PM) but the forecast looks tough for the rest of the week, but we have plenty to do. Tomorrow we will install the soil culture tubes in Gardiner Basin and collect soils in the exclosure in Gardiner Basin that is the site of the restoration project. Barley seeds will be planted this week in the exclosure to act as a cover crop, stablizing the soil and increasing soil organic matter in preparation for future seeding with native grass species.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
We also saw Bighorn sheep from a distance and plenty of elk, bison and pronghorn antelope.
Tomorrow we are getting up at 5AM to go "Wolfing/Grizzing". It's a 45 minute drive to the best wolf territory and we need to be there by sunrise for the best chance to see wolves or grizzlies.
It was a great first day, we all worked well together, got our research going and got to see a wolf.
Time for bed.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Then after a blue sky ride to Gardiner we then made it to the Bear Lair Lodge in Jardine (More on this great lodge later).
After settling in we took a quick trip into the park. We had a quick look at a juvenille bald eagle, rocky mountain bluebirds, and a pronghorn antelope.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
We are ready for just about anything the soil can throw at us. Hopefully I got it right. The mobile lab should be waiting for us when we arrive in
View Larger Map'>Jardine Friday evening. Next step is to pack the right mix of clothing for teens to hopefully 70 degree weather. We will be getting there in time for a below average temperature swing after an above average week prior to our arrival. Cany you say Climate change? Or is that how you get the monthly average temperature to work out right?
Back to menu planning. Need to be ready for Wally world when we land.