Thursday, May 7, 2009

Last day in YNP

The day started halling seven boxes to the YNP supply center for FedEx pick-up. Then a quick return to the lodge to get the crew (the Doray is small so I made the trip alone) to go back to Mammoth for the presentation to the YCR. There were about 20 park employees in attendance and the data generated a good discussion about the restoration efforts in the Gardiner Basin.
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.

May 6 Wrapping up in the field and packing up the lab

Not much excitement today. We took the last soil cores today from the SBU experiment and removed our soil fungal tubes. The agar did dry out some but there was still agar in contact with the 37 micron mesh. We shall see after we return.

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

Canyon, Yellowstone Lake and more weather

We started out the morning by adding solutions to our SBU and urease inhibitor experiment. Went well and the data was collected this evening and will be sampled again tomorrow AM. The results we are finding are consistently low soil urease activity in Alyssum desertorum soils and soil respiration in response to SBU is 2 -fold greater in the remnant site by the Yellowstone river in the Gardiner Basin. Further analysis of this interesting result will be performed back in Lexington. On our way out to Canyon this morning (it was too cloudy for respiration) we spotted a group of photographers just before Roaring Mountain and there was a young grizzly tearing apart a rotten log looking for grubs, without a place to stop we kept on going.

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 headed on down to Yellowstone Lake. The road just opened May 1 and none of the services are open yet, it was pretty quiet. We got a group picture with the frozen lake in the background.

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

Not a predator in sight but a good day in the field.

Today we hit Gardiner Basin to sample the restoration exclosure prior to seeding with barley and to quantify soil respiration in our field simulated bovine urine experiment. Using a solar powered pump and CO2 Infrared gas analyzer we can quantify the flux of CO2 from the soil. After a few technical difficulties and several clouds we were able to quantify soil respiration in the GB agricultural field and the native remnant (still has invasives but has not been impacted by tilling). We are starting to get data sets analyzed and things are shaping up quite well. In brief, Alyssum desertorum inhibits fungal growth and in soils in which ALDE dominates the response of soil microbes to SBU is reduced. We have layed out several experiments that we will conduct after we return to campus and several still in the works for the last few days that we are here. The video below shows the stark contrast in weather from a few days ago.

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

Alyssum hunting = Grizzly

We started out at noon today after "sleeping in" (it is Sunday after all) and cleaning up the lodge. We were headed out to Slough (pronounced slew like stew) Creek and the Specimen area to look for Alyssum desertorum. Using GPS data from the Univ. of Montana we had waypoints to check that had previously identified ALDE's presence. On our way out we passed a bison kill that was 10 feet off the road near Specimen, nothing was eating it but plenty of photographers were waiting for an animal to return (When we came back through the carcass was loaded on a truck to go to the carcass dump, not safe that close to the road).

The hike down the Slough Creek was nice, no ALDE, but we did see plenty of Bison a few ducks and coots and some fresh bear tracks (a little unnerving) but hiking with 7 provides safety in numbers and we had our bear spray. Slough creek is one of (if not the most, Eric?) species rich area in Yellowstone. It is my favorite place to hike. Although it can be hiked on a gravel road it gets you off of the beaten path somewhat and you can hear nature. We even heard the spring peepers today.
Just can't stop taking pictures of bison.

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

A quick taste

On our way to Old Faithful today we got incredibly lucky and found a female wolf from the Gibbon pack on a grizzly killed bison. We are off to collect cores now but will update with all of the grizzly details, photos and video later.

After she had her fill she crossed the road and headed off into the woods.

Videoe below not for the faint of heart. Lots of rare meat.

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.

Then as we were heading back we saw a large pack of spotting scopes and knew there was some action. Three wolves from the Agate Pack and a grizzly on what we think is a bison kill.

The video below is through David's spotting scope. We will get more up later but we need to get to work, the sun is actually shining. No snow!!!

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.