Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Harvesting" barley and weeds

I spent the day collecting over 50 samples each consisting of digging up a plant, (barley, Alyssum, or crested wheatgrass), collecting the top 2 cm of soil for seed bank sampling, and a soil core for DNA extraction in the restoration exclosure (picture below) or in the remnant native site which since last spring has been taken over by invasive species. It's depressing from an ecological perspective to see the loss of native grass species. But that is what the NPS, W&L
students and I are working to correct.
In the picture above the light yellow/tan is planted barley in the exclosure. The area is 23 acres and you can see the edge of the fence on the left side and the trees in the front are the closest edge of the fenceline. The barley grew well only in the areas where Roundup was applied in the left half an herbicide directed at crested wheatgrass (Agropyron spicatum) was applied and Alyssum desertorum survived and the barley barely survived.

I also sampled in the area where two new exclosures are currently being constructed. The picture below demonstrates what creatures of habit Elk are. The fence is not yet finished but it was placed in their normal trail coming off of the Yellowstone river and they didn"t know what to do. So they ended up laying down and ruminating for an hour and were still doing so 2 hours later when I was done sampling. If they only knew that it was for their own good.

After sampling the now invaded "native plant species" remnant a cloud burst opened up and I got the picture below of a rainbow over Roosevelt Arch. Not a bad way to end the day.

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