Blog for 2009-06-16

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Rod teaching butterfly pinning

Today was the first full day with our projects. My group, the butterfly group, had already started collecting data, so today was nothing new. Three of the groups went out to the plot this morning after breakfast to gather data. Stuart Davies, one of our new lecturers, also joined us out in the field. He spent time with each group in the field, giving us advice on our projects. It was so helpful to hear what he had to say and we all appreciated the different points he brought up. Later in the afternoon another huge rainstorm hit us. All of us at the plot got soaking wet as we continued to work and walk back. The rain produced the first leech bite of the trip, as well as many wet people and issues in the field including wet butterflies, flooded sites, missing equipment, and rained-on notebooks. We certainly learned the hardships of data collection since we could do very little work with collecting butterflies while it rained, messing up our original data collection schedule.

After trying to dry off, we had to present the revisions of our projects to the group. The day before we had heard a lot of constructive feedback on our projects, so the revisions were very interesting. The feedback was well used since almost everyone had revisions to their projects, and some of them were quite significant. My group ended up adding another data collection method (counting butterflies during transect walks), and other groups went from not changing anything to changing their hypothesis to just doing minor tweaks in the data collection. Then before dinner, Rod Eastwood gave a short presentation on how to pin butterflies and showed us the collections from last year. Pinning is really hard, and he makes it look so easy. It takes a lot of concentration and precise movements to really make the butterfly look nice. The collections from last year were also incredible, showcasing the diversity they saw.

After dinner we had our first lecture in quite some time. Stuart Davies talked about the work in the CTFS plots around the world. It was really interesting to learn about what was going on everywhere and to see how extensive the CTFS system is. It was also interesting to see some of the carbon data they have collected around the world. Some of us then went on a night walk once the lecture finished. We found some amazing spiders and phasmids, including this spider (the big black one!), and had a great time.