Hi! My name is Ms. McCullagh. I will continue to post nature related photos and videos on this great outlet - thank you, Earthwatch! I traveled with Earthwatch to Maryland to study Climate Change and Fragmented Forests at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanks to Period 4 for these great questions!

Thanks to Period 4 for these great questions!
1.What has been the best part of your trip? Adriem

I have had a blast walking through the woods, listening to the leaves crunch underfoot, assisting the researchers with their data collection, watching the variations of colors in each sunrise, and making new friends.

2.How long are you out there each day? Patrick

Long after I awake to catch the sunrise, we meet the researchers at 8:45 am and are briefed on the day's activities. We gear up with appropriate tools, and head off. Due to the rain and wet conditions, we wore wellington boots two days in a row. We return for lunch, and head out for another round of research or a learning session. We also have had a few evening sessions, so long days are the norm...much longer than a day at CCHS!

3.In the tree mapping activity what was the most exotic or interesting tree you saw?

Ah, trees...No favorite, but I think the best part has been gaining tree, leaf and twig identification expertise. Too bad I can ID trees we don't have in South Florida...

4.Did you discover anything abnormal while measuring the tree and observing the wildlife in the area? Corey Z

In the logged areas, the invasive plants were a great nuisance - they had nettles and spines, and seemed to grow everywhere we needed to walk! We also saw a variety of fungi growing on the downed logs and tree stumps; some specimens were very odd and some were very beautiful fungi.

5.While in Maryland, have you had any single experience that will have a long-term effect, such as an inspirational experience? Carlos V

As I walked through the leaves in the forest, I was transported back to my childhood. When we lived in Pennsylvania, our house backed on a deep woods where my siblings and I played everyday. Walking through the leaf carpet reminded me of how much I loved (stil love) being in the woods. I guess I now realize how much I miss such "close to nature" times and how I need to find more tree-time when I return to South Florida.

6.What is your favorite type of tree and why? Mark M

I don't have a favorite tree, but I am partial to being in the part of the forest that had the greatest diversity of species. I also enjoyed being in the part of the forest where the individuals were varied - tall and not so tall, young and mature.

7.What is the daily routine of a SERC technician? Chris H

[Nancy Kahn with an out-sized specimen of a sycamore leaf]
The daily activities are varied, and the folks gave us several examples of their work day - diameter chest height measurements, leaf collection, tree mapping, coarse wood debris (every piece) measuring, transect debris measuring (just the wood that the tape transected), leaf sorting and identification, data entry...they have busy days!


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