Field of Science

Spring break - field season!

Well, one thing is pretty certain, spring break is next week and very, very few undergrads will be on campus.  As usual, spring break will be when the Phactor gears up for field season.  A couple of undergrads are involved with seed germination experiments: the effect of fire on germination of an invasive legume, allelopathic (chemical warfare) interference of germination of native prairie species by an invasive legume (notice a theme?).  Our first task, as it is every year, is to find our long-term study plots, whose locations in general are known, but in the exact specific, they can be hard to find.  Prairies are dynamic places, and things happen.  Who knows why?   Things get buried, things get dug up, especially if they mark the corner of a study plot.  And with an advance spring, the earliest suspects will be sprouting very soon, especially since the prairie was burned in the fall so nothing remains to burn this spring.  The blackened soil will also warm up a bit sooner too.  It's strange in the spring without any vegetation, when you can see the whole plot so easily, and when the 30 inch PVC pipes stick up so conspicuously, so it's hard to imagine how hard these will be to find (close to impossible) when the prairie vegetation reaches 7-8 feet in August.  And of course with all of this to do, the book looms, and the need to get it finished ASAP.  It'll be a great spring break.

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