Field of Science

No rain? Back to field work!

What?  No rain?  Well, soggy or not, there's field work to be done.  A hard thing to figure out is the life history of some plants. Out on the prairie one of our target species is a lousewort, a green parasite, and it's been tough trying to figure out how it grows and when it dies.  So a couple of years back a whole batch (sciency term) of largish (more jargon) plants were marked and measured in various ways with the idea of coming back the next year to see how they had changed.  How many seedlings were around?  How many shoots with how many leaves did it have now?  Did it produce any plantlets via short rhizomes?  Then nature intervened and over the next winter, one with plenty of snow cover, the marked plants, clearly showing a superior delectability had been almost completely eaten by some small mammalian prairie resident.  You understand that all that before data, and the time invested in getting it, was essentially useless without the after data.  But you try again.  This year, a small 10 cm x 10 cm plots with lousewort seedlings were marked.  And the seedlings are being counted and individually identified photographically.  You expect the seedling stage to have a high mortality, but is it higher when the seedling must find a host to survive?  Well, you place your bets and then spend your time and money to find out.  Here's one of the 100 square centimeter plots (3 orange nails, 1 grey nail for orientation at the corners).  The lousewort is easy to identify from the time it's first pair of true leaves appear by the scalloped margins.  So, what you think?  How many seedling do we have here?  How many will survive?  And how long before they get big enough to reproduce? 

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