Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Grassland Study: Day 1

 Today the lab went to State Game Land 205 near the Trexlertown Nature Preserve off HWY PA100. Our job there and eleven grasslands is to determine the drivers of grassland diversity including plants, insects, birds, and mammals. SGL205 is a great place because it offers two grasslands - one dominated by warm season grasses and the other dominated by cool-season grasses. These grasses use different photosynthetic pathways (C4 versus C3) and these different pathways create different ratios of carbon isotopes. These isotopes work their way up the food chain so we can see if birds and insects are eating the seeds, the plants, and the things that eat them. 

I was there at 530 to survey birds then the students showed up later that morning. 

Although the sites are adjacent and covered in grasses, the warm season and cool season grasslands have very different birds. The cool season had Red-winged Blackbirds all over the place and the warm season had none. But the warm season grassland had Indigo Buntings (caught two). Both had at least one Grasshopper Sparrow.

Remains of a pheasant and egg

That cloud by my hand is pollen - not a great place to be if you have allergies

Red-winged Blackbird nest

Red-winged Blackbird nest with nestlings (only 2)

Warm season grassland


That would be pollen

Dead pheasant - we found four in the cool season grassland. The chewed off wings on one suggest that foxes were the predators. This is an introduced bird so I don't feel that bad. Wish there was some effort to get Northern Bobwhite back to Pennsylvania

No comments:

Post a Comment