For the curious, answers only lead to more questions

You can now watch a 4 1/2 minute video of me presenting my preliminary results from this summer’s field study on an invasive grass. I’m going back through the data, analyzing how meaningful the differences I saw were, given the massive variation. So keep in mind these are preliminary, not yet peer reviewed, conclusions.

I point out at the end of the talk that my results pave the way to ask more questions I am interested in.

These are germinants in early July. The one on top with the yellow pin is probably buffelgrass. I think the other two are the same species, but the one on the right is older, having grown leaves and shed its cotyledons. Does anyone know what Arizona plants has such a shape?

One of those questions that needs to be answered (before I can get to the real questions) is what a few of the plants I saw out there are… most of them I only saw in seedling stage. Seedlings lack reproductive parts (flowers), which are pretty critical for identification. But it gets worse. They also lack other major structures like adult stem structures (woody or not?), and even basic things like leaves. So I may not get much more specific than genus, but that would be pretty good itself – especially since we know mostly what species are present in my study site, so I can make an educated guess about what members of the genus I might be seeing.

And the answer is…

Sunset in Chaos Canyon, July 2011

With the arrival of the winter rains last week, and my first two public presentations of the results, my 2011 pilot field season is officially over! No spoilers on here, but suffice to say my preliminary analysis suggests that looking at seedling survival is in fact important, and I’m looking forward to setting up more detailed and strategic studies next summer. Now I get to apply to cover those materials and hire some promising undergraduates to help out! If you missed my poster at the GPSC’s homecoming weekend Student Showcase or the Institute of the Environment’s GradBlitz, feel free to leave a comment or email me directly about my results.