Thursday, 13 September 2012

PhD week 28: Fieldwork preparation

Trotter's Gorge, northeast of Palmerston, showing the exent of Trotter's Gorge Scenic Reserve, location of the DOC campsite, and the track.

Spring has well and truly sprung here in Canterbury, with all the attendant signs such as lambs, daffodils and flowering magnolias that look magnificent for two days before the northwesterly wind picks up and blows all the flowers off.

Spring is also the time of year that Irenimus come out in force, making it a worthwhile time to get out and about to supplement my collections with fresh specimens and anecdotal knowledge of their biology and behaviour. It's also an excellent excuse to get outside, enjoy the lovely weather, and see more of the beautiful country I live in. The intention for this trip is to get a first taste of field work and work out the systems and equipment that I will need to put in place in the future. I'm hoping to collect four species that I haven't got many specimens of, and from which I can extract DNA.

To plan the field trips, I downloaded a bunch of GIS shapefiles showing areas of interest including the locations of DOC land and tracks, as well as the Topo50 series of topographic maps showing New Zealand (which are freely available online). I viewed these using Quantum GIS, overlaying all the data of interest, and printing off maps of areas that look to be particularly worth visiting.

I've also had to amass a bunch of collecting equipment. In particular, a departure from the norm for me is the extent of soil-sampling gear that I require. Irenimus larvae live in the soil, feeding on plant roots, and I am keen to find some. For this I've been able to borrow an array of corers, augers and spades to try and determine the best method of trying to get them. More standard equipment includes beating trays for sampling shrubs and trees, and a vacuum sampler for sucking weevils out of grass and low vegetation.

   Edwards AWF. 1972. Likelihood. An account of the statistical concept of likelihood and its application to scientific inference. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
   Borg MJ. 2001. Reading the Bible Again for the First Time. HarperOne, New York.
   Psalms 111–114

Ubuntu GIS

Project 86—Wait for the Siren
Project 86—XV
Lutri-Kriss—Throwing Myself
John Cage—Cartridge Music
Leo Tolstoy—War and Peace Book 2 LibriVox audiobook
A Game of Thrones audiobook read by Roy Dotrice

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