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> Response to Amy about descriptions, Student friendly descriptions
Tom_Crumrine
post Jun 16 2005, 04:35 PM
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I'll try my best. Sorry it took a while but I had to get up here to gain an understanding of what we are doing.

Donie's (the scientist) Interests

Donie is interested in how tundra species respond to changing environmental conditions. Climate change for example.

The Experiment

Donie and her team have set up 102 plots (I'll try to get a picture for you). Each plot is 2x3 meters. There are 17 different treatments that are repeated 6 times. The treatments fall into a few categories.

removal of moss
removal of moss, dwarf birch and labrador tea
fertilization
fertilization and removal

So basically what they are doing is testing various plots and seeing how they respond when the conditions are changed. [For younger kids it could be as simple as looking at a lawn--the fertilized parts grow better, lawns with weeds in one corner eventually have weeds all over, if you remove weeds things change, etc.]

What do they do
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The actual work in the plots could be done by anyone. The more you know about what you are removing the better but it can be learned in a fairly short amount of time. Each plot has what is to be removed or added. You go into that plot and remove or add. For example yesterday we worked on a moss plot and removed all the types of moss that were in the 2x3 meter section. It is a lot of work and they have been doing it for almost 8 years.

Back in the lab at night they log the mass of material removed. This gets put into a spreadsheet so that they can analyze it and see what happened.

So?

They are still working on what it all means. One thing they have found is that the mosses seem to not grow back very well in fertilized plots. Whether that is because they are shaded out by larger shrubby plants or that they don't grow well in nutrient rich soils--they aren't sure yet.

As I receive more information on all of this I will send it along. I will try to get some pictures and data tables that can be explained to kids fairly easily.

Hope this helps,

Tom
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