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> July 21 to 23, Sorting Vegetation Samples
post Jul 26 2005, 08:10 PM
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July 21 to 23, 2005
Sorting Vegetation Samples

For the past three days, Brian and I have been sorting the 200 vegetation samples that we collected out at the Ikpikpuk delta. We finished on Saturday, the 23rd! Yea! It was important to get the samples sorted out to genus and species, if possible, or at least to functional plant groups while they were still green.

Brian is showing me how to identify grasses and sedges.
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Iím sure this is a sedge!
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The samples were sorted one at a time with each sample bag dumped of its contents onto sheets of paper covering the table. The pieces of vegetation were separated into individual piles, and the separate piles placed into envelopes (legal-sized white envelopes that taste terrible!) that were marked with the date collected, island name, transect number, sample number and the species or plant type. Besides the sedge and grass piles, we also had piles of dead plant matter, lichen, saxifrage, willow, vetch, and unknown piles that were labeled forb (a forb is any non-grasslike herbaceous plant).

Hereís a pile of dead plant matter:
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And, hereís a pile of sedge clippings:
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Some of the samples were not clipped in the field but instead a turve, or a 10-cm square piece of turf, was cut out and brought back to the lab. Turves were cut in areas with especially dense growth of a very short species of sedge, Carex subspathacea. These turves were packaged in ziploc bags, which kept them very moist and sometimes muddy. If the plants were too mud-covered, the clippings were washed in a bowl of water to remove the mud. The presence of mud on the samples would affect the biomass measurement after samples are dried so the mud must be removed.

Brian clips a turve,
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And, I learned to give a nice trim to the turves myself.
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On our third day of sorting, we had a volunteer help us. Chie Sakakibara, a University of Oklahoma PhD student studying the cultural aspects of whaling in Barrow, was interested in finding out more about what we were doing. We were glad to have her help as we finished Saturday afternoon instead of in the evening as we had anticipated.

Chie enjoys sorting vegetation!
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After the sorting was finished, the envelopes of clippings needed to be dried. Brian brought the samples to a drying oven where they will dry at 50 C for about 72 hours. Later this fall (after the field season quiets down!), Brian will weigh the dried samples to obtain the above-ground biomass for his samples. Averaging samples from similar habitat types will allow him to compare available biomass in various habitat types in the snow goose habitat in the delta.

The drying oven contains nearly 200 vegetation samples to be dried.
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Next week, the soil samples will also be dried in order to obtain the water content of the soils in various habitat types. So, I guess I have a break until we go out to band snow geese on August 2nd. I have plenty to keep me busy (school starts August 18th!), and Iíll keep working on getting caught up on posting pictures. So, stay tuned, and if you send me more questions I will get those answered as well!
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