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Cascades Trail with the Botanists and a Evolutionary biologist


Emma Snowden

Today's team:
Zoe - Evolutionary Biologist
Peter - Botanist
Andrew - Botanist and photographer extraordinaire
Joel - Botanist
Katie - Horticulturalist
Alex - Seed biologist
Lizzy - Program operations manager with Earthwatch Australia
Tony - educator

Location: Cascades hut/SSS1

Today we drove my car to our location
We stopped at a surveying site, which is a 20 by 20 metre plot. Here the botanists have been surveying the entire area for every single different species that lay within the border - more commonly known as Ecology. Peter explained to me that the Ecologists work by recording every species they see, and then they look at the density. This is done by looking at which one is the tallest and which one is the lowest. They also have a look at which one has the most density - the most individual plants, and also which plants cover the most area.

From the information gathered at the site, the botanists can then look at the vegetation. From this point, the Botanists then look at the different types of vegetation - an example of this as Peter points out is: back in our suburban areas, we would have lots of trees and grass at the base. However, at a survey site there are herbs. At the site, there is a herb field and therefore would only have one layer. Around our home we would have two or three layers - a tree, a shrub, and a grass layer. With all the data collected and analysed, the botanists can ascertain the amount of area the plants take up. This will then determine the different vegetation types.
During this field work, Andrew showed me a plants bladder through a hand lens. It was quite beautiful to examine and see such detail. Absolutely fascinating. Did you know that plants have bladders?

After this field work, I then moved on to assist Zoe with her research. She is a Phd student and her research is about carnivorous plants and bugs who live together. She is working out how they interact with one another and if they evolved together.
During this part of the field work I got to relive my childhood. I needed to use the sweeping motion with the net to see what I could find. I also tried out the 'beating method' to collect bugs from trees. In total I collected more than 20 samples for Zoe. I think she kept about 10.

Another great day.