Hi! My name is Ms. Moore. Please join me while I travel to New Orleans to study Climate Change and Caterpillars!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Observations and Data Collection in the Field Station (bunkhouse)

Here is that lubber I told you about yesterday.

Today our job was to identify, photograph, and enter info about the caterpillars we collected yesterday into an Excel spreadsheet (much like our class did with the plants from the biodiversity study we did before I left). Another task was to identify the plants that we found the caterpillars on. This was quite complicated, and I was glad I had practiced with my fifth and sixth graders before I headed to Louisiana. The research team used many of the same skills that you all used when we identified native and non-native species last week and the week before in our classroom. We used Field Guides, the internet, and dichotomous keys. It was very challenging work that takes time and practice to learn. I think I'll be much better at it by the time the week is over. By the way, I recognized a couple of the plants from my experience at school last week. Does anyone remember what the common name for plants from the species Ilex is? We found some caterpillars on Ilex decidua in the Honey Island Swamp site yesterday.

When we collected each caterpillar, we also collected some of the plant that it was found on so that the caterpillar would have food. We also collected the plants because knowing what the caterpillars are eating is an important part of the research being done by the scientists at Tulane University (and in similar studies around the world). I'll tell you a bit more about that later in the week.

Today's pictures and video will show you the scientific process in action. Think about the observation and data collection part of the scientific process as you look at the pictures and think about what was being done. When scientists collect data and make observations, they must be very careful to be specific and as accurate as possible. It took us all day to identify, label, photograph, and enter data about the 62 caterpillars we collected yesterday, and there were 8 of us working on it! It was challenging, interesting, and I learned a lot!

I can't wait to tell you about the parisitoids that are part of the study. They are a bit like aliens that take over and use the caterpillars for food and as a habitat. They are secondary consumers. Unfortunately, for the caterpillars these creatures kill them, but it is all a part of the natural cycle. The parisitoids have a niche that keeps things in balance, but the details on this will have to wait until tomorrow.

I'm looking forward to answering your questions and showing you some caterpillars when we have our video conference on Wednesday. Get your questions ready. I'll see you then!


8 Comments:

At October 26, 2009 at 7:16 PM , Anonymous Arn said...

I do not remember the most common name for the species of Ilex is but on Wikipedia it redirected me to holly so I guess that Holly is it.

 
At October 26, 2009 at 7:45 PM , Anonymous Mrs. Moore said...

That is correct! We found two types of ilex with caterpillars living on them - ilex decidua and ilex Americana. Good work Arn.

 
At October 30, 2009 at 9:05 AM , Anonymous Vic said...

When u said Goodbye swamp! does that mean ur comin back?

 
At October 30, 2009 at 9:15 AM , Anonymous R.H.C.81 said...

sorry you have to miss the halloween party.
my Jawa costume turned out great.
we even got the shoulder straps right.
one even has holes.
I'll try to show you when you get back, K? :)

 
At October 30, 2009 at 10:19 AM , Anonymous JED said...

Sorry, Mrs moore, but i think frass is poop and some other weird stuff like parasites.

 
At October 30, 2009 at 10:19 AM , Anonymous TML said...

Frass is catipalur poo you you have to dump it out so the catipilars will live

 
At October 30, 2009 at 10:20 AM , Anonymous kd said...

frass is caterpillar poo. i hope u are ahving fun

 
At October 30, 2009 at 10:21 AM , Anonymous tat said...

I think frass is caterpillir poop and their poop can make them sick

 

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