Update for Plant Ecophysiology project.

       What an interesting, confusing, exciting, frustratingly, long strange trip it’s been. Okay, couldn’t resist that one. If you read my October 25th post you know that I am working on my Plant Ecophysiology experimental design and it is not going well. I think I have a handle on it and then I discuss with the professor my new idea and realize so many things that I did not consider. I think I might be on draft number 379. Okay. Maybe draft number 4 but it seems like 379. I have begun the lab work with the new hypothesis. “The new growth leaves of plants that are producing fruit or flowers will have a greater stomatal density when compared to new growth leaves of plants that are not producing fruit or flowers.” Plants in the reproductive phase of development require higher levels of energy which means the leaves must be able to bring in increased levels of carbon dioxide to facilitate increased sugar production.There is way more going on with the plant than just carbon dioxide intake and sugar production but this is a good starting point. If you want to know more check out plant respiration,potassium pump,stoma or photosynthesis for basic info. I will be comparing stomatal density of new growth leaves on the Tilia americana (Linden Tree) sampled from a tree with fruits to new growth leaves sampled from a tree without fruit. The tree with fruit was found growing in the valley along White Oak Bayou at the base of the Emerald Park Trail, whereas the tree without fruit is growing at the top of the Emerald Park trail. This is the first project that is that I have had to complete on my own. Every project up to now has been with a lab group.

        Earlier in the semester my lab group fumbled through a study design for Environmental Practicum. We are assessing current plants species and populations in a piece of farmland that is being placed into a wetland mitigation bank. Some of the many issues we ran into: How do you divide up the work? New lab partners, with different strengths and abilities. (sometimes the work spreads out perfectly as it did in my Environmental Practicum and other times all three of you are complete noobs, as in my Plant Ecophysiology)

  •  What kind of sample design are we going to use?
  •  Plot or transect? Why? 
  • What can we expect to find? 
  • How are we going to identify the plants? Down to species or stop at genus? 
  • How are we going to section off the land? 
  • How does that GPS work? (none of us were well versed with the Garmin) 
  • Will it ever cool off? (the first three excursions to the farm the temps were above 90F)

     Some answers:

  • Transects. Because they were recommended by literature we found at the EPA website. 
  • Morningglory and Cocklebur! 
  • Dichotomous keys from three different books, the internet, pictures and the Plant Taxonomy professor. Both species and genus. 
  • Farm plot, Cadron Creek riparian area with levee, Hwy 65 border and the unique habitat in the southwest corner. 
  • Give up on the GPS after we laid the baseline transect diagonally across the field. 
  • And yes, it finally cooled off!
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