Monday, December 12, 2011

A seedy assignment

At our volunteer meeting last week, I hopped up and volunteered to do an assignment for the biologist that involved a trip to Louisiana.  OMG, I didn’t realize what I was getting into.  Stephanie suggested that perhaps I’d like to take someone with me, even though the biologist said it would only take one person to do this. (little did he know)  Barbara and James said they’d go with me.  So, this morning we left the rigs at 8:00 to head for St. Charles, LA, about two hours away.

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Our destination was the Louisiana Environmental Research Center.  They do all sorts of research into prairie plants and restoration work of native prairies.  It was a surprise to me to learn that plants of prairies in the United States are the same no matter where they are located.  So the plants found in a Louisiana prairie are the same as the plants that are found in Minnesota or South Dakota prairies.  You can’t transplant plants from the north to the south, or vice versa, but the species are the same.  Prairies have suffered throughout the country from development and agriculture.

64 Anahuac NWR 201118Inside the building are bags and bags of prairie plant seeds.  We had brought four bags of our own that had been gathered for the prairie restoration project just before the hurricane Ike devastation.  Our assignment was to determine the identities of the seeds and their percentages from four different plots.

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This was not an easy task.  I won’t go into all the details of how we decided on taking all these counts, but we did take samples from each bag to categorize.  Had we used all the contents of the bags, we would have been there several days!

You all probably have figured out how enthusiastic I am about birds, but seeds not so much.  Well, let me tell you that CC was the person at the center that helped us with the investigation, and she is just wild about seeds!  By the end of the day, I can’t believe how excited I was about finding a different kind of seed.

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The tools of the trade today were tweezers and forceps to separate different seeds.  CC was especially excited to find the Indian bush seeds.

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We also had access to this kind of wind machine that separated seeds by their weight, with the lightest seeds flying to the top of the tubes.  The bottom retained the largest heaviest seeds.  We soon gave up on this machine as it took too long and the trash stems and such just kept jamming up.

By the time we got home, close to 10 hours had elapsed.  I wouldn’t want to do this assignment every day, but I sure learned a lot.  I’ll be a lot more enthusiastic about prairie seeds in the future, and I’ll sure look at them in a different light.  I so enjoyed CC’s excitement.  There are so many things in this natural world to get excited about, but who would have thought of seeds?

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy