January update

Its been quite a month but alas no snow yet. However due to the lack of snow its been easier to go out into the field, and tackle some projects. Two of the projects are areas that have been overgrazed, and are in need of restoration. So we scuffed the ground, mindful that it was partially frozen, and spread seeds of native plants in hopes they’d grow. There hasn’t been much research into restoration, so we are using what knowledge of the area we have in hopes it works. Its difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that the seeds I planted, due to biotic and abiotic factors (out of my control- like most of nature) might not germinate  for years or ever.

The third site was a neglected wild onion habitat, an endangered plant endemic to Boise. It needs removal of cheatgrass and sage brush and basically the whole top layer of organic matter. The plant grows in very coarse large grain sand, with little/no clay and little/none organic matter. Its one of the few plants that can grow in this constantly shifting substrate. This is one of the best sites in the state for this species, yet its less than the size of a football field.

In the past month, I’ve mostly been databasing, working through the Florida collection of lichens. The office was quiet, and I was able to accomplish about half of the project. There’s a lot of data to manage, but I’m breaking it into many smaller projects, and moving forward. It seems like more little projects related to managing a database are showing up, but I think of it as good practice for when I start my own herbarium.

Boise is a very friendly city, and I am enjoying meeting new people. This past holiday season was the first one that I spent away from my family (it didn’t make sense to fly home after only 3 weeks of starting my job). But I was invited to multiple holiday celebrations, and experienced how friendly the people in Boise are. Coming from Miami, the pace of life is much slower and friendlier- people are more willing to help you (ie a short ride to the bus stop, with work problems). I am grateful for this friendlier attitude towards people.

Winter, and a new beginning

I moved to Boise, Idaho two weeks ago. Coming from Miami, the scenery seems barren due to the lack of green. It is also significantly colder, about 30 degrees compared to 70 degrees. Once I bought a winter jacket (there were none in Miami stores), I felt comfortable. Now I’m used to biking in the cold weather, and commuting to work in below freezing weather. I can see why layers are so important.

During the winter I will mostly be working on databasing projects. There is a large collection of lichens, at the BLM herbarium that needs to be reorganized and updated. It’s amazing how many nuances there are to maintaining a herbarium. Some of the details that need to be considered are nomenclature changes, GPS, and making sure all the details on the collection label match the database record. It is time consuming but rewarding to know that I am putting together a collection that future researchers can utilize.

At the moment, I am working on a Florida lichen database, checking all 1,000 records and tying up all the loose ends. My boss collected lichens in Florida for many years, and would like to donate the lichens to Florida institutions. Many universities in Florida do not have large collections of Florida lichens, and this is a way to disseminate knowledge and put the lichens in a place where they will be useful and accessible. For my undergraduate studies, I studied Florida lichens, so the opportunity to continue working with them is exciting. There is so much to study, and the information from this database will be important for ecological research.

I hope to go out in the field next week. There might be sagebrush seeds to collect. If there is precipitation or snow, it might be possible to lay some seeds on a restoration site. I’m very curious to see what this desert looks like. From afar it looks lifeless, but I’m sure many plants are growing, camouflaged into the scenery.