Ode to Survey123

In between trips throughout the Great Basin,

To check for ripe seeds on the species we’re chasing,

Seeking drupes, legumes, siliques and achenes,

I spend time in front of my computer screens.


I do GIS, data entry, research, and planning.

There are seeds that need mailing and forms that need scanning,

Plants that need filing and labels that need gluing.

After that, though, there’s something else I’ve been doing.


What do you think? We have some massive grants?

Maybe we’ve got a greenhouse and to grow out some plants?

I wish I could say we’re programming a drone,

Nope — just making surveys to fill out on a phone.


Decimal, selection, and geopoint questions,

Complex choice filters, calculated suggestions,

I spend hours pasting huge excel expressions,

Moping when it crashes upon refreshing.


And though I’d still rather pick fruits from a tree,

I do love you and hate you, Survey123.

Working with you can’t beat picking buckwheat,

But your relational questions are really quite neat.


Entering data just once – wow, what an idea!

Though making surveys keeps me from Rhus and Piscea.

I do love creating the ideal survey form,

But I’d rather be hiking in a summer rainstorm.


I hope that these hours and hours I’ve spent

Sitting at a desk rather than camping in my tent

Will help keep all of the botanists to come

Out in the field with sagebrush, currant, and plum.


Britney, Carson City BLM

Monarch tagging, bat mist-netting, and riparian species!

Things have been interesting at the Shoshone BLM. With our AIM duties ending pretty early, we are left to help out on several different projects. These include fun things like monarch tagging, cave monitoring, and recently PFC (Proper Functioning Condition) for riparian areas. The plant identification has been slim lately, but I am excited to ramp things up by learning all of these new riparian species for PFC.

Monarch tagging was such a blast, even though we didn’t actually catch any monarchs! We saw quite a few but they are surprisingly quick and hard to catch. However, as a person who worked with native bees for two years, having a bug net back in my hand felt great.  We did however catch a few viceroy butterflies AND a half black bumble bee (Bombus vagans). Ross Winton, our liaison from Idaho Fish and Game, is very knowledgeable with western bumble bees and has taught me so much about the species here in Idaho.

The following week, we were fortunate enough to help out with some bat mist netting. I wasn’t able to handle any bats due to the fact that I am not vaccinated for rabies, but getting to see bats up close was quite the experience! Doing field work at night is definitely an adjustment though (I was so tired by the end of the night).

Anyways, I am looking forward to seeing what the next two months bring. I am definitely happy to begin keying and learning new riparian species.

Signing off from Shoshone, ID


Half black bumble bee (Bombus vagans)

Silver-haired bat we caught – such a cutie

Juevenile Yellow-bellied Racer found in a riparian area!

Mimulus guttatus (a fun riparian species!!)



I’m two months into my CLM internship at the Eagle Lake Field Office, in Susanville, CA, and I have been reflecting on the ways in which water, while not always present, has shaped and shapes my new home. Moving to Susanville, a dry town on the edge of the Great Basin from New Orleans, a humid swamp, has been quite the change in water regimes. After recent heavy rain events New Orleans’ pumps system failed, resulting in local flooding. And now, with Tropical Storm Harvey headed towards Louisiana, New Orleans is gearing up for more flooding. But out here in my new town, I have seen it rain only a handful of times. However, when it does rain, lightning strikes and starts often ensue.

This was one of the prettiest springs we have seen on our field office.

Besides the potential for fire, in the high desert, standing water brings life. American avocets forage along the edges of mudflats, Canadian geese prepare their young for a long migration south in ephemeral ponds, and foot prints dot the edges almost every water sources we have visited. Plus, there are always a few “regulars” around streams and springs:denseflower boisduvalia (Epilobium densiflorum), field hosetail (Equisetum arvense), povertyweed (Iva axillaris), dock (Rumex sp.) and if you’re lucky, aspen, (Populus tremuloides). After a high snowpack and unseasonably high spring rain events, many of the flats, ephemeral wetlands, and stock ponds on our field office are full of water, an uncommon sight so I’m told. Even the playa where Burning Man is currently being held (not on our field office, but close) was filled with water relatively late into the summer. With the unusual snow melt, we were able to find a special status plant (Gratiola heterosepala) that has not been seen the area in a few years due to the California drought. During the past month, my fellow co-intern and I have had the opportunity to visit a few multiple stream monitoring sites across our field office. The first couple we visited were unusable after the high spring stream flow events bent the steel pipes where the gauges were housed. But this past week we visited a couple more that survived the f!

A week or so after the mudflats dried up, these sunflowers (Helianthos sp.) began popping up, bringing a pop of color to the landscape.

Even where you least expect it, water brings life- in this case, hotsprings (like the one above) draw quite the crowd.

Water has also shaped the nature of our seed collections this season. My co-intern and I have been having difficulty finding perennial bunch grasses with seed, which we believe is due to the high snow melt and heavy rains at the beginning of the summer. Many of the people at our office hypothesize that that unusual precipitation patterns resulted in the grasses putting more energy into above their ground growth. After the rains, the heat wave that followed resulted in a spontaneous abortion of seeds. But fortunately, we have been able to locate other populations that have been keeping us busy.

A photo from our wood’s rose (Rosa woodsii) collection.

Wild burros visiting one of the reservoirs on our field office.

I was super excited to find this parasitic rydberg’s broomrape (Orobanche corymbosa) in a recently flooded field.

Until next time,





As a CLM botany intern, my love for plants has grown exponentially this summer. I’ve gotten to know the best method for beating the seeds off a Purshia tridentata bush, smelled many a sagebrush, and puzzled over whether or not a Penstemon’s anthers dehisced from the center or the sides. However, I can’t deny my roots in the field of wildlife biology, which is what I studied as an undergraduate. As a climber, it seemed natural to be interested in bats- which often roost in the cracks and crevices only accessible to rock climbers. (For any other wildlife-enthusiast climbers out there, you should check out Climbers for Bat Conservation on Facebook, a cool citizen science project!) My undergraduate thesis research dealt with the acoustic side of bat science, but I didn’t participate in any of the field work for the data. So, you can imagine my excitement when I learned that I would get to assist in several bat-related projects this summer.

The first project involved setting up stationary acoustic bat detectors with Ross from Idaho Fish & Game- this work was conducted for the North American Bat Monitoring Program, a continent wide protocol aimed at gathering data on the status and trends of bat populations across North America. After securing these detectors during the daylight we waited till nightfall to conduct mobile acoustic surveys. This involves attaching a bat detector on top of the truck and driving at a constant speed for at least 25 km, all while recording the bats flying overhead. This was fun because I got to watch the calls coming in on a spectrogram in real time.

Sunset view before the mobile acoustic transect

Last week, myself and other interns had the opportunity to attend a bat bioblitz- an event where scientists attempt to capture all the biodiversity in an area. We set up triple-high mist nets over the river and patiently waited for bats to fly in. We saw and recorded many bats, but only managed to trap two in the nets. Regardless, it was really cool seeing them up-close and learning how to take measurements. At our station, we captured an adult female silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) and a juvenile male Yuma myotis (Myotis yumanensis).

Adult female silver-haired bat

Juvenile male Yuma myotis

We camped out after the bioblitz and got a quick night of sleep before returning to the office for a day caving in Gypsum lava tube, the second largest lava tube in the continental US! This was a new experience for me, and I enjoyed the pressing silence and impenetrable darkness that each bend in the passage concealed. In the tube, we found pack rats, a jackrabbit carcass, and even a few bat friends hanging out almost two miles into the tube! It was a great experience to put myself in such a different environment.

The entrance to Gypsum lava tube

Jackrabbit carcass

Kind of low quality photo of the inside of the tube- check out the multiple levels!

I’m thankful that this internship has allowed me to gain experience in a variety of areas, especially since bats are creatures I’ve been interested in for a long time. I only have 6 more weeks left here in Idaho, I’m excited to see what’s next.


Shoshone Field Office-BLM

Adventures and more!

August has provided some great opportunities for me both in learning field trips and adventurous times. Starting off the month, a seed collection for Western needle grass (Stipa occidentalis) took place just north of Mt. Shasta in Siskiyou county. Unlike the normal chaparral and pine forest I am used to, northern Mt. Shasta provides a unique sage brush habitat. The plants that dominate this area are sagebrush and juniper, but others strive, like common woolly sunflower, yarrow, and many native bunch grasses. We also strolled upon a snowy thistle patch which painted the landscape with bright fuchsia and a light pastel green.

View of Mt. Shasta from the north side of the mountain.


Standing next to this thistle to capture it’s beauty and height.

My first thought upon seeing this thistle was “great another collection”! However, when the time came to collect it I had found most of the plants were being predated on by some species of lepidopteran. The caterpillar did not seem out of place. It’s color matched the flower head completely and it resided nestled away in the flower munching on the plethora of seeds that were in their process of maturing. After collecting from about 50 plants, I decided to call it quits since many of the seeds were getting eaten and I did not feel like decimating this insects population.

Mystery caterpillar eating all of the seeds I was planning on collecting.

Multiple days were spent collecting seed for the western needle grass. On the first day of collection, I found out that most of the seeds had not filled. In disappointment, I still decided to push on and collect knowing that I would need to collect from a lot more plants than if most the seeds had been filled out. Out in the grueling heat, me and my co-worker decided to take our lunch break in the caves that were on the property of our seed collection. These caves had been created from old lava tubes; they were massive and you can see as the lava cooled it created really neat rock formations. As I approached the caves, I could hear bats yelling from above and got to see a packrat sitting on one of the crevices not too far from the cave opening. It was a great sight to see and a nice break from the harsh sun.

Our lunch break cave spot

Aside from collections, I got to go on a couple pollinator outings. We learned about native bees and went out in the field and caught bees with mist nets. Upon capturing them, we identified them the best we could without a dissecting scope and released them or killed them for the learning collection. This was a great time because it was a nice change of scenery, as I got to see high elevation mountain meadows and many neat plants that I was not used to seeing.

Me standing with a bee gun, which is a device that has a slight suction and used by kids, but is great because it is efficient in capturing insects.

As August is coming to an end, I am interested in what my future will hold. With my new knowledge in plants, I definitely want to take my career working with them and widening my knowledge in restoration work. One more month is all I have left with the Redding BLM and I hope to make the best of it.


— Amanda, SOS Intern at the Redding BLM field office

Strangers you might meet in the field

One of the best things about fieldwork is the insects. No, I do not mean the mosquitoes found by puddles and not the biting greenheads that swarm the beach. Instead I mean the colorful and intricately decorated caterpillars, mantises and flies that we overlook if not standing still or poking around in the grass.

My first time in a tropical setting, I found many unusual “bugs” without trying too hard. It was the first time that I glimpsed the world of an entomologist. The neon grasshoppers and metallic beetles were more beautiful and less frightening than I had expected, but I thought that wonderland was contained in the tropics.

Beetle in Panama. PC: E. Tokarz, 2014

Instead, we find tiny creatures that bewilder us as we work throughout New England. For example, a six-legged insect that hovers like a drone has wispy legs block-striped in black and white. Its limbs are so thin that we can barely point it out in thin air.

“Drones” in MA. PC: E. Tokarz, 2017

Just this past week we found what appeared to be an orange ant that could pass for a medium-sized tropical species, as wide as my ring finger. We swapped theories of its origin, but the insect’s reality seemed to defy our imaginations.

Orange “ant” in CT. PC: E. Tokarz, 2017

My favorite unidentified flyer had wings as fine as lace. It seemed to befriend us, landing on each of us in turn. (This was horrifying only because our clothes are laced with permethrin, an insect poison that primarily staves off ticks, but can be harmful to all life.) We tried to redirect the fly’s pit stops to our collection bags and backpacks.

“Lacefly” in NH. PC: E. Tokarz, 2017

We marvel at some caterpillars too, but they already receive enough attention because they turn into butterflies. Also, it should be noted that some caterpillars are actually very invasive and destructive (ahem, gypsy moths).

I was starting to realize that the insects here in New England must also be highly diverse, perhaps to a similar extent as in tropical areas, but then I went to the Harvard Natural History Museum. Just one quick sweep of their insect collection, pinned and labeled with geotags, revealed a wide array of tropical provenances and a handful of regional New England ones. Insects may be highly diverse in New England, but that is still only a fraction of the diversity present in tropical areas. Entomologists have their work cut out for them in all corners of the globe.

Sample from Harvard insect collection. PC: E. Tokarz, 2017

Updated Happenings

It has been very busy here at the preserve. Each day seems to bring something different–which really helps bring some excitement when the weather has been predictably warm, dry, and sunny. Whether it be out in our ponds treating primrose or spending the day working on seed collections, it is truly a joy to spend so much of my time working outdoors. Though the Central Valley has been hot, the work has been fulfilling and I have found myself slowly becoming more comfortable with the heat and sun–two things I am not exactly used to.

Among my more exciting tasks has been helping one of our wildlife biologists on one of the current projects being undertaken by our office. With a productive rookery for several different species of birds present, part of the work has been setting up for and collecting data. My particular role was/is working on determining the size class, and age class if possible, for the trees being utilized in this rookery. This has entailed going out and getting DBH and height measurements so that we have an idea of how to best promote healthy habitat for these birds in the future.

On the flip-side, I have been involved in some more management-based activities as well. With our flood-up season in progress, I have had a few opportunities to learn and put in to practice our methods for flooding and managing our wetland ponds. What birds are not here will soon be looking for some stopover opportunities in the delta and we intend to have habitat and forage for them when they arrive.

While I could go on and on, there have simply been too many different activities to possibly sum up succinctly herein.

This opportunity has been challenging, exciting, and altogether wonderful every step of the way. With about two months left, the birds, and cooler/wetter weather on the way, I am looking forward to each and every day.

–Tyler Rose

Cosumnes River Preserve

A Day in the Life

6:45 AM: Alarm goes off

7:00 AM: Crawl out of bed

7:15 AM: Leave for work

7:30 AM: Arrive at office, check emails, put on boots, gather equipment

7:45 AM: Leave office to meet youth crew at work site

8:00 AM: Start working with youth crew, pull a ton of scotch broom

12:00 PM: Head back to office to eat lunch and catch up on other office tasks.  Talk to supervisor and see what she needs me to do

12:30 PM: Head back to the field.  Scout out weeds for the youth crew to work on the next day

2:30 PM: Meet up with the youth crew and check on their progress.  Pull some scotch broom.  Sometimes I bring popsicles

3:30 PM: Youth crew leaves.  Take pulled scotch broom to disposal facility

4:15 PM: Arrive back at office.  Put away equipment, check emails, take off boots

4:30 PM: Go home

6:45 AM: Alarm goes off


West Eugene Wetlands


Sage, Eclipse, and Hiking Slide

Continuing on my adventure, I have consistently recorded the location of cattle for grazing compliance. I learned that cattle have a wonderful mind of their own. They know where those great riparian areas are and do not like to comply with not grazing in some of these areas. Of late, my partner and I have had to diligently check certain areas to make sure the cattle are not in them. The first day we didn’t see any was amazing! We will see if they continue on this trend of complying.

Besides checking riparian areas for cattle compliance, my partner and I have begun running an adapted habitat assessment framework for Sage Grouse (HAF) in an allotment up for NEPA renewal. Doing so has taught us a lot of new techniques we have not yet performed such as line-point intercept and canopy gap. Though we realized having mostly done riparian work, our plant recognition skills have diminished slightly. Now I feel more confident in my ability to identify those plants species I have not seen in quite some time. However, I still need help identifying those plants that have cured out. The Botanist on staff has been a great resource! Conducting adapted HAF assessments has lead to some interesting poses in the field. I feel like one just has to go with the flow maneuvering around and through the sagebrush.

Measuring the height of sagebrush during HAF

Just practicing some yoga while conducting point-intercept for HAF

I’m sure everyone has heard that there was a solar eclipse. Some of the other interns and myself took the day off to observe this phenomenon. I was beyond awesome. Lander had quite the flow of traffic. Between the eclipse and the local music bands playing that night, a huge amount of people were about! It was wonderful seeing so many people though I had to avoid the coffee shop because the wait was about an hour.

Recently on the weekends, another intern and I went up to Sinks Canyon State Park to slide down the rock slide. I had seen about a month before but the water was still flowing a bit too much for it to be safe and the water was freezing! I could hardly walk in the little pools we were by. This time on our hike, we were determined to slide down it. On a lower rock there were several people cheering others on that were afraid to go down. The encouragement was much appreciated. Hitting the water below literally took the breath out of me. It was ridiculously cold for being such a warm day but I am also not used to snow melt water. Though cold, I could resist going down the slide a few times before deciding it was time to dry off and head back down for dinner. The other intern and I have plans to go up again to slide down some more before it becomes too cold out.

The slide at Sinks Canyon State Park

Until next time,

– James Noyama
Bureau of Land Management – Lander Field Office                                                 Lander, Wyoming

Rafting the Green River

Clipping Teasel Heads. (Photo by Jessi B.)

What I like most about this internship is that it has given me many opportunities to learn various aspects associated with the subject I love most, Botany. It’s sometimes tedious dirty work but i’m more than happy to be the one doing it. Last week, we took a two day break from SOS collections in order to make a positive influence on our Green River by eradicating some weeds invading the native habitat along the Green River in Utah. Seven of us floated and made frequent stops to trim down and spray various invasive species but the target species was Teasel (Dipsacus follonum). Teasel is an exotic plant native to Europe but was introduced to the Americas by its earliest settlers and has since escaped cultivation and become an invasive species. It can grow as tall as seven feet as it does here along the Green River. This baby is gnarly looking with spines and spikes growing from every inch of the plant making it virtually untouchable. It has pointed bracts that grow just under the egg shaped flower and curve up and around the flower. I’m going to be completely honest and admit I kind of like the look of this punk rocker but I didn’t admit that to the crew and just got to work. The best way of eradicating it is by cutting the flowering heads and disposing of them in a secure bag to prevent them from spreading any further, since the flowers reseed so easily. In addition, we sprayed the leaves with a mild solution of glyphosate to block photosynthetic activity and kill it. Poor punk rocker! There were relatively large zones of healthy habitat throughout the Green River but at the zones where Teasel nested, it REALLY nested and was very prolific.

After a full day of weeding we nestled at a campsite along the river. My first priority was to get into the water and cool off so that’s exactly what I did. After drifting for a bit we feasted on tacos and settled by the campfire. When I closed my eye to sleep all I could see were teasel heads! What a day!

The following day was very similar to the first but we were better skilled and the day went by super fast with all the teasel in the area. I never thought it’d be so fulfilling to eradicate invasive but I really felt as though we made a huge positive impact on the habitat. It was a nice little break from SOS monitoring and hope to have the chance to do it again.