Wow, time is absolutely flying by here in Missoula, MT. Since my last blog post, I have been busy finishing up our last Daubenmire and Pace transects for the season as pictured below. In the first photo we are trying to identify a grass in a Pace survey and in the second photo we are conducting a Daubenmire survey.
We have also been busy monitoring seed maturity and collecting mature seeds (for the following species Camassisa quamash, Lesquerella carintata, Purshia tridentata and Ceanothus velutinus), surveying for sensitive plants (Pyrola picta, White-veined Wintergreen, and Botrychium paradoxum, Peculiar Moonwort) and attending two different trainings in Montana. The first training was a one day wetland plant identification training just south of Missoula at a wildlife refuge. The training was so informative and it was great to meet other botanists who work in the Missoula area for other organizations besides the BLM. The other training took place in Butte and focused on Multiple Indicator Monitoring (MIM) which is a monitoring system for riparian areas. At the MIM training I learned so much about riparian plant communities and how to quantitatively evaluate the health of a stream. The training also covered what to do with data once you have collected it and how it can best be used to affect management decisions, specifically relating to range management strategies. Attending both of these trainings made me think a lot about pursuing riparian ecology after this internship, but who knows! There are just too many fields that interest me right now.
Besides attending the MIM training, the other highlight of the past several weeks would have to be discovering a couple rare orchids! The Mountain Lady Slipper (Cypripedium montanum) is found in dry to moist forests in mountain to foothill zones. It has maroon colored tepals and a white lower lip, that slightly resembles a slipper, giving it its common name. The Hooded Lady’s Tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiana) has a beautiful spiral of white flowers and is found in moist meadows (see picture below).
It’s hard to believe I am already halfway through my internship. I have learned so much already and I can’t wait to learn more. In the next few weeks we will be conducting more surveys for rare plants and I will be helping out the fisheries team with their MIM monitoring. More on that in my next post! Thanks for reading :).