I have ended my internship a bit early in order to pursue my master’s degree at the University of Hawaii. I recently moved to Oahu, and am loving it so far. Here’s a little summary of my summer in the Panoche Hills:
This field season I had the opportunity to investigate grasshopper and lizard ecology in the central valley region of Panoche, California. I examined how two different grasshopper species, Odaleonotus enigma and Trimerotropis pallidpennis, are distributed across the Panoche landscape. I designed an original protocol for counting and collecting grasshoppers. I also reviewed some important literature to gain a deeper understanding of grasshopper characteristics, abundance, and distribution. While I did not ultimately work on incorporating lizard ecology into my study, this data may be used to eventually discover the food preference of endangered blunt nose leopard lizards in Panoche. It may also be used in a separate note for a journal.
My office worked closely with The Ecoblender lab from York University. The lab reviewed my protocol. I needed to make corrections, but it was a straightforward protocol for a straightforward task. There were three areas where leopard lizards were previously identified in Panoche. I used lat/long coordinates to establish three separate zones where I would count and sample. I initially used a transect method, but it proved to be very misleading in the data. For example, both species of grasshopper are highly gregarious. Having near zero counts within the transect did not represent the grasshopper population as a whole. So, I began to do something I called a “zone sweep.” I completed a zone sweep at each site twice a week.
Dr. Lortie (ecoblender) suggested that I was actually using a belt transect method. From there, I was able to establish an area and calculated grasshopper density per square meter. I also noticed a few other protocols where density was used, further corroborating my decision to use density instead of raw numbers. I comprised two tables. One table has raw count numbers, and the other has calculated density for each belt transect. Both can be used for further statistical testing using excel or even the statistical program “R.” I also ran an analysis of variance several times this season. Each time I had more data to use. However, no statistically significant results were found. The P value was 0.121.
I had a lot of time to myself this summer in an isolated place. I feel I contributed in a small way to a much larger picture at the BLM. The federal experience is invaluable to me, and will propel me in my career as an entomologist. I’m very thankful for my mentors. I look forward to the end result of this project, even if I am only involved from a distance!
BLM Hollister Office