Time flies when you are sampling Astragalus applegatei

I can’t believe we are already 2 months into this adventure!

We finished up our turn at larval fish collections the week of 6/3 and have moved on to surveying a rare plant endemic to the Klamath Basin called Applegate’s milk vetch (Astragalus applegatei).

I miss the baby fish and the day-to-day of our fish hatchery life. When we left, the fish were growing and changing rapidly. I have to admit, one of my favorite parts of hatchery work is watching the way the fish feed and how their bellies turn bright orange after eating. Over the course of our time doing larval collections from the Williamson River our collection numbers went from a peak of almost 10,000 fish larvae to less than 100. Just a conspicuous reminder that timing is crucial to a project’s success in this line of work.

Here is one of the 2018 fish from the outdoor ponds. We took weight and length of fish sampled from separate ponds to assist in determining the effects of different feeding regimes —

Sunrise on the road to the fish hatchery after larval collections.

And Jessie on one our drives from site to site–

In the week between larval collections ending and plant surveys beginning, Brianne, Jessie, and I packed up and headed to Chicago for the official CLM training at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It was a treat to get an introduction to the amazing work happening there and to meet our fellow interns! It is fortunate timing that we get to use the training we got in plant sampling techniques so quickly after getting home–

Jessie and Brianne taking a look at the GPS before we set out to census a population of Astragalus applegatei

Our target rare plant is Applegate’s milk vetch (Astragalus applegatei), a member of the Fabaceae plant family- I will forgo a description, the picture below will do a better job! This week we have focused on censusing the smaller populations, but we’ll get a chance to do some honest to goodness population sampling next week on the larger populations. This has been a fantastic opportunity to work through the process of designing and implementing our own sampling methodology.

Our plant only occurs on about 8 different sites that FWS knows of. It has really felt like a treasure hunt trying to pick it out from in between the rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) and squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) – particularly after it’s been chomped on by cattle.

Our target rare plant species! Cutest little plant in the west

We also got a chance to take down wolf fladry (electrified fencing with red flagging) from the perimeter of a local ranch. This was a great opportunity to see the kinds of nonlethal techniques that are employed to deter wolves from livestock and to meet Oregon wolf experts. Huge thank you to Jeanne S. and Elizabeth W. for showing us the ropes! Soon, we’ll get a chance to check some wolf cameras that are up in the Wood River Valley – this is a dream come true and a chance to catch a glimpse into the life of the Rouge Pack!

Mt McLaughlin in the distance

Made some friends on the ranch

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) eggs on one of the ranch alley ways




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