My time in Carlsbad has officially come to an end. To say I have learned a lot during my CLM internship is an understatement. Not only have I learned skills related to my field (plant identification, seed collection strategy, etc.) but I have also learned about wildlife, archaeology, and so much more.
As a crew, we met our seed collection goal and finished 20 range monitoring plots as part of a project to determine if herbicide spraying of desert shrubs increases forb growth. One caveat of the range monitoring project was that we had to identify every plant to species. There was surprising diversity at some of the range sites and our last week in the office we spent nearly 3 full days identifying specimens of unknowns that we had collected. We probably identified at least 100 unknown species, not including specimens we had collected that turned out to be species we already knew.
I think my favorite aspect of my internship was learning so many new plants. The Chihuahuan Desert is much more diverse than I expected and I didn’t even scratch the surface. In May, I had a very basic knowledge of grasses and little experience identifying them, and now I feel confident keying them out, even if they’re still not my favorite.
I really enjoyed my time in New Mexico. I was able to explore so many new places I never would have gone if I hadn’t been in Carlsbad. From the beautiful Guadalupe Mountains, the bat flight at Carlsbad Caverns, the cute little mountain town of Cloudcroft, to the Organ Mountains, New Mexico has some special places. Thanks to Carlsbad, my mentor, and my crew for making my CLM internship great. Here are some last few plant pictures to sign off!