I’ve finished my first round of sampling for this summer’s research, and it feels great to be in the swing of fieldwork adventures. During last week’s sampling I stumbled across both a nesting duck and a spotted baby fawn: the former—a Blue-winged Teal—flapped away briskly while the latter flopped and stumbled endearingly into a nearby shrub. I’ve also alarmed countless Red-Winged Blackbirds, and while making my way back to the truck on Tuesday I noticed a mid-sized woodchuck peering at me from beneath a guardrail.
My search, though, is for smaller critters. I’m not tracking Orthopterans like Rob and Bryan are, but I am solidly in the invertebrate camp! My senior research as a Yale undergraduate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is on the unmanaged bee pollinator communities in twelve old-fields across Connecticut. I’ve selected fields that are surrounded by a gradient of land-use types. These categories include forested, suburban development and roads, and conventional agriculture. This summer I’m sampling the bees (and recording the flowers I find them on) to see if there are community and interaction differences that can be traced to impacts from surrounding land-use.
I’ll keep you updated, but it’s safe to say that the summer is off to a great start! I’m so lucky to work in some truly beautiful fields (and to have some great books on tape to listen to as I drive about between them). I’m rapidly becoming more and more adept at naming the wildflowers to genus and species, learning which long-tongued or short-tongued bees prefer, and knowing more of my bee IDs on sight. But most importantly? I think that my dexterity wielding insect nets in thick vegetation is preparing me for an alternate career as a badminton player!