June 23, 2012 Counting Bird Poop
We have recently noticed birds sitting on the Open Top Chambers (OTCs) that surround half of our mesocosms, and started to question the impacts of predation on our spider populations. Does the presence of predators (birds) on our OTCs affect the size of our spider populations? One quick way to estimate bird activity would be to examine the OTCs for signs of bird droppings. If all other factors are relatively equal, more bird droppings could be an indication of more bird activity at a particular OTC.
I've learned that sometimes science calls for an unconventional approach to problem solving. My task for the afternoon was to count the number of individual bird droppings on each OTC and look for any possible correlations between the number of droppings and the spider treatments at each plot (low spider density, high spider density, control).
Science isn't always glamorous, but on a beautiful day like this even counting bird poop is fun!
We spotted a pair of tundra swans on Toolik Lake this morning on our way back from the field. I stayed behind to try to get a better picture of them. I could hear them starting to make a little noise as I started to get closer. Digital cameras have a bit of a delay after you press the button, so I took a chance by pressing it a little early as these massive birds started to take off. I was pleasantly surprised with my timing! Tundra swans are so large and so awkward when flying that if almost looks like they are running on water during takeoff.