42 posts

Invasive Growth

Posted from Camarillo, California, United States.

Most of our students are recovering from this year’s trip by catching up on their other classes and their sleep.  We are still in the midst of entering all the vegetation data we collected this year, but some of it has been fully entered.  Chief among these are data from our individual tree growth study.

Tree 18 (tallow, Triadica sebifera, tag 1518) from our tree growth study on Trail C at Woodlands on March 26, 2107. We spray paint all our monitored trees green to make sure our managers don’t accidentally kill these particular invading individuals during their routine management efforts.

Monitoring Invaders Individual Growth

For the past several years, we have been trying to get a better handle on the exact growth rates of our invaders.  Doing so will allow us to better estimate how quickly a stand of unimpeded invaders might get to their “mature” canopy height.  While we sacrificed about one-third of our monitored individuals this past year to more precisely estimate standing biomass and correlate growth annual growth rings to allometric measures (DBH, height, etc.), we still have more than 60% of our individuals living and growing along Woodlands Trail’s Trail C.

Below are our most updated estimates of actual growth rates:

Diameter at Breast Height (1.5m above the ground)

Height of the Tree Apex

Our DBH measurements are the best estimate of growth given the fact we can consistently measure it easily and accurately.  While our estimates of height are good, many of these individuals are now more than 7 or 8 meters tall.  As such, accurately measuring the very top of these taller trees is difficult and introduces error into our numbers in recent years.  This may well explain the relative decrease in growth in height from this year’s measurements (the “2016” is the change between March 2016 to March 2017).

Note: some iPhones are having problems rendering our graphs.  As such, here they are in stagnant (non-html) image formats:


2016 Service Learning Poster Session

ESRM 492 Poster Session 2016

Come by Sierra Hall on Wednesday, April 20 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM for this year’s installment of our annual post-trip poster/video/gumbo fest!  We’ll have food and posters and videos…and maybe even a one of a kind board game inspired by this year’s trip. Read More →

Harmonizing Easter

Most of our students opted to sleep in during their final day in New Orleans. The predicted heavy rains arrived just after midnight and have not let up since, making a literal and figurative wash of our final field day.

While their compadres snoozed a few of the bravest souls and I shuffled off to the Lake Lawn Cemetery in Metairie for a sunrise Eater Service. Having successfully navigated about half a dozen spinouts and crashes that littered the Mississippi River Bridge and the 10 Freeway, we arrived just before 7 in a heavy downpour.



He Rose Up From the Dead

Were You There?

People Get Ready

I Shall Not Be Moved

That Old Time Religion


The data…the data…

Posted from Camarillo, California, United States.

Entering Data into our master data file in the old GIS lab at CSU Channel Islands.

Entering Data into our master data file in the old GIS lab at CSU Channel Islands.

Key to our efforts to restore the bottomland hardwood forests in coastal Louisiana is rigorous science.  And that mean rigorous data.  And that means rigorous quality control.

Typing in band transect data in the old GIS lab in Bell Tower at CSU Channel Islands.

Typing in band transect data in the old GIS lab in Bell Tower at CSU Channel Islands.

The challenge with bringing large groups of folks into the forest and divvying them up into distinct data collection teams has always been (and always will be) the integration of the data products at the end of the effort.

While our trip is over, our data QA/QC (Quality Assurance and Quality Control) and data formatting journey has not yet ended.  This year we have run into several struggles with Google Sheets.  Apparently as we thought we were nearing the finish line, we discovered that our large data files were getting trimmed/truncated do to a quirk in the spreadsheet layout.  This seems to have resulted in us effectively losing several band transects-worth of data.  As everyone was burned out (and also a few mysteriously suffering due to the pizza I bought for dinner), we called it a night.

We will reconvene next week to then hopefully finish up our data.  Somehow I suspect that it might take longer than I hope…

Entering Woodlands Data in old GIS lab

Tulane Service Learning

Posted from Cerritos, California, United States.

We were joined today by a team of undergrads from Tulane University.  (Soon to be Dr.) Jayur Mehta‘s Intro to Environmental Science students joined us at Woodlands Trail.  This course primarily serves students looking for a GE in the sciences, also counting towards their two-course minimum of Service Learning experiences needed to graduate.

We integrated the Tulane University students in with our CSU Channel Islands students with a 1-to-1 ratio.  This worked quite well with our more experienced students being able to teach the new-to-the-swamp Tulane University students the lay of the land and the species at hand.


Tulane Service Learning with CSUCI & Woodlands Conservancy

Tulane Students' Perspectives on Service Learning



Our friends the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, helmed by Irvin Mayfield and Ronald Markham were in full force at their regular Wednesday night showcase at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse on the first floor of the Royal Sonestra.  Celebrating six years, this is one of three clubs Irvin owns and has become the premier spot to catch jazz on Bourbon Street (or “bringing Jazz back to Bourbon Street” as Irvin likes to say).

We have seen Irvin almost every year of our trip.  It began with seeing him at Snug Harbor our first trip, then with some of his High School proteges at Snug Harbor the next trip.  That following year I brought him and the full NOJO to CSUCI with the help of funding from IRA (the fund that supports our trips to New Orleans).  Needless to say that was the musical highlight for Camarillo that year. The next year was the only year we didn’t technically hear him perform while in New Orleans.  He had set-up a ballroom for us (at the Royal Sonestra) and was going to do a private show for us.  This would have been epic, but a massive French Quarter-wide power outage translated in it taking nearly two hours to go three miles and his musicians had to leave for their paying gig (but Irvin still spoke to that year’s class by candle light for a few minutes before he too had to flee to make his next gig).  Since then we have been kindly hosted by him at one of his clubs each year (including once catching a reunion of his Bill Summers partnership, Los Hombres Calientes).

Maybe it is my senility settling in, but it really seems as if the shows keep getting better and tighter each trip.  Needless to say his “friends from California” were grinning ear to ear for most of the 1:35 first set.  The typical “no way”s and “that was crazy: did you hear that”s were the most common refrain from the students as they giddily took in some fantastic jazz.  Much thanks to Irvin and the crew for a great evening, for dedicating so many songs to us (and funking up the lyrics with references to us), and for giving Tevin a new nickname: Cali Swaggar.








NOJO cover of the Beatle's "Yesterday"