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And we’re off!

All things went surprisingly smooth with this mornings departure from campus and arrival at LAX for our flight to NOLA. Hmmmm…something seems amiss.

We also have discovered a new airport waiting game: guess who has had swine flu…and guess who has had Ebola!

Invasive Growth

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…

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…

Tulane Service Learning

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.