I’ll be updating this page roughly weekly during my field season (generally May to October) so you can see what I’ve been up to. Check it out!

June 8, 2021

I have learned some lessons about preserving plant specimens since my last post. The great news is that I now have a bulging book full of pressed specimens, and still more in the press that I haven’t dealt with yet. As you might have guessed, I’m pretty quick at gathering and pressing plants, but a bit slower at dealing with them. Imagine that, plant curation takes longer than plant collection!

Now, it is worth considering that my inexperience at this is partially to blame. First of all, I’m sure experienced plant curators are much faster and have all the space and tools they need to be efficient. Doing anything always seems to go much slower the first few times. Second, my purpose in collecting and preserving plants is to build my own personal, local field guide while getting a feel for phenology and distributions and ultimately growing familiar with the plants themselves. On my last trip I pretty much grabbed every plant I didn’t already have a sample of, and since I started with zero plants, that was a lot. Third, I haven’t even started curating the tricky, thick, juicy, spiky plants. For example, the cholla cacti that have a spine every centimeter or so and need to be carefully thawed, filleted, and pressed: they are still hanging out in my freezer next to the popsicles. So I’m a bit backlogged. It may simply be that I need to put in a little ramp-up effort to gather representatives of the most common plants and then I’ll be able to scale the collection efforts back a bit. Finally, my plant efforts are taking a backseat to literally everything else in my life right now (read: publishing my dissertation chapters! AAAHHH!!). So it’s okay. Even though I’m still excited to build my plant collection, the plants will wait.

For the time being, I can share the process I used in case you’re interested to try this yourself. To make a field plant book, you’ll need the following: Dried specimens in press, clear packing tape at least 2″ wide, scissors, a pen for labeling, and a blank book with somewhat sturdy paper (mine is Strathmore sketch paper with three holes punched… more on my field notebook in a later post, but you can see Roseann Hanson’s example that it’s based on here).

Supplies ready for curating my field herbarium book.

If you’re like me, you might invite a well-behaved furry friend to join you. This is Newberry. She’s just a curious stray cat that drops by to check in pretty often.

To quote Adventure Time, she’s not my cat. “She’s… my… FRIEND!!”

The next step is to very gingerly open up your plant press. You want to keep it level so the specimens don’t spill out. Try to keep the lid vertical as you lift it straight up and out of the way. You should have some pretty awesome, dry, flat specimens on your pages. Note: I think I was supposed to have placed the plants directly on the newspaper, not on the white absorbent sheets. I’m learning as I go here.

Pressed plants all lined up inside the press. I had several sheets like this.

Next, arrange each plant on a separate page of your blank book. It’s good if your blank book covers have some flexibility, because they will expand with the thickness of the plants. Dr. Kathryn Thomas uses a composition book for this successfully. Carefully tape the specimen down to the page so all parts are covered. Transfer the label info onto the page. Make sure you leave an open space to write when you stick the clear tape down. And you’re done! I’m planning on transferring these to a 3-ring binder eventually. I choose to keep my pages moveable so I can group them however I like in the future.

Finished book with taped specimens and labels.

So what have I learned that will inform my future plant collecting activities? What advice would I give to others following along? My advice is that if you’re not a professional botanist, collect only a few plants at a time. For example, if I had collected just one press page worth of plants (5 or so), I would have finished taping them to my book already. Then I could decide whether to refill the press with another sheet of small herbaceous plants, or whether to take a stab (ha!) at curating a few cacti. By the way, I may try the cacti just one at a time, so I can learn from the full curation process. I assume there will be a learning curve specific to that process too, so I’ll start with the easiest and least interesting specimens. Another suggestion is to have more than one plant press—wild idea, right?—but it would provide the ability to keep one open for sporadic collecting while the other is still doing its “pressing” job. Ha! Finally, while I’m not sure if my method is really archival, the end product is meant for use in the field and is expected to get a bit beaten up. If you’re attempting a real herbarium collection, you should follow accepted protocols and not put tape on your specimens.

In summary, this process is going well so far, albeit slowly. It’s pretty cool that you can make your own local field guide with just a few cuttings, and the process is fun. If anyone tries this, or has advice for a newbie, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

May 1, 2021

It’s finally warm in Tucson! Do I count as a Tucsonan now that I’ve been here long enough to think it’s cold at 77 F?

Recently I learned how to make a very cool portable herbarium collection from Dr. Kathryn Thomas, my boss at the USGS. With impeccable timing, Judie (Dr. Judie Bronstein) made plant presses available to us grad students yesterday. I am thrilled.

The new plant press! 🙂

Last night and today I went up and down the wash in my neighborhood on my bike, collecting roughly 6″ clippings of plants. My protocol is as follows:

-Choose plants from public areas that don’t seem to be tended (never from someone’s yard).
-Collect a 6″ or so cutting with pruning shears. If possible, choose a cutting that showcases flowers, fruit, leaves, and stems. Roots would be nice too, but usually aren’t within 6″ of the cutting.
-Never deplete more than 15% of the nearest cluster of any plant.
-Store cuttings in a sandwich bag. The bag should have a label in it indicating the date and location of the specimens inside. When the bag is too full, that’s about as many cuttings as I can curate that day anyway, so head back then.
-Arrange layers of corrugated cardboard, newspaper, and absorbent paper on the plant press. On a few pieces of newspaper, arrange the plant cuttings. Include a note recording locality of that page of specimens as well as any collection notes. More detailed notes may be kept in my field notebook under that date. Then stack more newspaper, absorbent paper, and corrugated cardboard over the plants, repeat layers if needed, and place the ventilated lid on top. Strap it all down hard. I also placed the whole thing on a table under something heavy.
-Wait a week or more before relieving the pressure on the plants.
-Arrange the now-dried plants on heavy pieces of acid-free paper sized for a binder, or a heavy-paper sketchbook. Dr. Thomas used a composition book, which seemed to work great.
-Tape the plants down with archival clear tape.
-Label the paper with the locality info and notes. If I can ID the plant, I will include the ID, but that can also be added as I learn more.
-This book can then be carried around and used as a field guide even as it is being built! So cool!

As I was riding around, I noticed a lot of the most interesting-looking plants were cacti. I definitely didn’t want to carry them around in my plastic bag and get poked. So I looked up how herbaria deal with that situation. The next day I came back to the wash with my car, a big metal coffee can, and my pruning shears. Here’s the protocol I’m using for cacti and succulents (I’ll update you on how it turns out):

Cactus in a can.

-When I find a cool cactus specimen (ideally small enough for my notebook, but sometimes that’s not possible), I carefully cut it such that it falls straight into my coffee can without me touching it. I repeat this until I have a full can of specimens.
-I put the locality info and notes on a slip of paper into the can, close the lid, drive home, and place the can into the freezer.
-I am leaving the cacti in the freezer until my non-cactus specimens are dry and removed from the plant press. I don’t want really juicy specimens near my almost-dry ones. I swear, my freezer contains 10% food and 90% specimens from various taxonomic kingdoms.
-Once I’m ready to work on the cacti, I will use pliers to remove them from the coffee can and spread them out on my porch.
-I will let the cacti thaw, and then carefully fillet them like a fish, removing the juicy parts and being gently with the outer “skin”.
-I will separate off very flat “skins” of cactus that will press well and display the key plant structures. Then I will arrange them on the plant press with labels as above. I’m not too sure how I’ll get the cactus spines to lay down. Suggestions are welcome.
-The cacti and succulents will likely take longer than other plants to dry, so I’ll give them plenty of time. If I need to press other things in the meantime, I may move the partially-dry cacti to another area and just load them with weights for a long time.
-The rest of the steps should be the same as for general plants, although I’ll be extra careful to tape the cactus spines flat and cover them well!

I’m still not sure how to deal with specimens from a plant that is giant, such as fishhook barrel cacti (Ferrocactus wislizeni). I also don’t want to kill the whole plant, which I think means not collecting those kinds of specimens. I may supplement my collection with drawings and/or photos of large plants in such cases.

I’d love to hear any ideas or suggestions you may have, or comments in general. I’ll share images of the resulting book with you once it’s finished!

September 30, 2020

I wanted to give you one last field update for the season now that I’m done collecting stalk temperatures. I’ll keep you updated on my progress going forward, but this will be the last update of this kind specifically regarding field progress.

I think the season went pretty well! I now have temperatures of 65 sotol stalks. I have opened all the stalks at home, and have frozen specimens from any active nests (most were active). Now Chloe Burkholder, a fantastic undergraduate researcher, is helping me take measurements on the stalks. These measurements of parameters such as stalk thickness, tunnel volume, etc., will be used in analyzing the temperature data, as well as in the woodpecker predation project on which Chloe, Dr. Judie Bronstein, and I will be coauthors.

Two new undergraduate researchers, Meccah Jarrah and Grayson Hughes, are helping me transcribe a large amount of this summer’s data from audio and paper into a digital format for analysis. They will also be taking over the maintenance of my equipment that is still logging temperatures on a stalk near the weather station at Tumamoc, as well as conducting their own independent research projects. Their help will enable me to measure temperatures much longer into the fall than I had initially planned.

Finally, I did perform an autopsy on the burned temperature logger, “Bob”. The timing of the autopsy coincided with my meeting with a producer from Arizona Public Media. Dr. Katy Prudic had connected me with him after he reached out to her regarding impacts of the Bighorn Fire on research. I ended up doing the autopsy while he filmed, and to my utter surprise actually did find an SD card! The SD card plastic was welded onto the body of the logger, and couldn’t fit into a normal card reader, but the pins looked okay. I am now brainstorming methods for modifying a card reader that can contact the pins on the card without causing potential damage to any existing data. I have some ideas for using a small card reader with the card slot cut open, and pressing it onto the SD card like two halves of a sandwich. It will be really neat to see if data can be obtained from the card. Regardless, there’s a good chance “Bob” will make it onto local television in November!

In other research goals, my next steps are to perform calibrations so I can draw sound conclusions about the absolute temperatures of the stalks measured over the summer. I’ve been meeting with Dr. Prudic about our species distribution model paper that will predict distributions for carpenter bees and their nest plant. I’m also planning on finalizing the CTmax project, as well as writing a literature review with Dr. Steve Buchmann and Dr. Bronstein on how rising temperatures will affect native bees. That is a lot on the horizon, but I have high hopes for everything. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thank you all for your ideas and suggestions this field season. I’m so happy to have collected all these stalk temperatures, and I can’t wait to see what patterns emerge from the data!

July 31, 2020

This week has been a busy one with field work, an ESA poster presentation, and a quick trip to Yuma for Department of Interior fingerprinting (for the USGS bee identification job starting this fall, yay!). I also attempted to pick up my temperature logger devices still marooned in the Santa Catalinas, but that will have to wait a bit for now.

Tantalizingly, the Mt. Lemmon road is now open. Disappointingly, all pullouts are closed and there’s no stopping along the road. I heard today there was a “hiker rescue” which was actually more of a “hiker escort back to the road to receive a ticket” at Windy Point. I drove up to the top and back, and I took some photos of what the mountain looks like now. It seems firefighters did an amazing job of protecting structures, and Gordon Hirabayashi is completely unburned. It looks like the fire got down to around Rose Canyon Lake. I haven’t tried the other side of the mountain just yet, to get to Peppersauce, but will attempt it the next time I have a spare hour in the morning.

Chloe Burkholder, Dr. Judie Bronstein, and I finished our poster for ESA, and you can see it below. I’m getting increasingly excited to find out how the environmental parameters I’m measuring now might interact with the bird predation patterns we’re seeing.

Our poster for the Ecological Society of America 2020 virtual meeting.

I also have a graph depicting the field stalk temperatures in a different way from last time. This one plots the paired internal and external temperatures by height. Dr. Goggy Davidowitz and I talked about this and previous graphs in a meeting last week. We noticed that, while the lowest position has a hotter internal than external temperature, at least for the hot part of the day, the inside temperature is also more stable than the outside. Dr. Davidowitz had some hypotheses to explain these patterns: that evapotranspiration may cool the exterior relative to the interior most at the lowest height, while the leaves also shield the lowest parts of stalks from wind. He also suggested some next steps to test these hypotheses, and a Levene’s Test for homogeneity of the inside versus outside temperatures. I’ve now checked out HOBOs and an anemometer from the Davidowitz Lab, and have started using them to measure humidity and wind speed at each of the four heights where I’ve already been measuring temperature on stalks at field sites. I’m looking forward to seeing what these measurements look like. I’m especially interested to see what kinds of new predictions they might suggest in the context of the woodpecker study and nest placement.

Interior (dark blue) and exterior (light blue) temperature measurements at each of four positions.

The battles with pack rats have continued. Last week, after realizing that pack rats were likely nibbling my thermocouple wires, I decided to be more aware of the wires at ground level. I had finished installing the last Arduino for the day, when I noticed a small trail with some droppings on it going right past one of the stalks I was measuring. I followed the trail back with my eyes and noticed a HUGE pack rat nest right behind my stalk! I was almost out of time for the day, and wouldn’t be able to disassemble and reassemble the devices elsewhere, so I took a chance. I looped the wires and tied them up as high as I could. I put a grocery bag around the base of the Arduino where the wires emerge. Then I moved a pile of rocks to block the rat trail where it led towards the device. Luckily, I sometimes pick up litter I see, and earlier that day I had picked up a half-empty can of beans. I placed that can a few feet away from the pack rat nest, in the opposite direction from the stalk, hoping it would function as a decoy. I put a Coke can a few feet away too. I was still concerned about whether it would work, but I had to leave. When I came back later to collect that device, I found the label of the bean can was all shredded. There were only the slightest signs of activity near the Arduinos. There was a tiny bit of nibbling on the wires, but it was right at the connector ends, and so can be easily repaired. This was a relief, but now I have a search image and know how to spot pack rat nests. I’m no longer placing Arduinos anywhere near them!

The bean can decoy worked!

Next week is the Ecologial Society of America meeting, and I’m looking forward to hearing a lot of great talks. Since it’s virtual, I should be able to keep making trips to the field too. I’ll let you know how it goes!

July 23, 2020

The past week and a half I’ve been spending most of my time in the field, but have also been taking care of a few office-type tasks (forms for getting hired by the USGS in the fall, etc.). I have some preliminary graphs on the stalk temperatures so far, but I think I’ll soup them up before I post them here. I’m also planning to attempt to collect my marooned temperature loggers from the Catalina Mountains early next week, so look for more on that soon.

In a bit of good news, I have been selected as a Data Science Ambassador for CALS for this fall! I’ll be connecting other students with data science resources at UA. I’m excited to help, and to continue to learn more as a data scientist myself.

Also, new UA undergrad Chloe Burkholder and Dr. Judie Bronstein and I have been working on a study that asks whether the placement of carpenter bee nests in sotol may protect them from woodpecker predation. Come check out our poster if you’re coming to the virtual Ecological Society of America meeting!

I did have one question for all of you regarding damage to some thermocouples that I observed in the field this week. When I went to pick up one of the Arduinos near Kentucky Camp, I found the thermocouple probes looked chewed or worn away in places. They were kinked in some areas too. I noticed the damage was only where the wires had been running along the ground, and that the upper parts were intact. There was no evidence that anything had been moved–the probe ends were still correctly seated at each of the four positions along the length of the stalk, and the device was firmly mounted a few feet away. This device was located near a couple of dead sotol plants with dried leaves in a pile. It was not in a location where someone might have tripped on it. This led me to suspect a rodent nibbled the probes–maybe a pack rat? Or maybe it’s something else altogether? I was wondering if any of you would recognize this type of damage to wires (in the attached photos). I do fortunately have spare thermocouple probes, so this won’t set me back time-wise, but I’d like to avoid such damage in the future.

What ate my thermocouple housing? Is this evidence of packrat activity?

July 13, 2020

During the past week I’ve been spending what seems like all of my time in the field, installing and moving Arduinos to new stalks in the Santa Ritas.

My goal last week was to be able to spend no more than 4 hours (not including travel and water breaks) moving 4 devices to new stalks at each site. For the first few days, I was spending the whole day installing and the whole next day disassembling. By Saturday I was able to whittle it down to 4 hours straight for the installation, and another hour for taking down the previous Arduinos. This method seems to work well, because it allows me to bring the devices home, check them, and maintain them before returning them to the field. I’ve been getting a lot of data, and I’ve started plotting it. In the attached graphs, you’ll see a sample of what I’m collecting.

Temperature difference between exterior and interior is displayed for each of four height positions along the nest.

The line graphs show the delta temperature (difference between exterior and interior measurements of paired sensors) over a few days. I wanted to emphasize the deltas for now, because I think I’ll be applying some offsets to the absolute temperature when I do some testing in Goggy Davidowitz’s environmental chamber. One version of the graph shows just one stalk. You’ll see that the most divergence occurs around midday. I included a version of the graph that shows several stalks to point out that this pattern seems to be a normal phenomenon on all stalks, and the timing is aligned. I’m curious to take a peek at the plant literature to see what internal temperatures of plants normally are. It still seems odd to me that the lowest probes are measuring the hottest temperatures (they look like lows on these graphs because I subtracted interior from exterior temperatures).

I’ve also attached a violin plot showing site differences in stalk thickness. I had half-expected to see obvious differences, but they look quite variable. It’s possible that if all sample sizes were larger, there may be some detectable differences (Gordon Hirabayashi was the first site, and has much more data than the others). I’ll be adding to the sample size of the others as I go along.

There doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to say stalks differ between sites based on this violin plot.

In the next week, I’ll be in the field again, hopefully getting faster. If I can find some computer time, I’d also like to take a look at the differences between weather station data and stalk measurements from loggers at Tumamoc. I’ve been collecting SD cards weekly from those devices, which are still chugging along out there. I can’t wait to see how hot it got!

More later!

July 5, 2020

I hope you had a happy Fourth of July and ate some good food!

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week:

I put a total of 8 Arduino devices at the 2 sites in the Santa Ritas, and collected 2 of the SD cards. I did have some sensor errors, but I also had a lot of good temperature data! This is exciting, but I’ll need to be extra gentle with the sensors where they connect and make sure to verify them every time. I may come up with some kind of strain relief for the connection point. I did also learn that the battery life on the Arduinos is 5 days on six AA batteries. I’ll have to swap them as often as I can get to each site.

The Mount Lemmon road is still closed on both sides. I had heard that the fire is now mostly contained, but authorities are concerned about flash floods due to the loss of vegetation. Just to check that what I’d heard was correct, I drove out to Peppersauce and was not allowed in. The person there confirmed that all roads to Mount Lemmon are closed. I did notice that the road closure is just past the zipline site, where the business has allowed me access for research in previous years. They have a lot of stalks, and their site was protected during the fire, so using their land could be a way to add that site back in. I will email them about access.

In the experiment at the Tumamoc weather station, I installed a new store-bought device so that now there are 3 (on thin, medium, and thick stalks). I have some data back from those SD cards, which all worked fine and look great. I look forward to analyzing and comparing to the weather station data.

Finally, Dr. Alice Boyle took a look at last week’s woodpecker video, and she believes it’s an Arizona Woodpecker, which makes perfect sense.

As a fun side note, I’ve been finding a lot of abandoned mines in the Santa Ritas. Some are just leftover boards, fenced holes, or filled-in channels. Others, like the Morning Star Mine, have intact structures and deep holes with ladders. I’m finding it pretty interesting to learn about the local history while I’m hiking around, although I’m now being extra careful about where I step! I take cow patties to be a sign of solid terrain.

One of several openings to the Morningstar Mine near Greaterville, AZ.

Next, I’m hoping that my practice at swapping the Arduinos onto new stalks and collecting the old ones has made me more streamlined. My goal is to be able to swap 4 devices in 4 hours. This will mean speeding up considerably, which I hope to be able to do.

Have a great week, and I’ll update you on everything again soon!

June 28, 2020

I hope you have had a great week! Mine has been pretty fruitful—some long-awaited projects are finally starting to pay off.

Namely, the Arduino data loggers now work! Hooray! Since this project has been in the works for over a year, this is hugely exciting. I now have working code, and can log temperatures from 8 thermocouples on each of 16 devices. This will enable me to measure more nests with higher resolution. This week I placed the first four loggers in the field at my two sites in the Santa Ritas.

I also completed a quick experiment in which I measured interior and exterior temperatures on short chunks of six separate stalks, all of the same dimensions but from different sites. The purpose of this test is to single out the variation in insulative properties between individual stalks (controlling variables such as stalk diameter, height off the ground, day, site, etc). This experiment will determine whether I can use different diameters from the same stalk in my temperature measurements near the weather station at Tumamoc. Speaking of which…

The Tumamoc experiment is also now running! I have installed a stalk cut into four segments of different diameters near Tumamoc’s low-elevation weather station. The data-logging devices are measuring interior and exterior at two heights on the thickest and thinnest stalk segments (only two devices are currently installed; I will install a third this week, and a fourth as soon as I’m able to collect one of the loggers from Gordon Hirabayashi. Ultimately, all four segments will be measured simultaneously).

Tumamoc stalk experiment.

In unrelated good news, Steve Buchmann, Judie Bronstein, and I have been invited to submit our native bee nesting literature review to Annals of ESA for publication in 2021. We will be starting work on it in the near future.

Finally, for the first time, I actually witnessed a woodpecker chowing down on a carpenter bee nest! It was so cool to watch. The foundress bee was at the entrance audibly buzzing frantically, while the bird was having a grand old time whacking the stalk and presumably eating larvae. Afterwards I went up and saw the adult bee sticking her abdomen out of the entrance hole, and above were the characteristic woodpecker predation marks that we often see on stalks. Unfortunately the bee and nest can’t be seen or heard in the video–I could only pick up the bird and stalk from my angle. Still, I was glad to have finally seen this take place, since Chloe, Judie, and I are attributing these jagged holes to woodpeckers in our woodpecker predation manuscript. I thought the guilty homewrecker was an acorn woodpecker, who I previously didn’t think foraged this way, but I wasn’t sure.

Next week I plan to install more temperature loggers on stalks in the Santa Ritas. Once all devices are in the field and data is rolling in, I will be rotating them regularly to new stalks to maximize the sample size of individual stalks measured. Once I have collected data from a device, I will collect that stalk and record its contents. This will likely continue all summer, with tweaks as needed. I will also add more measuring devices to the experiment at Tumamoc. Finally, I will be looking for carpenter bees that are starting a second generation of nests for this summer. I believe their first generation eggs are now emerging as adults, and they are just about to start nesting again.

I’ll let you know how everything goes in the next week!

June 21, 2020

This week has certainly been exciting. This is a rather long update, but it has been a wild time in the field this week.

Last Friday after my previous update, Goggy Davidowitz and I had a very fruitful conversation about experimental design. We discussed the main questions for this summer’s work, and the eventual statistics that will be used to answer them. I came away with a lot to think about. I want to be able to predict maximum temperatures bees are likely to experience in their nests by building a model to link air temperature to internal nest temperatures. To do this, I will need to measure both temperatures in the field, and temperatures inside stalk material of different diameters. I also need to quantify the variation in insulation between individual stalks. We came up with a design for comparing individual stalks: an array of different stalk segments all of the same diameters, representing all field sites, with temperature measured inside and out.

I also talked with Goggy, Steve Buchmann, and Judie Bronstein at different times about a design for linking weather station temperature data to temperatures bees might actually experience inside their nest. I will use 4 stalk segments, all from the same stalk, suspended from a horizontal rod, oriented South, near the weather station at the base of Tumamoc Hill to measure temperature inside and outside different diameters on the same stalk. This week I built a stand to suspend the 4 20-cm stalk segments at equal spacing from the same height above the ground, maximizing airflow around them. The stand is designed to look like desert trash to avoid attracting any potential vandals, but it is actually very sturdy. The base is sized to contain and conceal all 4 data logging devices. Thermocouples will be routed through slats of wood on the base to enter the stalks above—see attached photo to see how stalk segments will be suspended. I’m still waiting on permit approval to use Tumamoc.

The wild part of the story comes next. Goggy and I had talked about designing my field experiment and number of sites to maximize power, but read on to find out why all of that will be different now…
This week my original goal had been to pick up all devices currently logging at all 4 sites, in order to set them up at home and at Tumamoc to log data on the experiments described above.

Because of the Bighorn Fire, which is still massively burning up Tucson’s mountains, I couldn’t get to Gordon Hirabayashi on Tuesday. I decided to leave that device and the others in the field a few days longer so that the additional data that was accumulating at Gordon Hirabayashi could be later compared to that at other sites. I decided instead I would go pick up all devices yesterday and today. Bad mistake.

Since the fire was threatening to come down the Tucson side of the mountain, I was monitoring the road closure on the south side of Mount Lemmon Highway. The fire was far from any of my other sites, so I didn’t realize that firefighters might actually do prescribed burns around the town of Oracle! When I reached my site near Oracle (Peppersauce) on Saturday morning, the road was closed. A law enforcement official there told me crews were conducting burns, but he offered to escort me down the road to check the data logger. The whole back side of Mount Lemmon was black. I found the data logger, but wasn’t allowed to walk up to it because it was within the burned area (dangerous to enter). I could see the burned thermocouple wires with my binoculars–see attached video. I’m sure the device is ruined, and it would be a miracle if any data survived. It’s such a shame, since I had two weeks worth of temperatures on it. I still want to return to collect the device later, on the very slim chance that the SD card is somehow intact. If it captured temperatures right before it was destroyed, the data could be so interesting! But I think that it’s almost certainly a total loss, and I’ve written off this site at this point. This is really disappointing.

Backburn at Peppersauce probably destroyed my temperature logger.

Gordon Hirabayashi is still off-limits, but I’m checking regularly and will collect the device there ASAP.

The good news is that I did manage to collect new blank stalks from all sites to be used in the stalk variation test and in the Tumamoc experiment. I even have stalks from Gordon Hirabayashi, because I had collected some in March. I can still continue with measuring stalk temperature variation, and will start collecting data near the Tumamoc weather station as soon as I’m approved to do that.

I was also able to pick up all devices from the other sites. For the near future, I will focus my efforts on the two sites in the Santa Ritas. Fortunately, I have a spare temperature logger at home. Once I retrieve the one at Gordon Hirabayashi, I will have 4 functioning devices again.
In other hopeful news, I am near a solution on the homemade Arduino-based temperature loggers. I paid $173 to have a programmer from the company that created the multiplexers rewrite my code. His deadline is tonight (Monday in Australian time). I hope to have great news about this next week, and to be able to deploy 16 homemade devices at my 2 remaining field sites.

Whew! I’ll keep you posted.

June 12, 2020

I’ve been traveling to field sites in the early mornings Tuesday – Friday since June 2nd to get temperatures inside and outside carpenter bee nests. The temperature-logging devices I’m using are not the most ideal (they have four thermocouple probes as opposed to the desired 8, which means 2 inside, 2 outside, at two heights above and below the nest entrance). I could also only afford 4 of the store-bought devices, as opposed to the 16 homemade Arduino ones. However, I have some hope now that I’ll be able to get the homemade devices operational now that Ocean Controls, the manufacturer of the multiplexer board, is willing to work on the code for a small fee. Thanks to a long list of immensely helpful folks for helping me troubleshoot this over the past year.

The field is gorgeous right now, and not too hot before 6 a.m. The most exciting mini-adventure this week was when I dislodged a rock the size of my head, and it started rolling swiftly down a steep incline straight towards my car parked below! Fortunately for me, a tree stopped it just a couple of meters above my car (see attached video—yikes!!).

Thank you, tree!

Next, my committee and I are discussing options for experimental design on this project going forward. It’s looking like having 4 sites with the maximum feasible number of stalks (at least one day and night per stalk) might not give me enough statistical power. We’re discussing reducing the number of sites to just the hottest one. I’d like to make this change before the 3rd week of the month so I can still capture those summer high temps inside nests. It would be great to have a solid idea of what maximum temperatures carpenter bees might experience.

I’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂