summer review

Yesterday a friend and I were comparing summers. She catered weddings, and spent her days at country clubs in an apron, trying not to knock over elaborate cakes. I spent my days hiking through the woods with a GPS and a notebook, my pants tucked into my socks to keep the hoards of ticks from crawling up my legs. I learned to identify birds, trees and understory. I entered in data and learned how to analyze it using Distance programming. What more could I have asked for?

I’m taking a population ecology class now, so it’s been nice to start learning in a structured form a lot of the principles that I practiced this summer. We’ve been discussing population sampling techniques and statistics, which I can relate back to from my experience in the lab. It’s one thing to read about transects and point counts, but another thing entirely to actually do them, and to understand from experience the pros and cons of the different methods.

There’s still a lot more to be done for the project. When I get back next semester, I’m going to continue my work analyzing the data from this summer, so that we can make final decisions about sampling approaches and times, and account for various observer biases. Then we can apply those changes when we start sampling again in the Spring!  All in all, I feel like we accomplished a lot this summer, and I’m confident that our work will serve as a strong starting point for future years.