The Warren Lab of the UMASS Amherst Environmental Conservation department is currently conducting some extremely interesting research regarding the effects of urbanization on woodthrush populations. The research of this lab is centered around field work that has been conducted during the summer months over the past several years. The field work includes tasks like collecting nest samples and setting up cameras in discrete locations in order to obtain footage of the undisturbed woodthrushes. During the school year, undergraduates are invited to work with the faculty of the lab and help with the research. This is how I am currentley involved with the Warren Lab. My job is to watch videos of woodthrush nests and record their behavior. Another portion of the in-lab research includes sorting through nest samples and identifying the various materials the woodthrushes use to make their nests. The objective of the research is to discover the underlying implications that urbanization has on the native species of that area as well as discovering ways in which these native species adapt to urbanization.
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For my methods project, I have decided to chose the species Pinus densiflora, further specified as "Oculus-draconis". This is a species of pine trees indigenous to Japan, the Korean Peninsula, and northeastern China. The common name for this species is Dragon's Eye Pine, due to its color variation and needle position. The needles form in clusters at the end of the tree's branches. When young, as is the exact species used for my project, their needles open up in a pendulous habit. The bottom quarter of each needle is the dark green color of most pines, then blends into a yellow-green color halfway up the needle, and finally becomes mostly yellow, but may contain hints of white at the end of the needle. The combiation of the end of the dark tree branch that is visible, with the small circle of dark green needling, mixed with the outer edging of the more prevelant, lighter part of the needle ends resemble the look of a big, beautiful eye, giving the tree its common name. The Dragon's Eye Pine is an evergreen and during the winter months, the color of its needles fade. This species can grow up to 40 feet, although my photographed tree is only a maximum of about 10 feet tall.
I chose the Dragon's Eye Pine because it stood out to me and caught my eye as I walked by it. Its beautiful, bright color make it stand out compared to the other vegetation around it. The tree is planted outside of the DuBois library and will assumingly be in the same place for the next few weeks. This should make it fairly easy to find the Dragon's Eye Pine. As I was walking by the library thinking of what species I might want to photograph for my project, I passed by the Dragon's Eye Pine and immediatley became interested in it. Even after photographing the pine, I stood by for a few more minutes appreciating its beauty and design. I'm excited to see how my methods will be replicated.
The way in which water moves and is stored within the land is an extremely complex and in-depth process containing many factors affecting it. A few of these factors include bedrock geology, topography, glacial history, soil and sediment type, along with wind patterns. Human activity is unsuprisingly becoming a leading factor in this process as well. As urbanization and industrialization increase, more and more pollutants are being introduced to our water systems. Urbanization, especially, is a major cause of degradation of water quality. As naturally occuring forests and grasslands are being cleared, overland flow and soil erosion as well as increasingly frequent floods and droughts are taking place. This is due to the fact that these natural lands are the prime sources of water storage. These watershed systems are essential to the overall water cycle of the Earth. The quanitity, quality, and timing of streamflow is heavily dependant on these watershed systems. Streamflow as well as riverflow through forest ecosystems are integral parts in the filtration process of water in order for human use and consumption. As these watershed areas are being reduced, soil erosion and loss of riparian zones make these streams and rivers increasingly susceptible to pollutants and anthropogenic chemicals and compounds. It is of ever-growing importance, for basic human survival in parts of the world and even the United States, that these watershed systems be better understood by the science community by the means of interdisciplinary research.
Figure 1. Two Lions. This shows how lions can be docile and playful.
Throughout my day yesterday, I used various methods of transportation to reach my destinations. For the most part, I walked. I walked from my bed to my bathroom, from my batroom to my kitchen, from my kitchen to my living room. I walked from class to the library, from the library to class, from class to class. I walked from my house to the bus stop, from the bus stop to my class. I walked for long periods and short periods. Along with walking, another method of transportation that I used was the bus. I live off campus so the bus is essential for me. I took the bus in the morning to get to class. After class, I took the bus back to my apartment. I took another bus back to campus later in the day. After I was done with classes and studying at the library, I took the bus back to my apartment, where I mainly used my legs for transportation for the rest of the day.
My cup contained a maggot in its larval stage. The soft body, divided into three different segments, was of a cream color. The head was brown and harder than the rest of its body. At a close look, short, slim strands of sensory hairs protruded from various spots all over its body; its head contained two sensory hairs coming right out of the front of it, which it used to feel all over the ground in order to sense its next movements or signs of danger. On the dorsal side of the creature's body was a transparent line that ran from the anterior to the posterior sides of it. This barely noticable sliver would seemingly pulsate every second, going in and out of vision, mimicking a heartbeat. I presume this was the creatures main blood transportation system. The creature was calm, for the most part, not moving much. It would stick to the edge of the cup and keep its body curled into a hooked-shape, curling the bottom segment of its body up towards its front half. The body would move in a wave-like motion when the creature moved forward. It would stick its back legs into the ground for traction and then roll the other segments of its body up until it was fully elongated and moving. At this length, it measured about 29mm. The small creature would make the perfect snack for various species of small birds.
The cup contained what I presume to be a maggot in its larval stage. The body of the creature was of a cream color and soft in texture. The head seemed to be harder than the rest of the body and also was a brown color. It did not move much, just mainly when poked or prodded. When it moved, it was seperated into a few different segments. The body seemed to make a wave motion, as the hind legs gripped onto the ground allowing the middle part of the body to stretch out, followed by the front segment of its body to make the creature fully elongated. Its front 6 legs, divided into 3 pairs, allowed the creature to inch its way forward. The body of the creature had short, slim sensory hairs protruding from various spots; the head also had two sensory organs positioned out of the front of it. The creature used these two hairs to feel around it, sensing its surroundings. On the top of the creature's body, I could make out a little sliver of fluid running along the front to the back of the body. This line would seemingly pulsate, going in and out of vision about every second, mimicking a heartbeat. The creature seemed calm for the most part, not moving much, sticking to the edge of the cup, and keeping its body tucked into a hooked-shape, where it would curl the bottom half of its body up towards its front half. This creature was small, measuring at its most elongated state at only about 29mm. I have the intuition that the creature would make the perfect snack for various species of birds.
I think there's a maggot in my cup. It has a plump body that is a white/creamish color. It is also a little transparent. He stays towards the edge of the cup, not moving much besides his head. It seems as though he is trying to burrow into the cup, as if that is what he would be doing in his natural habitat. He is calm and not freaking out much about his foreign surroundings. He stays in a hooked shape, where the fron third of his body is more or less straight and the back of his body, where his hind legs are, are curled up and to the side. His little legs that stick out from underneath his soft body do not seem to be taking him very far. When flipped over, he flails his front legs and squirms until he flips over his side and is back on his legs. He does this almost instantaneously, so it's safe to assume that being upside down makes this little bug pretty uncomfortable. When he walks forward, his body elongates and then moves from front to back, in a wave motion. You can see the different segments of his body moving him along forward. He digs his hind legs into the surface and pushes the rest of his sigmented body forward. His back end mostly stays in his usual hooked shape, unless he is trying to move forward. He keeps his hard, brown head to the ground. He has two protruding hairs on the front of his head that I assume are his sensory organs. He keeps his head low to the ground, feeling around to see what his next move might be. At his longest, he measures to about 30mm long. He is usually a smaller length though, only stretching out fully when it is time for him to move forward. Due to the slight transparency of his body, you can make out a little line going onlong his top side, which I am assuming is a major vein of his, that pulses in and out of visibility, as if there was blood pumping through it. The back end of his body does not seem to mobile by itself, for when he is not scurrying along, he kind of drags it behind him. I took him out of his cup and put him in my notebook to observe what his reaction might be. He started scurrying off trying to escape. Once I put him from the paper back into the cup, he was no longer chill like before. Instead, this time, he was trying to find an escape up along the side of the cup.