Submitted by srabbitt on Sun, 08/11/2019 - 19:47

The class period today was dedicated to analyzing  our leaf samples that we collected yesterday. Our group began to take measurements of the length of the leaf mines, but soon realized that it may not be necessary. Dr. Long recommended that we take a breath and sit down and try to determine what it is that we are trying to show with our data. So Ivan, Stefanie, and me sat down and began to hash out what it is we need from our data. Since we are only looking at mines that are only suspected of being Stigmella multispicata and nothing else we just need to determine what makes the mines on each leaf different, and what makes them the same. After looking at the leaves for a while Ivan noticed that none of the mines crossed the mid rib section of the leaf. This is important because that is one of the characteristics that the dichotomous key lists about S.multispicata. With that and a few more observations we came up with quantifiable measurements and observations that we could use to develop a results and discussion section. After a real slow start and several restarts the project is taking shape and looking good. I couldn't have asked for a better team to work with.

Perfect Specific Aim

Submitted by rmegarry on Sat, 08/10/2019 - 21:07

Overall objective

 To sample different Elms, on the University of Massachusetts campus, in order to find leaf mining insects, and study their ovipositional tendencies.

Specific Aim 1

To sample each species of Elm present on the UMass Amherst campus, and to survey them for leaf mining insects. Pilot data shows, leaf miners inhabiting a resistant American Elm (U. americana, Brewer, personal observation). This leaf miner appears similar to Stigmella multispicata when identified using the dichotomous key found in Leafminers of North America (Eiseman 2019), however, this leaf miner has only been observed on Siberian Elms (U. pumila). We will sample of each Elm species on campus in order to observe any new potential hosts of this leaf miner.


Random Draft

Submitted by rmegarry on Fri, 08/09/2019 - 23:03

** Normally I try to draft something for the class, or with something specific in mind, but my day started 17 hours ago and tomorrow starts in 5 hours so Im just going to write something a bit random... after careful thought all Ive got is my day so thatll be that. I suppose Ill try to organize it into sections based on good and bad events

My day has contained events that are both postive and negative with their respective instances. I brought my car in to deal with an emergency recall, at 8 am, which was supposed to last an hour. Two other recalls were also issued, and never dealt with by previous owners, and so my hour visit had turned into three and half hours of waiting. I did not recieve my car back and had to leave the dealership for my 10 hour shift at work. I had made a stop at Walmart, in order to eat at subway, and encountered my coworker. She insulted me, and then left me extremely confused as I went to eat lunch. I then had 6 hours of overlapping shift with that coworker.

I had three emergency recalls on my vehicle, however, one of them was a computer malfunction that was easily addressed. The other was for the control arms in my vehicle. These are getting replaced for free, and after a chat with the manager of the store, they are trying to convince Subaru headquarters that the faulty control arms damaged my axles, which were really worn down from the rough conditions of the roads near my home, and try to get them replaced for free. Overall this is saving me considerable money, and even if the axles arent replaced, they still have to do a 100$ alignment that I was planning on getting, and saving me at least that much. I had also misheard my coworker, and she did not actually try to insult me, and so my shift passed with far less stress than anticipated. Also, a stipend was issued to Summer Bridge Program students that I happen to be included in. 


Poster time

Submitted by srbuckley on Fri, 08/09/2019 - 00:35

Today we discovered that several of our measures designed to determine our leafminer mines weren’t able to be used or relevant. That’s kind of disappointing but I suppose the professors are right and that’s how science goes. I just hope that our group can come up with some definitive ways to asses the mines. It seems like all the words we want to use are vague or to subjective. The class is already winding to a close and I feel like it’s crunch time for getting stuff done. The one thing I like about what we did today was the fact that we had opportunities to make mistakes. Mistakes are such a great learning tool!  

Analyzing Information/Data

Submitted by srabbitt on Thu, 08/08/2019 - 22:55

The class period today was dedicated to collecting data. Our group began to take measurements of the leaf mines but soon realized that it may not be necessary. Dr. Long recommended that we take a breath and sit down and try to determine what it is that we want from our data. So Ivan, Steph, and myself sat down and began to hash out what it is we need from our data. Since we are only looking at mines that are only suspected of being Stigmella multispicata and nothing else we just need to determine what makes the mines on each leaf different from the others and what makes them the same. I was all very confusing and I am still trying to process this information in my muddled mind. I ponder what we looked at and I decided to download the measuring software on my own personal computer so that I can tinker with it and try to learn as I go along. Its a slow process but sometimes the things that I learn slow stick around the best. It when I just happen to get lucky and figure something out quickly and without mistakes then I never recall what it was that I did that was so successful. 

Collecting challenges today

Submitted by srbuckley on Wed, 08/07/2019 - 23:27

Today we collected some leaf specimens from the elm trees on campus. It took quite a bit of time to get our specimens and not all of the trees even had leafminer activity. But we wanted to be thorough and it took some time to check. Many of the trees had leafminer activity. Most of them looked like stigmella multispicata but we can’t immediately be sure. It will require a little more investigation to be certain. One tree looked like it was covered in warts. That one did have one leafmine. It started to storm which made things a little more difficult but my partner had waterproof paper. We photographed all the trees that had leafminer and also took individual photos of the branches and surrounding ten leaves. We did see a couple of things that looked like blotch mines too.

Draft - Data Collection Methods

Submitted by rmegarry on Wed, 08/07/2019 - 22:19

The methods used to collect the data for our research proposal I felt wasnt defined very clearly, although they were designed in a rushed manner. As we collected the leaves, the first thing was the termination point when the miners werent found. We had walked to the siberian elms first and had found no leaf miners, however, after circling both trees I did attempt to climb a tree in order to investigate more thoroughly. Earlier I had injured my shoulder lifting and so I was unable to hold my body weight with that arm and couldnt climb the tree. Other collection methods that were unclear, the first found leaf mine was to be marked and the next 10 leaves around it counted. The wording was slightly unclear, and so we counted the next 9 leaves and counted the found leaf as number one. We collected the medium number of mines, but tried to collect leaf 1 if that had the median number of mines. Another missing thing in the methods we followed, was that leaves taken should be whole if possible, and without any other breaks or damage. This was specific to my group as Prof. Long has mentioned, in order to look at the oviposition sites we should omit data where we cant tell if a leaf miner had caused damage or if the leaf had suffered damage. Overall these are just my thoughts on the data collection performed today

Data Collection

Submitted by srabbitt on Wed, 08/07/2019 - 22:02

Class today we split up into teams of 2 and checked trees for the presence of leaf mines. I worked with Steph for this project and our tearrority was the northwest section of campus. The first tree on the list was a Jefferson Elm. This tree had a few mines on the leaves. There was also an odd staining on some of the leaves that I felt could be looked at some other time. The next tree had a few mines on them also, but no real heavy infestation noted. The rest of the trees went about the same as the first two. There were a few that had no mines that we could find but did have other insect damage. There were two trees that we could not check well because the branches were over 3 meters high, making them out of reach. The weather was not the best but it did not make the study impossible, just a little uncomfortable. We were the last group to return from the field so I was unable to talk to anyone else about how it went. Our samples were logged and photos uploaded into a class file so that all the findings can be shared. Dr. Brewer photographed the leaves and put them into a press. I found this type of work to be interesting and I really hope that it becomes some work that can add to the known information regarding S. Multispicata if this is in fact what we are seeing

Leaf-miner Data Collecting

Submitted by nstockbridge on Wed, 08/07/2019 - 18:07

Today the class began collecting data for our project about the leaf-miner Stigmella Multispicata potentially moving hosts to new types of Elm. We started by breaking up into three groups of two with each pair having ten trees and ten leaves on each tree to locate and observe. In theory the methods for collecting the data was pretty straight forward to follow but once we actually got into the field my group started having issues right away. After getting the map situated on the phone we found the first two trees on our list which ended up being located in a completely blocked off construction zone. Since we couldn't get to them we decided to move down the list and were able to find three other sites pretty smoothily until about the sixth site with the trees being located decently away from eachother and the phone running the map the entire time the battery was getting too low to use. With the battery about to die we decided to head back to the classroom to mark the rest of our locations on a hard copy of the map. Once we got back to class and were finishing up the map it started to rain pretty heavily which put the data collection on hold until next class with hopefully better weather.

Draft - Abstract

Submitted by rmegarry on Tue, 08/06/2019 - 15:00

Leaf Miners are insects that can cause damage to the plant populations they target. These insects feed on the mesophyll inside of leaves, and leave the leaf vulnerable to infection (Bernardo et. al 2015). Over time, this can destroy the populations of the host plants. A leaf miner, likely to be Stigmella multispicata, was found infesting a Resistant American Elm (Ulmus Americana). The only known host for multispicata is the Siberian Elm (U. pumila), which suggests that this insect has swapped hosts. We aim to collect data on all Ulmus present on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus and determine the presence of leaf miners, and the characteristics of infected leaves. We intend to sample two trees of every species, as far apart as possible on campus, as well observe the mine locations relative to the symmetry of the leaves in order to understand the selection tendencies of the leaf miner. It is important to document and understand these invasive insects because of the possible threat they represent to Elms. The possibility for leaving the elms susceptible to infection, while already being under threat of the dutch elm disease, makes the careful observation of such insects necessary in order to insure the continued existence of the Elm.


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