Hello! My name is Ms. Larson. Please travel with me to New Orleans to study Climate Change and Caterpillars!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Back to Civilization




We are now back in Nola and having a great time. On Friday we went out to the field again to gather more data and we saw a group of very young alligators (at least 5) and one older alligator. At first we thought that it might be the mom but we found that it was probably too little to be the mom. Most likely it was just a young teenager. When alligators are young they will still hang out together sometimes for protection. We also saw this turtle on the side of the road, it was pretty big but we didn't know what kind of turtle it was. Can you guys figure it out?

That afternoon it started to rain and it rained right through until Saturday afternoon. In fact there was a tornado in LA that day. This didn't allow us to got out and get new data but what we spend the day doing was taking care of the caterpillar that we already gathered as well as put all the data into the computer. My job was mainly being the computer person and entering all the data. It might not be an exciting job but it is a very important job. This allows the scientists to actually start to make some interpretations from the data they gathered as well as organize it.

On Sunday we packed up and said goodbye to the swamp and headed back to New Orleans. We headed to Tulane University where the scientists are based to take our caterpillars back to the lab and take care of them one last time. Already a lot of them are starting to build their cocoons and then in a few days they will emerge as either moths or butterflies.

By the way I noticed that a lot of you thought that the track that I put up before was an alligator track, you need to guess again. It is not alligator...


While I have had a wonderful time here in Louisiana, I am glad to get back to Iowa and see you all again. See you Wednesday!




Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

Hi Everyone,

It was great to Skype with you today. I hope that you are having a great time, I know that I am. Today was a more relaxing day because during the time when I wasn't skyping with you I was entering caterpillar data into the data system. We also went out and took data on one plot.

You can play this game in the computer lab tomorrow. http://www.planetgreengame.com/

-It will have you making decision about how to reduce CO2 emissions and make green decisions for a town.

Happy Earth Day! I hope you made it a green one!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 3 - Kayaking in the Bayou






Today was an exciting day. The team split up today and I was on the kayaking team. We got into the water around 10 am today and kayaked up the river to 2 different sites where we did some more data collection. Of course, I fell over in some mud and decided to wipe the mud off on a tree which was covered with all that poison ivy that I told you about earlier. With all the poison ivy there is here in the Bayou it will be amazing if I don't get itchy soon.


What I want you to do today is try and figure out what kind of animal track this is that we found. Here is a Hint: It was found by a body of water.


The most exciting part of our day is when we were just about back to the bunk house and we stopped to kayak in the Cyprus and Tupelo trees. About 100 feet into the swamp there was the biggest alligator that I have ever seen- even in a zoo. It was about 14 feet and approximately 1300 lbs. Right when we were near it, it jumped into the water and scared us all. We paddled our kayaks away very quickly. We later find out the locals call him "El Guapo" and he is pretty famous around the Bayou.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 2 - Another Day in the Field


In the morning today we worked on cataloging all of the caterpillars that we collected yesterday. I know that it might not sound that exciting but it is a really important part of the research data collection. Sometimes research is exciting and sometimes it means putting family, genus, and species into the catalog. Today we also went into the field and found a 10 meter by 10 meter plot in the middle of the woods. In this plot we found all the plant species and identified them and counted their leaves by estimation. We also looked for any caterpillars that might be in our plot.

One thing that we are constantly needing to do is to avoid the major amounts of poison ivy. In the picture you see above, all of the green leaves are poison ivy. It is growing like crazy here and we need to be really careful.


Please make comments/ ask me questions when you go to the library. You can do this below any of my posts where it says comments:-)


Monday, April 19, 2010

One of the reasons we are going to study caterpillars is because they are a large factor in the food web in the bayou. Caterpillars are herbivores and they eat the leaves on trees and other plants. The caterpillars then have a variety of parasitoids that affect them. Find out one parasitoid for a caterpillar and how it affects them.

www.bugguide.net

-is a good resource to find information and images of bugs.


When there is a large disturbance (such as Hurricane Katrina) this may affect the plants, caterpillars, and/or their parasitoids. We are gathering data to show evidence for changes in amounts of caterpillars and their parasitoids.

What is another example of when food chains have been affected or disturbed?

Monday- First Day in the Field



Today we went out the the field and learned more about what we are going to be doing during out research while we are down here. We also started to collect caterpillars today and I found my first caterpillar. One of the first caterpillars that we found is called a Orange Dog Swallowtail. The picture on the left is the young caterpillar and the one to the right is the older caterpillar.

I know this is a little young but you can make your own caterpillars and see how they do in the environment.



I arrive on Saturday in New Orleans and I meet the team who I will be working with for the next week. We went to dinner and then explored downtown where we listened to some wonderful Cajun music. On Sunday we woke up early and went back to explore the city on the trolley. Mrs. Lombardi , Mrs. Lee, and I ate at Cafe du Monde where we gorged ourselves beignets and coffee. We also went down Bourbon street and stopped in the shops were I will bring back a very New Orleans souvenir.