Monday, August 10, 2009
Back to My Roots
I was professionally trained as an aquatic ecologist. I earned my professional degree studying the aquatic invertebrate communities inhabiting a series of six parallel streams draining off a ridge in the central Appalachian Mountains. At that time, I was especially interested in stoneflies (Plectoperans), but the position I accepted after graduate school took me to the Coastal Plain in the deep South where stoneflies are few and far between. Then, I took my current position in the urbanized Piedmont on the East Coast, and our streams are too damaged to have much of an interesting Plecopteran fauna. In short, I lost my stonefly mojo. And, because I'm basically an administrator, I lost most of the rest of my invertebrate mojo, too.
However, recently I was enlisted to help with a multifaceted stormwater research project, and the team leader knew of my background. So, I agreed to sample and identify macroinvertebrates in a stormwater treatment wetland. Last Friday, I pulled on a pair of hip waders and I ventured out into the field after years of being bound to my desk.
As I collected the samples, I noticed that I had netted some dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, micro waterstriders, backswimmers, snails, water measurers, and water boatmen, but I'll have to sort through the samples more carefully over the next few weeks and pick the bugs from the detritus--tedious work!
It was good to be back in the field, though.
When I looked at the images that my assistant took of me, I noticed that (1) I desperately needed a haircut (which I got over the weekend), and (2) my Carhart work dungarees are cut too generously to flatter my butt. Vanity.
While we were sampling, a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) alighted in a dead tree adjacent to the wetland. I'm sure it wanted to come down to eat, and we were delaying its lunch.