DDCSP Conservation Science Partners internship update

Our Doris Duke Conservation Scholars are taking part in conservation internships all over the US this summer. They are guest blogging here at L-C-Ideas to keep us up to speed on what they’re doing. Please check back for more!

DDCSP Conservation Science Partners internship update

Allie and Ari

When we got to our internship at Conservation Science Partners, Allison and I were worried we wouldn’t spend enough time outdoors. We sure were wrong!

Last week, Allison took a road trip to the Central Great Basin in Nevada, where she assisted Erica Fleishman (a researcher at UC Davis) and three passionate bird watchers conduct fieldwork in the area. She spent four days camping under the stars, waking up at 4:30 am to survey birds in nearby canyons, and sampling vegetation in the evenings. The view of the sun rising in the Great Basin is enough to shake anyone out of their sleeping bag in the morning!

Camp site #1 in the Central Great Basin!

Camp site #1 in the Central Great Basin!

On each of the four days, Allison accompanied a different birder along their morning transect. It was neat to see the different ways in which they listened, called, and searched for birds. If it had been any other day or hike, the differentiations among the birds songs, movements, and chirps would have most likely gone unnoticed. However, when you are listening closely, with your ears attuned, it becomes obvious that there is much more going on behind the shrubbery, rocks, and riparian vegetation than meets the eye! Each chirp, song, and scream is a unique and different bird. Through a few seemingly simple noises, an experienced birder can tell how far the bird is, what species they are, and even their developmental stage in some cases. The language of a birder is complex and requires a great level of attention.

This is Lauren, a birder, at the end of our transect in Antone Canyon

This is Lauren, a birder, at the end of our transect in Antone Canyon

On the last field day, Allison and the other researchers drove to Grass Springs. There was a reason this point had been saved for last – and it was not because it was the best. The field site had recently experienced a forest fire and was now completely invaded by cheatgrass. When the cars were unloaded, everyone put on their worst socks, laced up their boots, lathered on sunblock and stuffed water bottles into their pockets- we were about to enter the great sea of cheatgrass. With five people per vegetation transect, the sampling process actually went much faster than expected and went pretty smoothly. All in all, the trip helped Allison gain a more full understanding of the data she has been analyzing back in the CSP office and to conceptualize just how big of a fire management issue cheatgrass is in the Central Great Basin.

Here you can see a giant boulder blocking the road, luckily we made it around!

Here you can see a giant boulder blocking the road, luckily we made it around!

This weekend, Ari will be going to Brentwood, CA to spend time at an educational, sustainable farm called First Generation Farmers. The farm has trained over 75 farmers! Ari met Alli, the co-founder and president of the farm (along with her boyfriend who works in viticulture in Napa and two of the team members who help run the farm) over Fourth of July weekend and hit it off with them splendidly. Ari spent July 5th with them all at Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe and helped cook delicious meals with their farm-fresh food and enjoyed some time with them all in a jacuzzi over July 4th and 5th. Overall, a weekend well spent!

The beautiful Emerald Bay

The beautiful Emerald Bay

Weekdays last week held challenges and adventures for Ari. Saturday was the last summer workshop with Gateway, one of CSP’s partners, and Nicole and Ari spent most of the week working on the project. Ari spent Monday in the field with Rachel for the second day of in-field prep, and was greeted with a host of visitors, including many biting bugs, a couple of fishers (who were not allowed to be fishing where they were,) a few of Gateway’s guides, and one of the guides’ two sons. The boys had a great time learning how to set up bug traps and were a great help – thanks guys!

 

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