Summer exploration

Sometimes we Mojave Desert residents just need to get away from this desert.

It is way too hot (110-120 degrees) and dry (15 %RH) for summer field work in the eastern Mojave Desert, but lucky us! we have work all over the country and vacation days (but who needs them). Over the last month and a half the Abella lab folks have conducted site visits and assessments in Pecos National Historical Park in north central New Mexico, Guadalupe Mountains National Park between El Paso, TX and Carlsbad, NM, and even all the way to the east coast in North and South Carolina. We have also started several laboratory and greenhouse activities. Busy, busy, busy. 

After the end of the spring 2016 semester Scott traveled to the Carolinas to revisit his former forest plots. He is currently having way too good of a time measuring trees, hanging around beautiful streams, and trying to avoid bears and copperheads. 




Dominic completed his last field plot on June 16th and was very ready for a vacation and reset in Alaska. He is happily discovering new territory and plants (a true botanist) in Denali National Park and Kenai Fjords National Park

His spring field season went well, although went further into June than anticipated. However, he has now a great data set and will be able to start an analysis later this summer, possibly working on his first publication as a PhD student this fall. Dominic had great field assistance from Adam Czarniak and Dr. Bret Riddle’s student Cirena Torres.

He also has a lot of pressed plants to come home to. 

At the end of May I was able to travel to Pecos with our volunteer Josh to delineated plots and transects for our five field studies which will be installed in mid-July. 

In June, Matt and I traveled to Guadalupe for a week to survey for remnant grassland patches and conduct initial vegetation and soil condition assessments. This initial set of information will not only inform us where some remnant grass patches are located, but also assist with developing a strategic plan for future grassland restoration. We were joined by Stephanie, a park intern through the Mosaics in Science Program, to assist with field surveys (Check out Stephanie’s blog and blogs from other Mosaics in Science interns here.)


There is so much to do in one life time! We do not forget to enjoy the wonderful ecology around us everywhere we travel. 

Matt and I were able to finally see the other side of the mountain that we had been staring at for a week while in Guadalupe and see down at the landscape we spent the last five days wandering.

And just to show you an in between perspective thanks to modern imagery (those little yellow lines off to the lower right are some of our plot areas):


We definitely took in as much as possible day and night.

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At the lab, Vivian started working on the laboratory and greenhouse components for our California BLM project as a part of her summer internship, Chelsea assisted with compiling seeds and supplies for our Pecos project (I have a million “thank yous” to give here), Audrey has been processing our soil samples (same million “thank yous”), and Matt and I were able to start some of the initial greenhouse trials for our Pecos project. 


With so much going on around here, it is easy to not be bored. I hope your summer is full of ecological wonder, too. ~Lindsay

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