Summer on a Shoestring

Shotgun Style Leaf Collection
August 20, 2012, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Foliage

Adam: “Hi I’m a researcher with the State University of New York college of Environmental Science and Forestry, and I was calling to let you know we’d be shooting leaves with a shotgun today in department 8…”

Saco Ranger: “hmm. Okay….shooting leaves??”

Adam: “Well, our other option is trained monkeys, so for now we’re using guns to get the leaves down from the canopy.  If you think of a better way to do it, let us know…”

And so commenced the gathering of canopy leaves in our plots.

Gun aimed almost straight up, we shot at small canopy branches and then watched the leaves fall to the ground, or in some cases, watched as they got stuck in the canopy of another tree instead of floating down to our feet.  Having successfully shot down a small branch, we collected the freshly fallen leaves, put them in labeled bags, and stored them in a cooler and then did this for the most abundant tree species present in the calcium plots.  And yes, we were amused that instead of hugging these trees to measure their DBHs, we were aspiring young ecologists taking a gun to trees and shooting them.


Adam shooting in a young stand

The goal of collecting these leaves is to measure the stomatal densities of various canopy leaves.  After being collected, the leaves were taken to the lab for processing.  To look at stomatal densities requires hours of microscopy, and first, hours of slide preparation.  Using nail polish and tape, we mounted three samples per leaf onto each slide.  These slides were then examined under microscope and photographed.  The next stage of the project is to examine these photographs and count stomata.