Summer on a Shoestring

Soil, Sapflow, and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Lab
July 24, 2017, 2:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

For most projects, a synergy between the field and the lab is necessary; we previously delved deep within the intricacies of field work, so here’s an introduction into our current lab processes. 0719171206

Our first stop is our leaf litter scraping, one step in the long process of prepping our spring leaf litter samples for dry mass acquisition. After sorting by beech and other, old and green, and then nonleaf, we dry then scrape the samples to get off all the excess nonleaf that was previously stuck to the leaves. After this step, we can finally dry and weigh the samples, resulting in our final mass data. That’s Maddy by the way.

Second, here’s Paul, performing some wild science, which involves microbial respiration. I unfortunately can’t tell you much about this project, but seek out Paul if you’d like to know more. It does look cool, with that pristine buret setup and that mysterious purple solution.


What I’ve been doing lately has been base cation extractions on soil collected from our plots. Another intricate and complex process, bottles filled with soil and ammonium nitrate are shaken for half an hour each, some other waiting and shaking is thrown on top of that, and then you filter the solution into a new bottle. Very complex indeed. I’ve gotten caught up on all my soaps while I shake, and on top of that I’m starting to get pretty swole as well, so that’s something.

There’s so much to say about what goes into sapflow, but there’s only so many hours in the day and time is precious, don’t waste it. Here we have Alex Rice, a crew member who enjoys sticking things in trees, soldering some wires together for some reason. I wouldn’t read into it too much. The wires connect the probe to the data logger, which is then rigged up to three car batteries. For those who don’t frequent car battery conventions that’s a lot of juice right there. Despite her demeanor, Alex is in a state of maximum bliss, high off the joys of making progress on her time-engulfing project (and possibly solder fumes).

Well, that’s all folks, tune in next week for a riveting discussion on some as-of-yet undetermined topic, you don’t want to miss it. Losar out.

-Griffin Walsh


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