The beautiful world of ravines

I can’t believe these ten weeks are over. There has been so many good things happening with my project that I want to share with you, my dear reader. On my last blog, I mentioned that we were going to hit the field (Schenck Ravine) to test our meander-based protocol. Well… we did it and it worked fabulously! Our protocol consists in dividing the ravine in three different communities (table, slope and bluff). We made a record of the species in a specified amount of time. The slope and table were record together for a one hour based time and the bluff at a 20 minutes base time. We decided that at the last then minutes if we found three new species we will add 10 more minutes to our meander.  Cover classes for each species were recorded at the end of each meander. We also record our meander with the GPS to have an idea of the areas we covered.  We divided our team in two groups so we could meander the different sides of the ravines at the same time (north and south facing). Each team started on the head of the ravine doing the slope and the table first. We ended our meander in the bluff. It was an awesome fieldwork experience; I have to say we tested our plant identification knowledge. I understood that time is a factor that really makes everything more intense and challenging.


Fig1. Anna identifiying species in the bluff

Fig. 2 Team ravine (from left to right: Rachel, Jaileen,
Margaret, Claire, Anna and Sam)


After the fieldwork we were eager to know if our data was relevant compared to the plot-based sampling. We compared the average C (c= coefficient of conservatism) the richness and the native richness of each protocol (plot and meander based sampling). What we found was really interesting... To visualize our meander and understand the species richness in the plot-based sampling we create GIS maps. The meander map shows how we spend most of our time in the slopes due the narrow table Schenck have. The plot map illustrated the richness along the ravine, which was pretty interesting because it shows the few uniformity of the richness distribution in Schenck. Also in both protocols the highest Average C it was found in the north-facing of the table, slope and bluff. On the other hand, richness between table and bluff of both protocols was different because many of the common species found in these areas were not included in our meander species list. The highest native and total richness were found in the slopes for both protocols. According to the Average C result the rarest plants occurred in the slopes. We also calculated the weighted C for our meander protocol. Theses result were pretty fascinating because it demonstrates that the highest weight C were in the table. We concluded that since the weighted C incorporates abundance it produces different patterns of how the plant community arrange or distribute in the ravine. These results let us thinking that maybe even though we have the rarest plants in the slopes, the abundance is really low. We also create a community analysis using DECODA. Our beautiful graph (fig. 3) demonstrates how the slopes of both protocols (triangles) are really close to each other and also the true value of the slope (white triangle) and the true value of the ravine (black pentagon).  These results were really exciting because it shows us that both protocols are telling us almost the same about the ravine, at least in the slopes. We concluded that both protocols are useful, however they have different purposes. The meander-based is really fast and evaluates the vegetation composition and the plot-based is not as fast but evaluates the spatial distribution of the vegetation

Fig.3 Vegetation analysis using NMDS

Fig. 4 Jessie's presentation


I am more than happy about my summer experience this year, I couldn’t ask for more. I wish this summer would never end. I could not close this blog saying thanks to all the people who made this possible. First of all to my great mentor Rachel Goad, she was the best of the best. Her support, patience guidance and coolness would always be inspiring. I would never thank you enough for all the amazing things you taught me during these fantastic two months. My dear, happy and famous mentee Jessie, you made every Tuesday and Thursdays a blast in the office. You did an awesome job this summer; I was so amazed by your independence with your work and the great public speaking skills you have. I will miss our life talks in our coffee/tea breaks. Last but not least my amazing fellow interns. Thank you for being the most amazing human beings life could ever put together.  We definitely created an amazing family; I hope life would one day reunite us.  Special thanks to Adrienne, Jeremie and Dan for putting everything together and sharing your knowledge during the Thursday’s tea times. 



I left my heart in Chicago.

CBG REU 2014 forever!