Site-seeing: Team SPAW 6/12/14

Day four into the SPAW internship and time is already flying by. After battling with my snooze button for 45 minutes, I eventually crawled out of bed and into what slowly are becoming my Montana morning rituals: breakfast and a debate of whether or not to wear my hiking shoes and a jacket (Montana summers = Florida winters). This morning we had the opportunity to briefly meet with Team Stream and Team Zaaga’igan, both stationed in Minnesota for the summer via video conference. With minimal technical difficulties introductions went wonderfully and we all learned a little about what each team’s research was to focus on. After the conference and a wonderful lunch prepared by Shawna, Tony’s wife, we all piled into two vehicles and headed out to take a first look at our study sites this summer. The first site was Kicking horse, an expansive grassland dotted with ponds carved out by the last glacial period. The camas had lost most all of its tell-tale blue/purple pedals and left behind only the seed pods to identify them by. Following a few backcountry roads into the foothills we found our second site at Jocko River. Here the landscape was still abundant in deep indigo camas flowers amongst stands of pines. Our last site, Camas Prairie, didn’t fare as well. Trampled and chewed on by cattle that shared the prairie, the remaining erect camas was found far and few between while most lay strewn about on the ground. Apparently cows have an appetite for camas seed pods. At each site we dug out a single camas plant, bulb and all, to take back and take measurements. Between each site, there was considerable difference between stalk height, bulb size, and seed pod size. It will be interesting to see if the data we collect in the upcoming weeks will shed light upon the variation of characteristics we found in the field today.

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