My First Day in the Swamp
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Often in nature there is a delicate balance between living things. Animals work together to build communities, find food and reproduce. They interact each day and act as predators or prey. As scientists study the change in climate, many people worry that significant weather events, like hurricanes, may effect the delicate balance between living things. The purpose of this Earthwatch research is to identify if climate change, specifically Hurricane Katrina, impacted the caterpillar population in the Louisiana bayou.
Scientists have hypothesized, or made a "best guess," that Hurricane Katrina has reduced the number of caterpillar predators, or parasitoids. As a result, there are less animals or diseases killing caterpillars and the number of caterpillars are increasing.
Today I engaged in research for the first time! I traveled to the Honey Island Swamp with the research team (7 teachers and 3 scientists). We hiked through the swamp and plotted out a section of land that is 10 meters by 10 meters, or about the same size as our classroom. We used bright orange tape to mark the plot section and then identified all the trees in the plot.
Next, we counted the leaves on the bottom branches of the trees to determine an "estimate" of the total number of leaves in the plot. Guess what? We counted by 5's and 10's just like we do in 106! Finally, we examined the leaves to check for caterpillars.