LTER Road Trip – Returning Fish Diversity to Crystal Lake

Hundreds of people rimmed Crystal Lake in Northern Wisconsin on a hot afternoon. I stood along the shoreline with Noah Lottig from the North Temperate Lakes (NTL) LTER, watching the flocking gulls surround swimmers wading in and out of the sandy edge. The lake looked beautiful, clear and surrounded by dark green trees and patches…

LTER Road Trip – Vegetation Surveys Under the Waves

The North Temperate Lakes LTER vegetation survey team leapt out of their research boat, wetsuits and dive gear ready to go. The survey site bordered the opposite side of Trout Lake, a straight shot from the research facility and student dorms. Two bald eagles, native to this part of Northern Wisconsin, appeared disgruntled at our…

LTER Road Trip – Zebra Mussels Arrive

In 2015, a group of undergraduates from the University of Wisconsin, Madison launched boats into Lake Mendota at the edge of campus, ready to put lessons from the classrooms to the test in hands-on field research activities. As they moved through research protocols, a student brought a metal pole from the soft bottom to the…

LTER Road Trip – Publication of the Road Trip Story Map

  From mountains to deserts, marshes to forests, urban rivers to so much more, the LTER Road Trip led me to 17 ecological sites across the United States. To see the full map, blogs, and photos, check out the story map by clicking here.

LTER Road Trip – Busy Bees

In a grassy clearing between crop hectares at the Kellogg Biological Station LTER, Dr. Nick Haddad, Principle Investigator, stares into the dark recesses of a bee box, set a few feet off the ground. The research team places the bees here while they’re still in cocoons. When they hatch, the bees gather fluorescent yellow, powdered…

LTER Road Trip – Conservation, Agriculture, and Michigan Farmers

Puffy clouds skirt the late summer sky, occasionally dumping a shower on our heads while Dr. Doug Landis and I walked between the crop rows at the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) in Michigan. Breezes ruffled the soybean leaves like waves, but few insects or birds zipped through the sky above the crops. Near the corn…

LTER Road Trip – How Soil Crusts Impact the Landscape

Blue grama grass, golden stems meeting dead undergrowth beneath, completely surrounded Dr. Jen Rudgers in the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The meadow stretched as far as the eye could see, eventually meeting a dense slope of creosote shrubland, surrounded by bronze mountains in central New Mexico. The cool of early morning had already given…

LTER Road Trip – Plight of the Lady Beetles

Dr. Doug Landis waded into a soybean field in Michigan’s Kellogg Biological Station LTER Site. Bending down in the September heat, he carefully turned over leaf after leaf. After a few seconds he stopped, “Here they are!” I crouched down to my heels, bringing my face close to the rough underside of the leaf. Dr. Landis…

LTER Road Trip – Gaining a New Perspective

Even on quiet days, HJ Andrews Experimental Forest Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site is usually bustling with activity. The busiest field season was still a few weeks away, but researchers and scientists peppered the forest, collecting data, giving tours, and checking in on their projects. During my visit to the LTER I was not…

LTER Road Trip – Searching for Skunks

Marie Tosa pulled into the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest parking lot with a white, mud splattered truck. Arranging dozens of metal cages for cleaning on the damp grass, she readied her gear to take me on a unique search: for skunks. Tosa grew up in Boston, receiving her Bachelor’s of Arts in Biology and Environmental…

LTER – X Marks the Spot in the Jornada Desert

In the center of the grassland and shrubland of the Jornada LTER, I gaze across short mesh nets, arranged in an X and stretching approximately one foot across in each direction, sitting unobtrusively on the ground between mesquite, bushes, and snakeweed bunches. Spherical cottontail rabbit pellets congregated in the low places, and Josh Anderson, Reserve…