Still Alive!

This fall, I built an experiment in the mountains to see how drought after a fire would affect conifer seedlings growing back in that burn area. I am particularly interested in how competitive interactions between conifers and shrubs are changed by the amount of water available. The project involved more construction work than I’d ever anticipated, and I spent a great deal of time brainstorming potential weak points, and then doing my best to address those issues.

As a consequence of all the time thinking about everything that could possibly go horrifically wrong, I became convinced that the experiment was in fact quite likely to fail. I didn’t think I’d be able to access the site again until spring, but recent warm spells here melted enough of the snow that I was actually able to get to my site to check on things.

After a more exciting than anticipated drive over still-slightly-frozen roads, I made it out to my site, and was overjoyed to find my structures still standing! Not only standing, but holding up really well.

Still standing, with everything major intact
Evidence of successfully shedding snow
Visible soil moisture difference inside and outside the shelters
Plastic-lined trenches are doing a great job diverting all that snowmelt
Minor issues: some of the plastic had been blown askew
Two broken connectors, but the rest of the frame was still holding strong

Mushroom hunting

We visited Henry Cowell state park on a gray, drizzly day, and laughingly said that it would be a perfect day for hunting mushrooms. Looking down at the leaf litter and logs turned into a very fruitful hunt indeed, with some absolutely stunning finds. From enormous to tiny and in all sorts of colors and textures, the fungus truly put on a show for us.

(As always, click on any thumbnail for a full slideshow)