USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences > Blog

August 3, 2011

Maintaing the Trail and Soil Lab

Filed under: Uncategorized — ancheung @ 5:59 pm
For the first half of the day, Dan and I went up the trail together. We both had different tasks, but I didn’t want to go alone because we had sighted a rattlesnake a couple days ago. Dan raked the trail while I used a better quality camera to take more pictures of the trail to put up on our poster and signs. During the later half of the day, we did lab work. We had started Tuesday’s sample around 1:37pm so we had to go back at the same time to take the 24-hour reading for the hydrometer and the thermometer. We didn’t start a new sample because we were scheduled to go to the herbarium the next day. So we wouldn’t be around to get the 24 -hour reading. Dan and I decided to take time on Saturday and Sunday to complete the soil texture analysis since our internship was winding down. We ended the day with another group meeting about signs and poster. I had contacted Envriosign, a sign company throughout the week and we had asked for an estimate for 6 signs. It turned out to be over our budget. So we were considering our options and deciding what we can get done and show as a deliverable at the same time leave behind a guideline so other people can show the trail or maintain it. We decided that it was best to at least get signs for the two trailheads, make drafts of laminated pamphlets, and complete a hiker’s guide about our trail.  Also, Miller was gone half the day to help with the Conservancy remove fennel at Howland’s landing.

Soil Texture Analysis

For more pictures, click here: Day53 Soil Analysis

August 2, 2011

Finishing Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Sabrina Lawrence-Gomez @ 4:00 pm

Today we had another visit from our favorite animator Lisa Cheung. She showed us her progress on the animation and it was enchanting! Last week we gave her a list of native species to include in the project (sticky monkey flower, bush mallow, toyon, lemonade berry for starters) and she included her renditions in the updated animation. It really looks great. Lisa included three scenarios into her sketch: scenario 1- leaving the fennel monoculture as is, scenario 2- mowing the fennel down, and scenario 3- removing the fennel from the root. We hope this animation will help to explain to the public the importance of proper removal and why the Conservancy has taken the time to do such labor intensive work. Our next step is choosing the music and messages for the animation. We’ve thought up some great ideas for music, and Dan is working to edit those for Lisa.

The title slide

The title slide

As part of our interpretive trail project, I am attempting to map the trail and some of the invasive fennel monocultures surrounding the trail area. We secured some small GPS units from Ellen, and Dan and I walked the trail mapping control points and the route we took. Because this data may not upload into a usable map format, our data may have to be collected with a different type of instrument. Hopefully with the help of the GIS specialist from the Conservancy, Frank Starkey, we can map the trail and create a finished product. It would be really great if we could have a route map for hikers to use a reference, and a map to map our progress for future invasive plant removal.

Alex and Miller continued working on measuring the soil texture for our samples. Hopefully this analysis will be done in the next week and we can start to discuss the results.

Click here to check out some pictures: Day 52 Animated with Lisa

August 1, 2011

Lab Time pt. II

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — drkasang @ 10:07 pm
Although our lab work has been providing us with unexpected results, such as our nitrogen samples forming a precipitate with one reagent and having no reaction with another, we are continuing to analyze our soil. Miller and Alex spent their morning on the 3rd floor finessing the pH meter in the Microbiology Lab. Meanwhile I was running around the lab bothering Lauren Czarnecki, the laboratory manager at the Wrigley Institute, trying to track down a hydrometer, and buckets to dispose of our soil, DI water and Hexamataphospate solution. I couldn’t locate the hydrometer that our advisor, Lisa had brought out, it ended up being on a different lab bench in an narrow box. 

Before we discovered this, Lauren helped me in every way possible to locate a hydrometer.  She guided me to Ellen Kelly, Assistant Director of Education, who let me look through some soil sampling equipment she had in the hope of locating a hydrometer. Meanwhile Lauren contacted main campus, and I called Naomi Martinez from the Environmental studies office and Tony Summers from the CHIRP office of the Catalina Conservancy. Lauren then had the idea to reach out to the Southern California Marine Institute, located on Terminal Island. I called Carrie Wolfe and after a quick check told me there would be a hydrometer on the Miss Christi the following morning. Everyone was so helpful that morning, we are so lucky to be working with these organizations and people.

After some computer work and an e-mail from Lisa letting me know if I looked through the lab I would find a hydrometer in a sea grant box. We started the soil texture analysis by creating a blank with 100 mL of our HMP solution and 900 mL of DI in a 1 L plastic graduated cylinder and mixing one of our samples with 800 mL of DI in a 1 L glass graduated cylinder. We covered the blank with parafilm and inverted the mixture 10 times in order to ensure it was consistent. Once we dropped in the hydrometer we realized that reading a hydrometer that only breaks the surface of the solution by a few inches would be difficult through the opaque plastic. However, we were able to get accurate readings and after taking readings at 30s, 60s and 10 minutes we inverted our soil sample 10 times and started the same process.  The glass made reading the hydrometer much easier which was necessary because the soil, water and HMP mixture foamed slightly from being inverted.

By the end of the afternoon we had recorded the specific gravity and temperature at the previously mentioned intervals and 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes for both mixtures. We covered both cylinders with parafilm to avoid evaporation or contamination and decided the next day to use the glass graduated cylinder only, due to the ease and accuracy of reading the hydrometer. Working on an island presents certain issues, access to commodities such as lab equipment or groceries are limited. Therefore, I will appreciate the things that USC and being more connected on the mainland provide than ever before. We left the lab organized and ready to return to the following day for our 24 hour readings.