Fieldwork Experience

One of the perks of being a botanist is that I get to work in some truly beautiful places. Over the past few years, I’ve worked all over the country and done some work abroad. Each time I travel to a new region for work, I have to being the process of learning a new flora; this repeated learning process has been instrumental in making me a better botanist. In the text below, I have included short notes on where I have conducted fieldwork and what I did when I was there.

California: central Sierra Nevada foothills

In California, I was part of a team that conducted common stand exams in forested areas which had experienced fire about ten years previously. In each plot, we documented species, dbh, and height for all canopy trees, compiled a complete vascular plant species list, measured downed woody debris along modified Brown’s transects, and recorded tree seedling regeneration.


A very large Pinus ponderosa in Eldorado National Forest. Photo: Debra Scolnick.


Maine: eastern Penobscot Bay and Acadia National Park region

During my four years at College of the Atlantic, I worked on several projects in Maine. These included surveys of lichen and bryophyte diversity on serpentine and granite outcrops in the Deer Isles and studies of metal accumulation in seaweeds at an intertidal Superfund site. I also gained a close familiarity with the vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens, and mushroom fungi of the region during hikes in Acadia National Park and while maintaining and updating the species list for College of the Atlantic’s 101-acre Cox Protectorate.


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Collecting Ascophyllum nodosum for metal assays in Brooksville, Maine. Photo: Nishanta Rajakaruna.


Massachusetts: western Massachusetts

For my senior thesis research, I documented the vascular plants, lichens, and bryophytes of adjacent serpentinite, amphibolite, and schist outcrops in western Massachusetts. I also redrew geologic maps for my study sites and analyzed soil chemistry along transects that crosses lithologic contacts.

Examining Asplenium trichomanes on amphibolite in Chester, Massachusetts. Photo: Nishanta Rajakaruna.


South Africa: Mpumalanga and Northern Cape

In February of 2016, I participated in a lichen ecology study in South Africa funded by the National Geographic Society. We assessed lichen diversity and abundance on different lithologies and at different elevations along a rainfall gradient. This project is ongoing.

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Examining saxicolous lichens at Buffelskloof Nature Reserve. Photo: John Burrows.

Texas: Big Thicket National Preserve

In June and July 2016, I was on a Colorado Natural Heritage Program vegetation mapping crew that documented the species of vascular plants (and abundant terricolous bryophytes) present in relevé plots throughout Big Thicket National Preserve’s different vegetation types.

A very large Quercus phellos in Big Thicket National Preserve. Photo: Sam Byerley.


Florida and Mississippi: Gulf Islands National Seashore

As part of the same vegetation mapping project which brought me to Texas, I participated in vegetation mapping in Gulf Islands National Seashore in August 2016.

Fieldwork on Horn Island, Mississippi. Photo: Tom Baldvins


Colorado: eastern Colorado

During September 2016, I conducted line-point intercept grassland surveys on Nature Conservancy lands in eastern Colorado.

Fieldwork near Wray, Colorado. Photo: Elizabeth Shadle.


Coming up: California (again!). This November and December, I will be in the central Sierra Nevada foothills to conduct fieldwork for a lichen substrate ecology survey. I’ll be working in collaboration with former College of the Atlantic labmate Paul Excoffier.