8. Rearing the
Sampling the Phragmites
After the site has been selected, it is time to begin collecting samples.
- Establish the location and two endpoints of your transect on your map. Ideally, we like to cross the entire
Phragmites stand and collect samples. However, for some very large stands this may not be possible (or the transect would cross large channels, mudflats or other areas that are not safe). Determine the number of samples you may want to take and the distance between the samples.
- Begin sampling at the edge of a Phragmites stand by placing a 1m2 frame around the stems (the number of stems at the edge is usually much lower than in the center). Using a frame that is “U” shaped will allow easy placement of the frame in dense patches. This will be quadrat 1 and marks the 0 meter mark of your transect. Secure the tape at the edge of quadrat with a pin or have a person hold the end of the tape.
- Begin walking into the predetermined direction using a compass or a visual aid (see above). Try to walk a straight line, although this can be difficult in dense
Phragmites. Old stalks and new stems will intermingle and may form physical
barriers. We often walk backwards to push or break through denser vegetation.
Wear safety glasses or goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and hands.
- At the predetermined intervals (stretch out the tape to measure the
length accurately) either mark the location of quadrat 2 with flagging tape or
begin collection of the second sample immediately. We often find that walking
the transect and sampling is easiest done simultaneously instead of first
establishing the transect but both methods will work. We place the frame about
50 cm away from the trampling to avoid damage to the shoots. The stems around
the quadrat can be pushed aside to allow easier access to the quadrat. We
usually work in teams of 2-3 so some people can cut while others hold and bundle
the cut shoots.
Cut all the shoots in the quadrat at the soil surface. If
the area is flooded, cut the shoots at the water surface; if you sample in
snow, push the snow away and sample at the lowest possible part. Collect only
those shoots that are rooted in the quadrat. Occasionally wind damage breaks or
bends shoots into the quadrat. We do NOT want to collect these, only the ones
that clearly originate in our square meter area should be taken. Sometimes you
may need to separate shoots that are intermingled. Try to avoid breaking the
shoots. The shoots that are cut should be tan in color and not gray. The gray
shoots are last year’s stems (which are usually much less firm) and should not
be collected. If you are unsure of which shoots should be cut, then cut them
all. Often there are some small stems only a third of the size of the tallest
one. Please make sure to include these.
- Bundle all the stems from each single quadrat together with duct tape
and mark the
quadrat number on the duct tape. It is important to know where each
group of Phragmites shoots came from within the stand so proper labeling and
bundling is necessary. Use several places to mark the shoots, so the information
is not lost. Be careful when handling the
Phragmites shoots because the ends of the cut shoots can be sharp.
- If plants are too tall to transport or bag, fold each stem individually
before bundling it with others in its quadrat.
- NOTE OF CAUTION: Broken Phragmites stems can be dangerous to
work with. If you bend over and do not notice a stem, you may poke your eye with
the shoot and damage your vision.
- several pictures Transport each bundle of shoots to the staging
area and wrap the shoots in plastic or cover at least the flowers and seeds in a
Phragmites may spread by seed and you don’t want to contribute to the
spread of the species.
- Transport the shoots back to the school and store them outside until
they are used for dissections. If you store the shoots under room temperature,
insects in the shoots will begin to develop and may emerge before you have
finished the dissections. You will risk losing this information. This is
particularly important if you work in the spring.
Copyright 2002. Bernd Blossey. Cornell University
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