“I’m taking on water!” (Pymatuning Wetlands 2015, Day 2)

A few students have started using twitter to share photos from our fieldwork using the hashtag #PLEwetlands.  These will also be retweeted through @LehighEcology and some will be embedded into these daily summaries.

The Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology wetlands class at Morgan Swamp Preserve.

The Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology wetlands class at Morgan Swamp Preserve.

Can you see the chicks in the cattails?

Can you see the chicks in the cattails?

Morning lecture was focused on formal wetland classification systems, with a focus on those used in North America. Admittedly, formal wetland classification schemes are not that exciting, but everyone must have had enough coffee, or ate enough of made-to-order eggs at breakfast, to make it through. After an overview of Cowardin et al. classification system (used by the Fish and Wildlife Service), we took a much-needed walk to some wetlands right outside the classroom. There the students applied their knowledge by fully classifying two wetland areas. We were lucky enough to observe some red-winged blackbird chicks (Agelaius phoeniceus), although mom and dad were not at all pleased that we were nearby.

Morgan swamp preserve (photo: AS)

Morgan swamp preserve (photo: AS)

After a overview of wetland hydrology, we got our waders from the PLE stockroom and headed to Morgan Swamp in Ohio. There, Karen Adair gave us an overview of the preserve and the mission of the Nature Conservancy, and also provided some advice for students interested in conservation and environmental science careers. We then took a hike through a really spectacular mosaic of swamp and mesic forest, dominated by American Beech (Fagus grandifolia), Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis). I had never done this hike before and it was very much worth it; a few of the beech trees were as large as some of the old growth trees I have seen. We also observed a large eastern ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) along the trail.

Eastern rat snake along the trail.

Eastern rat snake along the trail.

Happy in the wetland.  This picture was before the depth of the water exceeded the height of the waders...

Happy in the wetland. This picture was before the depth of the water exceeded the height of the waders…

We then put on waders and entered the preserve from another location, where we examined a 14-year old mitigation wetland, a series of vernal pools, and a large marsh and shrub-swamp. Crossing the mitigation wetland proved to be challenging, and 7 out of 8 of us went deeper than our waders were designed for. Nothing says wetland ecology like a student hollering, “I’m taking on water!” while other students snap pictures. We observed a number of wetland plants, and added a few to the “must-know” list including Sphagnum, reed-canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), moneywort or creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia), common spike-rush (Eleocharis palustris) and three-way sedge (Dulichium arundinaceum).

I’m looking forward to installing a few wells and camera traps tomorrow at Pymatuning Creek Marsh, and beginning our plant collections.

Advertisements

Posted on June 2, 2015, in Teaching, Wetland Ecology & Management (PLE) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: