Thursday, November 4, 2010

Summer in November with numbers, tables, and rulers

90°F in La Jolla? Sweet... except that it's already November. Not that I mind, but it would have been nice to have this be the other way around, where summer was actually summer and now to be autumn. It's like we're in the southern hemisphere!

Looks like the Sungod statue is happy as well!
I know that many phenological records we have today are from long time observations of many individuals taking time to painstakingly write down information about the species they have observed. This is exemplified by the paper that Lizzie gave me on Tuesday to peruse, called Gates' Phenological Records of 132 Plants at Manhattan, Kansas as transcribed by Lloyd C. Hulbert. In it, Hulbert talks about how most of the records started in 1929 by Dr. Gates were “...of plants around his home or seen when walking between his home and Dickens Hall on the KSU campus, a distance of about three-fourths mile” and he continued to do so until his death in 1955. Due to Gates' dedication to recording the flowering times of the species he observed, Hulbert later writes that maybe the reader will also wish to record phenological data and in doing so, can contribute useful knowledge while enjoying oneself.

Also accompanying this paper is an index of all plant species that Gates encountered and recorded, along with tables of flowering dates in conjunction to the year it was observed. The following picture should be able to illustrate what are on the tables:

Handy-dandy ruler
What I have been doing with the tables are going through each individual species listed and writing down the corresponding month, day, and year in which the species first flowered. 7 complete tables and 1450 entries later, I have to say that this is slightly eyestraining work, mostly because the tick marks that indicate the date are small, along with the years that are written down. At times, I take breaks and move my eyes around to prevent them from becoming stuck (if that's possible). The good thing about this is that I can easily fall into a routine and finish at a fairly even and rapid pace, so pretty soon, we should be able to create graphs from the data input in the excel sheet.

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