Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In which we take a break

Greetings to all from Los Angeles!

I apologize for the very long break between the last post I wrote and this current one. Finals week impeded any progress that would have been made and diverted a substantial amount of my brainpower towards viewing and reviewing my several hundred sheets of printed notes (don't worry, I chose the most eco-friendly of options and printed front and back whenever I could).

Before finals week though, I had lunch with Lizzie, where she presented me with a challenge of coming up with my own ideas of how I could use data on pollination mode and flowering time to test ideas about niches. Despite the fact that Lizzie told me it was supposed to be a somewhat fun and light-hearted question to think about, I ended up racking my brain to find some all-encompassing idea that would tie these factors together.

In my not-so-coherent thought process, I based my ideas around temperature, and a few other factors that I've learned this quarter. Since it is generally concluded that plants would flower around the times of their preferred mode of pollination, I feel that it is safe to say that perhaps during the months of mid-March onwards, plants are more frequently animal pollinated as opposed to wind pollinated since temperatures begin to warm around then. On the other hand, the earlier months (January-March) would consist more of wind pollinated species, mostly those that are forbs/herbs (I had the picture of the graph we got from running R on the Gates' phenology data in my head while I was writing this). From what I've also learned this quarter is that the degree of latitude and altitude at which plants are observed at can play a role into phenology. The fact is that as climate becomes increasingly warmer earlier in the year, plants and animal species tend to migrate towards the poles and upwards in latitude to find locations more suited for their growth and reproduction. In terms of niches, this would mean that plants that flower later in the year are likely to be more specialized since there would be more competition for limiting resources (light, water, nutrients, etc), and vice versa.

With this in mind, Lizzie said we may be able to test some of these ideas on a smaller scale next quarter (or maybe the quarter after, but that's TBD). But for now, I'll be enjoying the comforts and festivities of home before heading back to San Diego and the last chapters of my undergraduate career!

Have a safe and happy holidays everyone! =D