Research Update

Sorry for the long lapse in posts. This week has been extremely busy! I don’t think I’ve taken a single photo from out in the field and so didn’t have anything to share. This is a quintessential “Black Cotton” savanna picture to serve in place.

I started midweek by finishing setting up the grasshopper experiment. I, with the help of Elcanna, built 18 grasshopper enclosure cages. They’re 70 cm wireframe cubes made of iron that we covered with a nice thin cloth mesh. I’ve set them out in three glades in the black cotton in the center of glades and far from any glade edges.

The next step was stocking all of these cages with grasshoppers. The goal of my previous grasshopper surveys was to get a sense of the density and species that would be expected in each of these places. While the vacuum didn’t work especially well, I think (hope) we got the density just about right.

“Stocking the cages” actually sounds pretty straight forward but it turned into a huge project. I ended up bringing along 3 field assistants and another researcher to lend me a hand! I couldn’t have managed it without them! For each cage we had to dig a 10cm trench, find 12 grasshoppers and then mass and mark each of them with an individualized code. That turned out to be over 200 grasshoppers.  My hope is that when I recollect these grasshoppers I’ll be able to take their mass again and get a sense of how much weight they’ve gained. This will hopefully give me the productivity measurement that will tie this whole project from grass productivity, to insect productivity to lizard productivity. Fingers crossed!

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