Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the second-year’s field course was re-scheduled from May 2020 to September and October 2020. The course was unique in the sense that the course was split between online and in-person learning. The course was spread out over the first two months of the semester with the lecture portion being held weekly that were complimented with in-person practical sessions. We were lucky enough to have five in-person/in the field sessions, which allowed us to learn and practice the field techniques that we were taught.
In September, the second-year cohort ventured out to the Mission Tree Farm for our first in the field session. This session was led by Doug Ransome, Brent Matsuda and Pontus Lindgren and we covered many field techniques that focused on amphibians, small mammals and raptors. We began the first with amphibian sampling. We conducted terrestrial encounter transects, with some success. We also looked at cover boards and the pitfall traps that were already set up.
Following the amphibian sampling, we practiced our telemetry skills as we used the equipment to locate a transponder somewhere in the forest. It was definitely much harder than it looked but a great (and fun) learning experience.
We then separated into two groups to set up the small-mammal traps. There are two grids set up at the tree farm, one in a second growth stand and the other in a remnant patch of old growth forest. The old growth stand had been left unlogged so the grid was difficult but memorable, as it is very unique to be walk through an untouched old growth forest. The topography, the dense understory and downed logs made it difficult to move through as we set up the traps.
When the second-growth grid group were finished setting their traps, we set up the amphibians gee traps in the small wetland at the site that we would come back to the next day.
We finished the day off with raptor and owl call playback surveys. While we did not have any call back, it was a great way to cap off the first day! As we had a second day at the Mission Tree Farm, some of us camped out overnight nearby.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in March, doing science has not been easy for the second-year master’s students. Stringent restrictions have directly impeded progresses of some students’ research projects. Show and tell over Zoom virtual educational sessions as well have their shortcoming because restorations are mostly hands-on in which ecologists and biologists or student alike have to go down to the field and physically do science, for example, sampling, tagging, and vegetation removal, just to name a few. Therefore, to keep up with our progress that we have worked diligently for since the first term in 2019, we have to work in a more meticulous way so that we can keep doing science, and simultaneously help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by doing our parts.