Thursday, January 8, 2015

Student post: Jaydylee Martin - Thursday, January 8

Jaydylee Martin is an undergraduate student at the University of Guam

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Each group was given the whole day to do some data collection. We all had a slow start, but within an hour or so, everything was up and running. Some groups had work to do in the lab, while others went out to the field. My group was part of the latter. We were on a lookout for 6 flowering plant species: Morinda citrifolia (noni tree), Carica papaya (papaya tree), Coccinia grandis (ivy gourd), Antigonon leptopus (chain of love), Ipomoea indica (blue morning glory), and Asystasia gangelica (Chinese violet). We found majority of our flowers on the roadside of Yona and the path to Marbo Cave. While observing these flowers, I can't help but notice the silence. After spending 9 days in the forests of Saipan, hearing all these different melodies sung by the birds, it feels quite strange to hear nothing but the buzzing of mosquitoes... anyway, we finished half of our data collection in just one day. To us, that is quite the accomplishment!

What I looked forward most for today was the brown tree snake hunting! The brown tree snake, Boiga irregularis, is an invasive species whose population grew immensely over the years in Guam. Efforts have been and are being made to eradicate these snakes, but we still have a long way to go. As we wait for the hunt to start, I saw that some of us were more excited than afraid, while others showed the opposite. Luckily, we had a brown tree snake expert, Bjorn Lardner, to guide us on this excursion around the Marbo Cave area. Lardner is a scientist and part of the USGS Brown Treesnake Laboratory and Rapid Response Team. Through Lardner, we learned about the brown tree snake's habitat, reproductive system, and diet. We also learned how to correctly handle a snake and how to kill them in a few easy steps. In about an hour and a half, we found about 5 brown tree snakes! Judging by the reactions of the class, it's safe to say that we were all very interested in seeing and/or holding a live snake. The excitement grew with each voice that yelled, "I found one!" Overall, this was definitely a worthwhile experience. Perhaps I'll do some of my own snake hunting in my backyard tonight...