Sorting 2016 leaf litter has begun!

The 2016 Leaf Litter is going to be handled differently from previous years.  Nat, Maddy, Cindy, Melany, Gretchen, Dan, Ryan, Adam, Grace, and Maddy (again) collected litter four (4, count them) times this fall:  Oct 7-9, Oct 17-18, Oct 21-23, and Nov 4-6.  This means that Melany’s crew in Ohio can get nutrient contents (as in 2012, which was also collected 4 times (better for nutrient analysis than letting them sit in baskets all fall starting to decompose).  It also means that we can look at whether our N and P treatments affect the rate of leaf fall (Griffin is working on this).  And Dan and Gretchen are comparing litter nutrient concentrations to the green leaves they shot in August, to study nutrient translocation.

Most of these samples do not require sorting, but:


We are going to analyze leaf litter by species, which requires sorting, in C1 and C9 control plots, which will contribute to a paper by Craig, Tim, and Ruth that shows how N and P decline over the course of the fall.  We will also use this time series to evaluate the “fresh” litter samples that Dan and Gretchen collected in the pouring rain on Oct 21-23.

Here is Phuong teaching species ID to Alex, our newest lab member and a grad student.


Here is an important question for our collaborators. What should we do with the “non-leaf” material?  When we sort, we don’t include this, but for all the stands where we are not sorting, these would be ground along with the leaves and analyzed!  So far, we have found a red-backed salamander, a worm, and an unknown insect pupa (can  anyone ID?), and two millipedes!



Here is another important methodological question. For all the bags that got crushed, ground, and are being ashed and digested for nutrient analysis, we analyze everything in the bag. However, for the samples we are sorting and analyzing by species, should yucky leaves from the wet corner of a basket (below) be included with the species samples?  One idea is to put them with the “unknown” species crumbles. Everything will be weighed, composited, and analyzed; including the unknowns, so that we also get total nutrient flux in the baskets.


Until you are 18, you can’t grind, ash, or digest samples, but some of you can do this and we’ll post pictures for the rest of you!



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