Good news! We are finished with our third week and already from both our pilot study and first deployment we were able to retrieve over a 30% attack rate on our model frogs. That means we will have plenty of data to work with. This did not come so easily, however.
On Monday, we welcomed a group of high schoolers we were to work with for the course of three days. We introduced ourselves by associating our names with foods. Afterwards, we did an ice breaker. Literally. Dr. Flaherty had soaked t-shirts in water, bunched them up, knotted and froze them overnight. The winner was the first team to successfully un-tie the knots and have one person wear the shirt. My team won!
After our games Mae and I took the group with us to retrieve our first set of frogs out in the field. We called this our official pilot study since we were weary of other studies with low attack rates. The students walked through the forest with us, some enjoying it more than others. By the end we had over a 45% attack rate. We were thrilled and ready to deploy the next day.
Tuesday was our first official deployment. It was rough. We plowed, crashed, pushed, shoved, stomped our way through thickets of Blackberry bushes, Honey Suckle bushes, and poison ivy. My partner Mae and Nigel are fortunate enough to not feel the effects of the Uroshiol. I, however, am covered in speckles of itchy red bumps all over my arms and legs. Not fun. But that’s field work! That night I went to Wal-mart to buy more items to protect myself when in the field.
Our schedule is weird, because after we deploy our frogs, we have a waiting period of 48 hours before they can be retrieved. But during that time, we find things to do. For example, on Wednesday in the morning Mae plotted our next deployment coordinates while I practiced on a program called R. Another group needed help with freeing Snapping Turtles in their fyke net. We left Martell with Liz and helped. It was fun, scary, and an experience I’d never had before. It was difficult because the turtle was large and could not easily pass through the thin slit in the front. Not to mention its mean bite and attitude. We did successfully free it and decided that we should practice catching frogs. Mae caught a few frogs, but I was more interested in a small pool in which tadpoles and developing juvenile frogs dwelled.
On Thursday we set out to retrieve our frogs again. This time I was prepared. I wore long socks, a rain jacket, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a mosquito net hat. There was no way anything was going to contact my skin. This time retrieving our frogs was much easier than setting them out. I think this is due to creating our own trails from Tuesday’s struggles. Either way, we got our frogs and received over 30% attack rate. After retrieval we always document how the attacks look and remold the models. Fingers crossed for another smooth week!
Here is a picture of some canine tracks following some deer tracks as well as a haiku for your enjoyment:
Thickets abound here
Please buy me some Ivarest
My skin is on fire