Posts Tagged ‘Portal Project’

September Portal update

September 30, 2012

In September, I returned to Portal bringing with me the newest Ernest lab member, Erica Christensen. It was a bit cooler than usual for mid-September, but overall, a great time of year to be in the desert. We captured 263 rodents, most of which are still represented by the desert pocket mouse (Chaetodipus penicillatus) and Merriam’s kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami). It’s much less buggy than other years, and it was a really pleasant weekend. No complaints about desert fieldwork in the fall!

dipodomys merriami

Merriam’s kangaroo rat.

pocket krat

A small kangaroo rat warms up in my pocket before being released. Sometimes after a cool night, rodents need a little help in the morning.

EricaCandPE

Erica helps process a cactus mouse (Peromyscus eremicus).

jumping Spider

We found this guy, jumping spider Phidippus octopunctatus, on a shrub while exploring the area surrounding the site.

zinnia grandiflora

We didn’t conduct a formal plant survey this fall due to logistical constraints, but many flowers were blooming in September. Here is a small perennial, Zinnia grandiflora.

Poppies, poppies, poppies!

March 20, 2012

Our trip to Portal last week was filled with poppies! So much so, that I decided they deserved their own blog post. This may not be the best year for wildflowers in southern Arizona, but it’s a dramatic change from the past few years which were much drier with very little vegetation at all. Rainfall this past year has been pretty patchy across the state, but our site received adequate and continuous enough rain through the winter to produce fields of poppies (Escholtzia mexicana). We were probably lucky enough to arrive during the peak for poppies, and the San Simon valley was surrounded by orange-hillsides. I’m not sure how anyone could walk in these fields and not be possessed with an inexplicable happiness and an urge run around in the flowers!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Coming Soon

July 3, 2008

This is the blog for the Portal Project, an ecological study of rodents, ants and plants that was begun in 1977. This long-term study is currently run by Thomas J. Valone (Saint Louis University), James H. Brown (University of New Mexico), and me (S.K. Morgan Ernest; Utah State University). The purpose of this blog is to inform interested parties of recent research results and current impressions gained from the field. We go down every month for the rodent census, twice yearly for the plants, and annually for the plants. Stay tuned as we get the blog up and running.