On Friday I helped out in the lab acid washing dirty lab equipment we used in the field this week, and finished separating out the live roots and rhizomes from dead peat material in a soil core Morgan started. We separate out the below-ground plant biomass to better understand how the plants work, and to see how plant structure could affect greenhouse gas emissions from the plants. We also went through the above-ground plant material we collected on Wednesday and recorded the plant species, plant heights, and the number of leaves for each plant found at each study site. Usually this process is done in the field, but we forgot to bring a meter stick with us when we went on Wednesday.
When recording the species composition of the plots, we found Salicornia europaea (glasswort), Distichlis spicata, and Spartina patens in addition to In addition to the Phragmites australis and Spartina alterniflora marsh plants. It was really neat to see all the different plant types together in the same plot.
We encountered some difficulties when measuring the plant heights because the huge Phragmites plants are similar in structure to bamboo, and we had to break the stalks to fit them in bags to take back to the lab. Some of the dead Phragmites stalks snapped when they were stored, and it was pretty difficult to put the fragments back together to measure the height, especially when there was more than one dead plant in a plot. Lesson learned: be prepared when going into the field.