Sunday, December 9, 2012

Himalayan Blackberry Control Experiment

The Sonoma State Restoration Ecology Class woke up to a sunny morning following an extensive rainstorm. The Sonoma State ENSP department is gathering baseline data for a Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) Control Experiment. The purpose of the experiment is to restore a patch of vegetation parallel with Copeland Creek, spanning from Sonoma State to Snyder ln. The restoration ecology students were armed with the task of collecting data to test for any variance among plots before the experiment is treated with herbicide.

Students Jerry-rigging a transect line to a PVC pipe:

 By the day’s end, students were expected to collect data for two sample blocks (4 plots per block).

 Students preparing equipment for a sunny day in the blackberry thickets:

Himalayan Blackberry is one of California’s most invasive shrub species. It is found all over Sonoma County, and can create many problems due to its high growth rates. Himalayan Blackberry is hated for its thorny structure, but is appreciated by the community for its sweet summer fruit.

Plots were previously marked by PVC markers:

Many of the plots contained very dense Blackberry growth, and made it difficult for students to maneuver without getting pricked every step. Students used a transect line, measuring tape on PVC that was threaded through the base of each blackberry thicket, to accurately record different aspects of growth for 9 sample blocks.

 Nick and Bryan in sampling action:

Data was recorded using a point-intercept sampling method. Students used marking flags to systematically note cane density in each sample plot.

 Foot traffic accompanied by puzzled faces and curious dogs was a regular occurrence throughout the day:

Data collection for the day was an extensive process, but was successful to say the least. The control of Himalayan Blackberry along the Copeland Creek jogging path will create open niches for desired plant species, and give joggers a more diverse scenery. Data collection also offered additional practice for students aspiring to work in the field following graduation.
Now that the baseline data was documented, efforts will be allocated to the removal of Blackerry from each plot. With future help from Sonoma State’s ENSP department, Copeland Creek will receive a much needed overhaul. 

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