Interview with Biologist [B.CI.7] who studies Argentine Ants and how they migrate, and affect populations of endangered Butterflies in the Marin Headlands

9:30-11:30am, February 3, 2004


I met with Biologist B.CI.7 at Jasper Ridgeís Sun Field Station. She is a student in the Ant lab at Stanford University, and is in her first year, having done her undergraduate work at Berkeley. 


She is working with the ecology of invasive species, and works both at JRBP and at the park service in Marin. She works on both of these projects, but they both revolve around the invasive ant species.


She also takes records of vegetation, and will go out to her GPS located sites and take pictures with a specified bearing.


Now, she mostly spends her time on classes, but will go to the field twice a week. She would like to do field work from 3-4 days per week.


Grid points for her ant species counts are marked on a laminated map (for rain protection). She goes to the grid point, and for five minutes, samples the area centered on that grid point, noting the names of species encountered. This enables her and her colleagues to track the migration of Argentine Ants.


Something about combining notes between professor and grad students.  [CHECK AUDIO HERE]


They do use ArcGIS to mark the locations of their data/picture capture. These data are laid on top of aerial photo maps of Jasper Ridge.


She is also doing vegetation surveys, of invasive plants like thistle (Star thistle?).


She would bring technology into the field if useful, but notes that battery life is really short nowadays. She mentioned that if solar cells and cranks could be used effectively, they could really help.


Things that she dislikes about her work include fieldwork where she must sit or crouch for extended periods of time (caterpillar counts). However, she really likes being outside, and loves it when her data works (when trends show)!


To analyze data, she uses R (because itís free), ArcView, and Excel. She says that R is not the easiest to use. Data flows from notes/pictures to ArcView to Excel to R.



She has been known to carry Trimble GPS devices into the field.

She said that you donít want to waste time taking data that is unnecessary, so many times you will run a preliminary study for say, four months, and then run the statistics for it.  If the results are interesting, then you can continue.


Sometimes, she has trouble finding the metal stakes for each gridpoint, even though they are GPS located. She wished that she could use some metal detector to give her a bearing.


She has collaborated with a woman from SF state.


Summary: Interesting point about running preliminary studies to prevent time wasting from data collection.


Some more work needs to be done w/ this Audio File to get a better sense of the interview.