Hello, my name is Mr. Schaefer. Join me as I travel to New Orleans to study Climate Change and Caterpillars!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When very little data can be a good thing...

September 29, 2010
I was watching an episode of the Big Bang Theory some time ago where Sheldon screws up an experiment. It may have even been the one where he went to the North Pole and failed to find out that string theory was, in fact, the relativistic "rule of thumb" for the behavior of the universe.
I was reminded of that today. Our team headed out into the woods into the Pearl River Wildlife Management area to do two plots. At both locations, we were in a relatively shady spot. In both locations, we had a multitude of species of plants, primarily oak, hawthorne, climbing vines, magnolia, poison ivy, and holly. And at both locations, it was very difficult to find specimens. This, despite using the "beat the tree" method after our initial attempts to search in the plots were less than helpful.
Getting GPS coordinates of the plot

Beating the tree

Checking the "beat the tree" data
Does a lack of data tell a scientist anything?
Mark Fox thinks it had something to do with the dark shady nature of the plots. Without sun to have fresh growth of plants, caterpillars may not have wanted to feed. We did see evidence of older damage due to caterpillars, so perhaps this is logical. Perhaps this can lead to some new ideas.

THIS IS SCIENCE!! Even a lack of data doesn't mean a lack of science.

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