The field season is done! We had a really successful summer, but I am very glad to be finished. My field assistant Alisha and I were trapping for about 2 months, and collected a ton of data.
Let’s do some numbers:
7 weeks, 21 mornings (up at 5:30am, to the site by 7:00am back again to bait at 4:00pm)
2 sites, 4 sampling periods (groups of 3 trap-nights) at each site
48 unique individuals caught, 42 mice, 6 voles
96 total captures
76 blood samples
637 ticks collected from animals
2,680 ticks collected by dragging
1,518 miles put on our car
Unknown numbers of gnat, chigger, mosquito and tick bites
No cases of tick-borne disease
1 great field assistant, who said she had fun doing work that is probably not common for pre-med undergrads (being a farm girl was good preparation, I think!)
1 very patient and understanding husband, who did get two tick bites from what I brought into the house
What comes next is the ID-ing and processing of all the field samples. If all goes well, this will be all the data I need to complete my PhD. There may be a couple weeks of sampling in the fall depending on what the data look like. I will therefore from now on write about what we do after the field work is over, what happens in the lab and in on the computer to make all this information make sense.
This is kind of an exciting and scary time. All kinds of data with the potential to be great, but also with the potential to be too messy, complicated, or not enough to show clear patterns. I am staying optimistic, however. There are a lot of exciting things planned for all these field samples, things can only get more interesting from here, right?