No, this isn't a maths class for invertebrates (perhaps they'd be best at multiplication?!) but rather an insight into one of our most productive sampling methods; pitfall trapping.
On a very (and I mean very) cold morning last week, Dr Andy Salisbury and myself lifted the traps from the centre of each plot and brought them into the lab for sorting. They had been in place for the usual 2 week period. Given the low temperatures for the time of year, we weren't expecting a large catch of insects but it does allow me chance to show you what's involved with the process;
Step 1: Seeing what we've caught (if anything!). Each bottle represents one of the 36 beds in the trial.
Step 2: Our entomologist sifting through the debris to see if there is anything of animal origin in there.
Step 3: Extracting a invertebrate. Here was a dead slug, disguised as a bit of detritus... helps not to be too squeamish if you're going to do bug science!
Step 4: Tipping away the waste preserving fluid (all to be carefully disposed of later).
Step 5: Labelling the specimen tubes to ensure no detail is lost.
Inspired to get into horticulture or plant science? WE NEED YOU! This is National Gardening Week and we are trying to raise awareness of how great it is to have a career in horticulture. Do spread the word.