Field Hike Protocol


Field hikes are a valuable way to learn biology because the flora and fauna being studied are by definition part of your environment, and therefore should be of immediate interest to you. We will take advantage of our semi-rural location to take an average of one field hike per week to a variety of ecosystems: College woods, fields and streams, the East Fork Reservoir, the East Fork of the Little Miami River, and Nine Mile Valley.


Dress comfortably and informally, with sturdy shoes. You should bring your notebook or 3 x 5 cards on which to take notes. Leave room in your notebook for supplementary information. If you use cards, the actual cards should be mounted in your notebook, with expanded notes supplied after the hike. Bring field guides appropriate for the subjects of the hike and binoculars for studying birds.


When a specimen of a new species is encountered, record its common name, its family (and other mentioned taxonomic info) its scientific name, and note the page in a field guide where it is described. Make a quick illustration to indicate important family and specific traits. Title the notes from each hike with a title that reflects that specific hike (i.e., not 1st hike, 2nd, etc). Cross reference the first page of each hike to its map and specimen.


You are required to collect a specimen from each hike which is unique to that hike. Label with common and scientific names and mount in your book with contact paper. Cross reference to initial field notes page. See Contact Paper protocol.


Draw a full page map for every hike showing: the route, unique features, and locations with direct labels for each new species were observed. Indicate north. Cross reference the map’s location and beginning of notes. We will pay particular attention to:


Note carefully the family traits, specific traits, interesting information, date first seen blooming, and location on your map where the first specimen was observed. Brief illustrations will help immensely in learning these wildflowers.


Most of these trees should be familiar to you from Fall and Winter quarters, but we will continue to review them this quarter. They will appear on quizzes and tests.


As the days warm up, especially after soaking spring rains, we will identify mushrooms, and note those which are edible. NEVER eat a mushroom which has not been positively identified in a book, and even then, eat very small quantities the first time you try them. Report all sightings of mushrooms to the group leader.


Several hikes in the spring will concentrate on birds as they return or pass through on their migration north. Often a bird is first detected through its song, and therefore discussion should be kept to a minimum, in low tones or whispers. Look for tell-tale movement in foliage. Identify every bird you see, and if you see a new bird for the day, or one which you cannot identify, bring it to the group leader’s attention immediately. Binoculars will be used, with care (see binocular protocol).


Insects will be identified as they are encountered. Pay attention to the characteristics of each class, and the species. We will see occasional reptiles, amphibians, or mammals. Record identifying traits for these organisms as well.


Each time a new species is seen, add it to your cumulative list at the back of your notebook. Use of a computer to compile this list is strongly urged. See handout on format for details.

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