As you may know from my post from July, I am currently doing the fieldwork for my dissertation. This involves going out to my local park and doing lots of tree measurements! Since I’ve spent more time doing it, I thought I’d give an update post on how it is going and what else I’ve learnt.
When I submitted my dissertation proposal and risk assessment, I fully expected to spend a solid week, everyday 10 – 5pm in the park doing all my fieldwork and ‘getting it out the way’ so to speak. However it has turned out that I am going every few days, spending 1 – 4 hours, and doing a small proportion of the total field measurements. This is much easier and more efficient for me because even just one hour of tree measurements on my own is exhausting, and can lose concentration and hence accuracy. Not to mention further exhaustion from all the time spent walking through the park trying to locate the various tree plantations within the woodland.
So although taking longer in the long run, doing little and often seems to be working much better. I can then go home and look at my results and ensure I am collecting the write amount and variety of data.
Another thing I had not anticipated was the amount of spiders I would be getting up close to in the field. I mean I expected a few insects but not this many, all the time. I’m talking about having to literally hug a tree with 2 – 3 spiders in your field of vision, trying to pass the tape measure to your other hand around the back of the tree. As someone with arachnophobia, this is no easy task, especially when they decide to crawl onto me! I just hope by the end of the fieldwork that I will have conquered my fear and it will all be worth it. I may also have an strong knowledge of spider ecology, as I’m noticing that different spider species tend to occupy different tree species. If you are thinking about your dissertation, definitely consider the practicalities of any fieldwork in as much detail as possible!
Lastly, I have reverted back to measuring 20x20m sample areas, because I realised that a 10x10m sample would give a greater amount of error in how tree density affects growth. Like the density could seem low, but there might be a very tall, dense stand of trees next to it that blocks out the light, which wouldn’t be recorded and hence give a confusing result for the tree growth. Another thing I have started doing is writing down potential sources of error as I go, which will hopefully be of some use when it comes to writing up my dissertation.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post, I will do another on my dissertation as it progresses! Feel free to ask me any questions below 🙂