Sep
02

August 2018: Breeding Season Ends, Data Analysis Begins

Once again, another month has passed in the blink of an eye. I’ve been busy this past month, which is why this post is a day late. Many of the toads of both species have begun moving large distances again – sometimes leaving the area over the course of just one night. Fowler’s toads are likely finally abandoning the breeding pond area as their breeding season comes to an end. Both species are also likely anticipating the cold weather of the coming months and hanging out in areas they are comfortable wintering. A cold snap can strike at any time after all, and if that is the case then toads have to be prepared to burrow wherever they may be! As ectotherms, amphibians rely on heat for their metabolism to function, meaning that in low temperatures they have trouble being active. (i.e. if you are a toad and wait until the first cold snap hits to migrate to a wintering area, it is probably already too late for you – so it pays to arrive early!)

I have also begun the process of cleaning up the massive dataset that I accumulated over the summer. I will be doing most of my analysis in a program called ‘R’ which makes running statistical tests very easy. Unfortunately, however, this program can be finnicky and it pays to have your data cleaned up and arranged in a way that makes it easy to use in the program. This will be a pretty time consuming process, as it involves reviewing each data point for entry mistakes, adding in a section for rainfall data, and calculating out a couple distances that we were unable to measure in the field (distance to water, etc.). I also want to preliminarily extrapolate a couple values that will probably be important to our final model such as total vegetation mass at each location (this will be calculated using data from vegetation quadrats we took at each location we found a frog).

In any case, more work awaits me this month, but I’m excited to get it done. And besides, it’s actually pretty relaxing doing data clean up – after I pop on a podcast or some music, I can usually work at it for a couple of hours. We will also continue to track our toads until they bury themselves for the winter, so I won’t have to leave field work behind entirely!

Until next time,

Courtney

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