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Hawaii Preparation – 30 Dec 2011

January 1, 2012

30 December 2011 – I spent this afternoon working with a student (Elizabeth Everman) working on getting ready for the Hawaii trip. We will be leaving on Sunday to collect frogs for her senior thesis in which she is studying the dispersal history of the Puerto Rican Coqui (a frog) on the Big Island. There were reports of animal rights activists transporting the frog around the Big Island to thwart the state of Hawaii’s attempts to eradicate them. We will be collecting frogs and preserving them so that Elizabeth can extract their DNA and then conduct a microsatellite analysis to tell her whether this type of “intentional human-assisted dispersal” has occurred. If the frogs dispersed naturally (what I refer to as “passive human-assisted dispersal”), we would expect that frog populations close to one another in geographic space would be similar to one another genetically while intentional human-assisted dispersal should be characterized by geographically close populations that are not genetically similar. In addition, the road network on the island of Hawaii serves as the null hypothesis for the topology of the phlyogenetic tree of genetic relatedness. So, we are headed to Hawaii to collect some (440) frogs.

Vials - Lots of vials.

As always, it seems most stressful at the beginning (i.e. right before) a research trip and sometimes at the tail end of the trip (depending on how field work went). I remember leaving a few students in Puerto Rico for a month one summer and coming back to far too little work having been accomplished. That last week was really bad – very little sleep on my part and finishing the work in a tropical storm at 4AM on the morning I was scheduled to fly home. Anyway, today Elizabeth was testing out a new preservative that is safe for airline travel. We wanted to make sure that it won’t ruin the DNA before we plunge all our frogs into it. As she was running PCR and running the results out on a polyacrylamide gel, I started filling vials with the preservative in the firm belief that it would work and I wasn’t just wasting my time. The whole process of getting organized can be nerve-wracking because there re space issues and weight issues whenever you are flying to your field site.

Vials - 504 of them.

Anyway, I got 504 vials into a standard ice chest, cushioned with bubble wrap, a bunch of latex gloves in Ziploc baggies. Elizabeth got amplification with PCR and we are on our way as far as the molecular biology supplies are concerned. Now we just need to pack our camping gear and personal gear.

31 December 2011 update – Got Packed!. Tight on weight but plenty of space. Here is the duffel, the sample cooler and the camera bag.

Duffel with personal gear, camping gear, cooking gear and some science equipment, cooler of sample vials and a camera bag.


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