Today I went out with the TERN Team to look at the biodiversity of plants in a Mallee quadrant. TERN is a research group that measure key terrestrial ecosystem attributes over time at hundreds of representative locations and openly provide data that enable researchers to detect and interpret changes in ecosystems.

The day was full on with many tasks that needed to be completed. We first had to measure out the quadrant. It measures 100m square. We used GPS to track where we put the makers we started at the south-west corner. We marked the corner with a star dropper. Then using the GPS we marked the western side of the square; this was done with tent pegs on the ground, pegs on trees and marker tape. The marker tape is attached to pegs and tent pegs, the tape is a bright color making it easy to see the markers. The first marker was 10m from the corner heading east, the second was 30m for the corner, then 50m, 80m and then 90m. At the 100m mark we placed the next start dropper before repeating the side marker on the other three sides. This square allows us to do a thorough scan of the vegetation in the Mallee habitats of this region.

Next several things happened at once, some of the team focused on doing transversal records of the area, while I help do a collection of all plant species in the quadrant. This involved taking leaf samples as well as when possible seeds, fruit and flowers. It took a long time to collect all these species and we found some interesting plants. I found on one tree we were sampling a cool little mass of leaves and webbing, I didn’t know what it was but since I was working with the Botany team I left it on the tree. I also got to taste Pig Face fruit, which I knew was edible but hadn't even been shown which part was the fruit. The fruit was both sweet and salty, and very juicy.

That took us to lunch time. At lunch we were joined by the Invertebrates team who were setting up malaise traps near our quadrant. Jess is part of the Invertebrates team and her specialty is spiders. So I asked her about the mass on the trees. She was interested to have a look, so we went and found one of the nests. It turns out they are a social spider which are uncommon.

The afternoon progressed in a similar way to the morning with lots of collection and recording of species. When we finished for the day we had some afternoon tea by the beach. We took a short walk along the shore and found some cool seashells and saw a few different birds.

Then it was home time.

There's lots of work still to do with the plants. The TERN team are busy identifying and preserving all the plants collected today. I will go see the processing and preserving of specimens.