The new Dimensions of Biodiversity project on grass drought tolerance is underway.
The first phase is to screen as many species of grass as we can. So far we have 1200 species in hand. Another 360 on the way.
Depending on other sources, we might hit close to 2000 species.
So far, we've germinated ~400 species. That would be another 4 months of germinating seeds at 100 species a week.
I'll add more on this later, but the diversity of grasses in the world is really amazing. From the bottlebrush Festuca hystrix to Zea, they all use the same basic bauplan, but have radiated in amazing ways.
With over 11,000 grasses in the world, there is likely a lot of ways that they differ.
The latest goal is to get bison to weigh themselves. Sounds a bit crazy, but it turns out we can do it.
Nature Conservancy purchased a special scale for us to install at Konza. If bison walk over it, a weight is recorded.
This let's us track their seasonal patterns of weight gain. We still don't know when they gain weight and when they lose it.
Without that knowledge, it's hard to predict how they are going to respond to climate change, for example. If we get warmer springs, will that increase or decrease how much weight they gain and how many calves they produce? What about droughts?
So, my job has been to sit out here in the mornings and wait for bison to show up and weigh themselves or not. There's still some fiddling on how to site the thing right.
Soon, we'll install EID readers so we can record the identity of the animal as well as its weight.
In the meantime, I have my cellular personal hotspot and laptop to do some work.