A typical day at the Wright lab usually starts early in the morning. I get dressed in long sleeves, thick pants, and hiking boots and meet up with the two graduate students I am working with who pick me up around 8:00 am. We then drive a few hours until we reach the particular site we are surveying that day. We have been visiting various locations where the pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea are found. Depending on the site we visit, we may spend a few hours walking through longleaf pine savannas searching for these plants, or we may just take a short walk along a path and find several plants fairly easily. We often drive to multiple areas within the same sites, taking gps coordinates of the plants we find. Once we have thoroughly searched that day’s site for purpurea, we drive back to Durham where I am dropped off at campus. I then head to my dorm where I make sure to check for ticks.
For the past several weeks, we have only been surveying the sites we’ve visited. However, we will soon return to these sites, where we will take fluid and leaf samples of these plants, which we will later study and analyze in the lab.
On the days I don’t do field work, I usually read papers that cover a broad range of topics, from Sarracenia purpurea morphology, to the organisms that are found in the pitcher’s fluid, to concepts of food web ecology and how they apply to these plants.