In February 2010, CAP LTER began collecting data once again at 204 sites in metropolitan Phoenix and the surrounding desert. This effort, Survey 200, takes place every five years at the same 204 sites and is a core, long-term monitoring initiative. Long-term monitoring allows scientists to better understand long-term trends or phenomena that are slow cycling in nature.
Field technicians carry out a suite of research activities at each of the 204 sites, measuring tree and shrub height and girth, obtaining arthropod samples with sweep nets, and gathering voucher specimens of annuals. They take several soil cores at different depths, which will be analyzed in CAP scientists’ laboratories for organic matter, heavy metals, soil bacteria, and black carbon, as well as other attributes.
Survey 200 provides a cross-section of the various environments in the CAP study area from upland desert environments accessible only by hiking and helicopter to residential yards festooned with petunias and roses to salvage yards with damaged vehicles and scrap metal. This year’s survey is the third conducted since 2000 and is scheduled to be completed in June 2010.