Guess who got poison ivy?
You guessed it - I did. I can get poison ivy if it's ever even been NEAR a site - so no surprise. I'm pretty sure I got it while sampling with Old Town HS last week. Hopefully no one else is itchy!
Actually, I used to get poison ivy a lot more, when I lived in Massachusetts. It seemed to be much more prevalent there - it was absolutely everywhere and resulted in some very bad cases. Why does there seem to be less in Maine? If it's true that there's less poison ivy in Maine, then the answer probably has something to do with plant tolerance for different climates and habitats. Plants are amazing little things, that respond very strongly to gradients in important environmental factors like climate, water regime (how much water is around at different times of the year, how much rain & snow there is), sunlight, soil characteristics, etc.
For example, some Old Town students were looking for speckled alder (Alnus incana) to sample soils beneath. Speckled alder is a wetland indicator plant, but we didn't find it right in the stream itself - though it likes wet sites, it doesn't like to be in super-wet, standing water environments. It's neat how micro-habitat characteristics affect plant presence. At one site, students just had to move up about a foot in elevation from the stream water level itself, and there were the speckled alder.
Maybe someday I'll find a place to live where poison ivy is completely unable to survive! Somehow I think that would put me on an icecap...