My Scaly Project- Alisa Hernandez

Starting my internship, I knew that I would be working with the historic herpetofauna community data collected by the National Park Service and U. S. Geological Survey agencies. I learned about the methodology that established the pitfall arrays, the techniques used to collect data, and what the vast data set meant. This work included reading primary literature and handbooks to learn about Cabrillo National Monument, herpetofauna community species, and the pitfall project itself. I looked at work done using the data set and was excited to think about what I could do with it myself.

From there, it was time to get my hands dirty… well… digitally at least. I practiced my coding skills in RStudio to manipulate the data and then use it to produce figures or conduct statistical tests.

An example of the code I have been working on to explore the climate and herpetofauna data. The figure in the lower left shows the amount of precipitation at the San Diego Airport for the year 1995.

I then decided that I wanted to explore the relationships between the herpetofauna community and climate. However, this was a very vague direction that I needed to better develop. I examined the weather data collected during my study period by the naval base across the bay from the park. However, I soon realized that I needed to put my data management skills to the test as I had hourly recordings of over ten weather variables for the last 25 years to sift through. After combing through and cleaning up all of the data, I had four usable factors that I coded to have my computer average for daily air temperature, dew point temperature, humidity, and precipitation.

After I had both of my data sets cleaned up and usable, I decided that I had a couple of questions that I wanted to answer:

  1. How has the San Diego climate changed in the last twenty-five years?
  2. How has the herpetofauna community changed over the previous 25 years?
  3. Has climate changed the herpetofauna community?
  4. How will the herpetofauna community change under climate change conditions?

From there, I’ve had my work cut out for me to answer these questions. I’ll get the chance to use math and coding to produce statistical solutions and figures that will help me make sense of it all.

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