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Desert Diary
Biology/Field Journal


Although field biologists frequently focus on obtaining and preserving samples of organisms necessary for research, there is an equally important—some would say more important—source of knowledge: field notes. Most biologists working in the natural laboratory of the outdoors learn to keep a field journal recording such mundane facts as where they are doing work; who's accompanying them; exactly what they're doing and how; and what the weather, terrain, vegetation, and animal life is like at a study site. Such records will be invaluable when the time comes to analyze and write up results of their field research.

There is another reason for such notes, though. Much of what we know about the early Southwest comes from journals kept by soldiers and early naturalists. Likely, much that is being written by today's naturalists will be needed to inform coming generations of researchers. General descriptions of regions abound, but who else notes the biological particulars about a specific place on such and such a date. The overview is easily found; the nitty gritty details almost never anywhere else.
pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, National Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

page of journal

Page of a field journal.