The Snapdragon Hunt


In this episode, we tag along on a snapdragon hunt!

Why are scientists hunting flowers?

Snapdragons were first studied by Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics. They're an ideal "model organism" - or a representative of other species - because their genes show up in their colors. Studying their hybrid zone - where yellow snapdragons meet and mix with magenta snapdragons - gives biologists a peek into how species evolve, and how they gradually separate.

Explore the hybrid zone!

Nick Barton, the scientist who heads up the snapdragon project, likes to joke that this is the only hybrid zone you can find on Google Maps. It's just below Planoles, a small mountain village in the Spanish Pyrenees. Can you find the area between the railroad tracks and the river?

CLICK HERE to explore a map with snapdragon data collected from one summer's hunt! It's really easy to see the division between yellow and magenta snapdragons.

Lindsay's day on the hunt!

Click on the slideshow for details on each picture.

Fieldwork around the world and around the sciences!

Scientists frequently travel around the world, to study all different types of science!. Here are a few examples from scientists, on Twitter.

Sometimes, fieldwork leads you into surprising situations. That's why scientists started sharing their funny experiences with #fieldworkfail. (There's a whole book on it now!)

How to do fieldwork yourself!

You don't have to be a trained scientist to do fieldwork. To join expeditions like the snapdragon hunt, scientists are looking for students in college studying science. You'd be joining a group that ranges from professors, to new scientists, to grad students. In university, ask your professors if they know anyone studying the species you're interested in.

But, you can start your field work career even before college! Become a citizen scientist, along with your family. You can find opportunities on SciStarter.org, and there are also big events that need lots of volunteers to go outside and count birds or butterflies.

BONUS SNAPDRAGON SCIENCE!

We found this cool BBC documentary involving an early study on snapdragon genetics.

Tell us what you would study "in the field!" Email us at tumblepodcast@gmail.com.

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