Post 1. Praise for PVC (UPDATE).
This is the first post in what hopefully turns into a series of posts illustrating what we (poor ecologists) use from time to time to cut down on costs in our research. A similar post has turned up here that explains some atypical suppliers of valuable research equipment (Thanks Meg!). ** UPDATE Thank you Jeremy @ Dynamic Ecology for this updated link on the exact same topic…..Sorry for missing this the first time
PVC (a.k.a Polyvinyl chloride) is the third most widely-produced polymer after polyethylene and polypropylene (Wikipedia). PVC is probably the most important tool in my arsenal of low-budget research items. It is insoluble in alcohol, and therefore acts as a decent straw for those hot field days of summer, or as a bellow to ‘call’ lost undergraduates.
There are two ways that I have used PVC in my research. The first is the good ol’ quadrat. For my dissertation I used a 1 x 2m quadrat for sampling herbaceous vegetation along a flooding gradient on Mississippi River islands.
This proved invaluable and was ~ $5.00 to build. I have seen several other PVC quadrats with the fancy elastic string inside (allowing them to collapse) that are much, much more expensive. That is why I carry electrical tape to tape it up once finished (note: the tape is cheap as well, my father is an electrician).
The trusty 1m² quadrat. NEED I SAY MORE?
I also use PVC as kick net poles, and this seems to be working very well. Note: its good to drill holes in the pipe so if water gets in….well you know!
There are also three other important uses for PVC (especially in my research): 1) beating brush, 2) swatting at yellow jackets, and most importantly 3) coercing venomous snakes off of the trail.
I know that Shane will have a laundry list for this thread. I am a plant ecologist so ECOLOGY on the CHEAP is my motto 🙂
5 thoughts on “ECOLOGY ON THE CHEAP”
Another post on homemade scientific equipment, emphasizing the scientific uses of non-scientific things (like PVC!): http://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/on-exapting-your-own-scientific-gear/
Jeremy, thank you for this updated link. I will update my post. Sorry for not catching this earlier.
Oh, no worries! Just tossing it out there in case anyone was interested. Seriously, don’t go to all the trouble of updating the post! 🙂
In case folks are interested, here are two more old posts about making your own gear for field work: https://storify.com/CMBuddle/odd-science-equipment
I’m excited to see your next post on the subject!