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 🙂