Today was our first full day at SEI, and we did a LOT. My roommate and I stumbled out of bed at 6:30, got our backpacks packed full of waters and Gatorades, and set out to the dining hall to claim our breakfast. After breakfast, we met Dr. Smith, who led us through sites where houses and churches once stood, and told us how to “read the land like a textbook” by looking for indicator species of plants that could tell us where buildings or other man-made objects once stood. After lunch, we journeyed through the northeastern part of the domain with Dr. Evans. We started by discussing the differences in the soil in the plateau versus the lowlands, and learned that while the lowlands’ soil consists mostly of limestone, the plateau’s soil is mostly sandstone. Sandstone, however, is a poor Ph buffer which makes the Ph of the soil very acidic, and is more prone to erosion than limestone, which makes the plateau’s soil quite infertile. Afterwards, we hiked a trail which ran through multiple ecosystems, which were all linked by their differences in water retention. Although the trail was only a couple of miles, there were astonishing differences in each ecosystem. The Domain is likely one of, if not the most, unique and diverse lands I have ever seen.