Here is our quarry: the wily, elusive culvert.
Road builders release these innocuous-seeming metal or concrete tubes into the wild, letting them nest underneath the roads and highways and, like a neglectful reptile mother, wander off, leaving them to fend for themselves. Later, natural-sciences students go in search of them to see if they are really doing what they were meant to.
Someone must have known where they were originally, but now the most effective way to inventory them and assess their efficiency is to drive very slowly along the road, scanning the undergrowth for any hint that a culvert might lurk down there and then wade through the poison ivy to measure and describe it.
The plucky UNH crew crawls right through the large enough ones. It's not so bad on a warm September day, but the study runs into November.