Photo of the Week – December 7, 2017

A couple quick comments before I share this week’s photos…

First, a brief celebration.  This little prairie blog surpassed 1,000,000 hits a few months ago, which is both shocking and humbling.  In addition, more than 3,500 people now subscribe to the blog via email and/or Twitter.  Most gratifying to me, however, is that as of today, there have been 10,000 comments in response to posts and photos on this blog.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the discourse that occurs here.  Out of those 10,000 comments, there have been only a handful that weren’t respectful, constructive, and/or informative.  While I don’t reply to all comments, please be assured that I read every single one, and aside from that aforementioned handful, I appreciate them all very much.  Whether you’re expressing your appreciation for a photo or thought, asking questions about topics we’re exploring, or sharing additional information, the comments are my favorite thing about writing this blog.  Please keep sending them!

Second, thanks to Brandon Timm, biology teacher at Aurora High School (Nebraska), I can now say I’ve appeared on a podcast!  Mr. Timm has a podcast, called My Science Story, in which he interviews a variety of scientists, discussing both their work and the path they followed to get where they are.  His main objective is to inspire students to see themselves as potential scientists, but the podcast is also a great way to catch up on what some fascinating scientists are up to these days.  If you’re interested, you can listen to the episode I appear on HERE, but please also check out his other episodes.  I think you’ll be impressed.

Ok, now the photos:

A hybrid of sandsage and sandhills prairie in Garden County, Nebraska.

While I tend to turn my camera toward small insects and flowers, I often find myself in some pretty extraordinary landscapes, especially the Nebraska Sandhills, where I am surrounded by nothing but open grassland as far as I can see in every direction.  Using photography to capture the sense of immensity and pleasant isolation I feel in those landscapes has turned out to be a big challenge for me.  Even with a wide angle lens, it’s really hard to portray the expanse of grassland and sky around me.  In the above photo, for example, there is nothing but grassland between me and the horizon at the top of the photo (several miles away), but while it’s a nice image, it doesn’t do justice to what I was seeing.

Wetland, dunes, and sky. Cherry County, Nebraska.

In this second photo, I wanted to show both the foreground vegetation as context for the wetland and vegetated sand dunes behind it, and the clouds gave me a great sky to work with as well.  However, the photo seems about three times too narrow to portray what I saw as I stood near the edge of the clear water.  Sure, I could have stitched multiple images together in a panorama, but when I try that, I’m usually disappointed by the result.  I can show more of the landscape, but the scene seems to become somehow smaller rather than larger.  I’m not sure I can verbalize why that is.

Sandhills prairie. Cherry County, Nebraska.

This last photo comes about as close as I’ve gotten to showing off the expansiveness of the Sandhills.  Ironically, it was shot with a zoom lens set at about 54 mm, which is far from a wide angle.  However, I was able to get up high, include a vehicle in the foreground for some context, and include an awful lot of landscape between me and the distant horizon.  It’s the depth of the image, rather than the width, that makes it work for me.  But even this image is a poor representation of reality.

I guess you’ll just have to go look for yourself.

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My Wife Finds A Basement Visitor

One of the best parts of a happy marriage is being periodically reminded that you’ve found just the right partner.  My latest example of that came this weekend, when my wife came up from our basement with a jar containing a beautiful inch-and-a-half-long house centipede.  Kim had been doing laundry and spotted it on the floor.  Instead of stomping on it, she trapped it and delivered it to her crazy photographer husband.  I sure do love that woman.

House centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata)

Since house centipedes are fleet of foot (feet?) and can have a pretty painful bite, I had to come up with a creative way to photograph this one.  I needed to get close to the centipede without it getting away (and/or scurrying up my arm) but also didn’t want any glass jar walls or other obstacles between my camera and my subject.  My eventual solution was to put the centipede in a shallow but slippery white porcelain serving bowl from our kitchen.  The little critter couldn’t quite climb the walls, but I could still point my camera right in its face, especially when it stopped and faced upward on the side of the bowl.  I placed the bowl on my dining room floor in a beam of late afternoon sunlight from the window and clicked away with my camera.  (I’ll add the white serving bowl idea to my other homemade photo studio options, which include an old wheelbarrow.)

House centipedes are native to the Mediterranean region of the earth, but have spread across much of the globe, often cohabitating with people.  They can live outside, especially in moist places under leaf litter, rocks, or other cover, but don’t do well with cold winters.  In places where temperatures dip below their comfort level, house centipedes tend to make their way into warm basements like ours.

As predators, house centipedes have a wide range of prey, including crickets, silverfish, earwigs, and spiders.  They have modified front legs called “forcipules” through which they inject prey with venom.  Because the venom comes from forcipules instead of actual mandibles, it is considered a sting, rather than a bite when the skin is pierced and venom injected.  I bet most prey don’t care much about the distinction.

This cropped image shows the sharp brown-tipped forcipules used to inject venom into prey.  They are right behind the spiky maxillae, and while they look like fangs, or mandibles, the forcipules are technically modified legs.

House centipedes have 15 pairs of legs at maturity, but start out with only 4 pairs when they hatch from eggs.  As they grow and mature, they add about two sets of legs every time they molt.  The rear-most legs of females look like giant antennae, growing much longer than their other pairs.  While I was playing with the my photo subject (before I figured out the serving bowl strategy), those long rear legs accidentally got caught between the rim of a jar and the floor, and they popped off.  They twitched for a minute or two afterward, which I assume could distract a predator and give the speedy centipede time to escape.  The twitching legs distracted me too, but I still managed to keep the jar firmly over the centipede.

House centipedes are nothing to worry about, probably help keep other basement-dwelling insects under control, and will usually try to stay out of your way.  Since my serving-bowl-photo-studio design kept the centipede at a safe distance from me, I didn’t have a chance to test the severity of its bite/sting, but a little research makes it sound like it feels similar to a bee sting.  I’m happy to trust the internet on that, I think.

Face to face on the inclined edge of a white serving bowl…

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

Photo of the Week – December 1, 2017

Back in July, my daughter tagged along with me on a trip to the Niobrara Valley Preserve.  Because she’s in college now, and I don’t see her all that often, it was particularly gratifying to have a few days of concentrated time together.  On the last morning of our trip, we decided to hike the Preserve’s public trail through some hills overlooking the Niobrara River and its valley.

The peacefulness of this scene belies the violence that had taken place only a few moments before…

Not long after we started walking, I heard a cicada burst out of the grass in front of us and loudly rattle off into the prairie.  It was a sound we’d heard many times over the previous days, but this time, instead of fading gradually away, the sound stopped suddenly, only a second or so after it started.   A couple steps later, my brain finally identified the anomaly and I turned around and walked in the direction the cicada had flown.  I found it where it had landed, and quickly saw why its flight had been cut short.  The cicada was lying on the ground, making short buzzing noises, and there was a big robber fly sitting right on top of it.  The scene was particularly impressive given the size of the cicada (about the size of my thumb) compared to the much smaller fly.

Despite being significantly smaller than the massive cicada, the robber fly brought it down pretty quickly , and seemed to know just where to insert its proboscis between the chinks in the cicada’s armor.

Robber flies are common in prairies, and we’d been seeing quite a few hanging around during the previous weeks.  I knew they were voracious predators, but had never seen one take down another animal so much bigger than itself.  Only a year ago, I got to watch one intercept and kill a tiger beetle that was trying to fly away from me.  Watching that robber fly come out of nowhere to knock a beetle out of the air was impressive, but at least in that case the predator was a lot bigger than its prey.

I photographed this robber fly just a week or so before the cicada attack.

Since I didn’t actually see this particular attack, I can only assume the robber fly followed the typical robber fly script.  It was probably perched nearby, scanning the skies for prey, and as the cicada lifted off, the robber fly launched itself like a guided missile and rammed into the cicada, knocking it to the ground.  Then, it must have very quickly employed its hypotharynx (modified mouthparts) to inject a toxin into the cicada.  That toxin rapidly immobilized, and eventually liquefied the cicada’s insides.  By the time I arrived on the scene, the cicada was already close to death, and certainly wasn’t going anywhere.  Anna and I didn’t want to disturb the robber fly’s meal, so we walked on, leaving the fly to suck the cicada shell dry – a well-earned meal.

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | 6 Comments

A Brief Note on Painted Milkvetch

Painted milkvetch (Astragalus ceramicus) is a beautiful plant found in open sandy soils throughout much of the Great Plains and western U.S.  It is a perennial legume with white to pinkish flowers, but is most easily recognized by its ornate seed pods, which resemble painted eggs.  In Nebraska, the plant is often associated with blowouts (open areas of active wind erosion) in the Sandhills region.

Painted milkvetch is known for its ornate seed pods that are an inch or two in length.

Unfortunately, I’ve just exhausted the sum total of information I have on painted milkvetch.  I could only come up with a paltry 78 words to describe this amazing plant.  The reason it’s so unfortunate is that I don’t have anything else prepared for this week’s blog post, and don’t really have time to start from scratch on a new topic.  I had three nice photos of painted milkvetch ready to go, and figured I’d just do some quick research and create a nice little blog post on the natural history of the species.  Is it my fault nobody seems to have pulled together fascinating factoids on painted milkvetch and made them easily accessible to those of us trying to entertain and inform the public?  Don’t answer that.

Painted milkvetch really likes open sandy areas like this one.

By this time, you’ve probably realized there isn’t going to be any additional information of interest to you.  I’m sorry to waste your time by leading you on like this, but I’m hoping many people will just scan the first paragraph, look at the photos, and click on to something else of interest on the internet.  Maybe they’ll check the score of the big game last night, or see what the weather is going to be so they know whether they need to pack a stocking cap or umbrella for the day.  If so, they’ll never know that the rest of this blog post is just me blithering on about nothing in order to make it look like there’s a full blog post’s worth of information here.  Because there isn’t.

I mean, I could give you a description of the shape and size of the leaves, and general stature of the plant, but the photos pretty much show you what you need to know, right?  What I really wanted was some cool stories about the kinds of animals that feed on the leaves or seeds of the plant, specialist pollinators that use its flowers, or maybe even a description of the kind of chemical or physical properties the plant uses to compete with surrounding plants.  I bet you’d have liked to learn things like that too, but I didn’t find anything.  Again, I apologize for that.

Well, now I’m at about 460 words, which is certainly more respectable than 78 words.  I mean, 78 words is basically just a long caption.  No one would consider it sufficient for a blog post.  Now, if I can figure out how to get to 500 words, that will be

Posted in Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , | 35 Comments

Photo of the Week – November 24, 2017

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful for much, starting with a loving wife and family, and a stable and (sufficiently) prosperous life.  Much lower on the list, but still important – and relevant to this blog – I’m also thankful that I can still go out and discover items of interest in the prairie, even in late November.

Here in Nebraska, we’re experiencing some pleasantly mild weather right now.  Regardless of the weather where you are, don’t be afraid to explore a prairie near you, even if it looks brown and boring from a distance.  The stories are still there, you just have to fill in more of the pieces yourself.

Late November prairies can be fairly monochromatic, but still contain plenty of potential discoveries.

The exit hole in this old goldenrod gall shows that a gall fly successfully emerged from it last spring. The galls without open holes contain (probably) a live larva sheltering over the winter.

Something interesting happened to this Maximilian sunflower  (Helianthus maximiliani) as it grew, but I’m not really sure what that might have been.

Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis) still has seeds in many of its pods this time of year.  I’ve heard the hard seeds are difficult to digest for many wildlife species, so it’s interesting to wonder whether animals that eat them ever get any benefit from doing so.

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This gall thumbs its nose at your preconceived ideas of what galls should look like.

Posted in Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged | 4 Comments

Open Gate Rotational Grazing

An alternative approach to facilitating wildlife and plant diversity in grazed prairie.

Based on the last 20 years of experience and data collection, the shifting mosaic approach to habitat management seems to support plant and animal diversity and foster ecological resilience in our prairies.  One of the most important parts of our shifting mosaic management is that each patch of prairie goes through a progression of season-long intensive grazing, followed by a multi-year recovery period.  At any time, only part of a prairie is in each phase of the system (intensive grazing, early recovery, late recovery), so there is always a variety of habitat structure available (short, “weedy” and tall) for wildlife.  In addition, as that grazing/recovery progression occurs, plant species experience a different set of growing conditions each year.  Regardless of its competition ability or strategy, each plant is ensured favorable conditions for its growth and reproduction at least once every few years.  Based on our long-term data sets, our management has sustained plant species richness, and both conservative and opportunistic plant species are persisting in our prairies.

A fenceline contrast at our family prairie shows the kind of habitat heterogeneity found in a shifting mosaic approach to prairie management.

Patch-burn grazing is one way to create a shifting mosaic, but it’s certainly not the only way.  While patch-burn grazing has some attributes that make it easy to implement (no need for cross fences or moving animals during the season), it does require regular application of prescribed fire, which can be difficult for some landowners.  In addition, patch-burn grazing is very different from the kinds of rotational grazing systems many ranchers are comfortable with and have set up their pastures for.  We’ve been experimenting with an approach to creating a shifting mosaic that keeps many of the wildlife and diversity-friendly attributes of patch-burn grazing but might fit better within the comfort zone and logistical framework of many ranchers.

For lack of a better idea, I’m currently calling this approach “Open Gate Rotational Grazing”.  It is not a rigid prescribed grazing system, but rather a general and adaptable way of managing multiple grazing paddocks within a prairie.  It’s similar to a traditional deferred grazing strategy, but with one big difference.  In most rotational grazing systems, cattle are moved from one pasture to the next, closing the gate behind them to allow the previous paddocks to rest.  In the open gate system, when cattle are presented with their next paddock, the gate behind them remains open – allowing the cattle to continue grazing the initial paddock even as they have access to new grass.

In a traditional rotational grazing system, cattle are progressively moved through a series of paddocks, closing the gate behind them.  In a deferred rotational system, at least one paddock is usually rested for the season.

Under an open gate approach, gates are left open when new paddocks are made available, allowing cattle to graze both the new paddock and the one(s) they had been grazing before.

The idea started one year when we weren’t able to get a burn done in a prairie under patch-burn grazing management.  Since we didn’t have a burned patch to focus cattle grazing, we instead used electric fence to concentrate the cattle in the area we’d hoped to burn.  We kept them in the enclosure until they had it grazed pretty short.  Then we removed the electric fence and allowed cattle to access to the whole site.  For the remainder of the season, the cattle continued to focus most of their grazing in that former enclosure, attracted by the tender regrowth.  As a result, the overall grazing pattern was fairly similar to what we’d expect with patch-burn grazing.  Seeing how strongly cattle were drawn back to where they’d grazed earlier provided the seed for the open gate rotational system.

On my family prairie, I’ve been using the open gate approach for the last several years.  I have four paddocks, and I basically think of the gates between those paddocks as relief valves.  We start with the cattle in one paddock, and when they have grazed most of the grass down in that pasture, I open the gate to an adjacent paddock so they have more options.  The cattle can keep grazing the regrowing plants in paddock #1, but they aren’t forced to eat more than they want to in that paddock because they have another whole paddock available to them.  If the cattle graze down most of the plants in the second paddock, I can open a gate to a third paddock and provide them with even more options.  I keep the fourth paddock closed off for the entire season so it can rest.  I choose a different paddock to start with each year.

The result of an open gate approach is that one paddock is grazed all season long, one is rested all season, and the others have intermediate levels of grazing.  This results in heterogeneity of habitat structure as well as a wide range of growing conditions for plants.  Each year, grazing starts in a different place, shifting the disturbance regimes among the various paddocks.

The open gate approach can be used with just about any rotational grazing system, as long as there are adjacent paddocks that can be opened up.  One key component of the open gate approach is that paddocks grazed early in the season continue to receive grazing pressure for the rest of that season without forcing cattle to eat progressively lower quality forage as the season goes on.  Instead, cattle can regulate their diet freely, choosing between previously grazed areas and those they haven’t yet grazed.  Typically, when cattle are given that kind of choice, they eat very little other than grasses.  This works out well for pollinators because it means many wildflowers are allowed to grow and flower amongst grazed grasses.

At our family prairie, the open gate approach seems to be helping with our continuing quest to increase plant diversity in areas formerly dominated by grasses.  New plants are introduced via overseeding (after a season of intensive grazing), and then persist under our grazing management.

In the open gate system, there is great flexibility about when, and how intensively, each paddock is grazed each year, though some of that flexibility depends on how the paddocks are arranged.  Ideally, all the paddocks would be connected through a single hub so the manager can choose to open any gate to any pasture, as needed.  However, my family prairie doesn’t provide that amount of flexibility (the four paddocks are arrayed in a donut-like loop, with no way to connect them through the donut hole) and the approach still works.  Most of the time, the paddock grazed most intensively one year gets complete rest the next.  However, the pattern of grazing each year always depends upon how I think recovery from previous years’ grazing is going.

I think there are great benefits to longer grazing periods and longer rest periods than are typically found in rotational grazing systems.  Certainly, those prolonged grazing and rest periods can provide a greater variety of wildlife habitat conditions, especially on the shorter and taller ends of the vegetation structure spectrum.  In most rotational grazing systems, cattle are moved out of a pasture before grasses are grazed very short, allowing them to recover quickly.  In addition to reducing habitat heterogeneity, that approach can favor strong grass dominance at the expense of wildflowers and plant diversity.

Even when grazing pressure is intense within each paddock of a traditional rotational system, short duration grazing may not foster habitat heterogeneity.  For example, if a paddock is grazed hard in May, it might suppress cool-season grasses, but warm-season grasses won’t be much affected, and once cattle are removed, summer vegetation will fill in quickly, resulting in vegetation structure of moderate to tall height.  The same can happen with summer grazing bouts followed by fall growth of cool-season grasses.  By maintaining grazing pressure for the entire growing season, two things happen.  First, there is sustained short vegetation structure for wildlife that need it.  Second, and perhaps more important, all dominant grasses are weakened by that long term grazing, leading to a fairly long recovery period (1-3 years, depending upon grazing intensity and geographic location), during which wildflowers and other plant species are temporarily released from that grass competition.  That long recovery period creates terrific wildlife habitat and also helps sustain plant diversity.

While prescribed fire isn’t necessary in open gate rotational grazing, it can certainly be incorporated.  The paddock to be grazed all season could be burned before the season starts, for example, which would further add to its attractiveness to livestock (and remove eastern red cedar trees, excess litter, etc.).  At my own prairie, I haven’t been using fire for a variety of reasons, including that I’m so busy burning for work I don’t have time/energy to burn my own place.  So far, I’ve been happy with the way the prairie is responding in the absence of fire, but if I can get myself better organized, I wouldn’t mind doing some burning.  If nothing else, it would mean less time cutting little cedar trees with loppers.

Prescribed fire is not a strategy all ranchers are willing or able to include in their operations.  The open gate approach provides options for creating a shifting habitat mosaic without relying on regular prescribed fire.

I don’t have many years of experience with this open gate approach, or much data to help me understand all the nuances of its impacts on flora and fauna.  However, what I’ve seen from early experiments seems promising.  I’m sharing the idea and our experiences so far, not because I’m endorsing the open gate approach as the next big thing, but because I hope others might find ways to try it and report back.  Because the basic idea is as simple as not closing a gate when opening a new paddock, it can be employed in many different scenarios if people see potential for it.  Also, I’m not trying to claim or patent the idea, and I’d be shocked if there aren’t people reading this that have already tried it in various forms.  If so, I’d love to hear about it.

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Photo of the Week – November 16, 2017

Most of us don’t think about ants very often unless they’re marching across our kitchen counter (or up our leg).  That anonymity isn’t their fault, it’s ours.  Ants play major roles in ecoystems, and their biomass in prairies can rival that of bison, so if we’re not paying them sufficient attention, that’s on us.

Ants on upright prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera) – The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska

I took the two ant photos in this post at the Niobrara Valley Preserve back in June of this year.  As is usually the case, I spotted the ants only because they happened to be crawling around on some flowers I was looking at.  Ants are often spotted on flowers, especially those that have easily accessible nectar that helps satisfies ants’ attraction to sweets.  While they don’t usually do much good as pollinators, ants might provide some protective services for plants by helping to keep herbivores away.

Ants spend most of their time underground, of course, where it’s easy for us to forget about them.  When they’re not in their tunnels, they still aren’t all that visible unless we’re looking for them.  Regardless, they are major predators in prairies, collaborating with each other to take down prey much larger than they are.  In addition, ants are scavengers, major forces in nutrient cycling, and important seed dispersal agents for some plant species.  Ants can also steal food and workers from each others’ colonies, “herd” aphids and harvest their honeydew and meat, and are themselves an important food source for other animals.  We should probably stop ignoring them.

Golden early morning light shown on this ant as it crawled down the stem of an upright prairie coneflower plant.

Most prairies probably have around 30 species of ants living in them, which is more local diversity than is found in grassland nesting birds, which we pay infinitely more attention to.  In addition, if we lost all our grassland birds tomorrow, it would be sad, but I’m pretty sure it would have much less impact on prairie ecosystems than if we lost our ants.

Let’s try to keep them both around, shall we?

 

Here are some previous posts I’ve written about ants if you feel like reading a little more about them:

https://prairieecologist.com/2011/01/03/the-density-of-ants-in-prairies/

https://prairieecologist.com/2015/05/20/ants-in-the-sun/

https://prairieecologist.com/2015/08/18/killer-thistles/

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Little Blue Butterflies

The “tails” on the backside of the wings set the eastern tailed-blue apart from other relatives in our area

Though it’s one of the more common butterflies in this part of Nebraska, the eastern tailed-blue doesn’t get much attention.  One reason is that it is pretty small.  With a wingspan of about an inch, it isn’t much bigger than the white clover flowers it’s often feeding on in our yard.  Its name comes from the protrusions on its wings that set it apart from other blues (butterflies in the subfamily Polyommatinae).  The name “blue” comes from the striking color on the dorsal side of the wings of males.

An eastern tailed-blue displaying its incredible blue color while sitting on my finger.  I found this male in my yard and it was either too weak, tired, or sick, to fly away when I picked it up.  It provided an unusual look at the dorsal side of the wings of this species.

Blues rarely show the dorsal (top) side of their wings except in flight.  The rest of the time, all we get to see are the pale undersides of the wings, highlighted by dark spots and splashes of orange – the size and arrangement of which help distinguish species from each other.  There are several species of little blue butterflies found around here, including the Melissa blue and Reakirt’s blue, but 95% of what I see in the Platte River Prairies and in my yard are eastern tailed-blues.

The Melissa blue has much more orange on the ventral side of its wings than the eastern tailed-blue.  The endangered Karner blue, found only in a few isolated places in the eastern U.S. is a subspecies of the more widespread Melissa blue.

The eastern tailed-blue is far from the only tiny butterfly hiding in plain sight in prairies and yards across the country, but it’s an easy one to find if you start looking.  It’s also one you can feel confident identifying in front of friends and colleagues – assuming you can get close enough to see its little tails…

…the tails can sometimes be hard to see when the wings are completely closed…

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Photo of the Week – November 10, 2017

I was back at the Niobrara Valley Preserve last week to help with a little bison work and a board meeting.  My wife was able to come with me, and we stayed an extra night so we could do some hiking Saturday morning before heading home.

A burned eastern redcedar overlooks a what is a majestic landscape, even during the dormant season.

Kim and I decided to hike up the bluffs north of the river where the 2012 wildfire transformed an overgrown savanna of pines and cedars into a burgeoning grassland/shrubland dotted with burned tree skeletons.  Autumn is well established along the Niobrara River, and there have already been several hard freezes and some light snows.  Despite that, we found plenty of color and texture to enjoy while we wandered, as well as a couple very pleasant surprises.

Smooth sumac and yucca are two of the more common plants north of the river, and both still provided color, though the sumac leaves had all fallen.

It’s fun to speculate about the series of events that led to this sumac leaflet becoming impaled on this yucca leaf.

One of the best discoveries of the day was the first ponderosa pine seedling I’ve seen since the 2012 fire.  It was right up on top of the ridge.  I’m hopeful that we’ll find more in the coming years.

As bark peels from pine skeletons, bark beetle galleries are revealed. Interestingly, I didn’t see any on eastern red cedar – only on pine.

We were shocked to find a little patch of Campanula (harebell) still in full bloom on November 4. It was sheltered in a fairly steep draw, but must have survived temperatures well below freezing several times during the last month.

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A Seedy Survey

Are you involved in grassland restoration work in North America?  If so, I hope you’ll consider taking a survey from my friend and colleague Marissa Ahlering of The Nature Conservancy.  Marissa is trying to better understand the use of locally sourced seed in restoration work.  It’s a short survey (10-15 minutes) and your help would really help move the science of restoration forward.

Nelson Winkel, Platte River Prairies land steward, stands behind a pile of prairie seed. Most of our seed these days is harvested from our own prairies, but not everyone has the ability to harvest their own. Figuring out how to obtain seed that matches restoration objectives can be tricky.  (Ok, full disclosure, Nelson is actually KNEELING behind this pile to make it look bigger…)

Participation from anyone involved in grassland restoration, from policy makers to on-the-ground practitioners, would be helpful. You can read more about the survey and enter your responses by following THIS LINK.

Please forward this to any colleagues it might apply to.  Thanks for your help!

Posted in Prairie Restoration/Reconstruction | Tagged , , | 3 Comments