One of the reasons that I think citizen science is becoming increasingly popular is because it takes advantage of people’s already established interests. Bird watching is one hobby that has been particularly successful at creating citizen scientists. These projects can be as simple (and fun!) as putting up a birdfeeder and recording the birds that visit a few times a week. However, not all project subjects are as accessible as the birds in your backyard. Take for example marine life. Most people don’t have windows that look out under the sea, and you need special skills and equipment . . . → Read More: Uniting research with recreation: marine biodiversity monitoring and scuba divers
Last week, I asked if anyone could tell me what happened to this bur oak tree (Quercus macrocarpa) to lose much of its bark. There’s many reasons why a tree could lose its bark, so I tried to hint that I was “hiding” something in the provided pictures. What was I covering up? A North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum). Congrats to @ttweakk on twitter for the correct guess!
This porcupine must have hung out in this tree all winter long by the looks of how much bark is missing. North American porcupines are generalist herbivores with a fairly variable diet. In winter, tree bark often becomes a primary food source, and porcupines can feed heavily enough from a single tree to the point of killing it. Because of the damage they can cause to trees, many people view porcupines as pests. But if this tree does die, it will create an opening that other trees can grow up in, contributing to a more varied and multi-layered forest.
Near the tree, I also found what appeared to be the porcupine’s den under a fallen log. Continue reading Ecology ID #2: Porcupine!
I have another Ecology ID for you to try, and I think this one will be easier than the last.
The four photos below are of a bur oak tree (Quercus macrocarpa) with something out of the ordinary. The bark is missing from about a third of the upper branches. The photos really don’t do justice to how much bark is gone, but trust me, it’s a lot. Any ideas what caused this?
Continue reading Ecology ID #2
Blogging wise, February was a slow month for me. But I have since conquered a nasty little virus and caught up with life, so here’s to March! And here’s hoping for snow melt soon. I cannot wait for Spring!
Here’s just a quick video I want share (hat tip @DNLee5). A rap video actually… about forest ecology! I love it so much! There’s actually been a number of awesome parody type science music videos lately. But I think this one is my absolute favorite, partly because it reminds me of a project I worked on. Enjoy!
. . . → Read More: Resilient as serotinous cones
A few weeks ago I asked the following question:
What do you think happened to cause the changes seen between the before and after pictures below?
Hint: This is a sugar maple forest in Minnesota, but it could be almost any forest in the Great Lakes region of North America. I’ll point out that most of the understory plants and tree saplings have disappeared and the root crown of the large tree has been exposed.
I received a few excellent guesses and questions! But without further ado, the answer is: Continue reading Ecology ID: What happened here? The Answer: Invasion of the Earthworms!
I’m experimenting here. I’ve noticed that a number of blogs ask readers to try to identify a species from a photo. I want to try something a little different, an Ecology ID. Let’s see if you can identify what is going on ecologically speaking from a set of pictures. Now this might be a little trickier than a species ID (although some can be very hard to guess) or at least more open to interpretation. Ecology or the interactions and relationships between organisms can be hard to visualize. Scientists can of course create great graphic representations, but when . . . → Read More: Ecology ID: What happened here?