Got Nature? Blog

Posted on November 22nd, 2017 in Forestry, How To, Wildlife | No Comments »
Deer - Lesions

Lesions from bovine Tb infection in the chest cavity of a wild white-tailed deer. Photo by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR is asking deer hunters for help with a disease surveillance program in Franklin and Fayette counties.

State biologists are sampling deer harvested from portions of those two counties for bovine tuberculosis. After a slow start to the deer firearms season, however, the program is running behind. Biologists have collected just 16 percent of the samples needed to reach their surveillance goal, largely because of weather.

Firearms season started for deer this past Saturday and runs through Dec. 3. Opening weekend was affected by thunderstorms and warm temperatures, which resulted in a lower harvest compared to previous opening weekends.

For example, the combined two-day first-weekend harvest in Franklin and Fayette counties was down about 60 percent from 2016.

The DNR is asking those who hunt in the surveillance zone to help it collect samples. The preference is for bucks that are 2 years old or older, but all deer will be accepted for testing. The DNR hopes to sample between 500 and 1,200 deer, depending on age.

The surveillance zone is the area south of State Road 44 and west of State Road 1 in Fayette County, and in the northwest portion of Franklin County, west of Brookville Lake. View 2017 bTB Surveillance for map.

Surveillance involves collecting and testing lymph nodes from the head and neck of deer harvested by hunters and voluntarily submitted for evaluation.

Hunters can bring their deer to a biological check station at the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site maintenance facility in Metamora, 19083 Clayborn St., and to Mustin’s Processing in Connersville, or Hunters Choice in Brookville.

Hunters who submit a deer for testing will be entered into a drawing for 1 of 10 authorizations to take an additional buck from anywhere in Indiana (with landowner permission) during the 2018-2019 deer hunting season. Hunters who bring the DNR a buck at least 2 years old will receive 10 entries into the drawing. Hunters who bring in does that are at least 2 years old will receive three entries into the drawing. Hunters who bring in yearlings will receive one entry into the drawing. Entries are cumulative — hunters who bring in multiple deer will have an even better chance of winning.
DNR will continue to collect samples from deer harvested within this “bTB” surveillance zone through Jan. 7 (excluding Thanksgiving and several days around Christmas).

For more information view the IDNR website – Current Bovine Tuberculosis Surveillance in Indiana Deer.

Media contact: Marty Benson, DNR Communications, (317) 233-3853, mbenson@dnr.IN.gov.

Resources:
Indiana DNR
Bovine Tuberculosis in wild white-tailed deer, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR

Joe Caudell, State Deer Biologist
Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
812.334.1137



Posted on November 20th, 2017 in Forestry, Got Nature for Kids, How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

Sandhill Cranes in WildHave you walked outside recently and heard a loud rattling bugle coming from the sky, and thought to yourself “what in the world is making that noise?” More than likely, you were hearing the calls of sandhill cranes. Often times you can hear the calls of sandhill cranes long before you see them, and sometimes you may never even see them. Sandhill cranes can fly at altitudes exceeding 1-mile high and their calls can be heard from more than 2 miles away.

Sandhill crane sightings are a common occurrence in Indiana from October through early-December and from February through March as the cranes migrate between their breeding grounds in Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario, and Wisconsin and their wintering grounds in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.

When and where to view sandhill cranes in Indiana

Sandhill Cranes stopped at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area during fall migration. Photo: Indiana DNR

Sandhill Cranes stopped at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area during fall migration. Photo: Indiana DNR

While sandhill cranes can be viewed throughout the state, Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in Medaryville, IN is one of the top spots in the eastern U.S. to view sandhill cranes. Jasper-Pulaski lies in the heart of the sandhill’s migratory path, and the birds congregate here in the thousands to tens-of-thousand during the fall and spring migration. Jasper-Pulaski serves as an important staging area for eastern sandhill cranes during migration, and the cranes stop here to rest and replenish their fat reserves to complete the migration.

Fall is the best time of year to view sandhill cranes at Jasper-Pulaski, and more specifically crane numbers are the greatest from mid-November to early-December. The Indiana DNR has a website that provides information about the sandhill crane migration at Jasper-Pulaski. Managers at Jasper-Pulaski even track the number of cranes using the area weekly, throughout the fall migration, and post an estimated count to the website. On Nov. 7th, 4,630 sandhill cranes were counted at Jasper-Pulaski. You can view cranes from the observation deck located just to the west of the Jasper-Pulaski main office.

Other hot spots to view sandhill cranes during migration include Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area in northeast Indiana, Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in southwest Indiana, and Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Indiana.

Crane Capture

Purdue Wildlife Society members assisted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Researchers with sandhill crane capture and banding at Jasper-Pulaski in the fall of 2010. Photo: Purdue Chapter of The Wildlife Society.

GPS collars on sandhill cranes highlight importance of Jasper-Pulaski

Just how important is Jasper-Pulaski to sandhill cranes? Researchers with The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Minnesota attached Global Positioning System (GPS) collars to sandhill cranes to track their fall and spring migratory routes. A majority of the sandhill cranes, regardless of where spent the summer or winter, stopped at Jasper-Pulaski during the migration. Sandhill cranes spent 34% of the fall and spring migratory period at Jasper-Pulaski, which is almost twice as much time as any other single place on their migratory route. The map below shows the migratory paths taken by GPS-collared sandhill cranes during the fall (gold lines) and spring (blue lines).

Crane Map

The gold lines are migratory paths of individual GPS-collared sandhill cranes during the fall migration, whereas the blue lines are migratory paths during spring migration. Photo: Fronczak et al. 2017

Resources:
Sandhill Cranes Fall Migration, Indiana DNR
International Crane Foundation

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


INSAF IdentityThe CCH system is a program of continuing certification designed to encourage certified applicators to keep renewing certification as time passes in order to stay aware of changes pertinent to their work and to increase professional competency. With the system enacted, applicators maintain a continuous learning pattern whereby their knowledge is expanded.

For those needing to maintain certification as pesticide applicators in category 2, 3A, and 6, the Indiana Society of American Foresters Forest Pesticide Training Program normally provides 4 to 5 CCH credits. There will also be speaker(s) who will have a topic related to forest management, forest pesticide applications, materials, safety, forest pests, integrated pest management, or another related topic.

The IN SAF Pesticide Training Program will take place on Wednesday, November 29th at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds and Conference Center in Danville, Indiana. For more upcoming information, check out the Indiana Society of American Foresters website or contact Lenny Farlee (Email: lfarlee@purdue.edu, Phone:765 494-9461).

Resources:
Indiana Commercial Pesticide and Fertilizer Applicator Continuing Certification Program, Office of Indiana State Chemist
Purdue Pesticide Programs – Purdue Agriculture
National Pesticide Information Center – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Lenny D Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on October 4th, 2017 in Gardening, Got Nature for Kids, Wildlife | No Comments »

Wild animals have a dispersal period where young move on to new ground to establish their own home range. This is nature’s way of mixing the gene pool. It also allows for species to reoccupy small, isolated habitat patches. Late summer and early fall is a common time to see juvenile snakes because of dispersal.

Juvenile Northern Watersnake

Northern Watersnake (Photo provided by R. Dearing)

Snake identification questions are one of my most common that I receive from the public. Usually, people want to know if the snake is venomous or not. Most snakes in Indiana are not venomous. In fact, there are only four venomous species in Indiana. Their distributions are generally limited.

The snake pictured here to the right is a Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon).  Photo and identification request was submitted to our “Ask an Expert” web submission by Mr. R. Dearing. While only about a foot long here, adults can reach several feet in length. Coloration in them is variable, but they typically have dark bands on a lighter tan or brown background. The bands are complete towards the head and fragment towards the tail. This little snake found its way into Mr. Dearing’s house. Fortunately, he was able to catch it and return it to the creek behind their house—which explains why it was there in the first place.

Resources:
Snakes and Lizards of Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
How can I tell if a snake is venomous, FAQs, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
Indiana Amphibian and Reptile ID Package, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Ask An Expert, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources

Brian MacGowan, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University


Adult Emerald Ash BorerThe Emerald Ash Borer University  is a collaborative effort of Michigan State University, Purdue University, the Ohio State University, Michigan University and Ohio University to provide comprehensive, accurate and timely information on the emerald ash borer to it’s viewers. As of September 21st, it has launched it’s Fall 2017 Webinar in order for the public to become more informed on Emerald Ash Borers. The schedule is as follows:

9/28/2017 “EAB for Homeowners: Managing EAB, Individuals to Neighborhoods” – Cliff Sadof, Purdue University
10/5/2017 “EAB Management and Pollinator Safety” – Reed Johnson, Ohio State University
10/12/2017 “After EAB: Encouraging Regrowth of a Healthy Forest” – Kathy Smith, Ohio State University
10/19/2017 “Thousand Cankers Disease: Threatening the Nation’s Walnut Trees” – Matthew Ginzel, Purdue University

All past Webinars are now available on the EABU YouTube Channel.

Resources:
Question: What options do we have to treat our ash trees against the Emerald Ash Borer?, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Invasive Pest Species: Tools for Staging and Managing EAB in the Urban Forest, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Emerald Ash Borer, Purdue Extension-Entomology
Emerald Ash Borer Cost Calculator – Purdue Extension Entomology

Cliff Sadof, Professor
Purdue University Department of Entomology


Posted on August 28th, 2017 in Wildlife | No Comments »

Basic Animal Characteristics ChartWhen you look at a photo of basic animal traits, you rarely expect surprises. Our educational background has taught us the answers as children. Researchers in Hong Kong, China have made a discovery that changes how we look at one particular species.

Mangrove Ecology and Evolution Lab scientists from the Swire Institute of Marine Sciences (SWIMS) and School of Biological Sciences, based in Hong Kong have recently discovered a new species of mangrove-climbing micro-crab. These crabs, named Haberma tingkok (Haberma for the genus of mangrove crabs and tingkok for the Ting Kok region where they were found), are less than a centimeter long, predominantly dark brown, with a squarish carapace, very long legs and orange claws. All specimens were found 1.5–1.8 meters (~ 5 to 6 feet) above chart datum (the water level that nautical charts are measured from).

Pseudosesarma patshuniThis new species represents only the first to be described in Hong Kong since Pseudosesarma patshuni, a much larger but non-climbing crab, in 1975. This crap is Hong Kong’s first truly arboreal crab. This small crab lives in mangrove branches and breathes air. Several known relatives have been found in the mangroves of Singapore and Indonesian New Guinea but none can climb trees.

Discovery of a new crab species in Hong Kong shows that more can be learned about crab diversity in Hong Kong. Projects like this one are paramount to the continued development of the Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan (BSAP) initiated by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region under the United Nations’ Convention of Biological Diversity. Now, the scientists in Hong Kong are looking up in the trees rather than only at the ground in the search for additional marine species. With as estimate by marine biologists that we only know 50–60% of the real diversity of coastal and littoral crabs in Hong Kong, surely there are more surprises in store.

Journal Reference:
Cammocco S. and Ng PLK. 2017. A new species of micro-mangrove crab of the genus Haberma Ng & Schubart, 2002 (Crustacea, Brachyura, Sesarmidae) from Hong Kong. ZooKeys doi: 10.3897/zookeys.662.11908
Web Reference:
The University of Hong Kong. “Marine ecologists discover and name the first endemic tree-climbing crab.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 April 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170411104534.htm.

Resources:
Bagworm caterpillars are out feeding, be ready to spray your trees, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
A New Drone Supports Pollinator Efforts, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on July 24th, 2017 in Urban Forestry, Wildlife | No Comments »

A drone can be defined in a myriad of ways. A constant humming sound can be called a drone. Your professor going over a lecture you find boring can be described as droning on and on about a particular topic. That friend of yours with the uncanny ability to come by your place to eat right at dinnertime but never offers to pay for the food is also a drone. In nature, male bees are also known as drones. These insects, the products of unfertilized eggs have an easy but vital role within the hive; mate with the queen. In technology, a drone is a remote-controlled aircraft either publicly available (those who fly them are termed ‘enthusiasts’) or held by the military that that has dramatically increased in popularity over the last decade. What happens when drone bees and remote-controlled drones meet?

Bee and Drone Expression

Researchers in Japan have come up with an inventive pollination plan. As bees continue to die out, insect sized drones are being used to pollinate lilies. The miniature robots are covered in horse hair and a sticky gel that allows pollen picked up from one plant to be deposited on another. By no means a solution to the global decline in insect pollinators, these robots are working to help alleviate the demands placed on bee colonies to ensure adequate pollination of agricultural crops.

Mechanical BeeThe creative ‘bug’ has reached the industrial design field where 24-year-old senior Anna Haldewang (Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia) developed Plan Bee. Rather than being the size of the bee, this black-and-yellow drone is the size of hand and resembles a flower. Plan Bee passes over flowers collecting pollen for later cross-pollination. Haldewang has filed a patent application and is roughly two years from having a product for the market. The primary role of Plan Bee is as an educational tool, however, hydroponic and large-scale applications may also be possible.

Robotic InsectIn addition to efforts of the Japanese groups, a research group in Maryland has taken the bee drone one step further. This group, led by Sarah Bergbreiter and her colleagues from the Maryland Microrobotics Laboratory at the University of Maryland, College Park has built tiny, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices that look like and share the same movement as other insects such as fleas and ants. This group hopes to use their tiny robots to evaluate bridges and other structures for breakdown and search for survivors after a natural disaster.

The moral of the story is, when you see a bee hard at work, appreciate the job it’s doing to ensure that our crops are fertilized, our flowers are pollinated, and we have honey to eat.

Literature Cited:
Chechetka et al. 2017. Materially engineered artificial pollinators. Chem 2, 224–239.
AVS: Science Array Technology of Materials, Interfaces, and Processing. Insect-like microrobots move just like real insectsScienceDaily, 7 November 2016.

Web Resources:
This ‘bee’ drone is a robotic flower pollinator, CNN Tech
Biometric Trees: A Shockingly Cool Development, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Consider Pollinators When Planning Your Garden, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

 


Purdue University has teamed up with four zoos to protect hellbenders. This effort is a worldwide collaboration as zoos, government agencies, and other conservation groups, implement much-needed conservation initiatives. This recently published publication titled How Our Zoos Help Hellbenders shares the current zoos in Indiana that are collaborating with Purdue in this conservation effort. Zoos are conservation and research organizations that play critical roles both in protecting wildlife and their habitats and in educating the public. Thus, with hellbenders experiencing declines over the past several decades, teaming up with zoos in order to preserve and protect the hellbender species is ideal. The zoos that are currently partners with Purdue University in this effort are: Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Indiana; Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette, Indiana; Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Nashville Zoo in Nashville, Tennessee.

Three videos have been released showing how the zoos are working with Purdue University to help protect hellbenders. You can check them out below!

Resources:
Conservation Efforts, Mesker Park Zoo
Hellbender Research Participation Spotlight, Columbian Park Zoo
Conservation, Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
Hellbender Conservation, Nashville Zoo
Purdue Partners with Indiana Zoos for Hellbender Conservation – Purdue Newsroom
Help the Hellbender, Purdue Extension-FNR
Nature of Teaching, Purdue Extension-FNR
I found this in my barn. Is it a Hellbender? – Purdue FNR Extension, Got Nature

Nick Burgmeier, Research Biologist and Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on July 5th, 2017 in Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »
Female Aedes aegypti mosquito

Photo by: James Gathany, Center for Disease Control and Prevention

While researchers say it is difficult to determine whether unusual weather patterns this winter and spring will lead to larger mosquito and tick populations in the Upper Midwest this summer, one thing is certain – anyone planning to spend time outdoors should take steps to avoid the potentially dangerous pests.

“Every year we face the same risks and every year it is wise to take precautions,” said Catherine Hill, Purdue University medical entomologist. “If you’re going to be outside anytime from early spring to late summer and early fall, you need to be thinking about prevention and protection.”

Both mosquitos and ticks can carry a number of pathogens that could pose a serious threat to people and animals. Mosquitos can transmit several viruses that can cause severe encephalitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord), including Zika and West Nile virus, among others. Ticks are known carriers of Lyme disease, which infects about 300,000 people each year, as well as less common but equally dangerous conditions such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

To avoid mosquito bites, the best advice is to stay indoors during peak biting times, which is typically dusk to dawn for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus and during the day for mosquitoes that transmit Zika.

“If you have to be outside during those times, it is best to wear clothing that can help prevent bites,” Hill said. Appropriate wardrobe choices include long-sleeve shirts and long pants tucked into socks. It is also advisable to use an effective repellant, such as products containing a minimum of 20 to 30 percent – of diethyltoluamide, commonly known as DEET. The Centers for Disease Control also recommends products containing picardin, lemon of eucalyptus and IR3535. More information is available on the CDC website at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-other-arthropods.

Mosquitoes breed in standing water and their larvae and pupae need water to develop. Homeowners can help reduce mosquito populations in their back yard by dumping standing water out of buckets and wading pools, keeping lawns mowed and removing piles of brush or yard waste, Hill said.

Ticks can thrive in back yards as well, particularly those adjacent heavily wooded areas, in tall grass and brush and under leaf piles.

Hill said the warmer winter and wet spring could have created ideal conditions for ticks in some areas although conditions vary significantly from region to region.

“We’ve already been getting plenty of ticks,” Hill said. “They’re certainly active.”

The best defense against ticks is to wear light colored clothing with long sleeves and pants and to use a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellant. It is also a good idea to check your body and clothing for ticks immediately after coming back indoors.

“If you can remove a tick within 24 hours, you have a very good chance of catching them before they transmit,” Hill said.

Ticks feed on blood and tend to attach themselves to tender areas of the skin, including around the hairline and in the armpit and groin.

For the full article, see Purdue Agriculture News.

Resources:
Mosquitoes, Purdue Extension Entomology
One Small Bite: One Large Problem, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR

Darrin J Pack, Writer/Editor
Purdue University Department of Agricultural Communication

Catherine A Hill, Professor of Entomology/Vector Biology
Purdue University Department of Entomology


Posted on June 30th, 2017 in Forestry, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »
Eastern Hellbender

Eastern Hellbender

We have written about the Eastern Hellbender salamander (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) in this blog multiple times. It is a unique species and plays an important role in the aquatic ecosystem in which it inhabits. Unfortunately, the species has been declining throughout much of its range over the past several decades and can no longer be found in many of the rivers and streams where it used to be common. In Indiana, the Eastern Hellbender can only be found in the Blue River. However, this population is also declining and without intervention will likely disappear within the next 20 years.

To help prevent this, Purdue University’s “Help the Hellbender” has teamed with Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden (MPZ) to attempt to captive breed the Eastern Hellbender. Purdue University biologists have been capturing wild Eastern Hellbenders from the Blue River and transporting them to MPZ. MPZ has built an indoor stream designed to mimic the conditions in the Blue River. They have followed the advice of members of the highly successful Ozark Hellbender subspecies (C. a. bishopi) breeding program at St. Louis Zoo.

Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden zookeeper, Bryan Plis, places a wild Eastern Hellbender into the new breeding raceway

Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden zookeeper, Bryan Plis, places a wild Eastern Hellbender into the new breeding raceway

If successful, this captive population will provide a long-term, easily accessible source of young Hellbenders for eventual release. This will allow us to continue to repopulate the Blue River while expanding our release efforts to include other southern Indiana rivers with suitable habitat. The breeding program also will reduce the need to spend countless hours searching the river in the hopes of finding increasingly rare Hellbender nests. Through these efforts we will hopefully be able to reestablish self-sustaining populations of Hellbenders throughout southern Indiana and help prevent the extinction of a truly magnificent animal.

For more ways you can help, please visit HelptheHellbender.org.

Resources:
Mesker Park Zoo: Helping the Hellbender , Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources, YouTube
Help the Hellbender, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden
Hellbender Information, St. Louis Zoo
Purdue Partners with Indiana Zoos for Hellbender Conservation, Purdue Newsroom
I found this in my barn. Is it a Hellbender?, Purdue Got Nature?, Forestry and Natural Resources

Nick Burgmeier, Research Biologist and Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


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