Got Nature? Blog

Posted on May 12th, 2021 in Aquaculture/Fish, Wildlife | No Comments »

In this episode of A Moment in the Wild, Purdue Extension wildlife specialist Nick Burgmeier introduces you to mole salamanders, which live most of their lives underground. He also shared about their breeding habits and their need for ephemeral ponds and other wetlands to survive.

If you have any questions regarding wildlife, trees, forest management, wood products, natural resource planning, or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Resources
I found this in my barn. Is it a Hellbender?, Purdue Extension
Question: Which salamander is this?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Is it a Hellbender or a Mudpuppy?, Got Nature? Blog
Amphibians: Frogs, Toads, and Salamanders, Purdue Nature of Teaching
A Moment in the Wild, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Help the Hellbender, Playlist & Website
The Nature of Teaching: Adaptations for Aquatic Amphibians, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Hellbenders Rock!, The Education Store
Help the Hellbender, North America’s Giant Salamander, The Education Store

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


photo5 photo4 photo1

Have you taken an Indiana Master Naturalist course and want to learn more about engaging youth with nature? The Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Purdue Extension are partnering to offer seven separate trainings this summer to gain experience and the necessary tools to host their own Nature of Teaching Workshops to better engage youth with nature. This will include session on health and wellness, food waste, and wildlife engagement
Cost: $10 (take-home kit included)

Registration: https://bit.ly/3vT9Cjh
Contact: Laurynn Thieme at ljthieme@purdue.edu

Sessions (Each workshop will be held from 1-5 PM):
FRIDAY, MAY 21 Purdue ExtensionLake County 2293 North Main Street Crown Point, IN 46307
SATURDAY, MAY 22 Environmental Resources Center- PFW 2101 E Coliseum Blvd. Fort Wayne, IN 46805
TUESDAY, JUNE 1 Purdue ExtensionHarrison County 247 Atwood Street Corydon, IN 47112
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30 John S. Wright Forestry Center 1007 N 725 W, West Lafayette, IN 47906
SUNDAY, JULY 11 Munsee Woods 5701 S 475 E Selma, IN 47383
FRIDAY, JULY 30 Karst Farm Park 2450 South Endwright Road Bloomington, IN 47403
SATURDAY, JULY 31 Mesker Park Zoo 1545 Mesker Park Drive Evansville, IN 47720

For more information, please view the The Nature of Teaching & Indiana Master Naturalist Training Flyer (pdf).

Resources
Purdue Nature of Teaching
Purdue Nature of Teaching YouTube channel
Transporting Food Waste, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Resourceful Animal Relationships, The Education Store
Benefits of Connecting with Nature, The Education Store

Laurynn Thieme, Extension Educator & Nature of Teaching Program Coordinator
Purdue Extension – Delaware County


Most of us have probably heard or seen a lot about pollinators in the media recently. The reason why is that pollinators are really, really important. We simply can’t live without them. Researchers estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat is made possible by pollinators. More than 100 food crops in the U.S. depend on pollinators, including almost all fruit and grain crops.

There are many different types of pollinators including native bees, butterflies and moths, beetles, flies, wasps, and of course hummingbirds. But perhaps one of the more interesting pollinators is the Monarch. Millions of Monarchs congregate in a relative small area in Mexico each winter. In March they start their journey north which has occurred over several generations. Unfortunately, the number of Monarchs counted in overwintering colonies has declined over the past 25 years.

Monarch butterfly

In response, many states including Indiana have developed a state Monarch Conservation Plan. With input from many stakeholders over several years, the Indiana Monarch Conservation Plan was released in December 2020. One goal of the plan was to create an online resource that would act as a clearinghouse for Indiana monarch and pollinator conservation data, research, best management practices (BMPs), and events. I invite you to visit the Indiana Monarch and Pollinator Conservation Hub at https://indianawildlife.org/monarchs/.

You might be asking yourself, ‘Why is a wildlife specialist writing about pollinators?’ It turns out that quality habitat for wildlife is often quality habitat for pollinators. The diversity of wildflowers and structure that native grasslands, trees and shrubs benefit them all. Trees such as eastern redbud and Ohio buckeye provide early nectar sources. Native grasslands that have a diverse mixture of wildflowers provide food, bare ground, and structure desirable for a wide variety of pollinators.

Resources
Protecting Pollinators: Why Should We Care About Pollinators?, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Ask The Expert: What’s Buzzing or Not Buzzing About Pollinators , Purdue Extension – Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
Purdue Pollinator Protection publication series, Purdue Extension Entomology
Indiana Monarch & Pollinator Conservation Hub, Indiana Wildlife Federation
Monarch Watch, University of Kansas
100 Plants to Feed the Monarch/Other Resources Available, Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation

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


Posted on May 6th, 2021 in How To, Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »

blackVultureBannerPurdue Forestry and Natural Resources News & Stories: Vultures have a role to play as nature’s garbagemen, cleaning up animal carcasses, but what happens when a species goes from scavenging to harassing and even preying on livestock?

Pat Zollner, professor of wildlife science, along with PhD student Marian Wahl and their partners with the USDA Wildlife Services program are investigating black vultures in Indiana in order to better understand vulture ecology as well as to develop methods to mitigate future harm to Indiana livestock.

“Black vultures are relatively new to Indiana, they have been gradually moving in from the south, and right now there are a lot of unknowns that we need to figure out in order to make sound management decisions,” Wahl said. “Some of the pressing questions that we have are how many black vultures do we have here in Indiana, where are the birds located, how and where is conflict occurring, and how effective are different approaches to managing black vulture problems.

The aim of the research is two-fold. First, they are looking to see what causes some black vultures to become aggressive predators of livestock, instead of simply scavengers. Second, they are looking to learn signs that can determine whether an animal has been killed by vultures or simply scavenged, an important piece of evidence for livestock producers filing claims to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s indemnity program hoping to recover compensation for their losses.

In order to achieve its goals, the research team is requesting the assistance of livestock producers through an online survey and also with the donation of calves believed to have been killed by black vultures. The qualtrics online survey is available now and will take only 15-20 minutes to complete. The survey is anonymous and data collected with be presented only in summary form and not via individual responses.

For full article >>>

Resources
Qualtrics Online Survey
Contact Purdue FNR With Any Livestock Loss Due to Vultures
Black Vulture Research, Perry County News & March Edition of Beef Monthly
Black Vulture Ecology and Human-Wildlife Conflicts
Livestock, Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center

Pat Zollner, Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources

Marion Wahl, Graduate Research Assistant
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on May 3rd, 2021 in Wildlife | No Comments »

In this edition of FNR Ask the Expert, join Rod Williams, Purdue Professor of Wildlife Science, Dr. Bruce Kingsbury Director of the Environmental Resources Center, Purdue Fort Wayne and Dr. Vicky Meretsky, Director of the Environmental Master’s Program, Indiana University, to learn about snakes and turtles, their natural history, interesting research happening in Indiana, and conservation information. Also learn the myths and truths from the experts as they discuss these reptiles.

If you have any questions regarding trees, forests, wildlife, wood products or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Resources
Snakes and Lizards of Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Turtles of Indiana, The Education Store
Appreciating Reptiles and Amphibians in Nature, The Education Store
Forestry Management for Reptiles and Amphibians: A Technical Guide for the Midwest, The Education Store
The Nature of Teaching, Unit 3: Reptiles, Amphibians, and the Scientific Method, The Education Store
Snakes of Indiana, The Education Store
IDNR list of Endangered, Threatened & Rare Species
Indiana Herp Atlas
Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC)
A Moment in the Wild: Black Racer, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel
A Moment in the Wild: Eastern Kingsnake, Purdue Extension – FNR Video
A Moment in the Wild: Eastern Hognose, Purdue Extension – FNR Video
Ask An Expert, Purdue Extension – FNR Playlist

Rod Williams, Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on May 3rd, 2021 in Ponds, Wildlife | No Comments »

In this edition of A Moment in the Wild, Purdue Extension wildlife specialist Nick Burgmeier talks about ephemeral wetlands, also known as vernal or seasonal ponds. He discusses the formation of these wetlands, the species who live there, and the importance of keeping these areas for the future.

If you have any questions regarding wildlife, trees, forest management, wood products, natural resource planning or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Resources
A Moment in the Wild, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Improving Water Quality Around Your Farm, Video, Purdue Extension YouTube channel
Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program: Preparing for the Wildlife Challenge, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Pond and Wildlife Management, Purdue College of Agriculture
Help the Hellbender

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


Posted on May 2nd, 2021 in How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

DeerMyDNR Newsletter, Indiana Department of Forestry and Natural Resources (IDNR): As Hoosiers venture outdoors to enjoy the warm weather, people will encounter more wildlife. This also increases the likelihood you will come across a wild animal that may need help. If an animal shows any of the following signs and can’t effectively move or run away, it may be time to call a permitted wildlife rehabilitator:

• Bleeding or clear signs of injuries such as bruises, cuts, punctures, or broken bones
• Looks thin, weak, cold or soaking wet
• Signs of diarrhea
• Flies, fly eggs, maggots, ticks, lice, or fleas have infested the animal

Please note that the Indiana DNR does not provide services for injured or orphaned wildlife. DNR relies on permitted wildlife rehabilitators to assist with these situations.

Resources
Orphaned & Injured Animals, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR)
Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator List, IDNR
Injured Wildlife and What to Do, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Wild Animals Are Greeting New Arrivals Across the State, MyDNR, Got Nature? Blog
Help Us Keep Wildlife Wild, Got Nature? Blog
Wildlife, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel

Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)


Posted on April 30th, 2021 in How To, Publication, Wildlife | No Comments »

FNR-616-CoverMany landowners are interested in enhancing their property for wildlife. An important first step in that process is creating a plan. As the adage goes, “failing to plan, is planning to fail.” Just as you would have a blueprint if you were building a house or a map if you were starting a road trip, the same is true when you are managing habitat for wildlife on your land.

Landowners can tailor a wildlife habitat management plan to their own personal goals for their property. Maybe a hunter wants to increase the population of upland birds on their property, or a bird-watcher would like to improve the overall diversity of songbirds in their woodlands. Management plans help turn these goals into reality.

This 12 page publication titled Creating a Wildlife Habitat Management Plan for Landowners is packed with photos, resources and suggestions to help meet your goals.

View other wildlife habitat management publications and video resources as you place keywords in the search field located on The Education Store website.

Resources
A Template for Your Wildlife Habitat Management Plan, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Managing Your Woods for White-Tailed Deer, The Education Store
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel
A Woodland Management Moment, Purdue Extension – FNR playlist
Wildlife Habitat Hint, Purdue Extension – FNR playlist
Ask an Expert: Wildlife Food Plots, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel

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


Posted on April 28th, 2021 in Wildlife | No Comments »

Join Rod Williams, Purdue FNR Professor of Wildlife Science, Jason Hoverman, Purdue FNR Professor of Invertebrate Ecology, and Michael Lannoo, Indiana University School of Medicine – Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology, to learn interesting facts about frogs and toads, their natural history, research about the threats they face, and what can you do to help these species.

If you have any questions regarding wildlife, trees, forest management, wood products, natural resource planning or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Resources
Mythbusters, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Frogs and Toads of Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Appreciating Reptiles and Amphibians in Nature, The Education Store
Forestry Management for Reptiles and Amphibians: A Technical Guide for the Midwest, The Education Store
The Nature of Teaching, Unit 3: Reptiles, Amphibians, and the Scientific Method, The Education Store
Ecotoxicology and Environmental Health, The Education Store
Disease Ecology, The Education Store
Okoboji Wetlands: A Lesson in Natural History, 1996, University of Iowa Press
Status and Conservation of Midwestern Amphibians, 1998
Amphibian Declines, 2005, University of California Press
Malformed Frogs: The Collapse of Aquatic Ecosystems, 2008
Leopold’s Shack and Ricketts’s Lab: The Emergence of Environmentalism, 2010
The Iowa Lakeside Laboratory: A Century of Discovering the Nature of Nature, 2012
North American Amphibians: Distribution and Diversity, 2014
This Land is Your Land: The Story of Field Biology in America, 2018, The University of Chicago Press
The Call of the Crawfish Frog, 2020
AmphibiaWeb
Indiana Herp atlas
Amphibian Ecology and Conservation
Handbook of Larval Amphibians of the United States and Canada, Cornell Press

Rod Williams, Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Jason Hoverman, Professor of Vertebrate Ecology
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on April 15th, 2021 in Forestry, How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

The spring of 2021 will bring the emergence of Cicada Brood X, a 17-year periodical cicada. These cicadas will number in the billions and will emerge across 15 states, including Indiana.

With billions of cicadas emerging in a short period, what does that mean for wildlife? If you are a species that eat insects or one that gets eaten by a species that eat insects, this brood emergence could be a blessing in disguise.

The reasons why this cicada eruption may be a benefit to wildlife vary. But they boil down to a few primary explanations. One fairly obvious cause and some more obscure.

cicadaBroodStaticMap

This map from the US Forest Service shows where the cicada Brood X (yellow) will occur this spring. Source: USFS

All you can eat cicada buffet
The most obvious way the cicada emergence may impact wildlife is by providing an all-you-can-eat cicada buffet. If you are a wildlife species that eats insects, this can be a good thing. Research, The Occurrence and Significance of Anomalous Reproductive Activities in Two North American Non-Parasitic Cuckoos Coccyzue SPP, from southern Indiana reported that some songbird species have more nests, larger clutches, and earlier breeding due to this superabundant food. And in a study, Population Responses of Peromyscus leucopus and Blarina brevicauda to Emergence of Periodical Cicadas, in west-central Indiana, short-tailed shrew populations increased fourfold during the year of cicada emergence.

Eat this, not that
Having access to this endless supply of cicadas also impacts wildlife populations for two less obvious reasons. These have to do with two main concepts; alternative food/prey and predator satiation.

In years of cicada emergence, many animals switch their diet to take advantage of this superabundant food; hence they have plenty of alternative food or prey. In one Indiana study, Food Habits of Mammals During an Emergence of 17-year Cicadas, raccoon diets consisted of 51% cicadas during the cicada emergence.

Access to this superabundant food source also means many animals may fill up on cicadas and consume fewer alternative foods. This is the idea of predator satiation. Predators may be so full (satiated) from cicadas; they spend less time and effort looking for alternative foods, such as bird eggs, leading to increased nest survival and productivity for many bird species.

These concepts and the abundance of food provided by cicadas often work in concert to impact many wildlife species. This can result in short-term increases in population or nest or brood survival in some species. Here are a few examples of how cicadas can impact wildlife.

Turkey

Wild turkeys are one of the species that can benefit from a cicada emergence. Photo credit: USFWS

Wild turkeys; more poults and higher harvest
One example of how the 17-year cicada emergence can impact wildlife relates to wild turkeys. During the last emergence in Indiana in Wild Turkey Brood Production – Summer 2005, turkey productivity (poults/hen) increased an estimated 83% compared to 2003 and was 52% higher than the average productivity from 1993-2020. According to Indiana DNR Wild Turkey Biologist Steve Backs, this increase was related to 2 major factors; good weather during nesting and brooding season and an abundance of cicadas.

“Turkey production goes up in a cicada year because both poults and hens benefit from the availability of the abundant invertebrate food, spend less time feeding, and have less exposure to predation. Potential nest, egg, and poult predators are also pre-occupied or distracted by feeding on emerging cicada larva (alternative prey),” said Backs.

This increase in turkey production may also lead to more turkeys gobbling and more turkeys harvested in the following years. If we look at turkey gobbling, Spring Wild Turkey Gobbling Counts, 2019, and harvest data Spring Wild Turkey Harvest Results – 2020, from Indiana, there was a spike in turkey gobbling and harvest two years (2006) after the 2004 17-year cicada emergence.

TurkeyGobbleGraphPicture

Roadside turkey gobbling indices from Indiana DNR annual surveys show an increase in gobbling activity in 2006. Source: Indiana DNR Spring Wild Turkey Gobbling Counts, 2020

According to Backs, “Increased turkey production during the cicada event year is subsequently manifested in the turkey gobbling counts and harvests two years later. Two-year-old gobblers are the most active or vocal gobblers, they are also the most vulnerable to harvest, and the proportion of 2-yr-olds in the population is a principal driver of our spring turkey harvests.”

Turkeybumpchart2006

Indiana spring turkey harvest from 1995-2020 showing an increased harvest in 2006. Source: Steve Backs, Wild Turkey Biologist, Indiana DNR

Cicadas are for the birds
Beyond just turkeys, the cicada emergence may also be beneficial to many songbird species. In one study, The Effects of a Periodic Cicada Emergence on Forest Birds and the Ecology of Cerulean Warblers, at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Indiana, nest survival for several songbird species increased during the 2004 17-year cicada emergence. This increase was likely due to the birds having an abundance of food and less pressure from nest predators. However, nest success declined the following year, indicating the cicada emergence’s benefits may be short-lived.

In another study, Effects of Periodical Cicada Emergences on Abundance and Synchrony of Avian Populations, from the US Forest Service, that looked at regional songbird populations, some songbird species increased only during the year of cicada emergence (e.g., yellow-billed cuckoo). Other species’ populations increased 1-3 years after cicada emergence (e.g., red-headed woodpecker and blue jay). And some species populations didn’t change (e.g., red-eyed vireos). These changes are likely related to increased food abundance and increased nest and brood survival in these bird species.

Ephemeral pulse
While some wildlife may benefit from the 17-year cicada emergence, just like the emergence itself, the impacts are often short-lived. The change in population size or nest or brood survival may only last for 1-3 years following the emergence.

And in some cases, the cicada emergence may lead to some unforeseen consequences. For example, predator populations may increase following a cicada emergence which may decrease survival or productivity for some species for 1-3 years following emergence.

We won’t know what wildlife benefits the 2021 Brood X cicadas will bring until after they emerge. But when it comes to turkeys, Backs recommends not to count your turkey eggs before they hatch. “No matter how many extra poults hatch because of the cicadas and how much potential cicada food is out there, 1-2 big rain events in early June can significantly reduce turkey poult survival, which may negate the positive impact of the cicada emergence.”

How can you help the Indiana DNR track turkey productivity?
With the cicada hatch this year, there may be a change in turkey productivity. But can that be tracked? The answer is yes, but only with your help. Each summer, the Indiana DNR asks for volunteers to track turkey productivity by reporting turkey hens and broods seen in July and August. More information can found by visiting the Indiana DNR’s Turkey Brood Reporting Website. You can also find out more about how you can help by visiting this Got Nature? Blog Post – Four Simple Steps, Help Indiana DNR Estimate Wild Turkey Populations.

Resources
17 Ways to Make the Most of the Cicada Entomology, Purdue College of Agriculture News
Periodical Cicada in Indiana, Purdue Extension – Entomology
The Year of Cicada, Purdue Extension
Purdue Landscape Report: 17-year Cicadas are coming, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Four Simple Steps, Help Indiana DNR Estimate Wild Turkey Populations, Got Nature? Blog
Cicada, Youth and Entomology, Purdue Extension
Indiana DNR Wildlife and Fisheries Reports

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


Got Nature?

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