Got Nature? Blog

Pickett Park, Purdue, trees, sitting bench and bushesThe 2018 Professional Landscape Management School is taking place from January 25th to January 26th at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Indiana. This training can help prepare for a variety of employment opportunities in the landscape industry.

Sessions include:
Disasters Affecting Indiana: What it Means to Landscape Management
Scratch That: Common Landscape Plants You May Be Allergic To
Spruce Needle Cast and Decline
Wilt, Blight, Scorch, Canker: Oak Disease
Perennial Problems and Annual Disappointments
Combating Invasive Plants
Impacts of Wire Basket Removal on Tree Survival and Stability
The Dicamba Brouhaha and What it Means to the Landscape Industry
Armillaria and Other Root Rot Diseases
Soil Compaction
Digital Help for Turf Managers
Developing a Winter Equipment Maintenance Program

Continuing Certification Hours (CCH) have been requested for Indiana Pesticide Applicators for categories 2, 3a, 3b, 5, 6, and Registered Technician. Continuing Education Units (CEU) have been requested for Kentucky Pesticide Applicators and for the International Soc. of Arboiculture Certified Arborists.

A CEU is a unit of credit equal to ten hours of participation in an accredited program designed for professionals with certificates or licenses to practice various professions. The 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.

Registration: take advantage of this opportunity and register by using the form provided, 2018 Professional Landscape Management School (pdf .011mb)

More Information: 2018 Professional Landscape Management School Brochure (pdf .406mb)
2018 Professional Landscape Management School Announcement, Purdue Extension

Resources:
Office of Indiana State Chemist
Purdue Pesticide Programs, Purdue Agriculture
The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center

Larry Caplan, Extension Educator
Purdue Extension-Vanderbrugh County

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on December 13th, 2017 in Forestry, How To, Natural Resource Planning, Wildlife | No Comments »

FNR-551-w CoverOutbreaks of bovine tuberculosis have occurred sporadically around the world since the 1900s. In Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild White-tailed Deer, Bovine tuberculosis transmission, hosts, current status in Indiana, clinical signs, effects on deer populations, effect on white-tailed deer meat, management, and monitoring is extensively covered. If you’re a hunter or cattle producer, the information provided within this free publication would greatly benefit you!

Resources:
Bovine Tuberculosis in wild white-tailed deer, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Indiana DNR Needs More Submissions from Deer Hunters for Disease Testing, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR

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

 


It’s that time of year again. The desperate rush to find the ‘perfect’ tree for your annual year-end celebration is very real. Unfortunately, you chose a tree last year that died within a month and was disappointingly dull. This year, you are going to do your homework to find the best tree available.

Home preparations:

  1. Tree Location: Select an area out of direct sunlight and away from the heating vents in your house for the tree. Excessive sunlight and heat will cause your tree to fade and dry out more quickly.
  2. Ceiling height: Measure your ceiling heights and take into account the height of your tree stand and the tree topper or you’ll have to make excessive cuts in your tree to adjust for the differences. Write down these measurements.
  3. Tree shape: Visualize the shape of the tree that best fits the space you have available (tall and thin, short and broad) and keep that in mind. Certain tree types are more expensive therefore knowing your budget will help ensure you purchase the perfect tree for your household. Measure the width of the space and write down these measurements.
  4. Tree stand: Anticipate needing to support your tree stand and acquire a piece of plywood that you can bolt the stand to keep it level. Measure the inside diameter of the tree stand and write down the measurements.

Choosing a tree farm:

  1. Buy from a local farm if at all possible. These trees are bred to be hardy and to remain fresh longer.

Bring to the farm:

  1. List of required measurements for your perfect tree.
  2. A large unbreakable ornament to view branch spacing (ensures your ornaments will hang straight).
  3. Measuring tape to measure prospective trees before getting them home.
  4. Thick gloves for handling your tree as the needles may be sharp and the bark rough on your bare hands.
  5. An old blanket that can cover the truck bed or car roof to protect it from sap.
  6. Rope, twine, bungee cords, and twist ties to secure the tree to the car if these items are not provided by the tree farm.

Species selection:

  1. Each tree species is different so careful selection is important: Soft needle species (pines, firs) are best for homes with small children while hard needle species (spruce) are the adult choice.
  2. Firs often have shorter needles, strong stems, and well-spaced branches making it easier to hang lights and decorations.Needle Charcteristics Table*click image to enlarge

At the tree farm:

  1. Check freshness: Bend a needle with your fingers (firs snap, pines ben).
  2. Gentle run your hand over the branch from inside to out or if possible, gently bounce the tree on the cut end. If a few interior needles come off, it is probably fresh; if many exterior needles fall off, choose a different tree.
  3. Remove and crush a few needles in your hand, if there is little scent choose another tree.
  4. The tree should have even coloration 360° around and needles should be fresh (shiny, green) and not old (dried out, brown).

When you and your tree get home:

  1. Protect Your Floor– Place a plastic or other waterproof covering on the floor where your tree will stand so you don’t ruin the carpet or get watermarks on hardwood flooring.
  2. Put down waterproof coverings or plastic sheeting under the tree skirt to prevent ruining the carpet or hardwood floor if water is spilled.
  3. Make a fresh cut at the base of the tree, take off ½” from the base so that tree can absorb more water (slows needle drop and helps maintain tree color) and immediately place the tree upright in the stand with lukewarm water.
  4. Trim any low-hanging branches that hit furniture or are too thin for ornaments parallel to the floor. Keep them in a bucket of water before using as decorations.
  5. Secure your tree to the wall or heavy furniture if you have pets and children that could knock it over or heavy ornaments that may sway the tree.
  6. Ensure that your tree stand always has water in it.
  7. Take a photo of your tree when set up and secured as a reminder for the following year.

After the holidays:

  1. Recycle your tree through your local waste management company.
  2. Trees can also be chipped for mulch. Never burn your tree because of the likelihood of starting a fire.

Examples of holiday tree types:

Examples of holiday tree types*click image to enlarge

Resources:
Which Real Indiana Christmas Tree Will You Select? – Got Nature?, Purdue FNR-Extension
Living Christmas Trees For The Holidays and Beyond, The Education Store
Tips for First-Time Buyers of Real Christmas Trees, The Education Store
Growing Christmas Trees, The Education Store

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


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

The Great Clearcut Controversy, FNR-549-WTeachers, parents and outdoor enthusiasts will want to download this free new Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources publication, The Great Clearcut Controversy.  In this inquiry-based teaching unit, students use real scientific data to investigate how a bird community and individual forest animals respond to a clearcut timber harvest. In this investigation, students: use scientific inquiry to gain knowledge and answer questions; apply that knowledge to the engineering design process; and design a viable management solution given the constraints and tradeoffs they discover. All materials used in the three lessons are easily accessible and free.

Resources:
The Nature of Teaching, Purdue Extension
Got Nature? Podcast, Forestry and Natural Resources
Benefits of Connecting with Nature, The Education Store

Skye M Greenler, Graduate Research Assistant
Purdue University. Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Mike Saunders, Associate Professor of Ecology and Natural Resources
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Hellbender Release

Hellbender release – Purdue biologists help a release attendee place a Hellbender in its temporary holding pen. Photo credit: Marci Skelton.

HellbenderThe Hellbender salamander is North America’s largest salamander. It is fully aquatic, living its entire life in rivers and streams throughout the midwest and southeast. Hellbenders require cool, clean rivers and streams with rocky substrates to thrive and reproduce. Unfortunately, over the past several decades the species has declined or disappeared from many of these areas. In Indiana, the species can only be found in the Blue River in south-central Indiana where there remains only a very small, geriatric population incapable of sustaining itself. In order to save the species in the state, Purdue University and its many partners have joined together to reverse the decline.

On November 1st and 2nd of this year, Purdue FNR’s Williams lab released 80, 4-year old Hellbenders into a site chosen as the best Hellbender habitat in the Blue River. Members from Purdue University, Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden, Columbian Park Zoo, Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Indianapolis Zoo, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Duke Energy, and more all helped in the task of releasing the individuals into their new homes.

The chosen Hellbenders had been raised in captivity at Purdue University. Unfortunately, captive-raised animals are often times not equipped with the necessary set of skills to survive life outside of an aquarium. However, these were not all aquarium-raised individuals more akin to pets than wild animals. Forty of the individuals were raised in specially designed tanks called raceways that incorporated water flow to mimic that found in a natural river setting. The remaining forty individuals were raised in standard, low-flow conditions. The idea behind raising the animals in these differing conditions is to compare whether or not the individuals raised in conditions that are more natural (i.e., higher flow rates) will be better able to survive the varying water levels they will encounter in the wild than those that are raised without flow.

In order to document success, all 80 Hellbenders were implanted with radio-transmitters. These transmitters emit a signal that allows biologists to detect them with antennae and locate the exact location an individual is hiding. For the next six to ten months, through rain, snow, and shine, Purdue biologists will follow these animals to document their behavior, habitat preferences, and whether or not they survive life in the wild.

Transporting Hellbenders

Transporting Hellbenders – Release attendees work together to transport Hellbenders across the river to be processed before release. Photo credit: Marci Skelton.

The outcomes of this study could help solve two major problems facing Hellbender conservation. The first is that the addition of Hellbenders into the system could help spur natural reproduction and help to start stabilizing the system. This small step is important towards our eventual goal of repopulating the Blue River and other former Hellbender streams. The second problem this study will hopefully address is the issue of poor survival of captive-reared animals when released into the wild. If we find that raising animals in more natural conditions improves survival over those raised in the more common no-flow conditions, this technique could be easily adopted at captive-rearing facilities throughout the nation and help increase the overall success of Hellbender conservation in the United States.

For more information, please visit HelptheHellbender.org.

Resources:
Hellbender ID, The Education Store
HelptheHellbender.org, Purdue Extension
Help the Hellbender: North America’s Giant Salamander, The Education Store
How Our Zoos Help Hellbenders, The Education Store

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


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


Posted on November 13th, 2017 in Forestry, Gardening, Natural Resource Planning | No Comments »

A recent study in Costa Rica by scientists at Princeton University-Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the University of Pennsylvania-Ecology & Biodiversity showed how agricultural waste could help successfully remediate barren tropical forest sites.

Orange Close Ups

A deal between an orange juice manufacturer and advisors for the Área de Conservación Guanacaste was struck that allowed 1,000 truckloads (12 metric tons) of orange peels and pulp to be unloaded on nutrient-poor soils dominated by invasive grass within one of Costa Rica’s national parks in the mid-1990s. The land was left to rest for sixteen years. Now, the forest has begun the lengthy process of regeneration and some secondary forest regeneration has been observed. The peels were spread over 3 ha (7 acres) and scientists measured an increase of 176% in aboveground biomass. The distinction between the orange-fertilized land and the unfertilized areas was pronounced. Orange-fertilized areas demonstrated more tree biomass and species diversity and richer soils than their counterparts.

Orange field change

To enlarge photo click on image. Photo credits: Tim Treuer, Daniel Janzen, Winnie Hallwachs, & Leland Werden.

This research shows what could happen when the environmental community and industry find a medium where they can work together to come up with problem solutions. Perhaps, in future, similar uses can be found for agricultural excess here in the United States.

References:
Treuer TLH, Choi JJ, Janzen DH, Hallwachs W, Peréz-Aviles D, Dobson AP, Powers JS, Shanks LC, Werden LK, Wilcove DS. (2017) Low-cost agricultural waste accelerates tropical forest regeneration. Restoration Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/rec.12565

Resources:
Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association
Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources workshops
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center

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


The bright, crisp colors of summer begin to fade with the arrival of fall, revealing a riot of new colors on our foliage. These colors range from vivid reds and golds to deep oranges and browns before finally falling from the trees. For decades, travelers have chased the rainbow of colors across the United States in hopes of taking breathtaking photos or just for personal gratification.

Weather conditions throughout the year contribute to autumn colors but the primary driving factor is day length. Numerous warm, sunny days and cool evenings seem to be the harbingers of the best fall colors. Idyllic weather conditions allow trees to produce significantly higher volumes of sugar in leaves and the cool nights slow sugar export.

Surplus leaf sugars stimulate anthocyanin (red and purple) pigment production. Carotenoid (yellow and gold) pigment levels tend to remain steady throughout the growing season though masked by chlorophyll until autumn. Chlorophyll In addition to sunshine, soil moisture also contributes to leaf color. Predictors of vibrant fall color: spring (warm, wet); summer (warm/hot with sufficient rain); fall (warm sunny days, cool nights). Delayed spring showers or an extended summer drought can delay fall color for weeks.

2017 GotNature Fall Color Fig 1a

Color change is initiated in the northeastern United States before continuing southward and can be species-specific. Aspens and hickories (primarily bronze, gold, and yellow), dogwood and oaks (ranging from deep red to dark brown), and maples (most often bright red to yellow-orange) represent the wide range of hues. In contrast, some species (elm) rarely exhibit any fall color. The map below, currently pinpointed to November 5th, can be used to visualize progression of fall color nationwide. For details of fall color across the nation, a fall color hotline 1-800-354-4595 has been created by the Forest Service to give travelers updates.

Fall foliage prediction act, smokymountains.com.

References:
Figure 1- Fall leaf photo
Figure 2- Fall foliage prediction act, smokymountains.com

Resources:
Autumn Leaves – what influences the color? – Got Nature?, Purdue FNR-Extension
Why Leaves Change Color, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Why Leaves Change Color, USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area

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


Posted on October 6th, 2017 in Alert, Forestry, Safety, Timber Marketing, Woodlands | No Comments »

Indiana DNR IndentityThe Indiana DNR bovine tuberculosis surveillance team earned the Excellence in Conservation Award from the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Agency for their bovine tuberculosis surveillance and monitoring efforts in 2016.

In 2016, a wild white-tailed deer tested positive for bovine tuberculosis in Franklin County, Indiana. Bovine tuberculosis is a bacterial disease most often found in cattle and captive cervids, but can be transmitted to wild white-tailed deer and other wild mammals. The DNR tested more than 2,000 hunter-harvested deer in 2016 and did not find another bovine tuberculosis positive deer. For more information on bovine tuberculosis in wild white-tailed deer check out our Purdue Extension-FNR webpage: Bovine Tb in wild white-tailed deer: background and frequently asked questions.

Resources:
Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Bovine Tb resources
Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) Bovine Tb resources
USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Bovine Tb disease information
Michigan DNR Bovine Tb information
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Bovine Tb resources
Center for Disease Control Bovine Tb factsheet

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


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