At the holidays we feel the joy …
If you’re not into Black Friday shopping, you might like to join fellow naturalists in the Queen Quest Blitz. Hosted by the Queen Quest Project, which is a joint effort between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Boosters Team and University of Minnesota’s Bee Squad, citizen scientists will search for bumble bee queens on Black Friday. So gather your friends and family and get your team together so you can participate in this fun, yet worthwhile project. Sign up to join Queen Quest!
Protocol — once you’ve registered, get your step-by-step instructions on how to search for the queen bees.
INaturalist — a place to post your observations using an app
Queen Bee Habitat
Bumble bee queens are found in both rural and urban landscapes. According to a recent study by Neal M Williams etal entitled Fantastic bees and where to find them: locating the cryptic overwintering queens of a western bumble bee. “Our data suggest that overwintering and foraging habitats are likely distinct, and queens’ selection of overwintering sites may be shaped by environmental stressors of the year. In our study area, queens overwintered in litter beneath cypress trees, where no floral resources exist.”
Although they studied other areas, they found the most queens under cypress and pine trees. Queen hibernacula* were found short distances from the trunks and shaded from the direct sun. The researchers concluded that the needle litter beneath pines likely buffers against both hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. That, along with the overhead branches, likely moderates temperature and moisture fluctuations.
Another reason bumble bee queens may seek out nest sites under pines is the rodent population. I was surprised to learn that rodents prey on bumble bees. Rodents do not construct their burrows under pines, preferring grassy meadows and shrubby locations.
Although this study took place in California, because we here in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest have such an abundance and variety of pine trees, I suspect this is where we might find bumblebees overwintering as well.
*hibernacula are chambers or pockets within soil where animals overwinter.
Thank you Heather Holm for making me aware of this Black Friday event.
The Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame (WCHF) has announced the selection of three conservation leaders for induction into the Hall of Fame on April 25, 2019 at the SentryWorld (the Atrium) in Stevens Point. The 2020 Induction Ceremony will celebrate our 100th inductee into the Hall of Fame.
The Inductees – Stephen Born, Jens Jensen and Stanley Temple
The inductees this year will be Stephen Born, a well-known UW-Madison professor who specialized in environmental planning and worked on almost every aspect of water management, from the Great Lakes to inland lakes to groundwater and rivers and watersheds, and is an expert fly fisher; Jens Jensen, a landscape architect who developed many of our Midwest parks, focusing on indigenous plants and ecological processes of this region’s prairie landscape, and also founded the “school of the soil” in Door County known as The Clearing; and Stanley Temple, a UW-Madison professor who worked in the areas of habitat fragmentation, invasive species and other factors leading to species declines, and now serves as a Senior Fellow with The Leopold Foundation, researching, writing and speaking about Leopold.
The Induction Ceremony
The public is invited to join us in the day’s events held at SentryWorld. SentryWorld is located at 601 Michigan Ave N, Stevens Point, Wisconsin
9:00AM Social Time & Coffee Reception
10:00AM Induction Ceremony
The Induction Ceremony and Coffee Reception are free. There will be a fee for the luncheon of $25.00. Reservations for lunch can be made online or by calling Schmeeckle Reserve at 715-346-4992.
Watch this blog post for more details during the next few weeks. Again, all activities are open to the public.
Inductee Biographical Summaries
Stephen Born’s impact on conservation in Wisconsin and beyond is so broad and varied it almost defies description, except to say he has been tireless in his work.
A resident of Wisconsin since 1969, he was a faculty member in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at UW-Madison for 36 years, a director of State planning and energy offices and a founder of non-governmental conservation organizations like the River Alliance of Wisconsin.
An intrepid angler, he is also co-author of “Wisconsin’s Trout Streams: The Anglers Guide,” a seminal work which focuses not only on where to fish, but also on stream ecology and the story of how these cold-water treasures were saved and restored.
His broad range of services included co-chairing the Waters of Wisconsin Initiative of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. He has served on national and State Trout Unlimited senior leadership boards, including presidency of Wisconsin Trout Unlimited. He was a chief advisor to former Governor Patrick Lucey on the decision not to dam the Kickapoo River in the 1970s, which lead to the creation of the 8,500-acre Kickapoo Reserve. He served on Gov. Tommy Thompson’s Blue Ribbon Stewardship Task Force. He also had key roles in development of policy on Wisconsin’s ground water and coastal resources.
These are but a few of his contributions to State and national conservation causes. Born is simply a force of nature when it comes to bringing people with differing views and ideologies together to forge unified and strong coalitions to protect Wisconsin’s natural resources. Since he continues to serve a number of non-profit groups as a board member or other volunteer, his resume is still under construction.
Danish born Jens Jensen was a landscape architect and a tireless advocate for conservation of our natural heritage. Aesthetics, in his work, always came second to protecting nature. Through his vocation and avocation, his aim was to bring people and nature together. Upon his death, the New York Times called him “dean of American landscape architecture.”
In 1913 Jensen initiated Friends of Our Native Landscape. There were chapters in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan with several hundred members, including Aldo Leopold. Jensen was a persistent proponent for national parks, forest preserves, state parks, state forests, scenic areas, county parks, and sanctuaries with notable successes in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Florida.
He was a strong proponent of urban planning and railed against urban sprawl, especially when it intruded on natural areas. He was instrumental in development of a plan for parks throughout Chicago and in establishing the Cook County Forest Preserve, a collection of dozens of wetlands, forests, and prairies, throughout greater Chicago. Jensen campaigned against urban sprawl along the southern Lake Michigan shoreline, leading to creation of Indiana Dunes National Park, contiguous with Indiana Dunes State Natural Area.
Jensen moved to Door County in Wisconsin in 1935, where he zealously continued his advocacy for protection of natural areas. He was a principal proponent of The Ridges Sanctuary, Cave Point county park, Whitefish Dunes state park, and Ellison Bay Bluff county park among others. One of Jensen’s many legacies is The Clearing, established on his Door County property in 1935 with the aim of immersing people in nature for “spiritual renewal.” Thousands have attended a short-course at The Clearing, now a non-profit school, where Jensen’s philosophy of working with nature is the pervasive theme.
Stanley Temple’s impact on Wisconsin’s natural resources has been wide. He has worked as a scientist, communicator and teacher. During his 32 years on the faculty of the UW-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, he worked on endangered species such as Peregrine Falcon, Trumpeter Swan and California Condor. His research on habitat fragmentation has helped manage areas such as the Baraboo Hills. Temple’swork has been instrumental in the areas of habitat fragmentation, invasive species and factors leading to species declines.
Now that he is re tired, he helps spread Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic as a Senior Fellow for the Aldo Leopold Foundation, researching, writing and speaking about Leopold. Using Leopold’s original botanical records and more recent surveys, Temple co-published new research on climate change impacts on plant phenology through the paper “Record-Breaking Early Flowering in the Eastern United States.” He brought the Passenger Pigeon alive to Wisconsinites with presentations and articles during the 100th anniversary of the passing of the pigeons in 2014, and he has advised organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, International Crane Foundation, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and Aldo Leopold Foundation.
Temple created and was the first editor of the peer-reviewed journal Bird Conservation published by Bird Conservation International, served as the editor of the Wisconsin ornithological journal The Passenger Pigeon published by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, and served as associate editor of the peer-reviewed scientific publication of the American Ornithological Society (AOS) The Auk and the scientific journal of the Ecological Society of America Ecological Applications.
Temple continues his life work today on behalf of Wisconsin’s natural resources. He is frequently cited as an expert not only on the State’s natural history, but as one who has worked to protect it.
Iowa State University initiated a program in 2003 which focuses on planting tallgrass native prairie strips in farm fields, benefiting soil, water and biodiversity. It is called STRIPS. The benefits determined so far can be found in their easy to read report Prairie Strips: Small Changes, Big Impacts.
The Science-based Trials of Row-crops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) program studies the effects of native tallgrass prairie on soil, water, and biodiversity on farms.
Strips of native prairie of varying sizes have been planted on experimental and commercial farms. The strips are often employed in concert with other regenerative agriculture techniques such as cover crops and no-till practices. (Regenerative agriculture seeks to capture carbon in soil and above-ground biomass to reduce greenhouse gas accumulation and support soil health, water quality and native wildlife.)
After several years of data collection, the STRIPS team found including even a small amount of native prairie on a farm substantially improves water quality and nutrient retention, reduces erosion, and generates other benefits.
For example, in farmed watersheds, the addition of only “10 percent prairie reduced sediment export by 95 %, phosphorus export by 90 %, and nitrogen export by nearly 85 % in surface runoff water when compared 100 percent row crop watersheds.”
Further, after seven years, “an average of 51 native plant species were found in prairie strips, compared to 13 species found within the row crop areas.” These native plants, of course, provide habitat for birds, small mammals, bees and butterflies, and other beneficial organisms that cycle nutrients, increase soil fertility, and provide pest control and pollination services. Fields with prairie strips host “twice as many birds and bird species than those with 100 percent row crops.” (Prairie Strips: Small Changes, Big Impacts)
There is one concern, however. The Xerces Society is concerned about the results from farmers who are integrating the STRIPS program, but still using agricultural chemicals in the surrounding row crops. These chemicals could potentially harm pollinators and other organisms attracted to the prairie strips. The Xerces Society is monitoring this concern.
A really good article about the STRIPS program can be found at Civil Eats.
Wouldn’t it be grand if farmers would begin to reverse the loss of native habitat and biodiversity which has resulted because of modern-day agricultural practices, by simply adding some prairie strips to their fields? ‘Practical and beautiful as well!
The information above was reprinted in part from the Native Plant Conservation Campaign with permission from Emily B Roberson, PhD.
Thanks also to Sharon Bochner who brought a similar article to my attention.