Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
The coal-burning power plants in our region contribute greenhouse gases that cannot help cool an atmosphere that is undoubtedly warming by whatever means, natural or human-induced. Additionally, the coal-burning power plants are introducing high levels of mercury into our environment. The desire to build additional coal-burning power plants in our state is driven by the increasing demand for electricity.
As citizens of South Carolina and stewards of our environment, we need to acknowledge our part in this issue and take ACTION to reduce our negative role. There is no shortage of webpages or resources, both governmental and private, that provide information to help consumers reduce their energy consumption. Many of the common-sense suggestions can be easily and painlessly instituted. Additionally, citizens need to contact their local, state and federal representatives as well as their power provider and demand that technological upgrades be applied to reduce the harmful emissions from coal-burning plants. These demands should be made with the understanding that the upgrades will come at a cost to the consumer. However, any increase in the cost of electricity per household can be offset by a reduction in consumption and we all benefit! Even inaction has a cost (poisoned waterways, poisoned fish, poisoned family members, increased health care, etc.) and it is infinitely less pleasant than a few pennies per kilowatt/hour.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The goals of the GLOBE program are:
• To enhance the environmental awareness of individuals worldwide.
• To increase scientific understanding of the Earth.
• To improve student achievement in science and mathematics.
Many of the GLOBE measurement are part of ongoing scientific investigations selected through the National Science Foundation’s peer review process. Scientists have developed measurement protocols and instrument specifications to ensure that the data collected by the students are accurate and consistent. Investigation areas in which students collect data are: atmosphere and phenology, hydrology, land cover/biology, and soil. Students use global positioning system (GPS) receivers to accurately locate all sites where they collect data. There are several measurements conducted under each investigative area. Many scientists and their teams continue to review GLOBE data reports in the archive for use in their research as well as for quality control purposes.
GLOBE is an interagency program funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), supported by the U.S. Department of State.
As a U.S. GLOBE Partner, Audubon at Francis Beidler Forest will recruit teachers into the program, provide training for these teachers so that they may teach students to carry out GLOBE investigations and data collection in a consistent and accurate manner agreed upon by the international environmental science community, and help provide teachers and their schools the support and guidance they need to ensure the sustainability and growth of the program in the years to come.
We will do this by implementing GLOBE protocols during school field trips to Beidler Forest, during summer camps, and during teacher-training workshops hosted here in the swamp.
For more information on the GLOBE Program go to http://www.globe.gov/
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
OCTOBER 26TH AND 27TH
Walks begin every 15 mins. from 7 – 9 pm
Cost - $10/adult, $6/child (6-18)
Get BOO’D on the boardwalk leading deep into Four Holes Swamp, while learning what it’s like to be a swamp critter living in the dark of night.
Reptile DEMO* Weenie roast/S’mores * Gift Shopping while you wait.
Space is limited, so please…
CALL TO REGISTER!! 843-462-2150
Friday, October 19, 2007
A. Flowering Dogwood (Cronus florida) is a fast-growing, short-live tree whose white petal-like bracts contrast the many colors of the non-native azaleas blooming around town in the spring. According to Richard Porcher's Wildflowers of the Lowcountry and Lower Pee Dee, "The berries are an important source of food for wildlife but are poisonous to humans. The hardness of its wood makes it excellent for shuttles in the textile industry; also used for mauls, mallets, wedges and pulleys. The powdered bark of the dogwood was one of the most important sources of drug during the Civil War. The drug was used as a substitute for quinine that became unavailable due to the blockade by Union forces. The twigs of the dogwood have been used as chewsticks to clean teeth."
B. Mock or Indian Strawberry (Duchesnea indica) is a low, trailing, perennial herb whose fruit is not harmful to humans but is tasteless. It is not a true strawberry and "according to some sources (e.g., Strausbaugh and Core, 1977) this species was introduced from India." (Porcher)
C. Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens) is a low, trailing perennial whose berries are edible though bland. "Native American women made a tea from the leaves as an aid in childbirth." (Porcher)
D. Strawberry Bush or Heart's-a-bustin (Euonymus americanus) is common throughout South Carolina and found in a variety of forests. "The seeds are a strong laxative, and the fruits are toxic, causing coma if consumed in sufficient quantity." (Porcher)
Answers: A3, B, C2, D1
Thursday, October 18, 2007
What is it about some middle school children that compels them to throw their nametag into a hollow stump as James did, or write their name on the sink cover like Miss Green did, or carve their name into the boardwalk like Lulu did, or transfer wrappers from their candy directly to the swamp?
We don't have any answers...only questions. However, when you work at a place like this, it is difficult to win the sympathy of others when trashy individuals do not respect or appreciate the uniqueness of this unmolested, old-growth swamp. We can always take a walk beneath its canopy, enjoy the peace, and wonder at the diversity of life within reach of the boardwalk.
Today's example deals with trash too. This decomposer is Laetiporus sulphureus, which is edible, also goes by the name "Chicken of the Woods." We assume it tastes like alligator...er chicken. The cooked young rosettes or the white margins of older specimens apparently have a mild taste and a texture like cooked chicken. Again, we'll defer to the experts as we enjoy the livers with which we were born.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
The list of the oldest trees in eastern North America can be found here. The list of the oldest Bald Cypress trees can be found here. Although the University of Arkansas Tree-ring Lab data only shows the oldest trees for each site, we have the notes taken during the actual coring at the Francis Beidler Forest. There are several trees directly off the boardwalk that are over 1000 years old.
Old-growth...there's nothing better!
Friday, October 12, 2007
With the help of the current seasonal naturalists, we intend to catalog all the fungi that we can find. It will take some work because there is a whole lot of fungus amongus! We're thankful for the fungi because without it we would be buried beneath leaves, limbs, trees, and other organic material that accumulates daily on the forest floor. Fungi are part of the decomposer army that helps recycle nutrients back into the forest food web.
The images show a sample of the cataloging effort. The "toadstool" shows a Southern Toad (Bufo terrestris) next to the edible Russula xerampelina, which seems to be a favorite food for rodents, including squirrels. The blue fungi is Milky Indigo (Lactarius indigo), which is also listed as edible. Note to staff: Send memo to George Carlin regarding his statement that there is no blue food.
We would need the help of an expert mycologist with double five-star qualifications before we dine on any swamp fungus. The final specimen would never tempt us, but it sure attracted a crowd of insects. It smelled like a cross between a rotting carcass and something worse. We haven't identified it yet, but we quickly came up with several unprintable common name suggestions.
Photos by: Nicomas Dollar Red Horse
Thursday, October 11, 2007
The WRP easement will restore and permanently protect over 6,000 acres in the forest thereby adding an additional layer of protection to the Audubon property. The WRP plan will restore the natural hydrology to original pre-development conditions, before the construction of logging roads altered it. The large high-fill roads altered the hydrology by forming what amounted to dikes across sections of the floodplain. These roads were constructed to get at the valuable cypress trees deep in the swamp and were formed by piling up the spoil collected from the swamp floor alongside the road's path. Alligators now use those road-side, water-holding depressions when water is scarce elsewhere in the swamp.
Monday, October 08, 2007
With the poles already in the ground and bolted together during previous visits, the mission of the day was to get as much of the roof installed. As the 11-hour timeline of images below shows, that involved cutting the poles to size, hoisting and securing the nine trusses, attaching the plywood roof, attaching the tar paper, and scheduling the shingle installation (ran out of daylight) for this Wednesday.
8:25 am - workers and supplies arrive; poles already in ground
9:10 am - 3 trusses (ends & middle) hung upsidedown; (l to r) Dick Watkins in orange hat, Collis Boyd on ladder, Mike Dawson near ladder, Dan Tufford [Pres. of Columbia Audubon], Steve Dennis, Nick Dawson, and Ted on blue ladder; Alice pruning around driveway and parking area.
12:45 pm - 3 trusses upright
6:20 pm - roof complete along with drip edge
6:45 pm - tar paper being completed on second side
7:30 pm - the final four workers heading home to Summerville
Friday, October 05, 2007
From E. O. Wilson's The Diversity of Life (p. 210), "Entomologists are often asked whether insects will take over if the human race extinguishes itself. This is an example of a wrong question inviting an irrelevant answer: insects have already taken over." Wilson explains further, "Today about a billion billion insects are alive at any given time around the world. At nearest order of magnitude, this amounts to a trillion kiograms of living matter, somewhat more than the weight of humanity. Their species, most of which lack a scientific name, number into the millions." Finally (p. 211), "Insects can thrive without us, but we and most other land orgainisms would perish without them." Of all the known living organisms, insects make up over half of the total, while consisting of almost 75% of the animals known to science.
The setup used by Dr. Zardus and his students consisted of a bright mercury-vapor lamp in conjunction with a ultraviolet flourescent tube to attract the insects, which could then be captured using a net or picked off the white sheet hung between two trees.
Additionally, students used flashlights to hunt for other invertebrates (spiders, slugs, snail, millipedes) as we walked around the boardwalk allowing time for the light/sheet setup to attract other specimens.
During the walk, we encountered some vertebrates also. A sharp-eyed cadet spotted a 10"-long juvenile Greenish Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta x quadrivittata) on a tree near the boardwalk. Later, a 3'-foot Greenish Rat Snake was spotted along one of the boardwalk midrails. As darkness fell, a Barred Owl's (Strix varia) call reverberated through the swamp as we approached its perch 20 feet up a Tupelo Gum (Nyssa aquatica).
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
While searching through the aforementioned folder for images to use in a Master Naturalist course, we came across images of insects visiting the blossoms on a Swamp Dogwood (Cornus stricta) to go along with the images we had of insects visiting the blossoms on a Button-bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) from earlier this year. The blossoms of both plants appear to be irresistible to a variety of insects. During the few minutes that we were by the Button-bush, at least three different insect species (see images) visited the blossoms. Apparently, the Swamp Dogwood blossoms smell even sweeter as two species of beetles, including a pair from the Hairy Flower Scarabs ( Genus: Trichiotinus), took the opportunity to mate. If you look closely at the image with the single large beetle, you can see at least five other insects on the blossom.