Spring and Birdhouses

Written by charlie   
Friday, 18 March 2016 19:49
In 3 short days, Spring, the season of vernal pools, skunk cabbage and birdhouses will be here! While tangentially about wetlands, the information found on sialis.org, a Connecticut based bluebird site, is a encyclopedia of bird lore, particularly about how to dissuade the invasive house sparrow and grackle from taking over your birdhouse. The site also has helpful information about the tree swallow, which catches all of its food on the wing, to the tune of 2,000 insects per night to feed its young, second only to the bat which is estimated to capture between 6,000 - 8,0000 per night. With the general anxiety about mosquitoes, and the Zita virus, its a good time to put up some swallow and bat houses to keep mosquito populations at bay.

Some other good resources:
FWS page on Invasives and Birdhouses
CT DEP page on Bluebirds

New Discoveries with Venus Fly Traps

Written by charlie   
Monday, 07 March 2016 16:16
One of the worlds most recognized plants, the Venus flytrap still amazes. It's carnivorous appetite, an adaptation to nutrient poor bog soil, is well known, but recently discovered was the plants ability to "count". To reduce false alarms, the flytraps sensory trigger hairs do not immediately fire when disturbed, but like any good predator, will wait until the hair is jiggled more than once, ensuring that a meal, and not a stray breeze, snaps the jaws closed. Considering the plant has been studies for centuries, its surprising that its common sense approach to minimizing false alarms hadn't been previously discovered.

Watch a video here

Long Island Sound Tidal Wetlands Loss Workshop Newsletter

Written by charlie   
Tuesday, 16 February 2016 01:12
I came across the Spring 2015 issue of Sound Update focuses on the topics that were discussed at the 2014 Long Island Sound Tidal Wetlands Loss Workshop on October 22-23, 2014 in Port Jefferson, NY.

The articles summarize the following workshops and related research on:
  • Topic 1: Wetland Submergence
  • Topic 2: Ecological Indicators of Wetland Change
  • Topic 3: Wetland Elevation Changes
  • Topic 4: Marsh Migration
  • Topic 5: Tidal Wetlands Trends and Conditions Assessment

Submergence is the gradual conversion of tall smooth cordgrass in the low marsh to mudflat. In coastal Connecticut and Long Island, the low marsh zone consisting largely of Spartina alterniflora, has been converting to mudflats over the last 30 years in many areas. There have been many proposed explanations, including climate change, the effects of excessive nitrogen curtailing root growth which in turn weakens the structure that keep the muck and peat bound together.

Also discussed is Sudden vegetation dieback (SVD) also found in the low marsh area, and identified by the loss of vegetation over a number of years with limited regrowth, likely the result of multiple stressors including the purple marsh crab.

The newsletter is a great introduction to the wetland science and challenges faced by wetlands in the Long Island Sound.
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