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Bat Month

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 6:09pm

This month I am working on a project involving Western Long-eared Bats (Myotis evotis) in central Oregon.

The goal of the project is to learn more about the bat’s roost selection in juniper/sagebrush habitat, specifically lactating females. We use radio telemetry to track where the bats roost during the day, and then locate the bats while they forage for insects night.

I am done with week #2 of day shifts, and tomorrow I start 2 weeks of night shifts.
So far, the majority of bats I have located roost in rock crevices. I feel like a detective with a big antenna looking for hidden treasure in the rocks. It’s been my favorite part of this internship so far.

Some other notable wildlife I’ve seen while working with the bats: family of red tail hawks, 2 juvenile ferruginous hawks, a Cooper’s hawk nest with 2 juveniles and adult, American kestrel,Greater sagegrouse, loggerhead shrike, summer tanagers, and pronghorn antelope.

bat burrito

A ‘bat burrito’ – this bat is patiently getting a radio transmitter fitted to her back

Me, listening for bats

image2

An awesome encounter with a ferruginous hawk

The Sky’s the Limit

Plant Science and Conservation - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 4:03pm

When the Green Roof Garden was first planted in 2009, everything we knew about long-term rooftop gardening was theoretical. Which plants would live more than one year on the roof? No one knew for sure. Were native plants better to plant than non-natives? Unknown. What about soil depth, extreme weather, pests, diseases? The list of questions was long.

Download An Evaluation Study of Plants for Use on Green Roofs here.

 The Roof Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden Plant Conservation Science Center.

Download the results of this 5-year study. Click here.

Today, after five years of watching, waiting, documenting, and evaluating, we now have actual data to guide us—and others—on the ever-more-popular topic of green roofs! I’ve just published the Plant Evaluation Notes from our research—the first national plant evaluation study of its kind.

Among the data are a few surprises.

The biggest surprise may seem the most obvious—it’s that the green roof survived as well as it did!

I was blown away by the survival rates among plants, and by the fact that so many of them thrived and even excelled in such a challenging landscape. Of the more than 40,000 plants that we installed on both roofs, 30,568 of them were still alive in 2014. Just 14% of the 216 taxa died—that’s a pretty good success rate when you consider rooftop conditions. In fact, adaptability was one of the main criteria that we evaluated each plant on. Here’s the five-point list:

  • Adaptability (to hot/cold, dry, windy conditions, plus shallow soils)
  • Pests/diseases
  • Winter hardiness
  • Non-weediness
  • Ornamental beauty

Other surprises? Definitely the wild white indigo (Baptisia alba var. alba). Although I didn’t expect it to fail, I also didn’t expect it to be as large and vigorous as it has become. By year five, it was nearly three feet tall, with dramatic spires of white flowers. Meadow blazing star (Liatris ligulistylis) was in the same elegant category. But the absolute standout was prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis). It looked good all year, at all soil depths, and the fragrant flowers made the roof smell like popcorn in August and September.

 Antennaria dioica.

Antennaria dioica

 Baptisia alba var. alba.

Baptisia alba var. alba

 Phlox subulata 'Emerald Blue'.

Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Blue’

 View of the Green Roof Garden from above.

The Green Roof Garden today: a tapestry of plant life

It also surprised me that some of the drought-tolerant plants like sulfur flower (Eriogonum umbellatum), tufted fleabane (Erigeron caespitosa), and long-petaled lewisia (Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Plum’) didn’t do better on the green roof. Same goes for sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis). In a broader sense, I’m disappointed that we haven’t had greater success with plants in the shallowest, 4-inch soil depth. It’s the most challenging area on the green roof, so we’ll strive to add more types of plants to this trial area in the coming years.

 Richard Hawke, Plant Evaluation Manager.

Monitoring plants in the field

Top 10 starstarstarstarstar Performers
on the Green Roof

  1. Pussytoes (Antennaria dioica)
  2. Dwarf calamint (Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta)
  3. Juniper ‘Viridis’ (Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii ‘Viridis’)
  4. Creeping phlox ‘Emerald Blue’ (Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Blue’)
  5. Creeping phlox ‘Apple Blossom’ (Phlox subulata ‘Apple Blossom’)
  6. Creeping phlox ‘Snowflake’ (Phlox subulata ‘Snowflake’)
  7. Aromatic sumac ‘Gro-Low’ (Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’)
  8. Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)
  9. Prairie dropseed ‘Tara’ (Sporobolus heterolepis ‘Tara’)
  10. The 69 other plants that got four-star ratings (good)! 

 

What else is coming to the Green Roof Garden?

We’ll bring in a new set of plants (both native and non-native) to be evaluated and increase the replication of trials in 4-, 6- and 8-inch soil depths. Our goal is to compile a broad list of proven plants so that anyone—businesses, architects, governmental groups, and residential homeowners—has the information they need to grow a green roof. The sky’s the limit!

Visit the Green Roof Garden at the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Center—open ‘til 9 p.m. all summer. The garden has two halves: the Ellis Goodman Family Foundation Green Roof Garden South and the Josephine P. & John J. Louis Foundation Green Roof Garden North.

©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

The Sky’s the Limit

Garden Blog - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 4:03pm

When the Green Roof Garden was first planted in 2009, everything we knew about long-term rooftop gardening was theoretical. Which plants would live more than one year on the roof? No one knew for sure. Were native plants better to plant than non-natives? Unknown. What about soil depth, extreme weather, pests, diseases? The list of questions was long.

Download An Evaluation Study of Plants for Use on Green Roofs here.

 The Roof Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden Plant Conservation Science Center.

Download the results of this 5-year study. Click here.

Today, after five years of watching, waiting, documenting, and evaluating, we now have actual data to guide us—and others—on the ever-more-popular topic of green roofs! I’ve just published the Plant Evaluation Notes from our research—the first national plant evaluation study of its kind.

Among the data are a few surprises.

The biggest surprise may seem the most obvious—it’s that the green roof survived as well as it did!

I was blown away by the survival rates among plants, and by the fact that so many of them thrived and even excelled in such a challenging landscape. Of the more than 40,000 plants that we installed on both roofs, 30,568 of them were still alive in 2014. Just 14% of the 216 taxa died—that’s a pretty good success rate when you consider rooftop conditions. In fact, adaptability was one of the main criteria that we evaluated each plant on. Here’s the five-point list:

  • Adaptability (to hot/cold, dry, windy conditions, plus shallow soils)
  • Pests/diseases
  • Winter hardiness
  • Non-weediness
  • Ornamental beauty

Other surprises? Definitely the wild white indigo (Baptisia alba var. alba). Although I didn’t expect it to fail, I also didn’t expect it to be as large and vigorous as it has become. By year five, it was nearly three feet tall, with dramatic spires of white flowers. Meadow blazing star (Liatris ligulistylis) was in the same elegant category. But the absolute standout was prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis). It looked good all year, at all soil depths, and the fragrant flowers made the roof smell like popcorn in August and September.

 Antennaria dioica.

Antennaria dioica

 Baptisia alba var. alba.

Baptisia alba var. alba

 Phlox subulata 'Emerald Blue'.

Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Blue’

 View of the Green Roof Garden from above.

The Green Roof Garden today: a tapestry of plant life

It also surprised me that some of the drought-tolerant plants like sulfur flower (Eriogonum umbellatum), tufted fleabane (Erigeron caespitosa), and long-petaled lewisia (Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Plum’) didn’t do better on the green roof. Same goes for sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis). In a broader sense, I’m disappointed that we haven’t had greater success with plants in the shallowest, 4-inch soil depth. It’s the most challenging area on the green roof, so we’ll strive to add more types of plants to this trial area in the coming years.

 Richard Hawke, Plant Evaluation Manager.

Monitoring plants in the field

Top 10 starstarstarstarstar Performers
on the Green Roof

  1. Pussytoes (Antennaria dioica)
  2. Dwarf calamint (Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta)
  3. Juniper ‘Viridis’ (Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii ‘Viridis’)
  4. Creeping phlox ‘Emerald Blue’ (Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Blue’)
  5. Creeping phlox ‘Apple Blossom’ (Phlox subulata ‘Apple Blossom’)
  6. Creeping phlox ‘Snowflake’ (Phlox subulata ‘Snowflake’)
  7. Aromatic sumac ‘Gro-Low’ (Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’)
  8. Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)
  9. Prairie dropseed ‘Tara’ (Sporobolus heterolepis ‘Tara’)
  10. The 69 other plants that got four-star ratings (good)! 

 

What else is coming to the Green Roof Garden?

We’ll bring in a new set of plants (both native and non-native) to be evaluated and increase the replication of trials in 4-, 6- and 8-inch soil depths. Our goal is to compile a broad list of proven plants so that anyone—businesses, architects, governmental groups, and residential homeowners—has the information they need to grow a green roof. The sky’s the limit!

Visit the Green Roof Garden at the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Center—open ‘til 9 p.m. all summer. The garden has two halves: the Ellis Goodman Family Foundation Green Roof Garden South and the Josephine P. & John J. Louis Foundation Green Roof Garden North.

©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Finishing Up

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 2:14pm

I’ve been working really hard on my grasshopper survey in the Panoche hills region of the central coast valley. I do back to back surveys during the week in 100+ degree heat, but I don’t really mind it too much. The data is starting to shape up and I’m enjoying reviewing the results with my peers.

I’ve also been traveling to the Monvero Dunes to collect specimens from malaise traps for the UC David Bohart Museum of Entomology. The picture you see below is the south face of the dune. The other side is a doozy to climb too!

I will be finishing the survey over the next few weeks and then preparing for my departure to Hawaii for grad school. I’m really looking forward to the journey.

J

It's a doozy to climb even on the other side!

It’s a doozy to climb even on the other side!

Land Pieces

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 1:43pm

We are well into our second month here at the Four Rivers Field Office. The days aren’t routine, but they have become a bit more predictable. The week in Chicago was delightful. It was a pleasure to put so many names to faces. The experience infused a new sense of admiration for, and added value to the work we are all doing; the long days in the field under the sun aren’t just occurring in a vacuum. As well, the workshop and symposium spurred me to revisit my views on the value of conservation and restoration in the landscapes we work.

Much of the private land and BLM allotments in and around Boise once was, or is, prime Greater Sage-grouse habitat (A critically endangered and very controversial species at the moment). As the largest public lands manager, the BLM oversees those rangelands and habitat that dominate the majority of the West’s open space. The same low-lying rangelands are conveniently located and ideal lands for human purposes. Conversion, grazing, and extraction are not the exception on a significant portion of public lands: yes, indeed that is what the Taylor Grazing Act legislated “in order to promote the highest use of the public lands pending its final disposal” (43 U.S. Code § 315). Though the TGA did bring much needed regulation to a chaotic situation, the term “highest use” only relatively recently encompassed considerations for habitat and species protection. I am not against the use of these lands. In fact, I advocate for working landscapes; however, landscape-scale ecological integrity on public lands depends on us reconciling our role, needs, and behavior within natural systems. Certainly, we can see we have taken more than our fair share.

It is a week after the workshop.  Joe, Dan, and I are walking across Williams allotment outside of Midvale, ID to collect some vouchers and see how some post-fire sage brush plugs from a few years back are fairing. The heat is consuming and our sweat beads. We don’t see cows but there are signs of them everywhere. The fire occurred years ago but the evidence lingers. Medusa heads and stunted grasses crunch beneath our feet like snow, a sobering reminder of their fiery potential. I wonder, “who cares for this piece of Earth?” It is true, places like these do little to inspire conservation and restoration action. Though, it is not lost on me that we, humans have directly and indirectly played a central role in what this land looks like today.

I think back to an air-conditioned plane enroute to Chicago and reading a piece in Brain Pickings. The brief article is a review of Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World in which she explores “love, loss, and the boundaries of the soul.” The work is her response to the death of her beloved husband. An excerpted quote seemed a poignant way to frame any tragedy or loss:

“The story seems to begin with catastrophe but in fact began earlier and is not a tragedy but rather a love story. Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss. Loss is not felt in the absence of love.”

Elizabeth Alexander

Our relationship with the land should in part be a reflection of this sentiment. If love helps us better grapple and understand the magnitude of loss and tragedy, then there is a dire need to inject love into our land use dialogues. How would our collective land use decisions look if they were more informed by love? Would our response to degradation be different? With the sixth mass extinction in our hands more than ever we need to experience the loss of ecological integrity and Earth’s diversity as a tragedy. The loss of ecological richness and functioning is akin to losing a loved one. Like a loved one, land and its functioning sustains us, and when it is lost it is often irreparable. And Alexander is right, the story does begin earlier; in this case, it begins with our ancestors’ relationship and history with the land. I have no personal connection to Williams allotment and I understand a fraction of its human and natural history. How do we come to know a place so that we may viscerally feel the value of what is lost?

Generally, as a society we are removed from our environmental infractions. We don’t often recognize the gravity of what is lost when we alter our more marginalized landscapes. In one way or another, we have all blinked and moved on. Restoration becomes too expensive. We grow our cities and developments and psychologically sever an area from the larger landscape, but that rationalization does not remove us from the consequences. As I write this, I recognize that I don’t have the answers. Regardless, I am inclined to believe love is, and continues to be, behind some of the greatest conservation battles, such as the Pebble Mine fight in Alaska and Hetch Hetchy Dam. But who wouldn’t be stirred to battle with just a photograph of those picturesque landscapes? While there is a need to prioritize conservation targets and places of greatest value, I hope we won’t forget that ultimately every land piece is vital to the connectivity and overall health of the greater landscape mosaic. Even those pieces deemed “worthless.”  We need to see our land use for what it is: a tragedy. And even in the face of a changing climate, I don’t believe the story has to end that way. Mr. Berry said it best, “we can only begin with what has happened.” So we must take account of our history, only then we can begin to payback the debt of our land use. After meeting so many of you in Chicago I do not despair for the work ahead, in fact I am confident. We may not have all the answers, but we are rich in the love of land and the spirit of change.

Emile Newman

Boise District Four Rivers Field Office

A great start

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 1:37pm

Greetings!

A lot has happened in only two short weeks in Susanville, CA. I joined a team of three other CLM interns at the BLM Eagle Lake office. We are having a blast! We have done a lot of special status plant monitoring, and I have already helped with 9 seed collections for the Seeds of Success Program. We have collected Trefoil, Mint, Bluebunch Wheatgrass, Desert Yellow Fleabane, and Squirreltail. There are also some populations of Rock Buckwheat that should be ready to collect within the next week.

20150716_143043

The work itself is fun, and there are many other things that make our days so enjoyable. While checking the status of some Buffaloberry, I happened to notice several owl nests with at least 100 pellets beneath them.  It was also really neat to see wild horses and burros for the first time. We were even lucky enough to witness a newborn calf take its first steps!

20150716_133555-1

My first 2 weeks went by so fast, and I am excited for all the adventures still to come. I love working in such a beautiful place!

Eager in Eagle Lake~

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 1:36pm

Hello!

I’ve been working in the Eagle Lake BLM office here in Susanville, CA for maybe two months now. Probably more like a month and a half. I work with three other interns, and we’ve had so many wonderful adventures! We’ve done over thirteen seed collections so far, and we have monitored quite a few special status plant populations.

The landscape is very rocky! Lassen County, where we work, has a volcanic legacy that manifests in surprisingly and often suddenly rocky terrain

The landscape is very rocky! Lassen County, where we work, has a volcanic legacy that manifests in surprisingly and often suddenly rocky terrain.

A picture of me at my first ever plant collection, purple sage. It's a very fragrant plant!

A picture of me at my first ever plant collection, purple sage. It’s a very fragrant plant!

We often refer to the plants we are collecting by their NCRS (maybe that's not the acronym?) code, and this is me with one of our favorites, CRAC.

We often refer to the plants we are collecting by their NCRS (maybe that’s not the acronym?) code, and this is me with one of our favorites, CRAC.

We often run into grazing livestock on our journeys. This mama cow is squaring up in the road to fight off our jeep. Thankfully, the confrontation ended peacefully-- the cows moved off the join the rest of their herd in the adjacent field.

We often run into grazing livestock on our journeys. This mama cow is squaring up in the road to fight off our jeep. Thankfully, the confrontation ended peacefully– the cows moved off to join the rest of their herd in the adjacent field.

Rachel, Jill, Andrea, and I got to go to the horse corrals and see the wild horses that are up for adoption. We got a tour of the facilities. It was a very informative day!

Rachel, Jill, Andrea, and I got to go to the horse corrals and see the wild horses that are up for adoption. We got a tour of the facilities. It was a very informative day!

It's always exciting to see the real thing, though, even if the horses are a nuisance and tear up the landscape. They're so majestic! But there are quite a few out there, beyond this picture there were maybe fifty horses in the dry lake bed we were visiting.

It’s always exciting to see the real thing, though, even if the horses are a nuisance and tear up the landscape. They’re so majestic! But there are quite a few out there, beyond this picture there were maybe fifty horses in the dry lake bed we were visiting.

 

An exciting thing happened! We were driving and I spotted the freshest little calf on earth. He was so new, we accidentally frightened his first steps out of him, I think. It was magical!

An exciting thing happened! We were driving and I spotted the freshest little calf on earth. He was so new, we accidentally frightened his first steps out of him, I think. It was magical!

I am really enjoying myself and this job. We go on so many adventures every day, it’s almost as if we’re not working! (But we definitely are working)

Anyway, until next time!

Lillie P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shipping Up to Boston

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 1:34pm

After reading the other CLM interns blog posts, I’ve discovered that everyone has been placed in some amazing locations throughout the U.S. I find myself in the city of Boston working for the East coast Seeds of Success (SOS) program, where I am stationed out of the New England Wild Flower Society. It is my first time in Boston and so far I love it here. Whenever I am traveling through the city I always seem find a new quaint area to hang out or find a new ethic restaurant with delicious food. Boston is also in a central location that will allow me to escape for the weekend from the intense traffic and fast paced city life. I am less than a days drive to a variety of beautiful retreats, including the White Mountains, Adirondack mountains, Acadia National park, and Stowe Vermont… all places I wish to see while living in Boston.

More then a mouth ago all the East Coast Seeds of Success interns and mentors met in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for our training. The training was hosted by the NC botanic gardens, who provided us with a great classroom for our training and did a wonderful job feeding us! I enjoyed learning about the history of the SOS program and discovering that this will be the first year for the East coast to be involved with the program. It was great meeting the other 14 East coast interns who all have their own unique stories of how they’ve become interested in plant conservation. I am thankful to have landed such a great internship where I can continue to learn about conservation / ecology while working with a great group of people!

James working to identify some grasses

James working to identify some grasses

Over the pass month my fellow New England interns and I have been calling and emailing project leaders of coastal restoration projects funded through the Sandy Supplemental Mitigation Fund. Since the SOS East program is just getting off the ground, it is important for us to make connections with project leaders and land owners so we can determine what seeds are needed for restoration projects and secondly so we can gain permission from land owners to collect seeds within their property.  

Flowing SunDew (Drosera intermedia) found while surveying at Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge.

Flowering SunDew (Drosera intermedia) found while surveying at Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island.

Sites New England that we have surveyed so far

Location in New England that we have visited so far

Enjoying the nice breeze.

Enjoying the nice breeze among the vibrant Spartina patens.

As of now we have visited 17 sites through out the New England states. The majority of the sites have been coastal salt marshes, with exceptions being riparian areas related to dam removals. At all these sites we have began surveying and identifying species that we could possibly collect seeds from. This process includes a lot of time with the dichotomous key and plant identification books (have grown quite fond of the Sedges of Maine book). Keying out species has been great practice to get us familiar with the plant species at our collection sites. At this point in time we have made two seed collections: one of Triglochin maritima (Seaside Arrow-grass) and the other Carex scoparia (Pointed Broom Sedge). I am excited to collect more seeds in the up coming months as more species’ fruit begin to ripen.

That all for now, Cheers

Josh

Wood gnome house, never know what you will find in the woods....

A home of a wood gnome. You never know what you will find in the woods….

 

Second Month Happenings

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 1:30pm

I have been pleasantly busy these last few weeks traveling for work and leisure. In late June, one of my roommate and I went to Bend, OR to attend a Grass ID workshop hosted by the Carex Working Group. During this two day workshop, I learned about grass morphology in order to better identify grasses! In addition, we were supplied with a comprehensive grass key of Oregon and Washington, which has been much desired by my fellow interns and me during our vegetation surveys.

Identifying grasses on a rocky hill as part of our Grass ID workshop.

Identifying grasses on a rocky hill as part of our Grass ID workshop.

Moreover, I have made several trips for work to a ranger cabin that is located two hours away in Fields, Oregon- a town that has a population of 8 people. However, Fields has world-famous milkshake, so, naturally, I love going there. We have continued our ES&R (emergency stabilization and rehabilitation) vegetation monitoring on fire rehab sites in Fields. A lot of the trend sites are inaccessible via a rig, necessitating the use of a UTV, which is a blast to ride on. Even though I have been here for over two months, I am still astonished by the vastness of open land.

Unloading the UTV at the allotment where we will have to do trend.

Unloading the UTV at the allotment where we will have to do trend.

The Fourth of July weekend I went backpacking for my first time! A group of friends and I went to the Strawberry Mountains and did a two day, 18 mile loop up and down the mountain. It was the most beautiful hike I had ever been on! The landscape alternated between conifer forests and rocky alpine hillsides covered with wildflowers, many of which I could identify! We even hiked past snow! I’m not really used to camping yet, but I’m getting the hang of it.

Backpacking in the Strawberries!

Backpacking in the Strawberries!

The weekend after we made a trip to the Oregon Country Fair in Eugene, OR- a town that is known for its wackiness. Never before had I seen so many different flavors of people and forms of expression. The fair was nestled in a forest on a winding path, and it was set up almost like a craft fair, with rows upon rows of booths of handmade, sustainable items. Afterwards, we traveled to the coast of Oregon. The beaches there are unlike any that I had ever been to; cold, windy, cloudy, sea-salt mist choking the air, conifer forests running adjacent to the white sand beaches, and dark, cold water. It was hauntingly beautiful! We went at high tide to see the famous landmark: Thor’s Well. At low tide we went back to check out all of the tide pools. I felt like a child as I ran from pool to pool, squealing at all of the sea organisms. I feverously tickled every lime green sea anemone I could find, watching them curl up in anticipation of food. In addition, there were royal purple sea urchins, hermit crabs, regular crabs, chitins, barnacles, mussels, limpets, and snails. My favorite was all of the starfish, which ranged in colors (from deep pink to pale yellow to orange) and sizes.

Thor's Well!

Thor’s Well!

I’m excited for what is in store for the rest of my stay in Burns! We anticipate starting our riparian monitoring within the next month, which I am entirely enthused about!

 

Until next time,

Megan Hoff

Burns, OR BLM

Mormon Tea

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 1:26pm

Escalante, Utah is a unique place containing many hoodoos, natural bridges, and immense canyons created by uplifting faults thousands of years ago and shaped

A natural bridge in Bryce Canyon

A natural bridge in Bryce Canyon

through years of erosion.  My time here has shown me Escalante’s rich natural history, beautiful landscapes and habitats, challenging trails, and the beauty of nature in general.  So far, I have learned many new plant species, learned what plants Native Americans and early settlers used for multiple purposes, caught hummingbirds for banding, and collected pollen. I have only been here for a month, but already I have had many opportunities to expand my knowledge as a biologist.

Escalante! 401

Ephedra viridis (Mormon tea) in front of Dance Hall Rock, a natural formation that Mormon’s used as an amphitheater

A few of the important species in the area for wildlife, natives, and early settlers that my partner and I have encountered  include Artemisia tridentata (Big Sagebrush), Purshia tridentata (Antelope Bitterbrush), Ephedra viridis (Mormon tea), and Psoralidium tenuiflorum (Scurf Pea). A. tridentata is considered a keystone species providing food for sage grouse and small mammals (Elmore, 71) and, even though it is rather unpalatable (Buren et al., 171), is still browsed by pronghorn, deer, cattle, and sheep (Elmore, 71). Native Americans and early settlers brewed A. tridentata leaves in tea to ease stomach pains and burned the leaves, creating fumes, which were inhaled to cure colds (Foster & Hobbs, 320). An important winter browsing plant for deer and other wildlife is P. tridentata (Buren et al., 400). Native Americans used the leaves of P. tridentata as a poultice to cure rashes and itching, made tea from the leaves and roots to ease colds, and used the twigs, leaves, and berries as a laxative (Foster & Hobbs, 297).  E. viridis acquired its namesake from early Mormon settlers who would steep the twig-like leaves in hot water, making a tea that is still a common practice today to jump start the day or to cure the common cold (Buren et al., 112).  One plant that my partner and I have had to collect, P. tenuiflorum, was used by natives to cure headaches, constipation, tuberculosis, and to repel mosquitoes (Foster & Hobbs, 212).

A tunnel trap used to catch hummingbirds so the BLM’s wildlife biologist can band them.

A tunnel trap used to catch hummingbirds so the BLM’s wildlife biologist can band them.

Besides learning about the native flora, my partner and I have also had the opportunity to band hummingbirds.  We started the day half an hour before sunrise (6:00 AM) and caught hummingbirds in a net that fit over their feeders.  Once captured and transferred into a small bag, our mentor and another wildlife biologist from the BLM were able to record various measurements on the hummingbirds and we were able feed them and release them.

This internship has allowed me to experience many exciting biological procedures, learn new plant species, and meet biologists who share similar interests with me.  I have made a hiking buddy out of my fellow intern, and together, we have explored many of the trails Escalante has to offer.  Even though we have yet to collect our seed collections, we are broadening our horizons through the BLM and are gaining multiple skills that will send us on way to become future biologists.

 

 

 

 

Buren, Renee Van et al. (2011). Woody Plants of Utah. Logan, Utah. Utah State University Press.

Elmore, Francis H.. (1976).Shrubs and Trees of the Southwest Uplands. Tuscan, Arizona. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association.

Foster, Steven & Hobbs, Christopher. 2002. Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs. New York, New York, Houghton Mifflin Company.

 

Gratefulness in the Great Basin

CLM Internship Blog - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 1:23pm

“I like my job. The pay is generous… The fringe benefits are priceless: clean air to breathe; stillness, solitude, and space; an unobstructed view every day and every night of sun, sky, stars, clouds, mountains, moon…; a sense of time enough to let thought and feeling range from here to the end of the world and back; the discovery of something intimate – though impossible to name – in the remote.”

- Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

I have been experiencing the Great Basin desert for five and a half months now and I never thought I would find myself so appreciative of such a harsh environment. In his book, Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey has put into words the feelings of awe and respect I have gained for this truly breathtaking area.

I started my internship at the tail end of winter, so for the majority of my time here, I have been spoiled by the colors of spring. It is incredible the variety of plants able to thrive (even for a short while) in this climate, but a wet spring has brought such beauties out of the seed bank as Leucocrinum montanum (common star lily), Calochortus nuttallii (sego lily), Grayia spinosa (spiny hop sage), and my thus-far-favorite-shrub, Psorothamnus polydenius (Nevada dalea). Each of these plants has caught my eye and my appreciation as they find ways to defy the heat and aridity to splash their colors all over the brown canvas that is Nevada.

Along with my love affair with the desert flora, I have fallen in love with the expansiveness of the mountains and valleys, the brilliant clarity of the night sky, and the stillness in the air during the long hours of seed collecting. In these moments, I find my thoughts escaping me and myself fully embraced by the presence of the stillness. Who knew the methodic pace of seed collecting could open the doorway to wakefulness? Even the scurrying of a jackrabbit or a lizard allows me a moment’s relief from my own swirl of thoughts. While I never pictured myself doing more than visiting the desert, I am so thankful to be living here for the majority of a year (I will be here until November) and to experience the wonders of this place.

While my thoughts have been idyllic in nature, I have made plenty of time to be silly and practical while at work. To beat the heat, my coworkers and I have started bringing a cooler full of ice with us for the long field days. The simple relief of some cold water or a cool forehead makes all the difference when there is no place to hide from the sun. I also jumped at the opportunity to take a fun photo a few weeks ago when we drove through Sheridan, Nevada while I was wearing a t-shirt from my hometown of Sheridan, Indiana. I even sent my mom an email with the tagline “I’m home…sort of!”

 Olivia Schilling

Taking time out of from seed collection scouting for a priceless photo opp. Photo credit: Olivia Schilling

Life in the Great Basin has been great so far and I look forward to enjoying the rest of my time here before I move on to the next step in life. Until next time, this is Maggie signing out from Carson City, Nevada!

Busy Busy

CLM Internship Blog - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 3:17pm

Sooooooo…………..

I’ve been really busy. Interns have come on, scheduling them, Youth Corps, seed collection, site visits, training, rare plant surveys and range monitoring. And meetings. There’s always meetings…….. ASRI_6.10.15_Group Photo ASRI_6.10.15_Hospital-Petaca

Following Nature’s Path to Living Museums

Garden Blog - Wed, 07/15/2015 - 4:20pm

We often refer to the Chicago Botanic Garden as a “living museum.” As an art historian and a natural history museum aficionado, this term makes sense to me.

 The Japanese bridge in Giverny by Claude Monet.

The Japanese bridge in Giverny by Claude Monet

When I worked at the Art Institute of Chicago, I helped curate the 1995 encyclopedic Claude Monet: 1840–1926 retrospective. So, when I first joined the Garden in 2006 and began thinking about the “living museum” term, I recalled that experience. Indeed, what canvas is more similar to Monet’s than our garden’s 385 acres of exquisitely arranged plants that change with the light and weather hour-to-hour—exactly like Monet’s Impressionist subjects? And then I considered the hundreds of millions of specimens in the collections of natural history museums; the only difference between these institutions’ curated collections and the Garden’s is their current state of life.

When we slow down enough to look carefully, museum collections provide us with tremendous opportunities to learn about ourselves—and the world. At botanic gardens, plants provide us with inspiration and metaphors for life; trees, flowers, grasses, shrubs, and their cycles of life reflect our own. Similarly, at an art museum, by examining closely and quietly paintings and sculptures, we open our minds to the complexity, creativity, and diversity of people who have lived and now occupy our planet. Studying the skeletons, insects and birds, ceremonial clothing, and objects from daily life in natural history museums allows us to celebrate both the magical and mundane aspects of the human spirit and to marvel at the exquisite miracle of evolution. The same can be said for the experience at a zoo or an aquarium—two other “living museum” examples. These institutions provide us a unique opportunity to admire, and also to protect through breeding and conservation programs, animals whose natural habitats are worlds away from our own.

 Wyrex Edmontonia fossils.

Wyrex Edmontonia fossils

 Japanese macaque, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

Japanese macaque

Common to all of these museum experiences is that the original “object”—whether a plant, painting, fossil, mask, fish, or monkey—is the focal point. The experience of activating all of our senses when encountering something that has been crafted by a person, by nature, or as a result of some human-nature collaboration (which is usually the case) cannot be replicated online, in print, or on the screen. Those experiences matter, too. And even though I love and admire National Geographic across all its media, I am never so moved as when I take in the paintings in a brilliantly curated art exhibition, examine the fossils or stones in a perfectly explained science exhibition, contemplate the earth and its people while examining a compelling collection of artifacts, or stop to admire the play of colors, composition, form, and chiaroscuro (the contrasts of lights and darks) of an expertly crafted garden bed.

As you can tell, I love all types of museums. However, I owe my passion for living museums, especially botanic gardens, to Lewis and Clark. Why? A couple of years before the bicentennial of the explorers’ journey, I set out on a tour of the Pacific Northwest. I was working for the Field Museum at the time. My mission was to figure out how to create an exhibition that would rival the Missouri Historical Society’s planned anniversary show, a show chock-full of all the original artifacts such as diaries and navigation devices that had been touched by Lewis and Clark’s own hands.

While I never did figure out an exhibition for the Field (since no original artifacts would be available to come to Chicago, we finally gave up since an exhibition of replicas wouldn’t do), I did stumble upon the passion that would guide the next chapter of my career.

 Fern.After driving three hours through verdant, wooded, beautiful Washington State, I parked my car and started to climb the wooden staircase up a steep hill to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at the mouth of the Columbia River. Along both sides of the steep path, nature was thriving. In the still-cool late-morning air, I saw and smelled—could almost taste!—moss and lichen in dozens of shades of green, gray, and yellow; ferns, mosses, and trees; and small and large butterflies. I knew at that moment that I wanted to give people, especially those from Chicago’s urban center, the opportunity to experience nature first-hand.

And that is when my journey to the Chicago Botanic Garden began, my definition of a museum expanded, and my commitment to sharing with all people the wide variety of fascinating and inspiring curated collections became life-long.

©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

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