Environmental Conservation

Discover Calumet: The Calumet Outdoors Series Connects People to the Many Natural Areas in the Region

The announcement of the Pullman National Monument is drawing positive attention to the Calumet Region and The Calumet Outdoors Series 2015 provides an exciting opportunity for people to experience an eclectic variety of beautiful places first-hand. This monthly series of free guided hikes and events takes participants throughout Northwest Indiana and Southeast Chicago.

A selection of charismatic Lobariaceae lichens in New Zealand

Lichens as bioindicators of forest health

Going green is all about conserving the environment. Not just because a healthy environment increases our quality of living, but because we owe it to the next generations to conserve our planet so they have a chance to enjoy its spectacular beauty and diversity as we do. Since forests are one of the primary sources of oxigen, conservation of forests is of great importance both in temperate and tropical areas. In many regions, forests are monitored as to their conservation status, and bioindicators are an important tool to accomplish this task.

The tiny lichen Gyalectidium setiferum is spreading in central Europe on suitable evergreen plants due to global warming.

Hoping for global warming after a cold winter... and lichens as bioindicators of climate change

This month's topic is March and green. Of course, everybody by now is anxiously waiting for spring, to get rid of the polar vortex. Hopefully that will happen soon! By the way, the expanded polar vortex that affects large parts of North America with bitter cold is a direct consequence of global warming!

Demystifying Mapping: Low-Cost and Easy Tools for Mapping Natural Areas, Plus Other Fun Tech Tools

In February I was fortunate to present a talk at the 2015 Wild Things conference on mapping tools for the local conservation community. My co-presenter, Daniel Suarez, from Audubon Chicago Region presented about the Restoration Map tool. This is a great way for local land stewards to track and monitor their work. My part of the talk focused on how to take accurate GPS data for including in Restoration map or other mapping projects.

Things seen in the Bird Division #7 (or: Same bird, different stripes)

As long as the bird that we know as Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) has existed, they've had a charming yellow stripe across the tip of their tail. The yellow pigment actually comes from carotene in their fruit diet, and that diet has been changing as humans have brought different fruit-bearing trees into their native range. Now, a small percentage of Cedar Waxwings have orange tail tips instead of yellow, probably the result of eating certain types of non-native honeysuckle berries when their tail feathers are developing.

Follow up: A first for Illinois, discovered in the Field Museum's collection

Last week I wrote about the recent publication detailing the detective work that uncovered the first record of Western Flycatcher for Illinois. I didn't have time to include photos of the actual specimen, so here they are. The two birds on the left are Yellow-bellied Flycatchers from Illinois and the two on the right are Western Flycatchers from California (presumably Pacific-slope Flycatchers). The star of the show--Illinois' only Western Flycatcher--is in the middle.

A Cassin's Sparrow meets its end a long way from home

Every day during fall migration, the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors deliver to the Field Museum a bag of birds that died flying into windows in the loop as they tried to make their way south to their wintering grounds farther south. These salvaged birds provide a critical component of the museum's bird collection, specimens that can be used by researchers for generations to come to learn about many aspects of our area's birdlife.

How much science is needed for conservation?

Via Facebook, a colleague shared a link to an essay in Animal Behavior by Tim Caro and Paul Sherman entitled: Eighteen reasons animal behavioralists avoid involvement in conservation (Animal Behavior (2012) 85:305-312). They exhort behavioral scientists to think more about the conservation value of their research. I agree with this idea, but that does not mean that I think this is universally appreciated.

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