Monday, October 31, 2016

There's something in the water...


Halloween is a night to have fun and be scared.  What's scarier than a lifeless skull staring at you from the bottom of a flowing stream?

If you venture out tonight, be safe and have fun!

Friday, October 28, 2016

A poem for Friday

                                                     I want to tell what the forests
                                                     were like

                                                     I will have to speak
                                                     in a forgotten language

                                                     "Witness" by W.S. Merwin (1988)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - The Complete (And Final) List

I am calling an end to my 2016 Wildflower Big Year.   

Earlier this Spring, I started making a list of (and photographing)  all the wildflowers I could find in one growing season.  This was the second time I have completed this challenge - my 2014 list can be found here.  Here are the rules that I gave myself for this self-imposed challenge.
  •  Any native or non-native plant (including trees) can be photographed if it meets two conditions
    • It must be growing in a wild population - it cannot be in a location where it was planted.
    • It must be growing in one of the parks or other city properties within the city of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.
  • I have to photograph the plant on the day I first find the flower - but I can photograph any flower of the species that I find on that day.
  • I have to be able to identify the species for it to count - unknown specimens do not count.

I found a total of 252 species during the 2016 growing season.  I found my first flower of the year on 08 March (the 68th day of the year) and my final flower on 20 October (the 294th day of the year).  I averaged 1.115 new species per day over the course of 226 days.  Of the 252 species, 174 species (69.0%) have been native and 78 species (31.0%) have been introduced to Michigan.

Here is the complete list for the year.

Tuesday 08 March 2016
    #1 Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

Thursday 14 April 2016
    #2 Pussy Willow (Salix discolor)

Monday 17 April 2016
    #3 Boxelder (Acer negundo)
    #4 Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)
    #5 Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis
    #6 Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
    #7 Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)
    #8 Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

Wednesday 20 April 2016
    #9 Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
    #10 Black Willow (Salix nigra)
Sunday 24 April 2016
    #11 Speckled Alder (Alnus incana)    
    #12 Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
    #13 Two-leaf Mitrewort (Mitella diphylla)
    #14 Spring Cress (Cardamine bulbosa)
    #15 American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
    #16 Canada Plum (Prunus nigra)
    #17 Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)     NON-NATIVE
    #18 Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officianale)     NON-NATIVE
    #19 Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)      
    #20 Cut-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata)
    #21 False Rue Anemone (Enemion biternatum)

Monday 25 April 2016
    #22 Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)
    #23 Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)  
    # 24 Whitlow Grass (Draba verna)     NON-NATIVE
    #25 Early Meadow-rue (Thalictrum dioicum)
    #26 White Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)
 Monday 02 May 2016
    #27 Garlic Mustard (Alliara petiolata)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #28 Downy Yellow Violet (Viola pubescens)

Monday 02 May 2016 
    #29 Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica)

Sunday 08 May 2016
    #30 Common Winter Cress (Barbarea vulgaris)     NON-NATIVE
    #31 American Black Currant (Ribes americanum)
    #32 Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
    #33 Broad-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine diphylla)
    #34 Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis)
    #35 Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata)
    #36 Downy Serviceberry (Amelchier arborea)
    #37 Marsh Violet (Viola cucullata) 

Monday 09 May 2016
    #38 Small-flowered Forget-me-not (Myosotis stricta)     NON-NATIVE
Wednesday 11 May 2016
    #39 Common Periwinkle (Vinca minor)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #40 Purple Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)     NON-NATIVE
    #41 Storks-bill (Erodium cicutarium)     NON-NATIVE

Monday 16 May 2016
    #42 Morrow's Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #43 Swamp Buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus)
    #44 Common Apple (Malus pumila)     NON-NATIVE
    #45 Small-flowered Buttercup (Ranunculus arbotivus)
    #46 Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #47 Indian Strawberry (Potentilla indica)     NON-NATIVE
    #48 Hooked Crowfoot (Ranunculus recurvatus)

Tuesday 17 May 2016
    #49 Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)  
    #50 Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum)
    #51 American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia)
    #52 Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana)
    #53 Starry False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellatum)
    #54 Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #55 Jetbead (Rhodotypos scandens)     NON-NATIVE

Sunday 22 May 2016
    #56 Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)
    #57 American Dog Violet (Viola labradorica)
    #58 Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)
    #59 Cleavers (Galium aparine)    
    #60 Downy Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum pubescens)
    #61 Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)
    #62 Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
    #63 Common Mouse-eared Chickweed (Cerastium fontanum)      NON-NATIVE
    #64 Pennsylvania Bitter Cress (Cardamine pensylvanica)
    #65 Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
    #66 Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #67 White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda)
    #68 Wood Anemone (Anemone quinquefolia)
    #69 Small Pussytoes (Antennaria howellii)

Wednesday 25 May 2016
    #70 Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
    #71 Common Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus)
    #72 Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #73 Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis)
    #74 White Mulberry (Morus alba)     NON-NATIVE
    #75 Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #76 Common Yellow Wood-sorrel (Oxalis stricta)
    #77 Corn Speedwell (Veronica arvensis)     NON-NATIVE
    #78 Thyme-leaved Speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia)     NON-NATIVE
    #79 Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #80 White Clover (Trifolium repens)     NON-NATIVE
    #81 Black Medick (Medicago lupulina)    NON-NATIVE
    #82 English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)     NON-NATIVE
    #83 American Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)
    #84 Common Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)     NON-NATIVE
    #85 Winged Euonymus (Euonymus alatus)     NON-NATIVE
    #86 Field Peppergrass (Lepidium campestre)     NON-NATIVE
    #87 Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)     NON-NATIVE
    #88 Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea)
    #89 Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Thursday 26 May 2016
    #90 Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
    #91 Field Hawkweed (Hieracium caespitosum)     NON-NATIVE
    #92 Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)
    #93 White Campion (Silene latifolia)     NON-NATIVE
    #94 Illinois Carrion Flower (Smilax illinoensis)   

Friday 27 May 2016
    #95 Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)
    #96 Fistulous Goat's Beard (Tragopogon dubius)     NON-NATIVE
    #97 Horse-gentian (Triosteum aurantiacum)
    #98 Wild Mustard (Sinapis arvensis)     NON-NATIVE

    #99 Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)    
Wednesday 01 June 2016 - part 1
    #100 Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #101 Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia)
    #102 Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)     NON-NATIVE  
    #103 Yellow Sweet Clover (Melilotus officinalis)     NON-NATIVE
    #104 Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)     NON-NATIVE
    #105 Hoary Alyssum (Berteroa incana)     NON-NATIVE
    #106 Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)     NON-NATIVE
    #107 Bitter Dock (Rumex obtusifolius)     NON-NATIVE
    #108 Yellow Pond Lily (Nuphar variegata
    #109 Giant Bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum)
    #110 Water Dock (Rumex verticillatus)

Wednesday 01 June 2016 - part 2 
    #111 White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)
    #112 Garden Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris)     NON-NATIVE
    #113 Honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis)
    #114 Feathery False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)
    #115 Forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpoides)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #116 Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa)     NON-NATIVE
    #117 Common Goat's Beard (Tragopogon pratensis)
    #118 Purple Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum)   
    #119 Silvery Cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea)     NON-NATIVE

Wednesday 08 June 2016
    #120 Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #121 Northern Dewberry (Rubus flagellaris)
    #122 Common Black Snakeroot (Sanicula odorata)
    #123 Northern Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)
    #124 American Speedwell (Veronica americana
    #125 Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium)  
    #126 Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium)
    #127 Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Thursday 09 June 2016
    #128 Garden Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)     NON-NATIVE
    #129 American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)
    #130 Mossy Stonecrop (Sedum acre)     NON-NATIVE
    #131 Western Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii)
    #132 Indian Hemp (Apocynum cannabinum)

Friday 10 June 2016
    #133 Rough-fruited Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)     NON-NATIVE   
    #134 Moonseed (Menispermum canadense)
Monday 13 June 2016
    #135 Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum)
Friday 17 June 2016
    #136 Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #137 Gray Dogwood (Cornus foemina)
    #138 Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)
    #139 Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)
    #140 Wild Garlic (Allium canadense)

Tuesday 21 June 2016
    #141 Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
    #142 Border Privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium)     NON-NATIVE
    #143 White Avens (Geum canadense)
    #144 Narrow-leafed Cattail (Typha angustifolia)    NON-NATIVE in Michigan
    #145 Catnip (Nepeta cataria)     NON-NATIVE
    #146 Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolius)     NON-NATIVE
    #147 Common Elder (Sambucus canadensis)
    #148 Common St. John's-wort (Hypericum perfoliatum)    
    #149 Pineapple-weed (Matricaria discoidea)     NON-NATIVE
    #150 Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
    #102a White-flowered Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara f. albiflorum)
    #151 Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)
    #152 Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)
    #153 Birdfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)     NON-NATIVE
    #154 Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria)     NON-NATIVE
    #155 Northern Hawkweed (Hieracium umbellatum)     NON-NATIVE
    #156 Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)
    #157 Clammy Ground-cherry (Physalis heterophylla)
    #158 Tall Anemone (Anemone virginiana)
    #159 Large-leafed Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica

Wednesday 22 June 2016
    #160 Eastern Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
    #161 Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
    #162 Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia)     NON-NATIVE
    #163 Creeping Yellow Cress (Rorippa sylvestris)     NON-NATIVE
    #164 Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)

Friday 24 June 2016
    #165 Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria)     NON-NATIVE
    #166 Spreading Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)
    #167 Prairie Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus)
    #168 Annual Fleabane (Erigeron annuus)
Tuesday 28 June 2016
    #169 Clustered-leaved Tick-trefoil (Hylodesmum glutinosum)
    #170 Northern Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera)
    #171 Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)
    #172 Tall Agrimony (Agrimonia gryposepala)
    #173 Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)
    #174 Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganense)
    #175 Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis)
    #176 Hairy Wood Mint (Blephilia hirsuta)
    #177 Common Enchanter's-nightshade (Circaea canadensis)

Thursday 30 June 2016
    #178 Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)     NON-NATIVE
    #179 Swamp Milkweed (Aclepias incarnata)
    #180 White Sweet Clover (Melilotus albus    NON-NATIVE 
    #181 Chicory (Cichorium intybus)     NON-NATIVE
    #182 Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)     NON-NATIVE

Wednesday 06 July 2016
    #183 White Vervain (Verbena urticifolia)
    #184 Virgin' Bower (Clematis virginiana)
    #185 Thin-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia triloba)
    #186 American Lopseed (Phryma leptostachya)

Thursday 07 July 2016
    #187 Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)     NON-NATIVE
    #188 Spotted Knapweed (Cenaurea stoebe)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #189 Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis)     NON-NATIVE
    #190 Common Burdock (Arctium minus)     NON-NATIVE
    #191 Willow-herb (Epilobium ciliatum)
    #192 Common Plantain (Plantago major)     NON-NATIVE
    #193 Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Monday 01 August 2016
    #194 Narrow-leafed  Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)
    #195 Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
    #196 Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)     NON-NATIVE
    #197 Smooth Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)
    #198 Common Evening-primrose (Oenothera biennis)    
    #199 Wild Mint (Mentha canadensis)
    #200 Spotted Joe-pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum)
    #201 Swamp Thistle (Cirsium muticum)
    #202 Mad-dog Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
    #203 Cut-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)
    #204 Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)     NON-NATIVE
    #205 White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)
    #206 Thin-leaved Sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus)
    #207 Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
    #208 Rough-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago patula)
    #209 Monkey-flower (Mimulus ringens)
    #210 Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
Thursday 04 August 2016
    #211 Field Sow-thistle (Sonchus arvensis)     NON-NATIVE
    #212 Spotted Touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis)
    #213 Hedge-parsley (Torilis japonica)     NON-NATIVE
    #214 Ditch Stonecrop (Penthorum sedoides)     NON-NATIVE
    #215 Mild Water-pepper (Persicaria hydropiperoides)    
    #216 Southern Water-plantain (Alisma subcordatum)
    #217 Cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
    #218 Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)
Thursday 11 August 2016
    #219 Hog-peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata)

 Monday 15 August 2016
    Common Cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium)     NON-NATIVE

Wednesday 17 August 2016
    #221 Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
    #222 Flat-topped White Aster (Doellingeria umbellata)
    #223 Swamp Lousewort (Pedicularis lanceolata)
    #224 White Lettuce (Prenanthes alba)
    #225 Common Water Horehound (Lycopus americanus)

Thursday 25 August 2016
    #226 Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
    #227 Panicled Aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum)
    #228 Butter-and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris)     NON-NATIVE
    #229 Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)
    #230 Jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana)
    #231 Nodding Smartweed (Persicaria lapathifolia)
    #232 Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
    #233 Horseweed (Conyza canadensis)
    #234 Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

 Monday 29 August 2016
    #235 Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
    #236 Purplestem Beggar-ticks (Bidens connata)

Tuesday 30 August 2016
    #237 False Buckwheat (Fallopia scandens)

Thursday 01 September 2016
    #238 Common Heart-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium)
    #239 Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum laterifolium)
    #240 Swamp Aster (Symphyotrichum puniceum)
    #241 Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)
    #242 Beech-drops (Epifagus virginiana)
    #243 Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
    #244 Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia)
Friday 02 September 2016
    #245 Big-leaved Aster (Eurybia macrophylla)
    #246 New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
    #247 Nodding Beggar-ticks (Bidens cernua)

Tuesday 13 September 2016
    #248 Cheerful Sunflower (Helianthus x laetiflorus)
    #249 Sweet Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium)
    #250 Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum)
    #251 Arrow-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum urophyllum)

Wednesday 20 October 2016
    #252 Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sunrise (26 OCT 2016)

In case you missed it, the sunrise this morning was lovely...

Although the clouds barely shifted, the colors intensified as the sun rose higher toward the horizon.

Mid-Michigan may not known for its scenery, but there are times when it does quite well for itself.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall colors explained

Fall colors at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Have you ever wondered why leaves change colors?

It's a simple question with a complex biological answer involving masking, sugars, and pigments.

Normally the leaves of most plants appear green to people with normal color perception.  They are green because they are filled with a pigment called chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll is responsible for photosynthesis - the sugar production in plants and some bacteria (and one weird sea slug that incorporates chlorophyll into its body from an algae). It is also responsible for releasing oxygen in a form that we can use.

When leaves change color in the fall, they do so because the tree stops production of chlorophyll.  During the growing season, chlorophyll is so abundant in leaves that it masks all other colors found in the leaves.  As the level of chlorophyll decreases, the other colors begin to show through the mask.

Leaves, unmasked!

Yellow and orange colors are caused by a group of pigments known as carotenoids.  These colors were present throughout the growing season, but couldn't be seen because of the abundance of chlorophyll.

Thank carotenoids for the golden fall color of Quaking Aspen

Red and purple colors are different.  They are caused by by a group of pigments known as anthocyanins.  These chemicals are produced in the fall when chlorophyll production ceases.  The sugars that are produced by chlorophyll require the presence of several groups of chemicals to help break them down so they can be used as fuel at the cellular level - one of these groups is known as phosphates.  Phosphates are molecules that form around an atom of phosphorus, an important micronutrient.  Because phosphorus is present in limited quantities in the soil, trees can't afford to lose their phosphates when they drop their leaves - instead they transfer the phosphates back into the branches, trunk, and roots.

The red in these Sumac leaves comes from anthocyanins

When the phosphates are shuffled away from the leaves, the leaves have to use a different process to break down the sugars - this process results in the production of anthocyanins.  When the level of anthocyanins becomes high enough, and the level of chlorophyll low enough, the leaves will appear red or purple.

Sometimes leaves appear red in the early spring.  This happens because the tree also produces anthocyanins in the spring before chlorophyll production ramps up to summer levels.  Once chlorophyll production begins at full scale the anthocyanin production ceases and the chlorophyll masks the reds and purples.

Anthocyanins at work - fall color in a spring leaf of Red Oak

Brown leaves are produced by an entirely different process.  The brown is the color of the cell walls within the leaves - some trees do not produce large quantities of either carotenoids or anthycyanins, so we see the brown of the cell walls instead.  This also the reason why all fallen leaves eventually turn brown - the pigments fade away and we are left seeing the brown cell walls of the leaf.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - #252

Yesterday (20 OCT), I photographed what will probably be my last wildflower species of 2016. This is the first new species that I have added in over a month.  So what did I find?

Wildflowers of 2016 - #252 Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Witch-hazel is an understory tree/shrub.  Its yellow fall leaves can be seen at center and right in this photo

It should be no surprise that my latest wildflower of the year is Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana).  Most wildflowers have finished blooming for the year before the Witch-hazel even begins to think about flowering.  This native shrub blooms between late September and early November and is typically the last plant of the year to begin flowering in Michigan.  Its yellow flowers are pollinated by flies, moths, and beetles.  The plant is also capable of self pollination.  The  flower's narrow petals are up to 3/4 of an inch long.

Witch-hazel flowers

I found Witch-hazel at Mission Creek Park, where it is a common understory tree or shrub, especially in the upland woods north of the parking lot.  Witch-hazel is found in the eastern United States and Canada, east of a line from Minnesota south to eastern Texas.  In Michigan, it is found in nearly every county.

The species commonly grows to a height of up to 20 feet.  Witch-hazel leaves grow up to 5 inches long and 3 inches wide.  The leaves grow in an alternate pattern on the branches.

Witch-hazel flowers and leaves

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wetland Field Studies (19 OCT 2016)

Yesterday (19 Oct), I spent the afternoon with a sixth grade classroom from Fancher Elementary at Mill Pond Park in Mt. Pleasant.  Part of the Michigan Science Standards for Middle School students (including 6th grade) focuses on the interdependence of organisms within an ecosystem.  I believe that it is difficult to understand the interdependence of organisms within an ecosystem, if you first don't know what organisms live within that ecosystem. 

With that thought in mind, we discussed the different zones found in a wetland ecosystem and the species that are present (or absent) in each.  Then the students were turned loose to sample and identify aquatic macroinvertebrates. 

Zones of a wetland

Students surrounded by cattails and fall leaves

Collecting and examining macroinvertebrates
Two fish in a washbasin

Students working along the shore

Looking for organisms in a pipette

Because the students were working independently in their small groups, I was able to walk around giving occasional advice and identification help.  I was also able to get a few photographs of the rapidly changing fall colors and a few of wildlife.

Fall colors
Canada Geese

Pond reflections

Mating Meadowhawk dragonflies
Sumac leaves

Sunlight reflections through sedge leaves

Sun and clouds reflected among the lily pads

Common cattail

Swamp Milkweed seeds

Flocking Canada Geese

Monday, October 17, 2016

I'm a MAEOE Board Member

This past weekend I attended the annual conference of the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE).  MAEOE is a statewide organization with the mission of "promoting environmental literacy through education" by helping educators "explore the interconnectedness of natural and human systems; take responsibility for long-term environmental sustainability; make personal choices that contribute to ecological and human health; think globally and act locally; and use MAEOE's resources to expand (their) environmental ethic personally, and with (their) students."

I have been involved with MAEOE since 2009, when I attended their annual conference held at the University of Michigan - Dearborn.  Since then I have attended five more annual conferences, missing only the 2012 and 2013 editionss.  I have also been a presenter on three occasions (2011, 2014, and 2015).

This year the outgoing Past-President inquired if I would be interested in running for a position on the Board of Directors.  After asking a lot of questions and and much deliberation, I decided to give it a try and filled out my application to run.  I was one of five candidates for three available positions.  One of other four candidates was an active (and well-liked) current board member seeking reelection - not surprisingly, he was reelected for another term. 

Somewhat to my surprise, when the votes were tallied I was announced as one of two new members of the board! 

What does that mean?  It means some hard work - the board works on issues such as conference planning, membership, and marketing.  It also means that over the next three years I get to help steer the direction that MAEOE takes as an organization and have a say in the direction of environmental education in the state of Michigan.  I have lots of questions - despite being a member for years, there is a lot that I don't know about the organization. 

I am quite excited about the possibilities and look forward to this new challenge.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Earth Science Week 2016 - The rocks on my desk...

Happy Earth Science Week!

For today, I just thought I would photograph and share the rocks that are currently sitting on my desk at the office.  This doesn't include the ones in the desk, or the ones in a box under the desk, or the ones on a shelf next to the desk, or the ones...

Well you get the idea - there are a lot of rock samples around my desk.

Unakite pebble - pink feldspar, clear quartz, and green epidote

Chain coral fossil

Chert - a form of micro-crystalline quartz

Concretion (?)


Not sure on this one...

Conglomerate - AKA "puddingstone"
Limestone with horn coral fossil
Limestone with bryozoa fossil
Not sure what to call this one - looks like fractured basalt with quartz bonding it together

Petrified wood slices
Possibly Limonite - a form of iron ore


I'm not sure of the origins of all of these rocks.  I collected some of them, others were given to me, and others were purchased at rock shows/rock shops/etc.

I'm also not entirely sure why they are all sitting on my desk.  I'm sure there are very good reason, but I can't think of them right now.  I need to clean my desk...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Earth Science Week 2016 - Wednesday (National Fossil Day)

Happy Earth Science Week!

Unfortunately I did not have time to write something new for today so I am re-posting an article that I originally posted in October 2014:

The Wednesday of Earth Science Week is designated as National Fossil Day.  National Fossil Day was first celebrated in 2010.  This celebration is organized by the National Park Service to "promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational values."

Happy National Fossil Day!

Like most states, Michigan has an official state fossil - the American Mastodon (Mammut americanum).  Over three hundred mastodon fossil sites have been found in Michigan, but only south of a line running west from Saginaw Bay.  No mastodon fossils have been found in Northern Michigan, nor any in the Upper Peninsula.

Mural depicting American Mastodons (Mammut americanum) -  Museum of Natural and Cultural History at Central Michigan University

Fossil American Mastodon Jaw -Museum of Cultural and Natural History at Central Michigan University

Not only does Michigan have a state fossil, but our official state stone is also a fossil - the Petoskey Stone.  Petoskey Stones are the fossilized remains of the extinct Hexagonaria coral.  Hexagonaria was a common colonial coral that lived in the warm shallow ocean that covered Michigan during the Devonian period (more than 350 million years ago).  Petoskey Stones can be found around the state, but are most common along the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

An unpolished Hexagonaria - found in Shiawassee County, MI

The odds of finding a mastodon fossil are not very high, but with a little luck and a little time searching almost everyone will find a Petoskey Stone. 

A Hexagonaria coral "Petoskey Stone" on a Lake Michigan beach

So Happy National Fossil Day and happy fossil hunting!