Author: Jennifer Mansfield

07 Oct 2021

The GISt of Missing Bobwhites

The GISt of Missing Bobwhites

Every May for the past 3 years, our research team has spent one morning a week at our Lewis Township facility in Brown County, listening for the mating calls of bobwhite quail. Starting before dawn, the team listens intently for their calls, hoping to hear at least one as a sign of their return to the area. Bobwhites have become a rarity in these parts and their natural habitats have experienced severe decline as small farms intermixed with forests and hedgerows are replaced by large row-crop fields. Our hope has been that as we transition this farm back to one with more bobwhite friendly elements, we will see their return. Unfortunately the team failed to hear any bobwhites, the same outcome as years 1 and 2. To get a better sense of why we weren’t seeing a reversal in this trend, Research Intern Luke Weyer chose to perform a habitat suitability assessment of the Lewis Township facility as his summer intern project.

A habitat suitability model measures the quality of habitat based on three life requisites: winter food, cover, and nesting. In order for bobwhites to thrive, all three must be provided by the environment.

“The data I collected on these variables were integrated into a geographic information system (GIS) to generate suitability maps for each requisite (see image). The results were less than stellar and not unexpected, given the lack of bobwhite calls. The model found moderate, but also adequate, suitability for both cover and nesting, yet food was much lower making it the limiting factor.”

– Luke Weyer, Research Intern

With this new data in hand, we have hope for future years. The native warm season grasses planted at Lewis Township are establishing well which will provide excellent habitat for bobwhites. These grasses provide the bobwhite more opportunities to find sheltered food sources, as well as more nesting cover.  “After the completion of my project, a bobwhite was heard near the property in August, so I think we’re moving in the right direction with our efforts” continues Weyer, “I look forward to what the future holds”.

Greenacres plans to continue monitoring and improving habitats for bobwhites in Brown County.

Winter food availability
Nesting suitability
Cover suitability
The range of suitability.
05 Apr 2021

April is Ohio Native Plant Month

April is Ohio Native Plant Month

With April being “Ohio Native Plant Month” and many of our native spring ephemerals currently in bloom, this is a great time to think about native plants and the role they play in our ecosystem. The importance of native plants is even gaining national attention with the U.S. Senate recently passing a bipartisan resolution designating April 2021 as “National Native Plant Month”.

As you make plans for your garden, remember that native plants are beautiful additions to your landscape and also contribute to ecosystem health by providing food and shelter to wildlife such as bees, birds and insects. The plants are well adapted to our area and require less maintenance than other species. Use the slideshow below to familiarize yourself with some of the native plants in bloom this month. When you are ready to learn more about natives or find out how to purchase them for your yard, visit: https://www.ohionativeplantmonth.org/

08 Mar 2021

Ohio’s New Invader: The Spotted Lanternfly

Ohio’s New Invader: The Spotted Lanternfly

Traveling this summer?  Beware of unwanted hitchhikers.  The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) has officially entered Ohio with a confirmed population in Jefferson County. This insect was first reported in Pennsylvania in 2014 and now resides in several eastern states.  Lanternflies are poor fliers but can hitchhike.  Large egg masses are formed and these masses are laid on trees, wood or rusty metal (e.g. old train cars). It is these egg masses that are often moved by human assisted spread.

The spotted lanternfly can congregate in large numbers and preferred hosts are Tree of Heaven and grapes but spotted lanternflies have been documented on a variety of species. These phloem feeders concern fruit producers as their large numbers can cause a nuisance.  They squirt honeydew from their abdomen (which can rain down on people) and this substance promotes the growth of black sooty mold.

U.S. Department of Agriculture - Lance Cheung/Multimedia PhotoJournalist/USDA Photo by Lance Cheung, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are traveling east, do not pack up the lanterfly when you return home.  Check yourself and your belongings for any tag-alongs.  Adults are the easiest to spot and are most abundant late summer through fall.

The spotted lanternfly can congregate in large numbers.
The lanternfly with its wings open.
06 Aug 2020

What’s in our Wetland?

What’s in our Wetland?

At Greenacres we strive to provide education opportunities in all forms. One way we do this is internships. Our interns are responsible for helping with daily tasks and developing an independent project. This year’s intern surveyed our education wetland by collecting data on vegetation (aquatic and surrounding upland), water chemistry (pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrates), and macroinvertebrates (benthic and water column).

The surrounding area was dominated by black and brown eyed susans and partridge pea, followed by late boneset and an unknown grass species (Figure 1). There were a total of 54 species identified and 18 of which were planted or seeded. The 18 planted or seeded species had the highest densities and had a very successful establishment. Due to sampling timing, it is likely that some planted and seeded species had already bloomed or were not in season yet. Consequently, sampling in multiple seasons will be needed to help capture the wetland as a whole.

We really enjoyed the macroinvertebrate sampling portion of this project. We collected data on benthic (bottom) and the water column macroinvertebrates using a 10 inch diameter stove pipe. Macroinvertebrates are good indicators of water quality and overall wetland health, so sampling these is a must! The majority of what we found (leaches, water crawling beetles, etc.) were pollution tolerant species, but we had two groups (mayflies and dragonflies) in high abundance that are pollution intolerant (Figure 2). These data showed that our wetland can support a diverse population of macroinvertebrates and is in good health. As we continue to sample the wetland, we will make necessary changes to keep it thriving for our education programs.

–Chad G.