Posts Tagged ‘science’

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Surveying Adirondack Lakes for Aquatic Invaders

rake tossOver the last decade, I have monitored many lakes in Hamilton County for aquatic invasive plants.  I feel a sense of stewardship to these lakes because paddling, camping, swimming, fishing, and skiing are important aspects to my lifestyle that allow me to distress, reconnect, and stay healthy.  Invasive plant infestations can crowd out native aquatic plants that fish rely on for food and shelter; make boating and paddling unenjoyable; and be costly to manage. I survey lakes because I find it enjoyable and my efforts protect water quality.

This year my co-worker Lenny and I checked Spy Lake for invaders on two glorious September afternoons.  We were on the lookout for plants like Eurasian watermilfoil, water chestnut, fanwort, and curlyleaf pondweed.  The inventory was in accordance with the survey instructions of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program’s Aquatic Invasive Species Project. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Celebrate Loons at the Paul Smith’s VIC

There is something quite mystical about hearing a loon. Whether it’s the haunting wail that echoes across lakes or the territorial male yodel, the loon’s calls can silence everyone around it as people search for the source of the sound.

I was recently paddling a nearby Adirondack pond and was followed by a common loon.  It gave that shrill laughing sound called tremolo that is used to signal alarm. I can only assume that we were too close to its chicks. It seemed that no matter where we went, it didn’t want to share the waterway with us. We finally just sat and drifted and the loon dove underwater, reappearing on a far shore.

There are many things to understand about the loon and the Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) have joined forces for a full day of loon related activities to educate and inform all of us about this iconic bird. This free event will be held from 9 am – 5 pm on Sunday, October 13 at the VIC. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Adirondack Forests: Explaining Fall Color Change

DSCN4905As a very young lad I was told that the summer sun bleached pigment from clothes hung on the line, and saved up the colors to paint on autumn leaves. It occurs to me that solar dryers (a.k.a. laundry lines) and fall leaf colors are similar in that they operate free of charge, but their performance depends on the weather. The same clear-sky conditions that produce dry, good-smelling (and a teensy bit faded) laundry also make for the best leaf color. While the former process is well-understood, the latter is a story fraught with murder and intrigue, and requires some explanation.

Chlorophyll, the green molecule at the center of the photosynthesis miracle, is what makes the world go ‘round. Some say money is, but without chlorophyll the sole life on Earth would be bacteria, whereas without money we’d only have to barter. (Given that both items are green, it’s easy to understand the mistake.) Green gives way to fall colors, though, when trees start killing their own chlorophyll, revealing yellow xanthophylls and orange carotenenoids that were in the leaves all along.

How could a tree be so heartless as to slay its chlorophyll? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Amy Ivy On The Fall Foliage Season

GFP_2053autumnbyway725The northeastern United States is one of the few locations in the world that develops intense fall color (along with northern areas of China, Korea and Japan) and our region is just hitting its stride.

With all the variations in colors and tree species, it can be difficult to determine when an area is truly at peak color. I’d encourage you to enjoy all the transitions as they occur and look for the spots of color and beauty throughout the fall months around the region.

There are many factors that influence fall color.  The yellow and orange pigments are always present in the leaves; they are just masked by the green chlorophyll until fall.  As the leaves begin to get ready to drop the green fades away, revealing the yellows and oranges.  » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 27, 2013

VIDEO: Researchers Study Adirondack Earthworms

ed_kanze_wormWorms, WORMS, WORMS! Sad but true—those lowly, wriggling saints of the natural world, hailed as creators and saviors of the soil since the days of Charles Darwin, are now known to represent an Evil Empire.

Well, maybe not evil. But it turns out that most North American earthworms were introduced from other continents, and the new arrivals, while doing some good in gardens, actually disrupt the ecology of forests, diminish the rich fabric of life in the soil, and even contribute to global warming. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

International Observe the Moon Night in Bolton

International Observe the Moon Night in the AdirondacksMoon enthusiasts, stargazers, and anyone else interested in learning more about space will be interested in International Observe the Moon Night, sponsored by the Lake George Land Conservancy, and held at Up Yonda Farm Environmental Education Center in Bolton Landing, on Saturday, October 12 from 6 – 8 pm.

International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) is an annual event that is dedicated to encouraging people to ‘look up’ and take notice of our nearest neighbor, the Moon. From looking at the Moon with a naked eye to using the most sensitive telescope, every year on the same day, people from around the world hold events and activities that celebrate our Moon. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Small Species: Critical to Ecosystem Health

Michael Klemens sampling for amphibians(1)Small species slithering unseen within the forest leaf litter, or croaking and peeping from the edge of wetlands rarely take center stage in either conservation or Adirondack land development discussions. 

In fact, they are often completely overlooked, but that is changing with the leading work of Dr. Michael Klemens. An internationally recognized biologist, herpetologist and scientist-advocate for conservation design, Dr. Klemens has been retained by Adirondack Wild to give much needed attention to frogs, salamanders, and reptiles – key to the base of our Adirondack forest ecosystem and food chain. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Study: Wetlands Key to Revitalizing Acid Streams

New York GLA team of University of Texas at Arlington biologists working with the U.S. Geological Survey in the Black and Oswegatchie river basins has found that watershed wetlands can serve as a natural source for the improvement of streams polluted by acid rain.

The group, led by associate professor of biology Sophia Passy, also contends that recent increases in the level of organic matter in surface waters in regions of North America and Europe – also known as “brownification” – holds benefits for aquatic ecosystems.  The research team’s work appears in the September issue of the journal Global Change Biology. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monitoring Sacandaga Lake For Invasive Species

Eurasian watermilfoil can hitchhike to new lakes on boat motors.  The voice of the woman on the other end of the phone was laden with concern.  She called to report a possible infestation of Eurasian watermilfoil in the outlet of Sacandaga Lake, just past the Route 8 bridge in Lake Pleasant.  I took down her contact information and told her I would check it out.

That evening, my husband and I loaded up his Carolina Skiff with a glass jar full of water to collect a plant sample, a cooler to keep the sample cold, and an aquatic plant identification book.  The sky was streaked with ominous clouds against a low, red sun, and the boat ride would have been enjoyable if I were not so anxious to get to the plant bed.  Images of benthic mats and hand harvesting SCUBA divers flashed before my eyes, and my thoughts turned to the expensive cost of milfoil management that could take years to successfully eradicate.  According to a 2003 study, New York State spends an estimated $500,000 to control Eurasian watermilfoil each year. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Eastern White Pine: A Meat-Eater?

DeceiverPlants are not often thought of as predators. They’re the nice guys. With over 300,000 species known to exist, only a small fraction are known to be meat-eaters. In our northern bogs, for example, insects are trapped on the sticky hairs of sundew or drowned in the pitcher plant’s water

Research now suggests that at least one tree may owe its size to more than just sun, water and good soils.

The eastern white pine is one of the tallest native tree species in our region. Give them a few hundred years in ideal floodplain habitat, with roots sunk deep into sandy and silty soils and protected from winds and lightning by hillsides, and they’ll grow to over 200 feet tall with nearly eight foot diameter trunks.

It takes a lot of energy and nutrients for a tree to grow to such grandeur. One thing that might help the eastern white pine is its surprising relationship with a meat-eating fungus. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Adirondack Birds: The Science of Wing Sounds

wing_musicAs the summer bird chorus wanes, we might remember that song can arrive in unexpected ways. Drumming heads, clacking bills, and dancing feet create nonvocal sound. Even flight, that foremost avian feat, creates music of its own.

Wings can sing – sound is created by the asymmetry, anatomy, and arrangement of individual flight feathers as they vibrate through the air. A number of birds use wing song to communicate, both with their own species and as a way to thwart predators. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Adirondack Outdoors: Understanding Spittle Bugs

spittle_bugOn the lower levels of the food chain, danger is rarely out of spitting distance. Risk from predators has spurred the evolution of many clever adaptations – camouflage coloring, speedy retreat, distasteful secretions, and armor plating among them. Small jumping insects known as froghoppers approach concealment in a unique way: their developing nymphs cover themselves in a bubble bath. From this trick they derive their common name, “spittle bug.”

If you investigate the clumps of white froth, sometimes referred to as ‘cow spit’ or ‘frog spit,’ that appear on plant stems this time of year, you’ll find that each dollop of foam envelops a soft, greenish insect. Who would have thought that froth, so soft and insubstantial, could be protective? Yet predators can’t see the bug for the bubbles, and if they probe the foam, they soon find that it has an acrid taste. The spittle bug’s foam is also a good insulator against heat and cold. And it is a great moisturizer, without which the soft-bodied nymph would soon dry up. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gibson: Make Protection, Preservation of New Lands Paramount

Essex ChainWhen the Adirondack Park Agency  was reviewing the Adirondack Club and Resort in 2011, board member Richard Booth encouraged APA staff to put all of the most important legal and other considerations from the hearing record on the table early in the review process. Avoid having Agency members get buried in minutia was his advice because it is easy for a board to get overwhelmed by a lot of presentation data, or to assume they know the most important factors and considerations when, in fact, they may not. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

2013-14 Sporting Licenses Now On Sale

The 2013-2014 hunting, fishing and trapping licenses and Deer Management Permits (DMPs) are now available for  purchase.

In a statement issued to the press New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens praised Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative. Under this initiative, New York is streamlining the purchase of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improving fishing access at various sites across the state, stocking as much as 900,000 pounds of fish, expanding fishing clinics and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions. The reduced fees become effective February 1, 2014. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pool Owners Sought For Invasive Species Citizen Science

Pool owners are being asked to join in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for their second annual Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) Swimming Pool Survey now through August 30 in order to help keep watch for these exotic, invasive beetles before they cause serious damage to our forests and street trees. The Citizen Pool Survey takes place this time of year when ALBs are expected to become adults, emerge from the trees they are infesting and become active outside those trees.

ALBs are originally from Asia and although they have yet to establish themselves in the Adirondacks, they have caused the death of hundreds of thousands of trees across the nation, particularly in maple trees in New York City, on Long Island, in New Jersey, Chicago, Illinois, Worcester, Massachusetts and Clermont, Ohio. The state DEC Forest Health Program has developed a simple and easy survey to track ALBs for homeowners who have swimming pools and are willing to keep an eye out for these insects. » Continue Reading.