Feb 28

We’re especially excited to share the following guest blog from one of ARKive’s Global Ambassadors, Susan Kloempken Graunke. Susan has helped to lead the charge for ARKive in the US and, more specifically, in Illinois. With her support and leadership, our campaign to “Fill the ARK” in Illinois has been and continues to be incredibly successful! Read on to see why ‘The Prairie State’ will always hold a special place in her heart.

As a global ambassador to ARKive, I was asked if I wanted to write about why I value my experience in conservation in Illinois.  ARKive is launching its Illinois feature page.  From fundraising efforts last year, we were able to feature 100 incredible Illinois species profiles on the website!

“Every year we planted over 200 trees that we dug by hand”

My love for conservation was imbedded in me at an early age.  My father, Dr. Robert C. Kloempken, was a physician by profession.  His avocation, however, was conservation.  In 1968, my dad purchased land in McHenry County, Illinois, USA.  Every year we planted over 200 trees that we dug by hand on the property.  My dad also planted seeds, native wildflowers and grasses. Dad knew the Latin name of every tree, flower, bush or grass on the property.  This he studied during the sermons on Sundays.

Dr. Robert C. Kloempken and his students, working on the Prairie (1982)

 “Fire is an extremely beneficial tool in the sustainability and management of the prairie”

We also started three of the first true American prairies on that land. We would walk the railroad tracks, cemeteries, and other out of the way and secret places to collect seeds and grow those plants, flowers, grasses in our basement which we then planted.  Every year we burned the prairies.  Fire is an extremely beneficial tool in the sustainability and management of the prairie.  It rejuvenates the prairie and also hampers the growth of invasive species.  This was an all out family affair that everyone had to attend.

Prairie burn (1978)

Illinois is nicknamed the “Prairie State” because the region once had many treeless plains that were covered with tall grass.   I live in the “Prairie State,” and this is why I value conservation in Illinois!

Susan Kloempken Graunke, ARKive Global Ambassador

What a lovely story and first-hand account of conservation action in Illinois. Thanks for being the definition of an ambassador for ARKive, Susan!

Feb 27

Have we got a treat for you times two! First, have you seen the incredible new Illinois feature page just launched on the ARKive website?

ARKive's Illinois feature page

From the stony outcrops at the Garden of the Gods to the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, the state of Illinois is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the Great Lakes basin. Through the generosity of ARKive supporters in the great state of Illinois, we are delighted to launch the ARKive Illinois feature page; the GO-TO source for Illinois wildlife media and natural history information. You can spend hours exploring 50 well-known and well-loved species of Illinois as well as 100+ lesser-known but just as important species that deserve recognition!

ARKive's northern raccoon photo

So, what’s the best way to celebrate this new feature and all of the wonderful wildlife, woodlands, and wayward walks in Illinois?  By gathering an incredible collection of scientists, conservationists and nature diehards that can’t wait to tell their favorite WILD stories in the Land of Lincoln as part of our Going WILD in Illinois mini-blog series!

Il parter logos

For the next two weeks, we’ll be publishing guest blogs from our friends at the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and more who are anxious to share stories about Illinois endangered species recovery, explorations of incredible natural areas found only in the state, and brilliant Chicago students who are leading the charge as the conservationists of tomorrow.

ARKive barred owl photo

Of course, there will be loads of awe-inspiring imagery from fantastic ARKive contributors to quench your thirst for wildlife media – it’s what we do!

So, come back to the ARKive blog often to read the next chapter in the series. Follow the Going WILD in Illinois blog tag or look for the series on social media by searching #GoingWILDinIL.

Liana Vitali, Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

Feb 22
Bermuda cave amphipod (<em>Pseudoniphargus grandimanus</em>)

Bermuda cave amphipod (Pseudoniphargus grandimanus)

Species: Bermuda cave amphipod (Pseudoniphargus grandimanus)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: Juvenile Bermuda cave amphipods are found far closer to the shore than adults.

More information:

The Bermuda cave amphipod is a colourless, eyeless amphipod that lacks a rostrum (a forward-projecting spine found between the eyes of most crustaceans). The upper lip is broadly rounded and the lower lip has large inner lobes. Male Bermuda cave amphipods are known to reach lengths of 6.5 to 8 millimetres.

The Bermuda cave amphipod is found in anchialine caves. These are coastal caves that are flooded with seawater via subterranean connections with the ocean. This species has been found in water of varying levels of salt concentration throughout a wide variety of anchialine limestone cave and groundwater habitats. Juvenile Bermuda cave amphipods are found far closer to the sea coast than adults, typically just 11 to 180 metres away, compared to 147 to 853 metres for adults.

Large adults, but notably no specimens carrying eggs, have been found further inland from the sea coast than juveniles. This could indicate a dependence on coastal marine habitats for reproduction, and that juveniles may migrate inland to mature.

The Bermuda cave amphipod is endemic to Bermuda, as its name suggests. Is has been recorded from wells, waterworks and cave waters in Hamilton, St George’s, Devonshire, Paget, Smith’s and Warwick Parishes in Bermuda. Caves in which it has been found include Church, Wonderland, Admiral’s and Government Quarry Caves.

 

Find out more about the Bermuda cave amphipod at Anchialine Caves and Cave Fauna of the World.

See images of the Bermuda cave amphipod on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author

 

Feb 21

562995_460205190743127_1808199899_nWhat is your job, where do you work?

My name is Neil Green and I am the Avon Invasive Weed Forum (AIWF) Project Officer.  I work mainly on the rivers and watercourses within Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset.

What is your background?

My background includes life guarding in Cumbria, teaching English in Madrid, exporting oil for BP lubricants, building balconies in Bondi Beach and running my own landscape gardening business in sunny Swindon!  In more recent years I  have been a Coastal Ranger for the National Trust in North Cornwall and worked on the Source to Sea Invasive species project for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.

What is the Avon Invasive Weed Forum, what projects are you working on?

The AIWF is an independent group of relevant stakeholders such as Bristol City Council, Bristol Zoo Gardens, The Environment Agency and South Gloucestershire Council, currently funded by Defra. The aim is to survey as much of the Avon catchment as possible for Non-Native Invasive Weeds (NNIW), so far we have over 70 kilometres of riparian habitat logged. Once the surveys are mapped we then get the NNIW into the appropriate management to control and reduce the abundance of these alien nasties.

How are you helping to fight invasive species in the UK?

We are helping by engaging with local conservation and community groups to take ownership of their local areas and the invasive species that they may have. In the Spring and Summer we carry out many practical Himalayan balsam weed pulls – we managed 22 ‘BIG PULL’ events last summer.   Himalayan balsam has a very shallow root system and is easy and very enjoyable to yank out of the ground. Removing the plants stop them from seeding, which is of paramount importance to help fight the invasion!

brislingtonbrook

How can people get involved?

You can get involved by volunteering to help manage the Himalayan Balsam as part of our ‘BIG PULL’ campaign or help survey the watercourses and open water in the Avon Catchment.   You can do this by contacting your local conservation groups, community groups or myself at the Avon Invasive Weeds Forum, we welcome individuals, groups and corporate social responsibility requests.

If you are not in the Avon area you can take a look at the GB NNSS website and find an Invasive Species Project closer to home.

You can also help by following the guidelines in the Check, Clean and Dry and Be Plant Wise Campaigns too.

Find out more about the Avon Invasive Weed Forum by visiting their website or their Facebook page.

Learn more about invasive species in the UK by visiting our UK invasive species page.

Feb 15
Collared laughingthrush (Garrulax yersini)

Collared laughingthrush (Garrulax yersini)

Species: Collared laughingthrush (Garrulax yersini)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The collared laughingthrush spends much of its time skulking among dense vegetation, only betraying its presence with its loud song.

More information:

Found only in the Da Lat plateau in Vietnam, the collared laughingthrush is a colourful, ground-dwelling bird. A striking species with soft, fluffy plumage, the collared laughingthrush has a black hood that contrasts sharply with silver ear patches and a predominantly orange-brown body. Like other laughingthrushes, it is a robust, thrush-like bird of the forest floor and understory, with very strong legs and short, rounded wings.

Very little is known about the specific biology and behaviour of the rare and secretive collared laughingthrush. However, it is a social species, occurring in flocks of four to eight individuals. The collared laughingthrush is generally found in the forest understory where it occupies the dense vegetation of the undergrowth.

The collared laughingthrush has a very small and highly fragmented range, meaning it is extremely vulnerable to further habitat loss. Logging, agriculture, fuel-wood collection and charcoal production are all putting pressure on the collared laughingthrush’s habitat, while a government resettlement programme has greatly increased the number of people on the Da Lat plateau exploiting forest resources. On Mount Lang Bian, all land below 1,500 metres is now logged or under cultivation.

This species is afforded some protection as a result of its presence in the Chu Yang Sin Nature Reserve, although presently few protection measures exist for the reserve. There is the potential for eco-tourism to be developed at various sites, as well as the sustainable production of charcoal, which would lessen the impacts of this manufacturing process on natural habitats.

 

Find out more about the collared laughingthrush at BirdLife International.

See images of the collared laughingthrush on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author

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