Friday, January 27, 2017

Photo Friday: Nature's Artistry

Thanks to Steve Cox, one of our very valuable seasonal employees, for letting us use this beautiful picture he took. One of the fun things about fungus is that it exhibits just as many colors as wildflowers can. I believe that this particular fungus is False Turkey Tail, Stereum ostrea.

Posted by: Robyn Wright-Strauss

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Dr. Seuss-ish world of Cladonias

Cladonia pyxidata complex, photo by Robyn Wright-Strauss
This month I'd like to share some photos of the Cladonia lichens.  There are many species in this group, but many look distinct enough to identify the species.  These odd shaped lichens are unique and interesting.  Since they look like Dr. Seuss images, you might as well read about them in Dr. Seuss form!
Cladonia lichens generally grow with squamules below, and sometimes form stalks (podetia) that stick up into odd shapes.

A peculiar lichen with the genus Cladonia
I'm sure you've seen 'em, if I knew you, I'da shown ya!
Some statuesque, with stalks slender and tall,
British soldiers, Cladonia cristatella

Some come short, with no stalks at all.
Yellow-tongued cladonia, Cladonia robinsii
They sometimes look like tiny cities under seas...
Some old logs are covered with Cladonias of many species. Photo by Robyn Wright-Strauss
And sometimes look like an army of fuzzy golf tees.
Pixie cups, Cladonia pyxidata

One looks like a trumpet, inside a trumpet, inside a trumpet...
Ladder lichen, Cladonia cervicornis 

Ladder lichen, Cladonia cervicornis

Another like a floor covered in toast, cracker, or crumpet! (Lame line, I know, but I just couldn't dump it.)
Stalkless cladonia, Cladonia apodocarpa
One is so tangled a beetle couldn't get through...
Dixie reindeer lichen, Cladonia subtenuis
Another so open it couldn't block the wind if it blew.
Common powderhorn, Cladonia coniocraea

Most grow in the woods and very few are urban...
Even though some are fashionable with berets or a turban.
Southern soldiers, Cladonia didyma
Turban lichen, Cladonia peziziformis Photo by Robyn Wright-Strauss

Search the ground next time you're in a forest full of trees,
you should find Cladonias if you get down on your hands and knees.
Fence-rail cladonia,  Cladonia parasitica.  Some lichens need chemical tests to determine i.d.
 Photo by Robyn Wright-Strauss.

These small fungus are harmless, they won't bite, sting or poke us,
By the way, thanks to Robyn for some pics I couldn't get in focus!

Posted by: Mark Zloba

Friday, January 20, 2017

Photo Friday: Landscapes of the Edge

A view from a ridge in the southern portion of the preserve. The farthest hill in the picture is across the Ohio River in Kentucky.

Friday, January 13, 2017

warm winter days

The calendar reads January 12 but you wouldn't know it was a day in January by the temperature outside.  The outside air temperature is 65°F and it continues to rain.  Weather conditions like these during the winter months are likely to cause some of our herp species (reptiles and amphibians) to feel the urge to get things going.  The Jefferson salamander, Ambystoma jeffersonianum  and the spotted salamander, Ambystoma maculatum, members of the mole salamander family (Ambystomatidae) will respond to these warm winter days by migrating to vernal pools in which they will breed and lay their eggs.  These salamanders will visit the pools, even if the pools are frozen over, for courting and laying eggs.  The Ambystomids spend most of their lives underground and can sometimes by discovered under rocks or other debris with some searching. 
This spotted salamander was discovered by lifting a piece of tin adjacent to an old barn located in an open field. 

The best time to encounter mole salamanders, above ground, is during the winter migration.  Edge staff have witnessed this migration occurrence as early as mid December and the activity is usually over by late February.  Locating a vernal pool during a warm and rainy day in late December or early January, will provide the best opportunity for seeing some of these reclusive salamanders.  The salamanders are usually very active within the pool and can be viewed swimming in the usually shallow waters of the pool.  Rarely are mole salamanders visible walking above the leaf litter during the daylight hours but may be visible walking above ground during a dark and rainy night. 
Mole salamanders are not usually visible above ground during daylight hours.  The spotted salamander pictured here was removed from a trap where he paused for a photo before returning to the water. 
Now is the time to get out and locate a vernal pool (especially if you are a mole salamander) and pay attention on those warm and rainy nights.  The Jefferson and Spotted salamanders are the two species that you might expect to discover here in southern Ohio.  An unexpected salamander for the Edge, and one that you should hope to see somewhere in Ohio, would be the Eastern tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum.  The tiger salamander may appear similar to the spotted salamander but should be noticeably larger and have a more irregular pattern with its spots. 

Posted by: Rich McCarty

Photo Friday: An Early Spring Sentinel

A white Trout Lily, Erythronium albidum, stands ready for early spring pollinators.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Photo Friday: Cross-eyed Katydid

A male Agile Katydid, Orchelimim agile, looks back at the photographer. It makes one wonder what exactly he was seeing?