Advanced Naturalist Workshops

2017 Advanced Naturalist Workshops-Series 13

For more detailed information and registration instructions, please visit our website.

May 26-28, 2017
Dr.Sunshine Brosi, Associate Professor, Frostburg University

Ethnobotany is the study of the interaction between plants and people weaving together the importance of cultural sustainability with ecological sustainability.  Dr. Sunshine Brosi coordinates and teaches classes for Ethnobotany Programs in both Appalachia and Alaska. This workshop will explore the role of plants in the Appalachian and Cherokee cultures by looking at the history of plant use; origins of economically important plants; the use of flowers and fruits for food and the use of roots, stems and leaves for food and other purposes. The principles and methods used in the ethnobotany field will be explored through real world applications. For example, Dr. Brosi, learned the art of basketry from traditional Cherokee elders in North Carolina. She will demonstrate this art form as well as share stories she has heard from Cherokee basket makers. Participants will also learn about plants used for natural dyes through hands-on demonstrations using butternut (Juglans cinerea), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), and yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima), and be taught the proper process of collecting the material. Dr. Brosi works on the diversification of economic opportunities for small-scale Appalachian landowners including methods to save small woodlots through agroforestry techniques like medicinal herb cultivation. She is also interested in the economic and environmental sustainability of non-timber forest products such as black cohosh, American ginseng, bloodroot, and others. She will share much of this information on short hikes to view and/or collect plants. Dr. Brosi is one of only a few ethnobotany professors in the country and the perfect person to lead us through this multifaceted study of the connections between humans and plants.

June 16-18, 2017
Freshwater Turtles
Eric Munscher, Herpetologist/Ecologist, Director for the Turtle Survival Alliance's North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group

This workshop will be the first-ever look at the semi-aquatic freshwater turtles on the preserve. To date there simply hasn’t been any formal research or surveys done on these aquatic reptiles at the Edge of Appalachia. While the potential species list is not expected to be exhaustive (5-6 species), the opportunity for hands-on learning is expected to be frequent and exciting, with turtles in hand! This workshop will explore both the deeper backwater areas of Ohio Brush Creek as well as the free flowing riffle and run sites along the stream. Pond dwelling species will also be sought so as to include all available habitats for turtles on the preserve. Live trapping will be the preferred method for detecting turtles although other survey techniques will be taught. Participants will be instructed on how to take morphometric measurements for each individual encountered.  Eric Munscher has 17 years of experience researching and surveying turtles across the southeast and since 2010 has been the principal investigator for the Turtle Survival Alliance Research Group. Enlisting his skills at finding turtles is an important first step to better understanding the preserve’s turtle fauna.

June 23-25, 2017
Rove Beetles
Dr. Joseph Parker, Research Associate, American Museum of Natural History and Postdoctoral Fellow, Columbia University

There are many extraordinary and weird relationships in the natural world but none more bizarre or intriguing than the rove beetle species that are social parasites on ants and termites. Their strange shapes and forms are matched only by their bizarre behaviors—all part of elaborate mechanisms of deception and mimicry that integrate these beetles seamlessly into their host’s colony life. From body plans that are ant-like, to specialized hairs (trichomes) for delivering ant-appeasing chemicals, to cloaking themselves with scents from the ants whereby they are not only accepted, but fed, by the ants. This workshop will be the first of its kind to attempt to locate these myrmecophiles (ant-loving) in ant and termite nests to document the species present on the preserve. With over 61,000 species in the world it’s the largest beetle family (Staphylinidae) but the social parasites are predominately found in two subfamilies making our identification task more reasonable. This workshop will be a mix of field experiences to search for beetles and lab time to learn identification techniques.  Dr. Parker specializes in this strange group of beetles and his stories will undoubtedly boggle your mind and flare your imagination. He is the perfect ambassador for this first of its kind workshop in Ohio.

July 28-30, 2017
Orchid and Forest Ecology
Dennis Whigham, Senior Botanist and Founding Director of the North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC)

Orchids are considered by many to be the most beautiful and alluring species of the plant kingdom. They are also some of the most imperiled with more than 50% of all native orchids listed as threatened or endangered. Orchids utilize many strategies for survival with some specialized to the family while other woodland plants use a multitude of reproductive strategies, specialized seed dispersal systems, clonality and resource sharing to ‘make a living’ in a world under tree cover. While this workshop will focus on orchid ecology (not limited to only Ohio species), broader concepts of forest ecology will also be fair game. While many botanists and amateurs alike can identify orchids and woodland plants, few know the details of their ecology. Native orchids are especially interesting with pollination ecologies that involve some of the most bizarre insect/plant interactions known, unique seed dispersal strategies and germination, and unusual fungal associations which sustain orchid seeds and plants. Not all orchids make their own food through photosynthesis instead relying on complex associations with mycorrhizal fungi living within the plant. A highlight of the weekend will be visiting one of these fungus harboring orchids, the state endangered crested coral root (Hexalectris spicata) to discuss this unique survival strategy. A combination of field trips for orchid species blooming in late July, and their woodland counterparts, combined with lab and lecture will round out an amazing journey into the ecology of orchids and woodland plants. Dennis Whigham is the founding director of the organization leading the charge to save NA orchids and a scientist who has studied woodland herbs for decades. He is uniquely positioned to lead this workshop with his research background on population dynamics, pollination, seed longevity and germination, dormancy, and the diversity and importance of fungi in the life history of native orchids. NAOCC was established by the Smithsonian Institution and the United States Botanic Garden to assure the survival of all native orchids in the U.S. and Canada so learning more about NAOCC and the important work they do will also be central to the weekend.  

August 4-6, 2017
Ohio Ants
Dr. Rachelle Adams, Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University, Gary Coovert, Biologist and Author of The Ants of Ohio (2005), Randy Morgan, Emeritus Curator-Insectarium, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 

Join this ’Dream Team’ of ant authorities for this multifaceted workshop on Ohio ants. Dr. Adams will lead the team as a chemical and behavioral ecologist with a special interest in social parasitism evolution (ants using other ant species for their resources). She will share her broad knowledge of ant behavior in the field as we view nest sites and conduct short behavioral experiments. Gary Coovert, one of the top field biologists in Ohio, specializes in biodiversity (over 10,000 species identified) at the privately owned Crane Hollow Nature Preserve. His knowledge of ants and their identification is evidenced by his book, The Ants of Ohio. Gary will lead the group in an ant identification session, whereby participants will be taught the basics of identifying Ohio ants using morphology and scientific keys. Randy Morgan has been keeping live ant colonies since childhood before putting his knowledge to use professionally at the The Cincinnati Zoo’s Insectarium for 32 years where he reared leafcutters (Atta), honey ants (Myrmecocystus) and bullet ants (Paraponera). He will teach live field collection techniques, design and construction of observation nests, and colony maintenance. He has worked with Dr. Adams in developing techniques for studying the fungus-growing ant Trachymyrmex that extends into southern Adams County. This is a not to be missed field and lab experience with three of Ohio’s most dedicated and experienced ant authorities.