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Karen Schik

If you build it, will they come? Investigating whether restored habitat means more wildlife.

A red fox ventures into an open, grassy area.

Bird surveys and wildlife cameras (one of which captured this red fox on film) have long provided a glimpse of how wildlife use our restoration sites. But recently we've been greatly expanding our monitoring to include amphibians, reptiles, pollinators and other insects.

Since the creation of our land conservation program over 20 years ago, FMR has protected, restored or enhanced over a thousand acres of prairie, forest, wetland and other types of wildlife and pollinator habitat in the metro area. But does increasing native habitat result in the return of native animals?

Learn about bird surveys, wildlife cams and our work with local high schools to find out. >>

February 9

Nature Notes: Snowshoeing grouse?

grouse foot showing pectination

Grown each fall and shed in the spring, the grouse's comb-like foot fringe acts like a snowshoe to help them walk on top of snow. (Photo courtesy of Mary Holland.)

In this month's Nature Notes:  Oh, the surprising things that ruffed grouse have in common with snowshoe hares and aspen trees. >>

December 11

Thank you, Kala and Annie!

 Annie Dubner and Kala Peebles

Annie Dubner (left) and Kala Peebles, our stellar summer 2017 intern and SuperVolunteers, about to examine milkweed plants for monarch eggs and caterpillars.

Surveying wildlife, supporting events, braving mosquitoes — Kala Peebles and Annie Dubner were indispensable and indefatigable throughout the 2017 field season. >>

November 9

Volunteers help scientists gather critical data about monarch butterflies

Volunteer-bred monarch

Monarchs face a complex array of threats, but volunteers are acquiring much-needed data to help the embattled species survive.

Through heat, rain and mosquitos, eight dedicated FMR volunteers surveyed a patch of milkweed plants throughout the summer, hunting for the eggs and larvae of monarch butterflies. Their efforts, combined with hundreds of others', help researchers better understand the complex ecological needs of our iconic, declining monarchs. >>

October 9

Nature Notes: 'What’s it got in its pocketses?'

Plains pocket gopher

Seldom venturing above ground, the beady eyes and small ears of the plains pocket gopher are reflective of their underground lifestyle.

Fans of The Lord of the Rings will recognize this query of Gollum, the odd underworld creature, as he pondered the riddle of Bilbo’s pocket contents. The star character of this month’s Nature Notes is also a creature of the underworld, seldom seen above ground. And like Gollum, these animals have a lead role in the world they inhabit.

April 10

Nature Notes: Misty mornings on the Mighty Miss

Mist rising from the Mississippi on a cold December dawn

Mist rises from the Mississippi just east of downtown St. Paul on a cold December dawn.

Ever wonder why there's a wintry mist on the water in the morning, but not later in the day? Even when it's still quite cold?

January 6

Losing our cottonwoods: What’s at stake?

Installing cottonwood live stakes in the floodplain forest near Hastings

On a recent rainy October morning, volunteers from 3M helped FMR ecologists install over 300 cottonwood live stakes near the river in Hastings. Vital for wildlife and floodplain forests, cottonwoods have not been regenerating along the river. In 2013, FMR began a series of experimental plantings to help restore these imperiled icons. So far, live staking appears to be a promising method.

A key species of floodplain forests, Eastern Cottonwood trees aren't regenerating naturally in the floodplains. FMR ecologists and volunteers are using cottonwood cuttings or live stakes to re-establish a floodplain forest in Hastings.

November 7