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Karen Schik

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

Dead man’s fingers found at Pine Bend Bluffs

Dead man's finger found at Pine Bend Bluffs

Dead man's fingers is a fungus found at the base of decaying hardwood trees. (Photo by Karen Schik)

FMR Lead Ecologist Karen Schik found this spooky-looking fungus deep in the oak forest ravines at Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific and Natural Area.

November 7

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