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The Mink!

My only regret regarding my phenology blog is that I was not able to capture footage or picture of the American Mink on my site. So, though I’m no artist, I decided to draw a sketch of a mink similar to the one I saw at my site.

Additionally, with the past lecture in NR 1 discussing the methods in which animals prepare for winter, I felt inspired to do my own research on the mink in the winter.

Based on the information gathered from the Missouri Department of Conservation, I can conclude that the mink remains active during the winter. With thick fur and an ability to invade the burrows created by other organisms, the mink’s adaptions allow them to survive in the winter. In fact, mink even breed in the winter.

For future reference, I wanted to include information about snow tracks that this animal leaves behind in hopes that I will again discover this fascinating little creature on my site!

Source:

“American Mink.” MDC Discover Nature, nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/american-mink.

Winter Wonderland Winds

The last visit of 2018 to my phenological site provided me with a wintry scene. The snow was falling lightly and appeared entirely untouched by both human and wildlife prints. The entire site was covered with about a centimeter of light snow, however, there was a thick layer of ice covering nearly the entire site. This may have resulted from melting snow refreezing in cold temperatures or perhaps flooding of the brook that turned to ice when the temperature dropped. Though the icy ground cover surprised me, I was shocked to see that the upper trunk of a tree in my site had been blown off the lower portion by strong winter winds. The tree limbs covered a large portion of my site. Though I didn’t witness any wildlife at my site, the area was soon visited by an excited dog who investigated the brook.

Though the tale of Centennial woods’ underling geology is as old as the tale of earth itself, the history of Centennial woods, as we have come to know it, occurred 19,000 years ago with the retreat of the Laurentide glacial sheet in Northeast America. As the landscape was freed from the ice that had controlled the landscape for many years, growth of vegetation and immigration of wildlife began. This wave of life eventually came to encompass the Abenaki people, a native people of Northern America who have influenced the landscape of Vermont for thousands of years. The Abenaki people were primarily hunters and gatherers (with some agriculture occurring more recently; thus, the likely left the Centennial woods natural area as just that- a natural area. Whether Centennial Woods was a completely forest area is unknown; however, historians agree that a significant disturbance of the area likely began with the arrival of the European settlers. With the rise of agriculture that the settlers initiated, it can be inferred that Centennial Woods was owned by one or several farmers. In fact this inference is strengthened by evidence of barbed wire found within the forest, indicating fences either to keep livestock in or predators that would eat the crops or animals out. The more recent history of Centennial Woods is known more clearly. According to the Centennial Woods natural field guide, the land was owned by UVM alumnus Fred Fiske who purchased the land for agriculture. Given the presence of trees that are many decades old, it is likely that the farming operation was abandoned or the area was replanted prior to the sale of the natural area to the University of Vermont in 1974. Since then, the environmental protection of the area has been governed by the Board of Trustees. Today, the area is used both as a natural area for the public to enjoy and as a forest for UVM students to learn about ecological principles or conduct research.

Sources:

  • Klyza, Christopher McGrory, and Stephen C. Trombulak. The Story of Vermont a Natural and Cultural History. University Press of New England, 2015.
  • Borie, Louis. University of Vermont Natural Areas.  [Burlington, Vt.] : Environmental Program, University of Vermont, 1977.

Holland’s Comparison

The ecology of the phenological site in Centennial Woods and Valley Garden park share a human influence. Both Sites have been altered due to human use of the land; however, the way in which these uses influenced the land differ. The homogeneous composition of the Valley Garden site reveals that the stand of pine present resulted from the intentional planting of trees. The influence on Centennial woods is more subtle- the path alters the ground cover vegetation. The sites completely differ in species composition horizontally and vertically. The site at Centennial Woods possesses far greater diversity in species and levels or age of vegetation (ground cover, understory, overstory). Additionally, the Centennial woods site possesses greater diversity in micro-landscapes, containing a creek, flatland with leafy vegetation and a cliff. The Valley Garden site, however, is completely flat and remains uniform throughout the entirety of the stand. Though Centennial Woods contains a greater concentration of leafy vegetation in some areas, both sites are essentially covered in Eastern White Pine needles. As the vegetation in my local stand is entirely coniferous, the changes that occur from season to season are far more subtle than that of the coniferous and deciduous site in Burlington.

Leopold’s Interpretation

To view the palace of pines is to witness a miracle of the synergy between the human realm and God. Every tree perfectly straight, reaching into the heavens with vibrant green hands. As one looks up through the coniferous canopy, the vision of the individuals who planted the stand can be realized. To view the blue sky through the frame of these stoic giants is a wondrous privilege. The forest floor is blanketed with the needles of seasons past- a rich golden carpet. If one takes a closer look, the attempts of leafy sprouts to push through the dense cover can be realized. The survivability of these sprouts is unlikely; for, the existing pines are spread out ideally to absorb the sunlight. Three trees growing from the same trunk reveals that the unpredictability of nature delightfully disrupts even the most uniform of forests. Though activity on the forest floor is limited, the canopy of pines sings with the calls of birds and nestling of pines. For the birds, few places in the park are as ideal for nesting as the dense cover of needles that withstands the seasons and provides protection from the surroundings with a superior aerial view of the landscape.

A Perfect Patch of Pines

Hometown Phenology Site Map

https://goo.gl/maps/Diez68CRM5A2

Cannot Embed Google Map

What’s New in November?

My site has not changed too drastically since my last visit. However, I noticed the progression of fall foliage colors in some of the species that previously had green leaves. In particular, the Norway Maple leaves were developing a yellow tint and the Paper Birch foliage is now a brilliant orange color. Many of the leaves must have fallen since I have last visited my site as the percentage of leaf ground color has increased greatly since my last visit. Though the small leafy plants that comprise the ground color are not changing to fiery colors, they are beginning to dye and develop a brown tint. The final change I noticed in my site was related to the daily weather. Since it was raining on the day of my visit, the brook was flowing faster than usual and foam, or bubbles, was beginning to develop in certain spots along the brook.

Event Map

I spotted a few trees where the fungus was a bright orange or red color!

 

 

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