April Phenology Post

Edge effect occurs on the border of two different habitats. It is characterized by changes in the composition of the area itself and the species that inhabit it. Areas that have symptoms of edge effect are more exposed to the sun and therefore have higher temperatures which causes the soil to be drier. Wind, erosion, and pollution are also more common. These areas are also more likely to be inhabited by invasive species and effected by companion animals such as cats and dogs. Cats and dogs jeopardize ecosystems because they are competitors to the naturally occuring predators. My phenology site also is heavily influenced by domestic dogs which were quite obviously not a part of the original ecosystem before humans brought them there. I have found multiple tracks of dogs and have seen evidence of sticks that dogs have chewed on around my site.  

Even though my phenology site is not physically located directly on the border of Centennial Woods, it is close enough to the border that multiple symptoms of edge effect are still evident. For one, while my phenology place looks entirely natural, the sound of cars, sirens, and other noises of urban influence remind me that I am still in the middle of the city everytime I go down to my phenology place. This noise pollution in my phenology place has always frustrated me. I enjoy going down to my site in Centennial woods as an escape from the urban environment that I live in but the noise pollution always pulls me back to reality. I’m sure that this noise pollution scares off species that would otherwise thrive in the physical environment of my site.  

While I have yet to see other concrete evidence of other humans visiting my site, I’m sure that people do regularly walk through or around it because it is only thirty feet or so away from the trail. Human influence most likely scares off many of the naturally occurring animals that would most likely live there if humans were not so common.

While I was unfortunately unable to make it down to my phenology place this month because of the fact that I recently had surgery and am on crutches, I am sure that there are many signs of life cropping up in my place with the recent arrival of spring. My phenology place provides habitat for some notable forest interior species. Because of the fact that my site is right on a stream, it most likely is home to some amphibians. A number of amphibian species have awoken from their hibernation and are beginning to become active again in the month of April. American Toads are breeding during this time of year. They emerge from underground where they were hibernating all winter in either the end of March or early April. They then take to shallow bodies of water (such as the stream in my phenology place) and breed. I saw an American Toad in my place last fall and I assume that they come back to my place spring after spring. I saw the American Toad at my place during the middle of the afternoon even though they are primarily nocturnal creatures which I thought was odd. A fun fact about the American Toad is that they have parotid glands behinds each of their eyes which contain a substance that is a neurotoxin, which scares off many predators. A few brave species still go after the toads such as raccoons, skunks, and garter snakes.   

I know from past visits to my phenology place last fall that my site is home to a species of fern. This is named the “Sensitive Fern” or Onoclea sensibilis. In the month of April fiddleheads start to push their way out from under the ground where they have been lying dormant all winter. I found it interesting to learn that an alternative name for “fiddlehead” is “crozier” which is the curved staff that is used by shepherds and bishops that resembles the curving head of the baby fern.    

I was disappointed that I could not make it down to my phenology site this April. I have become attached to my site as the year has gone on and am so curious about the natural occurrences that I have missed. Hopefully I will be healed up enough to be able to make it down to my site at least once before I leave Burlington for the summer!  

Comments are closed.