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Phenology Project

Visitor

Posted: February 16th, 2017 by mlemanue

 

A mouse! These tiny tracks caught my eye as the sun’s light began to fail. The evidence this tiny visitor left behind was the only new evidence of wildlife I saw during this visit. The snow cover had recently fallen and temperatures were low so I expect no one else had ventured out since the snow fall. Perhaps next time I’ll try to go after a warm spell and see who came out to enjoy the sun!

Twig Sketch

Posted: February 16th, 2017 by mlemanue

Winter Twig Identification

Posted: February 16th, 2017 by mlemanue

I was able to identify several twig species using the twig ID chart! I haven’t had much experience with identification using only twigs, so this was a new experience for me. I feel pretty confident identifying trees based on leaves and bark, but haven’t worked much with twigs which made this challenging and exciting. Having knowledge of my place from the warmer months, and knowing what tree species are present on my site was very helpful in guiding my identification. Using twigs alone I was able to identify: American Beech, Norway maple, Sugar maple, and white oak. Some of the other species that I know are on my site, such as Basswood, are not on the id chart. Ill look for another resource to identify these species as well.

Welcome Back!

Posted: February 16th, 2017 by mlemanue

I was welcomed back to my site after a lovely winter break by the beautiful shadows cast by the low sun. My site had been covered with a fresh layer of snow leaving it looking pristine. Though the site was very quiet and serene while I was there, I know it was inactive. Tracks through the fresh snow, and winter buds on trees were some of the evidence that the site was still busy despite the cold and dark!

Evergreen Fern

Posted: December 10th, 2016 by mlemanue

shfern

I was impressed by this fern’s toughness, that it remained green and vibrant despite the cold and snow. I found this fern in Mary Holland’s Naturally Curious. This is an Intermediate Wood Fern, also called an evergreen fern. The fronds remain green throughout the winter, as the name hints at.

Human Use

Posted: December 10th, 2016 by mlemanue

Salmon Hole is located very close to an urban center, and gets lots of human traffic. This area is publicly owned, and maintained as a park free for relational uses. Salmon Hole is a well known fishing site that promises good catch of a variety of species. However, during certain months of the year fishing is prohibited to protect dwindling populations of Walleye and Sturgeon.

The most notable human use of this area is the Winooski One Dam. This hydroelectric dam cam online in 1993, and supplies the city of Burlington with renewable energy. However, the dam may be a source of clean energy, it dramatically affects the natural habitat. Fish species suffer the most, as they are prevented from traveling upstream, as many species do in order to reproduce. Vermont Fish and Wildlife monitors a working fish lift that helps to reduce the impact the dam has on fish species. The lift captures fish, that are then inspected, measured, and tagged, then trucked upstream to North Wiliston where they are released.  Check out this video to learn more about the dam and the lift! https://www.burlingtonelectric.com/about-us/what-we-do/winooski-one-hydro-plant

The Winooski River claims the title of having the largest watershed in Vermont, covering 1080 square miles, almost 11% of the state. Because of this large land to water ratio, the land use effects the water quality greatly, exactly how land use effects Lake Champlain. One major factor that affected the quality of the river in the past was the waste water treatment plants located alone the Winooski. Before 1964, treatment plants dumped raw sewage directly into the river. Now, regulations have ensured that water is thoroughly treated before it is dumped into the river. However, the input of treated water still affects the river. In additon, the Winooski runs through the mostly highly populated place in Vermont, and because of this, is more likely to be affected by human land use, due to a higher population of humans on the land. Because of the vast watershed and the location in an urban area, the Winooski is more vulnerable to disturbances from human use.

Not Just Dirt and Rocks

Posted: December 10th, 2016 by mlemanue

20161015_173359

I noticed the substrate right away when I went down toward the water (I took this picture on my first visit). It was very fine sand. I wonder if this is recent alluvium deposits from the winooski river, or if the substrate is sand deposits from ancient lake Vermont, similar to the substrate we observed during the Jericho Research Forest lab. I know that deposits from the Winooski River make up the fertile soils in the Intervale, so I doubt this fine sand is a recent alluvium deposit because it would make poor agricultural soil. This lead me to wonder why would different substrates be deposited in different ways along the river? Why would the river deposit nutrient rich soils in one place, but not in other places? Is the difference caused by currents? Flooding? Other factors?

shrock2

This is a small pit in the rock surface, worn away by the eroding forces of water. This small pothole reminded me of the potholes in Shelburne Falls, MA. There are many potholes, of all sizes, in the rock there downstream of the Shelburne Falls dam. The potholes were formed by small rocks or sediments that were caught in eddies in the rock. Over time, the particles eroded the rock into a circular divot and the rocks or particles are swirled by the current, causing the circular potholes to form. I imagine this hole was formed in a similar way. This was the only pothole I saw at Salmon Hole, but was still very interesting even in the light of the extensive potholes that I have explored in Sherburne Falls.

shrocks3

Here are more interesting patterns of erosion in the rock surface near the water. Some of the circular marks may be the start of potholes similar to the one above. I believe that the rock here, and in the other pictures here, is Redstone, a common building material in this area, used to build many of the building on campus.

shwavyrocks

More interesting patterns of erosion. This pattern reminded me of how waves at the beach can make sand look sometimes. I wonder how the vastly different patterns of erosion found in these pictures can all occur so close in proximity? I wonder if the currents vary that much in such a small area to cause such different patterns of ware.

Signs of Life!

Posted: December 10th, 2016 by mlemanue

I wasn’t the only visitor to my site this week! The fresh snow showed signs of several critters. I tried my best to identify the tracks, but have little to no experience with tracking and a “Pocket Guide to Winter Tracking” only took me so far. That being said, even with little knowledge or skill, I really enjoyed finding and following the tracks.

Tracks

The best tracks I saw! very clear evidence of a critter. My guess is that this is a squirrel, based on a handy winter tracking guide. These tracks were leading up to the chewed tree (shown below). It is my guess that the tree shows beaver damage, but I am curious why the squirrel was visiting the chewed tree.

Tracks

More evidence of a squirrel (I think). This track shows well both the front and back feet.

Tracks

This image shows some melted squirrel tracks as well as some fresher tracks that are very small. Perhaps a mouse?

shtracks4

Most likely bird tracks. The patterns show a hopping style of movement. Perhaps the birds were looking for seed or berries in the exposed grasses here.

shtracks5

Melted tracks. I wasn’t able to identify these, but the pattern shows a bounding pattern so perhaps a rabbit? There are also some dog prints in the corner of the image from a person I passed by walking their dogs.

shtree1

Beaver! This tree was severely chewed by some wildlife, most likely a beaver. I looked around for other signs of the beaver, such as tracks or scat, but saw nothing. The chew marks also looked somewhat aged. I looked for a lodge, but didn’t see one. Wherever the beaver lives, its probably shacked up for the winter.

shtree2

Another angle showing beaver marks.

From Place to Place

Posted: November 29th, 2016 by mlemanue

My place in Burlington and my home place were both similar and different. Although both my spot in Burlington, and my place at home are similar at first glance, both forested areas near small rivers, the two sites show many differences. The most noticeable difference is the forest structure of the two places. In Burlington, at Salmon Hole, the forest is mostly hard woods with few evergreen trees at all. Mostly, the Salmon Hole forest at my spot consists of basswood, maple and beech. The trees are mostly young, with a few exceptions. At my home place, the forest structure is much different. Near the beginning of the path, the forest composition is spaced out white pines and mostly oak and maple making up the over story, with many young beeches densely dominating the under story. The canopy covers almost all the area as you look up, but is not very dense, allowing much light to get through. As the path goes deeper into the forest, there is a shift in forest composition to a hemlock dominated forest, that consists of closely spaced, tall, mature trees. In this part of the forest, there is much less light penetrating the hemlock canopy, and the under story is rather sparse. Only a few small vegetative plants grow in the under story, with very few, if any, small trees growing. The change between the two parts of the forest was very noticeable; it was like entering two different worlds. In comparison to the Salmon hole place, the otter part of my home place was more similar, the beech under story and light penetrated canopy were more similar than the dark, mature hemlock stand at the home place. However the tree species found in the hard wood area of the home place, and the Salmon hole place were different. The home place has only a few older trees that are mostly oak or maple, with many young beech making up the under story. At Salmon Hole, there are a variety of species that make up the mostly more mature tree canopy, while a few young beeches make up the under story.

Another difference is the land use of the two places. The Salmon Hole spot in Burlington is located very close to an urban area, and has a high human use rate. The land is public, there are well established foot trails, and many people use the area for recreation from running to fishing. On the other hand, my home place is private land in a very rural area. Few people, except for myself and a few neighbors, use the land. There is an established path wide enough for, and used by, ATV’s and snowmobiles, but only my family and my neighbor use the trail. This trail is only in the beech dominated part of the forest. Deeper in the Hemlock part of the forest there are no trails, and it is rarely visited by anyone. This reduced land use has allowed for a more natural succession to take place. It is my guess that the hemlock section was not recently cleared by humans, while the beech section most definitely was. The stone walls in the beech section further indicate an agricultural land use history. In the Hemlock section of the forest, the topography consists of a steep hill on the north east side and the river to the west. This topography may have created the dark conditions that promoted hemlock growth. In addition, the steep topography may have been unsuitable for agricultural uses, and therefore was not recently cleared by people.

Due to the differences in land use, location, and proximity to urban areas, there is a more diverse forest habitat at the home place than at the Salmon Hole location. At the home place, there are fewer invasive species compared to the Burlington place. There are also more signs of wildlife in the home place, and a more diverse under story make up as well.  At the Salmon hole place, there are many invasive buckthorn bushes in the under story, as well as oriental bittersweet, grape vines, and other aggressive species.  I did not notice any invasive species in the home place. The biodiversity seemed higher in the home place as well, I noticed several fern species, small plants, fungus, mosses, and a low growing plant with red berries, possibly wintergreen. Please see the photos post to see example of some of these species.

I enjoyed my place at home more than the Burlington place because it was very peaceful, quiet, and there are fewer human disturbances. In the Burlington spot, the noises and impacts of the urban area are still present despite the natural setting. However, I am thankful for the Salmon Hole place because despite urban impacts, it is nice to have a natural area so near to an urban center, and I enjoy the time I spend there as an escape from the activities of campus and the city.

Photos from my home place

Posted: November 28th, 2016 by mlemanue

A stone wall, one of many, showing the land use history of the area. The land was cleared for agriculture, then left to succession as farmers abandoned farms. Many other hints to the past such as rusty metal and glass bottles litter the woods in this area and all around the property.

A stone wall, one of many, showing the land use history of the area. The land was cleared for agriculture, then left to succession as farmers abandoned farms. Many other hints to the past, such as rusty metal and glass bottles, litter the woods in this area and all around the property. Emanuelli, M. Stonewall. [photograph] 2016.

A large tree with its root system largely exposed, clinging to the rock ledge. A very cool tree indeed, I'm sad to see it dying. (don't mind my dog and his excellent photobomb skills)

A large tree with its root system largely exposed, clinging to the rock ledge. A very cool tree indeed, I’m sad to see it dying. (don’t mind my dog and his excellent photobomb skills).

Emanuelli, M. Tree. [photograph] 2016.

A side view of the ledge tree. Shows how large the roots are that hold the tree to the rock.

A side view of the ledge tree. Shows how large the roots are that hold the tree to the rock.

Emanuelli, M. Tree side. [photograph] 2016.

I found these little plants to be very interesting. I'm curious what they are, and what they look like when they are more mature.

I found these little plants to be very interesting. I’m curious what they are, and what they look like when they are more mature.

Edit: I found these curious little plants in Naturally Curious by Mary Holland. They are called Princess pines, and belong to the Club moss group. They are common in areas where the soil is acidic and often grow where hemlocks are present. This would perfectly describe their presence here, in the shadow of a thickly populated hemlock stand. Club mosses reproduce by spores, which can take up to 20 years to become established; because of this they are protected in many states. Club mosses weren’t always ankle high, during the time of the dinosaurs, it it believed that club mosses formed forests with some species towering at 100 feet tall. Fun facts about club mosses, the spores are highly flammable, and were used to create the flash in photography. Club mosses contain a chemical that is an alkaloid (example nicotine, and caffeine) that give them a bad taste, therefore protecting them from herbivores.  (Holland, 2010)

Emanuelli, M. Fluffy Plants. [photograph] 2016.

Very colorful fungus on this branch. I wonder how the bright color benefits the organism?

Very colorful fungus on this branch. I wonder how the bright color benefits the organism?

Emanuelli, M. Orange Fungus. [photograph] 2016.

Evidence of woodpeckers! Although I had no wildlife sightings on this walk, due to noisy dogs, I say many woodpeckers throughout the week as they visited my moms suet cages outside the kitchen windows. I saw Harry, Pileated, Red Bellied, and Downy Woodpeckers. Perhaps one of those that visited my moms feeders also made some of these holes?

Evidence of woodpeckers! Although I had no wildlife sightings on this walk, due to noisy dogs, I saw many woodpeckers throughout the week as they visited my moms’ suet cages outside the kitchen windows. I saw Harry, Pileated, Red Bellied, and Downy Woodpeckers. Perhaps one of those that visited my moms feeders also made some of these holes?

Emanuelli, M. Woodpecker Holes. [photograph] 2016.

Very cool fungus growth on this tree! Growing along with the mosses, on the damp, dark, North side of the tree.

Very cool fungus growth on this tree! Growing, along with the mosses, on the damp, dark, North side of the tree.

Emanuelli, M. Tree Fungus. [photograph] 2016.

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