MBS

MBS highlights


Minnesota County Biological Survey
News from the Field 2010

 

Dan Wovcha

Dan
Wovcha,
Plant
Ecologist

borderlakes subsection

August 24-September 3:"DNR ecologists Kurt Rusterholz, Norm Aaseng, and I spent a week helping Mike Lee with rare plant and vegetation survey work near Caribou Lake in the BWCA. Among the highlights of the trip were finding populations of the rare plants awlwort (Subularia aquatica), American shore-plantain (Littorella uniflora), and lavender bladderwort (Utricularia resupinata) in shallow water along the shores of several lakes in the area, and visiting a recently burned pine stand near Gaskin Lake that had originated after a fire in 1610 and was one of the oldest patches of forest in the BWCAW."

A wet meadow in the BWCAW A beaver dam that created a wet meadow. View near Meeds Lake. Aquatic plants on sandy-gravelly sediment in shallow water in Popular Lake. Awlwort, a type of tiny rare plant. Kurt, Mike and Norm in canoes documenting the bladderwort along the shore of Gaskin Lake. A young loon and an adult Loon in Gaskin Lake. Patch of white pine just south of Gaskin Lake. Norm and Mike standing by a burned white pine in the Gaskin Lake stand. A spruce grouse. Norm paddling toward camp. Mike identifying Methuselah's beard lichen.

 


Stacey Olszewski

Stacey
Olszewski,
Plant Ecologist/
Botanist

border lakes area

August 17-27:"Took a trip up to the BWCAW to assist MCBS Northern Coordinator/Plant Ecologist Lawson Gerdes from August 17—27. We entered through Sea Gull Lake, and spent some time on Alpine Lake and Grandpa Lake. We found a few rare aquatic species, and got to see some of the areas that burned 35 years ago and more recently. We had some wildlife sightings, including bald eagles, common mergansers, common loons, tree frogs, a red-necked grebe, and lots of moose, bear, and wolf droppings. We had beautiful weather, with the exception of one scary thunder and lightning storm early one morning, and heavy winds the day we were trying to paddle out (~ 15 mph). The wind stranded us behind a rock outcrop in a bay right before the turn to our entry/exit point off Sea Gull. The rock outcrop was so long, edgy, and intimidating to go around, that we nicknamed it "The Dragon's Toe". Eventually we decided to carry our packs and canoe by foot across The Toe, and we made it out."

Entry point to Sea Gull Lake. Family of 10 mergansers. View from the campsite on Sea Gull Lake. Camp on Sea Gull Lake Green tree frog on a hand. Overhead shot of a patch of sphagnum moss. View on Grandpa Lake. View of Grandpa Lake.

 


Erika Rowe

Erika
Rowe,
Plant Ecologist/
Botanist

clearwater county

August 17: "I spent last week surveying Red Lake Peatland in Beltrami County with Norm Aaseng (co-worker and resident DNR peatland 'guru') and Dr. Paul Glaser of the University of Minnesota, who studies groundwater-peatland interactions and gas exchange in large peat basins."

Overhead view of Beltrami COunty's Red Lake Peatland with scattered islands. Dr. Paul Glaser and Erika Rowe marking a vegetation plot in the western water track. Linear-leaved sundew in a wet depression. Overhead view of the water track. Overhead view of the ovoid islands of the Red Lake Peatland. A schlenke bog.
Dr. Paul Glaser and Erika Rowe marking a permanent plot in a schlenke bog. Overhead view of Lost River Peatland spring fen channels. A spring fen. Overhead view of miles and miles of forested swamps. View from the window of a helicopter of a clearing in a tamarack forest. Helicopter lifting off from the clearing. Four individuals, the peatland survey group, standing in front of a helicopter in the town of Waskish.

 


Jason Johnson

Jason
Johnson,
Plant Ecologist/
Botanist

clearwater county

July 19: Jason Johnson reports that he has been surveying some interesting, large wet meadow and rich fen complexes on the Red Lake Reservation in Clearwater County and will be investigating potential calcareous fens elsewhere in the county this week with Welby Smith. Two pairs of sandhill cranes (with colts) have taken up residence in the yard of his fieldhouse near Leonard.

 

 

 


 

Dan Wovcha

Dan
Wovcha,
Plant Ecologist

chippewa county

July 12-14:"I helped Fred Harris set up vegetation monitoring plots at Chippewa Prairie Preserve and Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area near Appleton. The Nature Conservancy and the DNR are planning to introduce cattle grazing to the prairie management regimen at Chippewa Prairie and Lac qui Parle. Managers are hopeful that grazing can be used to reduce the presence of the exotic species smooth brome grass and sweet clover at the prairie and at the same time to create habitat for certain native grassland species–such as marbled godwits and upland sandpipers– that favor shorter vegetation. Before grazing begins, Fred is establishing and surveying a network of paired vegetation plots in the best-quality areas of prairie at the site. One plot will be fenced off from cattle and the other nearby plot will not be. Fred and other ecologists are recording the cover and frequency of prairie plants in the plots, then will resurvey the plots every two years afterward to track the influence of grazing. Information from the monitoring project ideally will provide guidance for grazing management that creates habitat for those native species that do best in shorter vegetation without reducing numbers of uncommon native plants that tend to decrease with too much grazing."

Map of the path the monitoring group took in the Chippewa Prairie. Fred standing in the prairie looking at a map. Fred walking through the prairie. Fred standing in the prairie looking at his electronic device. A pink flag in the center in the prairie. An orange flag in the prairie. Purple coneflower and leadplant in bloom in the prairie. An expansive blue sky and Fred on his phone in the prairie in the foreground. Fred pointing to a large storm cloud on the horizon. A cloudy sky and an expansive prairie with a person with flags facing with their back to the camera. Fred talking on the phone in the middle of a prairie . Three individuals collecting data from a transect.

 


 

Robert Dana

Robert
Dana,
Prairie Ecologist/
Entomologist

swift county

June 18:" I got back from moth surveys in the western prairie remnants last night. Seven days of this work, usually starting ca. 9:30 and ending 21:00, exhausted me. And what was with the weather?–low clouds, mist/rain every day but the 2nd and last! Fortunately, nocturnal moths aren't as squeamish about such conditions as butterflies are, but I found it wearing. Live moths can somehow stay dry, but in the traps they easily become bedraggled and soggy and ruined. And big midges just love the wet! The light trap catches in Plover Prairie and the non-native grassland nearby were overwhelmed by these little wonders. As a parting gesture, dying female midges give up their eggs, which are embedded in a mass of very sticky jelly, coagulating the dead insects in the trap into a nasty mess. Most of the moths so entombed are identifiable to species only with hours of work. To my relief the problem was not nearly so bad at the other sites where I worked, or I would have given up the project. My field headquarters was a trailer at Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge, where the lawn is full of buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), a Great Plains species that is rare in Minnesota. It occurs here only in a few natural populations on rock outcrops in the southwestern part of the state. I asked around but no one knew how it became part of the lawn around the trailer."

Overhead view into a light trap with a large amount of moths and midges in a bucket. Moths in a container. Trailer in a field. Table in a kitchen with two buckets and a roll of paper on top of it. Wooden table with boxes and extraction tools on top of it in a room with a file cabinet and a blue chair.

 


 

Derek Anderson

Derek Anderson,
Plant Ecologist/
Botanist

mower county

"On June 15, I was invited to a landowners home to investigate a population of Great Indian Plantain (Arnoglossum reniforme). The land owner tells me that he cleared buckthorn and boxelder from land he owns along a small creek in Mower County. The following year, the plant appeared. We walked along the creek, and found several hundred flowering plants."

A group of Great Indian Plantain. Close up of one Great Indian Plantain.

 

 


 

Stacey Olszewski

Stacey
Olszewski,
Plant Ecologist/
Botanist

roseau county

June 7–11:"Bryophyte workshop training! Mosses are fascinating...I learned a LOT, and got to reconnect with my first field experience location working for MCBS—Norris camp in Roseau County. Plus it rained every day, and we were sleeping in tents, so our group got bragging rights over the first group, who had beautiful weather their training week in May ;)"

Overhead view of a plot of mosses. Norris camp Close-up of a study plot with a yellow flag in the center.

 


 

Robert Dana

Robert
Dana,
Prairie Ecologist/
Entomologist

swift county

"In mid-May when I was scouting out sites for my prairie moth study I put up a sheet and light on the edge of Chippewa Prairie and took an uncommon moth that appears to be prairie dependent: Anicla (or Euagrotis) tenuescens, one of the cutworm moths. The only information about the biology of this species we have is from a larva I discovered in a Lincoln County prairie many years ago feeding on prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), This moth has a limited distribution, mostly to the west of MN, but there are a handful of MN records, increased now by one."

Rare prairie moth.

 


Derek Anderson

Derek Anderson,
Plant Ecologist/
Botanist

border lakes

"During the week of May 17th, 12 volunteers assisted with surveys for green dragon. Our surveys were focused in Steele and Mower Counties, where we ended up finding plants in 4 of the 5 sites we visited."

Arisaema dracontium plant Close up of Arisaema dracontium stem. Volunteer. Two volunteers. Two volunteers walking in the forest.

 

 


Derek Anderson

Derek Anderson,
Plant Ecologist/
Botanist

border lakes

"On April 27, I walked into an unusual setting where wild leeks (Allium tricoccum) dominated the ground layer in a forest of southern Minnesota."

Wild leeks

 

 

 


Jeff LeClere

Jeff LeClere,
Zoologist

Houston county

"In mid April I performed a preliminary survey for Ratsnakes (Elaphe obsoleta) in southeastern Minnesota. Ratsnakes are very uncommon in Minnesota, so I was pleasantly surprised when we found six of them near their den."

Head of a ratsnake. A ratsnake on a wall. Ratsnake in a tree.

 


News from the Field 2009