Vernal Pools, Rare Plants, and Invasive Species: this week in environmental news

Searching for woodland fairies and fingernail clams (Great Lakes Echo): In this podcast, Yu Man Lee, a conservationist, zoologist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory and Trustee at Michigan Nature Association, discusses vernal pools and how they provide habitats for unique creatures one won’t find anywhere else. She also speaks about how MNFI is teaming up with citizen scientists to help protect vernal pools.

Rare Plants Discovered Near Detroit (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Newsroom): It was recently discovered that Humbug Marsh, part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, is home to a rare grass-like plant called the hairy-fruited sedge and an orchid species called oval ladies’ tresses. Records show that these plants have never been found in Wayne County. Humbug Marsh, which was determined to have had the most disturbance over the years, has a disproportionately higher abundance of new, common species to older, rare ones that have been together for a long time.


Oval ladies’ tresses. Photo: David McAdoo/Creative Commons.

A sound strategy: blasting carp from the Great Lakes (Great Lakes Echo): A recent study found that sound could be the answer to keeping invasive silver carp out of the Great Lakes. What appears to be the most effective in scaring off unwanted fish is a complex sound that consists of multiple pure tones. The carp are harmful due to their fast growth, prolific spawning, and ability to out-compete native fish for food and space.

round goby

The long term effects of round goby in Lake Erie are still unknown. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Round goby a good-news, bad-news Great Lakes invader (Great Lakes Echo): The round goby is one of the nastiest aliens in the Great Lakes – with what the DNR calls its voracious appetite and an aggressive nature which allows them to dominate over native species. But smallmouth bass find them yummy chow, and that’s also good news for crayfish that used to top the smallmouth bass menu. Although the round goby is responsible for a decreased abundance of some bottom-dwelling Great Lakes native species, the study said that other species have benefited, such as burbot and the Lake Erie water snake.

Bat Study, Songbird Forest, and Nature Programs: this week in environmental news


White-nose syndrome has killed 98 percent of the little brown bat population. Image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bat recovery slow from white-nose syndrome (Great Lakes Echo): Little brown bat populations are unlikely to recover from a widespread fungal disease anytime soon, according to a recent study. This is worrisome since bats have a crucial role in the ecosystems in the Great Lakes and globally. They are the primary predators of night-time insects, pollinate over 300 species of fruit, and also keep forest ecosystems healthy. Studies about the diminishing bat population have pressured state officials to promote bat conservation. There are things ordinary citizens can do to help too, like replacing dead trees with bat houses so bats have a safe place to raise babies and replace lawns with wildflower gardens so bats have food.

‘Songbird Forest’ expands to save species (Mother Nature Network): A small nature preserve in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest has just grown by nearly 50%, thanks to conservationists working to save its array of wildlife from extinction. Known as Mata do Passarinho – Portuguese for “Songbird Forest” – this patch of Atlantic Forest has expanded to add 766 new acres, raising its total area from 1,586 to 2,352 acres. The forest is a haven for songbirds, many near extinction. Its most at-risk species is the critically endangered Stresemann’s bristlefront, whose estimated 15 survivors all live here.


A male Stresemann’s bristlefront in Mata do Passarinho, the species’ last-known refuge. Image: Ciro Albano

Ruling the sky: Presentation to focus on Michigan’s birds of prey (MLive): Great predators of the sky will swoop into Muskegon as part of a unique presentation later this month. The two-session event scheduled for 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 21 will be held at the Lakeshore Museum Center in downtown Muskegon. The presentations will discuss the habitats of both common and rare Michigan hawks and owls, as well as their importance to the ecosystem.

Nature Center Offers Variety of Programs for Preschoolers (Farmington-Farmington Hills Patch): The Farmington Hills Nature Center is offering a variety of nature preschool classes this winter. Winter preschool classes meet Jan. 19 through March 14 on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings. Each preschool class offers a different nature theme every week and time outdoors if weather permits.

You’re Invited!

The Michigan Nature Association
invites you to

Endangered and Threatened Plant Species

Jane Kramer artwork

Visit Jane Kramer’s art exhibit to see her collection: images of Michigan’s endangered and threatened plants that are transferred onto handmade paper crafted from the invasive plants that threaten them.

Please join us:

Friday, January 8, 2016

Artist Talk
5:30 p.m.

6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Lansing Art Gallery
119 N Washington Square, Suite 101
Lansing, MI 48933

Learn more on the Facebook Event Page