Year: 2019

15 Nov 2019

Salamanders and Beetles and Spiders….oh my!

Salamanders and Beetles and Spiders….oh my!

Part of our Ecological Monitoring project involves faunal (animal) sampling. We focus on arthropods, amphibians and reptiles during these surveys.  Mini pitfall traps are established along our already existing transects using a hand spade, red solo cups, moist paper towels and clay saucer plates (see image below).  These cups are checked (and emptied) over the course of one week. We mostly find arthropods like beetles, harvestman, isopods and spiders.  Once during the sampling week we search “herp” circles in which we flip logs and rocks, and scan the ground looking for frogs, salamanders, snakes and toads. When looking for amphibians and reptiles, the most common thing found depends on the time of year. We find a lot of American toads during the summer and salamanders in the fall.—Chad G.

The picture below shows our pitfall traps. The last box is an eastern red-backed salamander and her eggs we found in an existing hole. She was left alone and a new hole was dug. No animals are hurt during this process.

08 Nov 2019

Honeysuckle woes?

Late fall, after the first frost, is a good time for a foliar spray.

Honeysuckle stays green longer than most plants in our area and treating these shrubs now can lessen the impact on native species which have gone dormant.  Before spraying the leaves of honeysuckle, make sure that the leaves are not falling off of the plant (gently tug a leaf and make sure it stays on the tree). If the leaves are already abscising, spraying them will not work to kill the honeysuckle.

Purchase a glyphosate solution. Dilute your glyphosate to about 1.25%. If your glyphosate is already diluted to around 40%, as many readily available brands are, this is somewhere between a 1:50 or 2:50 ratio of glyphosate solution to water. This can be mixed directly in a large plastic spray bottle.  For large areas of coverage a backpack sprayer or hose attached to a tank may be more efficient.

Try to cover as much of the honeysuckle’s leaf area as possible. Take care to avoid spraying any native plants in the process. This method should eliminate about 90% of your honeysuckle; however, it is likely that follow up spot sprayings will need to occur the following fall due to plants that were missed, resilient, or emerged from seed.

Questions?  Contact our Research Director, Chad Bitler at 513-898-3159

28 Oct 2019

Change Over Time

Change Over Time

Late summer we had the chance to re-monitor some of our pastures to see how soil properties have changed in 3 years.  This was an opportunity for 3 of us (Megan, Chad G. and Jennifer) to learn the pasture monitoring methods.  Front Nippert field was first monitored in 2016 and the same transect was set up in 2019.  Vegetation, bulk density, soil carbon and water infiltration were all measured.  In the upper layer of the soil (0-10 cm), bulk density decreased from 1.28 to 1.18 g/cm3.  Both values are low enough for proper root growth.  Figure 1 shows infiltration improved over three years.  And Table 1 shows the carbon results.  Carbon in the lowest layer of soil increased over the 3 years.


15 Sep 2019

Can Livestock Control Invasive Species (Initial Results)

Can Livestock Control Invasive Species (Initial Results)

We have been researching honeysuckle and other invasive plant removal techniques to rid our property of these species.  In 2017, we began studying a biological control method of removal using our woodland raised hogs.  Hogs have a natural tendency to uproot vegetation for food, so we thought they would be perfect for the job. We set up 3 research areas: one control (1/2 acre) and two treatments (1/2 acre and 1 acre “A”). The hogs rotate through the treatment areas every other year.  The one acre treatment had hogs in 2017 and again in 2019.  One month after the hogs were removed from the treatment area, we collected vegetation data by randomly placing 1 m2 plots in the areas and counting species.

We calculated species richness (number of different species) and species diversity.   Each year, treatment areas had a higher species richness compared to the control area (see Figure 1). To calculate species diversity we used the Simpson’s Diversity Index. The treatment areas, when compared to the control areas, have a higher diversity each year (See Figure 2).  We are further looking at these data to analyze how the hogs have impacted invasive plants. Our data will be shared with our livestock crew to inform future hog management decisions.

–Chad G.