Archivos de diario de septiembre 2020

14 de septiembre de 2020

UGA working to conserve, protect native alligators

UGA TODAY, August 28, 2020 by Kelly Simmons
See full article here:

The Okefenokee Swamp project focuses on management, education efforts

Okefenokee Swamp Bull Alligator Basking
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat observation: 31345492

A partnership between University of Georgia researchers and the Okefenokee Swamp Park focuses on conservation and education efforts needed to maintain the swamp’s native alligator population, which is vital to the economic vitality of the region.

On Aug. 27, UGA’s Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant and the Okefenokee Swamp Park signed a commitment to continue its Alligator Education and Research Project, work that informs the OSP on conservation and management of the swamp, provides a better understanding of alligators and enhances wildlife education.

“The American alligator remains a conservation concern for a number of reasons, including human persecution and loss of native habitat,” said ecologist Kimberly Andrews, a faculty member with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “It is important for us to understand how these reptiles are adapting to survive in a human-dominated environment.”

Using satellite tags and cameras, Andrews and her team at UGA have tracked seven adult alligators in the swamp, observing interactions between the sexes and age classes, courtship between males and females, maternal care and interaction with other species, such as bears or otters.

So far, their research has shown that adult females and their guarded young, ages 1 to 3 years, are typically the most visible while the males are on the move and the mid-size subadults are more covert. Alligator activity and their visibility in the swamp is influenced by social structure and the presence of dominant individuals and changes in environmental conditions, such as temperature and rainfall.

Alligators vital to ecosystem
Alligators are apex predators, consuming a diversity of food sources and regulating prey populations. At the swamp, researchers have seen that a single adult alligator may eat prey that range in size from a moth to a deer. When alligators are lost from a system, this balance is lost and the ecosystem instability impacts many other species, including people who rely on predators to manage prey populations, such as deer, that pose risk to our safety when overabundant.

Alligators are the engineers of their economy, creating habitat that is used by other smaller animals. During drought, alligators create “wallows” or use den sites that retain water after it becomes scarce in other areas. These wallows can be critical for breeding habitat for frogs. The loss of alligators in some ecosystems has contributed to subsequent declines in amphibian populations in many of their habitats where they have been removed.

The Okefenokee is the largest blackwater swamp in North America, serving as the headwaters of the St. Marys and Suwanee rivers. Most of the swamp is located in Southeastern Georgia and is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the state. Protected largely by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the Okefenokee Wilderness, the swamp has an array of habitats including cypress swamps, peat bogs, marshes, open lakes and wooded hammocks. The diversity of ecosystems encompasses an assortment of over 620 plant species (including four carnivorous plant species), 39 fish, 37 amphibian, 64 reptile, 234 bird and 50 mammal species.

Publicado el septiembre 14, 2020 10:09 MAÑANA por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de septiembre de 2020

Foreign Joro Invasion

Although it didn’t cause national hysteria like the beetle invasion of 1964 (or was it the 1964 Beatles British Invasion???), I did happen to hear about the Jorō Spider invasion of 2014. There were a few articles and blogs as this East Asian species was first found in Madison County, Georgia, not far from my home town of Athens.

Female Joro Spider in a web ventral view
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 59267584

A University of Georgia article wrote, "The Jorō spider, native Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan, belongs to a group of large spiders known as golden orb-web weavers that make enormous, multi-layered webs of gold-colored silk. [Researchers] suspect the Jorō spider arrived accidentally as a hitchhiker either in shipping containers or among shipped packing materials such as pallets and crates or even on live plant material."

Large Female Joro Spider dorsal view in a web
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 59267584

Introduced and invasive species often impact the native species and can even upset the balance of an entire ecosystem, such as the pythons in the Everglades. While Jorō Spider pose no threat to humans, it is unknown if they will adversely affect the native Yellow Garden Spider by competing in the same niche.

Yellow Garden Spider spinning prey in a web
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observation: 59353542

In 2018 I began to see them pop up regularly in iNaturalist observations in Georgia. But it wasn’t until today that I found one in my own backyard. It was nearly impossible to miss. A strand of the thick web extended from the top of my backyard cypress, and about 15 to 20 feet at a downward angle and anchored to another lower bush. In the middle, suspended in a tangled web just above a Yucca, hung the ornately patterned female. A few days later I noticed a smaller spider “hanging out” with her. It was identified by other iNat users as the male of the species.

Large Female Joro Spider and small male in a web
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat Observaton: 59357361

There are now over 300 sightings of the Jorō Spider posted on iNaturalist in Georgia, and two in South Carolina. Who knows how far and wide this invasion will sweep, or if it will have as long lasting an impact as the British Invasion that forever changed the music landscape of the world! ​​

Publicado el septiembre 19, 2020 12:38 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de septiembre de 2020

Don't forget to look down!

Hey BackyardBio kids! I hope you’re having a great time getting out there and opening your eyes to the natural world around you. There are just five days left of this month’s project, so let’s get cranking on some observations and IDs!

I admit, I spend most of my time looking up for birds, but this project has made me realize how many living things there are out there… and you don’t have to look far, you just have to look down! I usually go for a short walk, and failing to a bird sitting still long enough for a photo, I think “Well, nothing to see today.” But I have watched as other project naturalists have posted hundreds upon hundreds of plants, moths, butterflies, grasses, trees and insects. I also realized how much there is for me to learn!

For example, look at the project observations from @thebeachcomber. Tiny little flowers as small as your fingernail! So beautiful, yet I would probably walk by not even noticing. And what is even cooler is that Mr. Mesaglio’s observations are from Australia! We’ve had opportunity to learn about the living organisms in a part of the world most of us won’t see.

© Photographer: Thomas Mesaglio | iNat Observation: 60696720

And what about @tysmith… he’s been flipping every rock in Virginia this month and showed us eighteen different species of salamanders along with hundreds of other observations. Again, I probably would have walked right on by those rock piles and rotting logs thinking, “Well, there’s nothing to see here.”

© Photographer: Ty Smith | iNat Observation: 60670239

And this thing from @hawksthree??? I don't even know what the heck that is!!!

© Photographer: Scott Wright | iNat Observation: 60627066

So don’t get frustrated when your out the next few days thinking, "There's nothing to see here." Don't forget to look down and examine the details. Let’s see what you can find! And don't forget to look at the BackyardBio Project Observations and see if you can identify anything.

Publicado el septiembre 25, 2020 03:03 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 5 comentarios | Deja un comentario

27 de septiembre de 2020

Apex Predator

Their status as an apex predator is probably what makes the American Alligator so fascinating and formidable. Apex predators are those at the top of the food chain. They have few, if any, other natural predators.
Large Alligator Portrait showing teeth and scales
© Photographer: William Wise | iNat observation: 49132311

While a big alligator is capable of killing almost any other animal, they may mostly take prey that gives them the least trouble. Since they can’t chew, their prey has to be swallowed whole. But yes, they are famed for the impressive “gator roll” method of tearing apart large prey.

Young alligators consume snails, frogs, small fish and insects. The larger gators will take larger prey if an opportunity presents itself. And though it seems strange, alligators may even eat one of their own kind, as seen below in this iNaturalist observation from Joe Girgente.

© Photographer: Joe Girgente | iNat Observation: 48973711

Publicado el septiembre 27, 2020 07:07 TARDE por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

28 de septiembre de 2020

Overnight Camping Permits Resume

I hesitate posting this to avoid the competition for a permit, but I can't keep back the good news! William
Minnies Lake Rest Dock, Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
© Photographer: William Wise

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
September 21 at 5:32 PM ·
Who's ready??? The refuge will resume issuing overnight camping permits on Tuesday September 29th! We are excited to have a plan in place to allow for our visitors to have a safe, physically distanced trip into the Okefenokee this fall. Guests MUST call to obtain a permit - the phone line (912-496-3331) is open Tues - Thurs from 7AM - 10AM ONLY. Guests must have a profile in to obtain a permit.

Publicado el septiembre 28, 2020 10:06 MAÑANA por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

30 de septiembre de 2020

Give Us a Sign!

Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Sign
© Photographer: William Wise | Website:
After miles of seemingly endless, boring driving through pine flat-woods, one hopes for a sign from heaven that the swamp is nearing. And that first “sign” is literally a large, wooden sign marking the entrance to the refuge! When you see that sign, you know the fun and exploration is about to begin within this wonderful refuge.

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 as a “refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife”. The Swamp survived an attempt at draining in the late 1800’s and was logged extensively in the early 1900’s before becoming a refuge in 1937 by declaration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. It encompasses 401,880 acres (628 square miles), roughly 35 miles north to south and 25 miles east to west.

~ Do you love the Okefenokee? Join the iNat Okefenokee Photography Project and follow the Okefenokee Photography blog. If you have an Okefenokee blog post or journal, message me the URL through my iNat profile page and I’ll post it in the project. Thanks for contributing and for be a lover of this great piece of earth, the Okefenokee Swamp! William

Publicado el septiembre 30, 2020 10:18 MAÑANA por williamwisephoto williamwisephoto | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario