e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,

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80 acres, 8 years, 800 species

Well, we made it, in the 8th month, too.   With a comfortable little margin to make up for errors I might've made.  And another four months to add more species in case I've made even more errors.

Of course we didn't personally put every one of those 800 species on the place.  Many were here to start with.  I can say we've seen an increase in every taxon measured at baseline or any point in between.  The original baseline count was done in four floral and three faunal groups (grass, woody plants, vines, forbs, birds, mammals, snakes) over 18 months--six months before we owned the place (but were allowed to roam on it) and the first year.   For those original seven,  totaling 175 species, the present count is 459.  That's a fairly solid increase. 

Nonvascular plants (incl. lichens) 42
Vascular plants  283

    Birds  151
    Mammals 20
    Fish 6 (when there's water in the creek)
    Reptiles 28 (17 of them snakes)
    Amphibians 7
    Crayfisn & isopods 3
    Odonates (dragonflies & damselflies) 48
    Lepidoptera (butterflies & moths) 78
    Blattodea  (roaches) 1  (not in the house--a wood roach living under a rotting log)
    Mantids (praying mantises) 2
    Phasmotodeids (walking stick) 1
    Hemiptera (bugs) 18
    Neuroptera 7
    Coleoptera (beetles) 24
    Diptera (flies) 21
    Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps) 21
    Orthoptera (grasshoppers, katydids, crickets) 9
    Spiders & Harvestmen 12
    Scorpion 1
    Ticks & mites 3
    Myriapods  (centipedes, millipedes) 2
    Gastropods (snails) 6

This isn't all: I've barely begun on the ants, the smaller bugs and beetles, etc.  Nor have I set out traplines yet to catch and thus ID the small mammals like the mice.  We expect the counts to rise as I find more of the small stuff, and as more of the "old prairie" plants find conditions to their liking.  (On these, we've seen an increase in the number of plants, and locations of the plants, over the years: more pitcher sage, little bluestem, Indiangrass, sideoats grama, milkweeds, Maximilian sunflower, etc.)

To celebrate, here's the latest addition to the list:  a tenebrionid (darkling) beetle (species not yet IDed) photographed yesterday at Fox Pavilion: 


Darkling beetles are mostly scavengers; I see them wandering around on bare ground in late afternoon (or earlier in cold weather) moving surprisingly fast.  They look chunky and slow, but they aren't.   My beetle field guide says little's known about their ecological role because they aren't considered major pests.   A lot of the things I'm finding are barely described--they may be pinned specimens in a university collection, but they're not "important" enough to be studied in real life (and, to be fair, it would be doggone hard to study some of these things.)   Still, when so many living things are living unknown lives...it behooves us not to tinker with their fate.  This little black beetle has a role in keeping the whole system going--everything does, except maybe us...we affect it, but not in a good way much  of the time.

Still...it takes only the application of known principles of good management to bring land back from poor condition.  (Well, yeah, sweat and blisters are also involved, and money, and time...but you can put effort, sweat, and money into messing it up, too.  You can scrape everything off and put in a big-box store and a parking lot...or build check dams, plant grass, build rain barns for wildlife waterers...compare the species count, the carbon footprint, the production of oxygen, the effect on floods and groundwater.  Not everyone makes the same choice.  Someone else in this town has sold land which will become a Dollar Store, complete with its big water-shedding parking lot.)

Tags: ecology, land, widlife management
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