Wildlife Management & Prairie Restoration, Small Scale
We had thunder and rain this afternoon for several hours, but around six, sun broke through enough to illuminate the newly refilled lily pond. I went out to see what was going on with pondlife. Two male Neon Skimmers, Libellula croceipennis, were harrassing the four or five male Blue Dashers, Pachydiplax longipennis, and also pestering the two female Neon Skimmers who were ovipositing in the pond.
Wildlife managers know that in natural systems (few of which still exist) there’s a reasonable balance between predators and prey, so that the prey don’t degrade the resource (plants and water) they need. In nearly all managed lands in the US, large predators have been eliminated or reduced to the point where predators cannot effectively control prey population. Thus the grazers and browsers can grow in numbers to the point where they are on the edge of starvation.
In nature, things die. Plants die; animals die; rocks crumble. As a manager, it’s important for me to know what died and have some idea why. If it was a plant was it killed by disease, drought, insect damage, overuse by a native critter? Was it a juvenile, an adult, an aged adult? If it was an animal, did some other critter kill it (and if so, as it prey or a rival in a turf dispute?) or did it die of disease or old age or non-natural injury (vehicular injury, gunshot wound, poison, etc.?)
Walking in the creek woods yesterday, I found another set of bones. Both skull and lower jaw, all teeth intact, a shoulder blade, a leg bone (broken, chewed), a rib. As I had other work to do, I brought only the skull back with me, to be sure of species (I’m still learning skull shape–my guess was right, but the dental formula proved it.) Read the rest of this entry »