Learn, Participate, Conserve
The NEAEB conference in Hartford was a lot of fun. New people, new cool ideas, and great presentations. Thanks to Greg Bugbee of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station for a great presentation on aquatic invasive species and for giving us images to use in the Lakes SOS app.
We're headed to the New England Association of Environmental Biologists (NEAEB) conference in Hartford next week, so we're packing and getting ready for a great week with tons of informative talks.
We are putting the final touches on Lakes SOS and testing the app before submitting tonight! Be on the lookout for new reporting features, plants, fish and crustaceans. We've added a whole new section for reptiles and will add more species in future updates.
Today, we're updating Lakes SOS and Horseshoe SOS. We're adding new aquatic invasive species, new reports and other cool features. We're also adding a new participant to Horseshoe SOS.
This side-by-side comparison of red and gray squirrels illustrates the obvious size difference between the two North American species. Both are frequent visitors to bird feeders, and often seen chasing one another.
Unfortunately in the UK, red squirrel populations appear to be declining mainly due to gray squirrels outcompeting reds due to their ability to feed more efficiently in broadleaved woodlands. Other threats to red squirrels are disease carried by gray squirrels that is fatal to reds, as well as road traffic. Grays can reproduce during times of stress, while reds cannot.
Although both are native to North America, grays are considered an invasive species in the UK.
According to the Forestry Commission, England, the red squirrel, native to Britain, is becoming extremely rare due to the introduction of the American grey squirrel. "There are estimated to be only 140,000 red squirrels left in Britain, with over 2.5 million grey squirrels. The Forestry Commission is working with partners in projects across Britain to develop a long-term conservation strategy that deters greys and encourages reds."
If you are a backyard bird watcher in the United States, have you noticed a decline in the red squirrel population? Many years ago, they used to raise their young in our woods and entertain us daily with their feisty personalities. The above photo is the first red squirrel we've seen in our neck of the woods (New Hampshire) for several years. We spotted one dead on the road last spring, but rarely catch a glimpse of them. Let's hope we aren't faced with the same fate as the UK, and are one day working toward conserving this species.
This excerpt is from the Lakes SOS app:
Other Common Name(s): Asiatic Clam; Prosperity Clam; Pygmy Clam; Golden Clam; Good Luck Clam
Nonnative Range: Has spread throughout most states, specifically in the eastern US. See USGS map for details on Asian clam distribution
Size: Small (size varies); juveniles are 1 mm; adults as large as 5 cm wide
Description: Light green, yellowish to black-brown; oval-triangular brown shells; dorsal umbo (beak) at the peak of the shell
Habitat: Sandy substrates in freshwater; colonize near shore but may occur in deeper water
How they are Spread: Transported by boats, live wells and bait buckets; mucous thread allows them some mobility to move around lake bottoms; larva is dispersed and is carried by currents; imported sand and aquariums
Threat: Compete with and displace native species; alter the food chain; damage equipment; in large numbers can increase nitrogen contributing to algae growth; outcompete native mussels due to more rapid filter feeding; die off can create lethal doses of ammonia and kills native mussels and fish
Other Information: Are hermaphrodites; one adult can start a population; uses its siphon to filter feed suspended phytoplankton and its foot to pedal feed on bottom sediment; spawn from July through September; prolific and reach sexual maturity in a few months; benthic mats are the only effective means of eradication but can only be used in ideal lake bottom conditions
Above slide from the Quick ID section of Lakes SOS