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Notes on a Schema

There have been some studies written on a schema called "the sick role" which defines a person...

Defining Dallas: Drought and the Forest

We got a tenth of an inch of rain yesterday -- such a microscopic amount.  The pond levels...

Defining Dallas: Symptoms of Pond Mortality

The drought continues and our ponds shrink at Trinity River Audubon Center.  I'm torn between...

Defining Dallas: Drought And The Heat Island Effect

As with everything, my insatiable curiosity leads me to adventures.  This past week I went...

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Mel. WhiteRSS Feed of this column.

I am a PhD candidate in the field of information science, volunteer Naturalist for the Trinity River Audubon Society and a volunteer fossil preparator for the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science... Read More »

The great thing about being a scientist is that you have more adventures than anyone else!  Today I took along the kids from the Lone Star Adventure Camp on a bug hike at the Trinity River Audubon Center, exploring the insect (grasshoppers in particular) diversity of the area around Catttail Pond.  Earlier in the summer when I did bug hunts with YMCA camps, I had noticed that the grasshoppers caught near the building (where we have a lot of switchgrass and Sideoats gramma) seemed to represent a different population than the ones caught some twenty yards away, where the area was mostly Johnson grass.  It'd be difficult to collect a pack of adults willing to go hike in the sun for 90 minutes to check out this idea, but kids -- ah, kids are up for adventure, sun, and catching c
A mystery has emerged in the past three weeks that may have a very simple answer -- but an answer that we're not aware of -- and that's the mystery of what happened to the butterflies?
Ponds are interesting things because their boundaries are always changing.  On a very small scale there's a lot of drama, such as the snakes fishing for Mosquito fish (gambusia) trapped in a drying puddle.  On a larger scale, what happens in the local small ponds may reflect on what happens elsewhere.  So when folks at TRAC told me that the Great Blue Heron pond had dried to a puddle during the summer of 2008, I began to wonder how well the pond would do in this, the third dryest year in Texas since recordkeeping began.
Monday brought a delightful and unanticipated opportunity -- a chance to do a little citizen science at Camp Wisdom Boy Scout Camp (http://camp-wisdom-bsa.org/).  This week's activities were designed for the younger scouts, and on the spur of the moment, I decided that it might be fun for them to do a citizen science arthropod survey. 

Kids and weird bugs are always a good match!

One of the most engaging things about a landscape is how it changes after dark.  I haven't been at TRAC very often after sundown, but last night I was in an Amphibian Watch training program and to count frogs, you have to wait until the sun goes down.  Suddenly, paths that are familiar in the sunshine become enchanting places of pale light and shade and have an element of strangeness after the last of the sunlight has faded.
I have just come in from Third Thursday at Trinity River Audubon Center.  The anticipated speaker canceled and there were families there who wanted a program, so I did the "Turtle Talk" and then took them out for turtle watching and a nature hike.  I wish I'd thought to take the pond temperature, because I'm getting reports from others now that yes, turtles don't bask when it's too hot.  We saw nine tonight, in the water with just their noses poking out.  When I took the group to look at the one turtle nest we'd seen, someone discovered a second one not fifteen feet from that!  I'll GPS all three of the known nesting sites so we can see if they come back next year.