25 September 2019

Wildlife-Friendly Flowers and Shrubs

This post is written as part 2 of a series to help students in my First Year Seminar course at Monmouth University, Humans and the Environment, to understand and participate in our ecological restoration project at Ross Lake Park in Long Branch, NJ.

In the first part of the project, students removed aggressive invasive species, focusing on Japanese knotweed, porcelain berry, multiflora rose, and oriental bittersweet, and in the process revealing oak  and pinchberry seedlings as well as native flowers that were being choked out by the faster-growing vines and other invasives.

In part 2, they planted several varieties of native flowers and shrubs that support pollinator species of bees and butterflies, and also provide haven for the numerous insects needed by native and migratory birds. Many native plants are quick to establish themselves, growing back from roots year after year as well as reseeding themselves, and are ideal as the base of a food chain that supports the growth of numerous varieties of insects that in turn feed cardinals, wrens, and woodpeckers, among many other species of birds either local to New Jersey or that migrate along the New Jersey coast.
 brown-eyed susan
 coneflower (echinacea)
 goldenrod (foreground) and boneset
 mountain mint
 New England aster
For more information, visit the Native Plant Finder website, where you can enter a zip code for anywhere in the US and get information based on the research of Dr. Doug Tallamy, who is an expert on the science of interactions between insects and plants (and Professor and Chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware).

All photos courtesy of Catherine N. Duckett, Associate Dean, School of Science at Monmouth University, whose research is on evolutionary entomology.

23 September 2019

Identifying and Removing Aggressive Invasive Species

This is written for students in Humans and the Environment, a first-year seminar at Monmouth University in central New Jersey, but may be helpful for others working to shift their lawns toward species that support local and migrating pollinators and birds.

Students in class undertake a two-day "ecological restoration project." Part one is removal of invasive species and part two is planting native flowers and shrubs. On day one, we will focus on four different invasive species that have colonized the park.

Japanese Knotweed (native to Japan)
Note the large leaves that alternate along the stem, red bamboo-like stems, and small white flowers. Japanese knotweed flowers in late summer to early fall. In spring and early summer, the leaves are red.

Porcelain berry (native to Siberia)
Porcelain berry has five-sided leaves of various forms, long, branching vines, and tough stems. Whitish berries appear in midsummer and ripen to purple and blue. Porcelain berry has long branching taproots that are quite difficult to pull up, especially once established.

Multiflora Rose (native to China, Japan, and Korea)
This is a thin-stemmed bramble with small but tough thorns requiring leather gloves to remove. It has small flowers in mid-summer and small fruits later in the season.

Oriental Bittersweet (native to China)
Oriental bittersweet has medium sized, medium green leaves with a pronounced point.
Long, tough vines climb the trunks and branches of trees, blocking sun and choking them out.

Tools and Information

Tools include gloves, pitchforks, shovels, and clippers. For more information about these and other aggressive invasive species, see the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Fact Sheet.

All photos courtesy of Catherine N. Duckett, Associate Dean, School of Science, Monmouth University, whose research specialization is evolutionary entomology.

04 September 2019

Media Fail to Explain Climate Crisis Role in Weather Events

From Public Citizen, via email. Key information: 7.2 percent of television coverage and 2.5 percent of news coverage in the top television stations and newspapers mentioned climate change in coverage of Hurricane Dorian.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Although Hurricane Dorian exemplifies what climate scientists have warned about, major U.S. media outlets are failing to connect the climate crisis to the strongest Atlantic storm ever to hit land, a Public Citizen analysis shows.

Scientists say that global warming makes hurricanes intensify faster, dump more rain and move more slowly. All these things have happened with Dorian; it has moved over water that is warmer than usual, intensified at an unprecedented ratedumped 24 inches of rain on parts of the Bahamas and slowed to a crawl, moving at as little as 1 mile per hour.

But between Friday and Monday, climate or global warming was mentioned in just 7.2% of the 167 pieces on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and Fox. The top 49 newspapers by circulation didn’t do much better. Of them, 32 covered Dorian in their print editions, but only eight papers connected Dorian to climate. Of 363 articles about Dorian in those papers’ print editions, just nine (2.5%) mentioned climate change.

“It is mind-boggling that major media outlets can report about a storm of epic proportions that is exactly what climate scientists have warned about yet fail to mention two key words: ‘climate change,” said Allison Fisher, outreach director for Public Citizen’s Energy Program. “We can’t address the looming climate catastrophe if we aren’t talking about it.”

Meanwhile, Dorian is still lingering over the Bahamas, and damage reports are still coming in. The storm is growing and will head next to the East Coast of the U.S. As reporters cover this story, Public Citizen is urging them to include climate change.

Public Citizen’s analysis was a snapshot; it didn’t include online stories, and because of a limitation of the database, it didn’t include the Wall Street Journal. Because Public Citizen looked at top papers by circulation, many significant local dailies were not included, such as The Palm Beach Post and The Post and Courier in South Carolina. The same is true of papers that cover Capitol Hill, like The Hill, Politico and Roll Call. This analysis also does not include radio, local television or online news articles.

The results are in line with media coverage of Hurricanes Florence and Michael last year. A Public Citizen survey found that of the 24,968 total pieces mentioning Hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018, climate change was mentioned in only 10% of online news pieces, 8% of television news transcripts and 5% of print news articles. This was, however, an improvement from 2017, when the rates were 6% for online media and television and 3% for newspapers.