An Evening at SWNP – Looking for Arachnids
Saturday, August 14, 7:30 pm
Meghan Cassidy will lead us on a spider walk focusing on the types of spiders commonly found at SWNP. Meghan will cover high level information about the natural history of some of these spiders, why spiders are ecologically important (and not scary!), cover the 2 types of medically significant spiders that can be found in Texas along with precautions, as well as handing out an informational pamphlet she has created (with pics of spiders from SWNP!). As we walk around, we’ll encounter other invertebrates (such as insects), so Meghan will give some impromptu info on any insects we come across as well!
Meghan is a biology student with UTA, a photographer, and an arachnology enthusiast living in the DFW area. Originally from the east coast, she relocated to Texas 10 years ago and began studying Texas’ invertebrates in her free time, with a special focus on arachnids and arachnid diversity!
Wear sturdy shoes or boots, maybe bring bug spray and water, and especially a good flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries. The walk back will be in the dark, so a good light will be essential.
Past Climate: Putting the Puzzle Together
Angela Kline-Osen, PhD discussed how scientists use geology, paleontology, biology, and models to help determine possible climatic conditions of the past. Her focus was on Texas, particularly the DFW region, but she also expands a bit about the Permian-Triassic period (about 250 million years ago) as that is where much of her research has been concentrated.
Dr. Osen is a Professor at Tarrant County College where she regularly teaches Earth Science and Oceanography. She has also served as Field Camp Coordinator for Geology Field Camp and taught Earth Systems as well as Historical Geology at the University of Texas at Arlington. She received her PhD in Earth and Environmental Science and from the University of Texas at Arlington where her research concentration was on Paleoclimate and Paleoceanography. She also has her Bachelor of Science in Geology through UTA. During the summer, she assists with fossil prep at the Heard Museum. Previously, she had volunteered as a dig crew member at the Arlington Archosaur Site. Dr. Osen’s discussion of the processes and results of that dig got a lot of questions (and answers). To see the photos and hear the discussion, you can view the recorded Zoom program.
A couple of reference tips from Dr. Osen – a wonderful interactive map of Texas geology – https://txpub.usgs.gov/txgeology/ and a free smartphone app Dr. Osen recommended – Rockd from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Bats of the Area and How to Find Them
Local bat enthusiasts Ellen Ravkind and Anne Alderfer along with bat expert Kate Rugroden from the Bat World Sanctuary provided our program, held at the amphitheater, overlooking the south pond. Kate talked about the bats in this area and the role the sanctuary plays in education and rehabilitation. Ellen and Anne demonstrated the use of the echo location devices from Wildlife Acoustics (Echo Meter Touch 2).
We began to see bats flying overhead during Kate’s talk – too fast for anyone to ID. But once Anne and Ellen turned on their echo location systems, we were able to count them and find out which ones were there. The recap is thanks to Anne Alderfer. The results include a “test sample” Anne took at SWNP on June 17th.
- Seminole (23 recordings–the most prominent species)
- The following have 1-3 recordings and are found commonly in our area: Evening, Tri-colored, Eastern Red, Mexican, Southern Yellow, and Hoary.
- These three were identified as possible: Big Brown, Silver Hair and Cave Myotis.
- Not normally found in our area: Western Yellow.
Kate Rugroden is Director of Special Projects for the Bat World Sanctuary and is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, specializing in bats, raccoons, and opossums. To learn more www.batworld.org and www.bwmidcities-batworld.org.
Dr. Ellen Ravkind is the Naturalist Manager/Environmental Educator at River Legacy Foundation/River Legacy Living Science Center. Anne Alderfer is a volunteer at River Legacy Park and a Master Naturalist. She is involved in innumerable nature activities in this area.
How Wildlife Survives in the City
It’s not easy to be a wild animal living in the city. Human development creates many challenges for wildlife and they must find a way to adapt in order to persist. In spite of this, our communities are filled with amazing species and breathtaking natural areas that are worthy of celebration and protection. Rachel’s presentation discussed the unique dynamics of urban ecosystems, how the fascinating creatures that live in urban areas manage to survive, and why they are so important.
This year Rachel and the TPWD have created the DFW Urban Wildlife Research project in conjunction with the Urban Wildlife Information Network (urbanwildlifeinfo.org). April 2021 was the first sampling session. Camera traps are setup 4 times a year in Tarrant and nearby counties in order to see what wildlife are present. The first session captured photos of the wildlife you’d expect, such as coyotes, foxes, deer, and raccoons. There were some nice surprises as well – the downtown FW camera captured an eastern spotted skunk and later a ringtail – both unusual sights in north Texas. The next sampling period starts in July. Anyone interested in helping with photo review is welcome to contact Rachel via email: Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel is an Urban Wildlife Biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife in DFW. She has a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M and a master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology from Texas State. As an Urban Wildlife Biologist, she focuses on making our communities more wildlife-friendly through educational outreach and providing technical guidance.
Yucca Moth Walk at SW Nature Preserve
Special thank you to John and Grace Darling for a perfect evening at SWNP. The Darlings have an amazingly broad and deep knowledge of everything to do with nature, from frog calls to plant IDs and even a defense of poison ivy. The highlight of the evening was finding the blooming yuccas and their “obligate mutualistic” yucca moths. Male and female moths emerge from their cocoons in the spring, timed with the blossoming of the yucca plant. There is an extraordinary partnership between the yucca moth and the yucca plant. They are so interdependent that one cannot live without the other. Photo credits to Jan Miller, Lynn Healy, Jim Frisinger, Annabelle Corboy.