Sunday, July 10, 2016

Classic Eminence

The morning cicada chorus began around 9am that early July afternoon. The night before, I heard my first katydids of the summer through my open window. Summer's wildflower displays are coming on in full force, the perfect time for a hike through the woodlands to the Eminence glade that stretches almost 8 acres along a steep ridge. This may be one of the best examples of an Eminence dolomite glade in the area.

Usually when I'm sampling glades, I will encounter scattered Buchnera americana, sometimes ending up in my plots. The lovely blue flower was dominant across the expanse and in bloom that day. The flowerheads of Rudbeckia missouriensis will be in flower in the upcoming weeks, and the blazing stars are only now beginning to bloom. Of course, no good day hiking comes without seed ticks, but they weren't nearly as pervasive as in other parts of the state, which is notable especially having seen direct evidence of a browse line in the woods.

I remain in awe of insect diversity in nice systems like this one. Blooming plants are covered with nectaring bees and flies, and there are so many species of true bugs that I can't even fathom learning them all. I've started with learning the insects in my yard which is full of generalist species that can manage in a highly fragmented system, but in an intact landscape of 17,000 acres managed with occasional and responsibly applied prescribed fire? I wouldn't even know where to begin to learn all of them. Botany is hard, it's really challenging, but entomology -where the subjects MOVE- is a field I would need three lifetimes to learn. It is certainly fun learning, though.

It would be interesting to collect data on high quality examples of Eminence glades to compare the different regions of the expression and then to compare to Jefferson City-Cotter glades. If this was the year 1800, it would be easier to assess true differences, but with today's highly damaged and altered systems, it's tricky to make these kinds of determinations when so few undamaged systems exist in the modern age. Regional differences are easier to see--e.g., all the of species restricted to the White River Hills versus the restricted species on the arc of Jefferson Co. glades. For example, what is behind the distribution of Echinacea simulata on Eminence glades in the southern Ozarks compared to these northern glades where this species is absent? Is it extirpated? Was it there historically? Or is there some range issue that is despite similar rock type and structure. And that's just one species. It sounds like a fun project, nonetheless, to sample glades of specific dolomites, the different igneous, limestone series and sandstones. This sounds like a project for retirement.

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