“Ninnescah Life” is a portal to the plants, animals, and people who live and work in and around the Ninnescah River region of south central Kansas.
The upland prairies, red hills, sand prairies, forested creeks, and river valleys are excellent sites for migrating birds, wildlife, and native flora. The Ninnescah River watershed unites Wichita State University’s Biological Reserves: the Ninnescah Reserve, Sellers Reserve and Gerber Reserve. Wichita States Reserves provide a connection with wildlife and plant life in the region, with the mission of research, teaching, conservation, and public outreach.
Josh Perkin (KSU), his fish crew, and Juju Wellemeyer shocked Smoots Creek at Gerber Reserve on 31 January 2014. It was bloody COLD!! Here's their BIG catch:
Red Shiner 14
Western Mosquitofish 13
Orangethroated Darter 10
Central Stoneroller 8
Green Sunfish 3
Arkansas Darter 3
Common Carp 2
Northern Plains Killifish 1
While some were frolicking in the water, Zack Falin (KU) sifted pack rat nests, burrows, and tree holes. Because of the cold, collecting didn't seem that productive. But back at that lab, Zack discovered a very nice hister beetle -- a new genus record from the state! It is Chaetabraeus chandleri (or similar).
Here is an inspiring video about beautiful places in Kansas.... Wish I knew where all of those pictures were taken! Great habitats for insects, plants, birds, herps, and mammals!
Black light date night at Swanson Park was interesting! It is a postage-stamp park right in the center of town. Although it had been a HOT day and the night was moonless, the black lights did not attract a great abundance of insects :( We did, however, see lots of interesting orders (Trichoptera, Ephemeroptera, among the basics), a fabulous orb-weaving spider that was trying to subdue a dragonfly, and really cool larvae of the Polyphemus moth!! Emmy and Kyle retrieved 3 from a pin oak tree so that we can watch them metamorphose!!
Well done!! Thanks to everyone in the Field Ecology classes as well as a few volunteers! You helped discover frog-killing fungus in Kansas! See the story at http://www.wichita.edu/thisis/wsunews/news/?nid=2227
"Wichita State students discover frog-killing fungus in Kansas
A group of Wichita State University students has discovered evidence of frogs infested with the deadly chytrid fungus in the Wichita area. This is the first report of chytrid in Kansas. The pathogenic fungus is found in all neighboring states and has caused the decline and extinction of amphibian species globally."
All frogs at this site were Acris crepitans. Jim Mason provided this info: "Yes, all those photos are of Acris crepitans. The dark triangular mark between the eyes is diagnostic." I also have a video of the habitat (I can send this in email). All images are in order. If you have any questions about frog individuals, holler!
We had a very good night on Ninnescah! It was quite a comparison from the past 2 summers of drought! We called in a barred owl and a screech owl; heard bull frogs and cricket frogs; played with turd rollers rolling their booty; figured out the temperature based on snowy tree cricket chirps; brought in THREE species of underwing moths by sugaring trees and at lights; saw LOTS of aquatic insects at light (very few in the last 2 years); and enjoyed the milky way! The river was so amazingly high that we could not search for bombardier beetles or eye shine. Such a change for JULY when it is typically low. Strange extremes in weather. The night lab is a novel opportunity for many students who have never been exposed to nature at night. For some students, the night lab is the first time to see the milky way!
Here is the data from the IBI we did out at Ninnescah. We got the data from the past two years to compare it to. Our IBI values were 34 and 44 based on the same evaluation they used the other years.
Thanks goes to Josh and Kevin for donating their time to come out and help us!
Also, Site 2's data are the sheets that look like they went through a washing machine. Or that Jesse decided to go swimming with them.