Thursday, April 18, 2013

Aldo Leopold, Pheonology, and Climate Change

Close-up of a bud cluster from a Silver Maple Tree
What is phenology, what does it have to do with Aldo Leopold or climate change, and how can you use phenology in your own life? Read on for an overview and learn more at a wonderful upcoming program - free to the public - about Aldo Leopold, Phenology, and Climate Change! 

With the chill in the air and the seemingly never-ending showers of rain, it’s hard to look outside and see the many signs of spring that are upon us -- nevertheless, they are there! Have you spotted a robin yet? Buzzing insects or squiggling earthworms? What about the tiny, beautiful clusters of buds bursting from maple branches (photo)? If you answered yes, be sure to enter your observations in Earth Alive, Nature Net's online database of phenological observations! Phenology is the study of nature's seasonal changes from year to year. If you answered no, start looking closely at the world around you, and check out what others have seen on Earth Alive for ideas of what to look for! Phenology sounds like a fancy academic field, but it's a really great way for citizens, families, and even kids to get involved in observing the simple science of the seasons. Anyone can do it, anywhere! To learn how you and your family can get started, check out this Nature Net Journaling and Phenology post.

This study of nature's response to seasonal and climate changes was very familiar to Aldo Leopold and his family. As you may know, Aldo Leopold was a premiere ecologist, now world-famous for his early practice of phenology. He also originated the idea of a Land Ethic and is considered by many people to be the father of conservation and wildlife management. In 1928, Leopold began teaching at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and introduced "Game Management" to his students--the first teaching of its kind. He continued studying the natural world and even initiated his own ecological restoration experiment with his family at their shack on the Wisconsin River. His nature recordings and essays written on the natural world were later published in "A Sand County Almanac" and other works.

In Wisconsin, our spring season is known for its ups and downs and general unpredictability. How our weather, and especially long-term climate patterns, impact the emergence, migration, and seasonal cycles of plants and animals is a growing and important conversation. There is a need to better understand our climate, how it's changing, and the effects on the ecological community--and how phenological observations can give us a bigger picture of what's going on. Click here or watch below to learn how Aldo Leopold's daughter Nina Leopold Bradley and her family have used Aldo's records to graphically demonstrate climate changes in our area--it's a unique and fascinating story!

Phenology | Climate Wisconsin from Wisconsin Media Lab on Vimeo.

This conversation comes full circle next week, when Dr. Stanley A. Temple, Beers-Bascom Professor Emeritus in Conservation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Senior Fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation, will be giving a public lecture on "Aldo Leopold, Phenology, and Climate Change" at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Monona on April 24 at 6:00pm. The presentation, free to the public, will be followed by a guided tour of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center's Climate Science Education Center, including the Nina Leopold Bradley Family Phenology Center. Don't miss this amazing opportunity to hear the latest Leopoldian views on nature, climate, ecology, and phenology. Visit the event listing for more information.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

All About Polar Bears

You may have heard about the Henry Vilas Zoo’s “Paddle for the Polar Bears” event to raise money to support its Arctic Passage exhibit, home to the polar bears and seals. But have you ever wanted to learn more about protecting polar bears, their home, or even how to better help conserve them in the wild?
Good News! The Henry Vilas Zoo will be hosting Robert and Carolyn Buchanan, founders of the conservation organization Polar Bears International on April 23, 2013 at 1:30pm in the visitor center. Robert and Carolyn will talk about polar bear conservation and host a Q&A session after. Join members of Nature Net at this great event!