ecology

John James Audubon / Wikimedia Commons

The Carolina Parakeet was a wild bird in lots of senses of the word; it flew throughout the Southeast and Midwest, including along the Georgia coast. Revolutionary War soldiers and Manifest Destiny explorers journaled about their bright green plumage and “disagreeable screams.” And they were thought to be poisonous, because they ate cocklebur seeds that were harmless to them but toxic to cats hoping for a feathered meal.

The birds went extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. Now, researchers are using their migration patterns and physiology as a means to explore how we can save at-risk species today.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

  

 

The things you find in drawers when you move.

Old credit cards. Single socks. Concert tickets. Phone chargers. Two foot long dead squirrels.

Well, maybe not the squirrels. Unless you’re a scientist moving to a new lab that is. Biologists save all kinds stuff to look at later. Take the science department at Mercer University in Macon for instance.

A roomful of children closes in on Puddles the copperhead snake. She’s in a clear plastic box. And today she’s acting as an ambassador for a copperhead catch and release program run by the Atlanta-based Amphibian Foundation.

Mark Mandica is the Executive Director of the foundation. They relocated 14 copperheads last year. And as spring warms up, these common snakes are waking up again.

Wikimedia Commons / From Riverside Natural History, by permission of Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

Cumberland Island is 14 miles of beaches, forests and marshes. Ecologist Carol Ruckdeschel has lived among the plants and animals there for 45 years. Her observations are presented in a recently published book: “A Natural History of Cumberland Island Georgia.”

If you live north of Macon, Columbus or Augusta and you think you’ve been seeing more gnats this year, you could be right. Even so, Jeff Burne says it could be worse.

“I've been some places in the tropics where I literally had to wear a respirator because they'd clog up your nose,” he said during a recent interview in his office.

“That’s a lot of gnats.”

 

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 

 

A new report paints a bleak picture for North Georgia bats and scientists say they know why.

Blame White-Nose Syndrome. A summation of last year’s bat count numbers by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources makes that plain. DNR scientists have been counting each winter in ten different North Georgia cave sites since White-Nose Syndrome hit Georgia in 2013. After last year’s count they say cave hibernating populations have plummeted by 92 percent of their before White-Nose numbers.