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Threats To Think About

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Observation Time: 4:00 pm on 11/29/21 Weather: Gray skies, 34°F, snow in past 24 hours When I finally trudged my way through several inches of snow up the hill to Robertson wetland, the sun was starting to sink toward the treeline. The wetland looked so pristine covered in fluffy white snow. It was hard to imagine that the health of this wetland could be threatened by a variety of human activities. Then I remembered the salt truck pouring salt on the road in front of me on my way back to college Sunday night. On campus there was salt everywhere, from sidewalks to steps to parking lots. I appreciated the added traction on my walk to class. However, for freshwater wetlands, too much salt is harmful.  Salt Truck Salt Pollution Salt and other pollutants can be dangerous for the plants and wildlife that live in wetlands. Melting snow or rain moves salt from roads and sidewalks to soil and eventually to streams and wetlands. Impervious surfaces such as the parking lot uphill of my wetland

Serene Snow

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Observation Time: 10:30 am on 11/19/21 Weather: Cloudy, 39 ° F, snow in past 24 hours

Infamous Invasive Species

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Observation Time: 3:45 pm on 11/11/21 Weather: Cloudy, 66 ° F As I walked through the crunchy brown oak leaves covering the trail to Robertson, I thought about the invasive species that I would find at the wetland. I had seen several species of invasive plants on my previous visits. However, invasive species can be plants/algae, animals, insects, or even fungi. Invasive species here aren’t native to Pennsylvania, so they don’t have natural predators or competitors to limit their spread.  It is important to care about invasive species because they cause damage to the environment, economy, or human health. Invasive species often outcompete native species resulting in biodiversity loss as they take over the ecosystem. This results in a loss in the valuable ecosystem services that wetlands provide.  Invasive species could have been introduced accidentally , such as zebra mussels in ship ballast water or on purpose , such as shrubs for landscaping or trout for fishing. I observed three

Exceptional Ecosystem Services

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Observation Time: 3:30 pm on 11/8/21 Weather: Cloudy, 55 ° F Ecosystem services are the ways in which nature benefits people for free. Wetlands provide a lot of valuable ecosystem services, more than many other ecosystems.  You may remember that we learned some of these last week, when we learned how biodiversity benefits humans. Watch the short YouTube video below on ecosystem services provided by wetlands - it is easy to understand! I recommend checking out this link to learn more details about specific ecosystem services. There are pictures at the bottom that you can click on to learn more about specific ecosystem services, such as the economic or recreational benefits provided by wetlands In this video, I explain why wetlands are important to me and why I have enjoyed spending time at Robertson wetland this semester. Now that you know some of the reasons that wetlands are so important, think about how they have impacted your life. In the comments, please share why wetlands are im

Baffling Biodiversity

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Observation Time: 4:00 pm on 10/30/21 Weather: Cloudy, 5 5 ° I have observed many super cool critters at Robertson wetland in the last few months and I have shared many of them with you! There have been so many that I have not been able to write about all of them. Here are some other organisms that I’ve found at the wetland: Algae Fungi Lichen Slugs & Snails Spiders Worms There are also so many organisms that are too small for me or you to see! These microorganisms are everywhere in the wetland, but you would need a microscope to observe them. They are on the plants and animals and in the soil and water. Some types of microbes include: Bacteria  Protists Archaea Animal Parasites Wetlands are very biodiverse ecosystems! Watch this video to see the wetland biodiversity Why is biodiversity important? Biodiversity is important for both the ecosystem and people. Species in an ecosystem depend on one another for food, such as vegetation or prey; for habitat, such as a place to build a be

Fabulous Flora: Wetland Plants And Their Adaptations

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Date: 2:00 pm on 10/20/21 Weather: partly sunny, 66 ° , slight breeze It was a beautiful fall day, perfect for a hike up to the wetland. On my way I noticed trees covered in bright fall foliage. Some trees still had green leaves, but many had at least hints of red, orange, or yellow if not almost entirely absent of green.  I also noticed seasonal changes in the wetland. Vegetation that was previously lush in different shades of green is now brown and dry.  September 6 September 23 October 20 Flowers that were once in bloom in yellow, white, and purple have now gone to seed. Some were brown and shriveled up, while others were fluffy and white. The white fluff acts as a parachute to carry individual seeds through the wind, just like the dandelions that I blew on as a child.  These changes make me sad, although I know this is part of life in a temperate ecosystem . These plants are adapted to living in a place with four seasons and, even though I will miss the green, I am cheerful that it

Marvelous Mammals

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Observation Time: 6:00 pm on 10/15/21 Weather: Partly cloudy, 73 ° , thunderstorm earlier that day  Mammals may not be the first animals you think of when considering wetlands, but these habitats are important for certain mammals. Just because mammals use wetlands doesn’t mean they are easy to see.   Have you ever startled a mammal? Wild animals often run away when they see humans. Many mammals are most active at dusk, dawn, or during the night in order to avoid humans. I had to pay extra close attention to look for signs of mammals at the Robertson wetland.  The first sign of a mammal that I noticed at the wetland was the sound of chipmunks. I could hear them in the forest near the wetland. Listen to their “chip” sounds in the video.  Here is what a chipmunk looks like. Pretty cute! I have seen chipmunks in the willow trees at the wetland. They are usually too fast to get a good picture. Since it had just rained, the ground was muddy. I was hopeful that I might be able to find some ma