Wednesday, June 20, 2012

There's a Fungus Amoungus

A great mushroom hunting day on Mount Passaconoway in Sandwich. While hiking on Tuesday we encountered a strange fungus. On our way UP the mountain we noticed them because they were neon green and then noticed them again on the way back DOWN because they were dark red! I can't find them in any ID book. Does anyone recognize these?
Neon green on the way up
Dark red on the way down
Check out these bracket mushrooms growing on other bracket mushrooms.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Strange Growths on Plants

While walking home the other day I saw some strange spots on a maple leaf and became very curious. A week later someone brought in another strange growth, this time on an oak leaf. So I looked it up and found that these growths are called galls. Galls can be attributed to bacteria, fungi, insects, mites, or nematodes that have laid their eggs on the plant or where their spores have germinated. Galls are the home for the developing young, which generally do not harm the host plant. The plants defend themselves from this invasion by growing specialized cells around the area where the eggs or spores are, thus forming a gall. Insects are responsible for most of the galls that we see and of the 2,000 insect producing galls, 1,500 of them are wasps and gnats (aka midges). The pictures below are an example of both a wasp and a midge gall. 

The gall on the left is an oak apple gall formed by a cynipid wasp. On the right is the maple eyespot gall formed by a midge (Acericecis ocellaris).

Here is an inside view of the oak apple gall. The dark brown ball in the center is where the cynipid wasp larva is developing. When it is an adult it will emerge from the gall and leave a small exit hole behind.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Efforts to preserve plant communities on Welch Mountain start close to home – You Can Help!

  You would be hard-pressed to miss the distinctive peaks of Welch and Dickey mountains as you make your way along Route 49 in route to our beloved Waterville Valley. The folks at the Rey Center had these special peaks in mind recently when they applied for a Waterman Fund grant. The Center was one of four New Hampshire organizations awarded funds to support efforts in alpine environment stewardship.
 The $2,275.00 grant awarded to the Rey Center will fund The Welch Ledges Stewardship and Citizen Science Program which, through a combination of instructor-led education sessions, citizen science data collection, and mountain steward presence, will teach both the public and organized hiking groups about the exceptional plant species that inhabit the exposed and frequently visited Welch Ledges and the importance of the site as an educational tool in understanding our higher alpine environments. The Welch Ledges Stewardship and Citizen Science Program builds on a growing interest in engaging the public as monitors of our natural places. The Rey Center will use the accessible Welch Ledges as a springboard to educating the public about the importance of northeastern alpine environments and their vulnerability to visitor impacts. The ledges are generally the first exposed and expansive area reached by hikers along the popular 4.2-mile loop hike over Welch and Dickey Mountains. 
 You can help! The Rey Center is seeking volunteers to support their efforts.  As a Volunteer Ledge Steward, you can spend one day or several on the Welch Ledges educating hikers about the plant communities that live there and ongoing efforts to protect them. Stewards will also direct hikers safely among the outcrop plant communities on the ledges and ensure directional and educational signage is in place. There are several stewardship dates available: 6/30, 7/1, 8/4, 8/5, 9/1, 9/2, 10/6, and 10/7. Each stewardship session lasts four hours from 10am - 2pm. Volunteer Ledge Stewards must be available to attend an all-day training on Saturday, June 23.
 Or you can choose to join Rey Center research staff on Welch Mountain to help conduct population surveys of the plant species that characterize the unique outcrop communities that live there. As a Welch Ledges Citizen Scientist, you will be actively engaged in helping us establish an ongoing monitoring effort that will contribute to the long-term health of these plants and efforts to manage the impacts of frequent hiker visitations. There are two citizen science sessions scheduled: 7/18 and 8/1. Each citizen science session lasts three hours from 9am - 1pm.
 Perhaps you would just like to learn a little bit more about this wonderful mountain. Then join us on a Welch Ledges Stewardship Hike on July 21, from 9am – 12pm. Meet us at the Welch and Dickey Loop trailhead and experience Welch Mountain’s spectacular granite ledges on a short hike with big rewards including, great views, beautiful mountain scenery, and an opportunity to learn about the mountain’s natural history and unique environment. The support of the Waterman Fund allows us to offer this program to the public free of charge.
 To become a Volunteer Ledge Steward or Welch Ledges Citizen Scientist contact Kim Votta at or at (603) 236-3308. If you would like to attend the Welch Ledges Stewardship Hike on July 21, email or call (603) 236-3308. Pre-registration for the Stewardship Hike is requested.
 Since 2000, the Waterman Fund has raised over $300,000 for alpine stewardship projects across New England. The Fund, named in memory of the late climber and outdoors writer Guy Waterman, and in honor of his wife Laura, has the goal of strengthening the human stewardship of the open summits, exposed ridgelines, and alpine areas of the Northeast. 

Rey Center Expands Water Quality Monitoring Efforts

The Rey Center recently joined the New Hampshire Lotic Volunteer Network and will be one of 50 other sites conducting year-round in-stream water quality monitoring throughout the state. Working with research staff at Plymouth State University's Center for the Environment we will be part of a larger effort to examine the contributions of groundwater to streams throughout New Hampshire by providing a continuous record of physical conditions and water quality.

Part of a project funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), this research that is aimed at better understanding the complex interactions among climate, land use, ecosystem function, and society. This is essential to strengthen the management and policy decision capacity in New Hampshire concerning ecosystems and their services to, and interactions with, society.

The information obtained from the Lotic Volunteer Network will contribute to the evaluation of existing and future scientific knowledge while also serving as a platform for education and research.

You can participate too! Join Water Watchers and help Rey Center staff and other volunteers collect this important water quality data. Contact us for more information at 603-236-3308 or