Head to Head: A Case of Two Confusing Frogs

Head to Head: A Case of Two Confusing Frogs

Where the Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) and the Mink Frog (Lithobates septentrionalis) co-occur, confusion over species identity often exists. This post highlights a few morphological features to help with species identification in the field. Below are a few useful features to examine when differentiating between green frogs and mink frogs.

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Keeping Snakes Away: Advice from a Wildlife Biologist

Keeping Snakes Away: Advice from a Wildlife Biologist

For many, the sight of a snake in or around the house is the stuff of nightmares. Unfortunately many companies take advantage of people's fear of snakes to sell products or services that are ineffective, and in some cases they recommend the use of products that actually increase danger to family members and pets. Learn more...

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Snake Road: A Southern Illinois Reptilian Paradise

Snake Road: A Southern Illinois Reptilian Paradise

Each spring and fall, visitors from around the world -- literally -- seeking amphibian and reptile encounters descend on southern Illinois to partake in a twice annual migratory phenomenon. The destination, Snake Road, is nestled within the U.S. Forest Service administered Shawnee National Forest - LaRue-Pine Hills-Otter Pond Research Natural Area, and is home to just over 20 species of snake (Palis 2016).

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Chasing a ghost...

Chasing a ghost...

Tiger beetles (Carabidae: Cicindelinae) are a fascinating and diverse group of predatory ground beetles that come in a wide-range of colors and patterns. Because of their beauty and relative ease of identification, tiger beetles are a great 'gateway' insect for naturalists that are more familiar with vertebrate organisms (birds, herps, etc.).

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Nothing bad about it - a visit to the North Dakota badlands

Nothing bad about it - a visit to the North Dakota badlands

For most, South Dakota comes to mind when discussing badlands (at least for those of us in the Midwest U.S.). South Dakota does have badlands, with over 240,000 acres protected via Badlands National Park. This is a must-visit park for anyone passing through western South Dakota, but if ever passing through western North Dakota on Interstate 94 don't miss the opportunity to checkout Theodore Roosevelt National Park (Theodore).

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A brief introduction to insect biology and conservation with special attention to prescribed fire effects

A brief introduction to insect biology and conservation with special attention to prescribed fire effects

A very brief introduction to insect classification, basic biology, life-history characteristics that influence species' response to disturbance, and some prescribed-fire considerations.

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In search of nature’s undertakers

In search of nature’s undertakers

A short hike off a road in the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, near Zimmerman, he drops to his knees next to a hole in the ground that’s been covered with chicken wire, plywood, and a concrete weight. As he removes the makeshift cover, a sickeningly sweet stench wafts out. Smith, a nongame wildlife biologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, wrinkles his nose as he reaches into a buried five-gallon plastic bucket and pulls out the deflated carcasses of two very dead, very rotten rats.

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Toadally Cool - Meet the Great Plains Toad

Toadally Cool - Meet the Great Plains Toad

The Great Plains Toad is a wide-ranging species found primarily in the arid west and grasslands of the north-central states (Fig. 1). It reaches the eastern edge of its range in the tallgrass prairies of Minnesota and Missouri. It is an explosive breeder following heavy rains, and prefers to breed in shallow temporary fishless wetlands. In Minnesota and North Dakota, breeding typically occurs in late May or June (personal observation).

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Sneaky Snakes: A Glimpse into the Lives of Plains Hog-nosed Snakes

Sneaky Snakes: A Glimpse into the Lives of Plains Hog-nosed Snakes

Plains Hog-nosed Snakes (Heterodon nasicus) are a fascinating small species of North American snake, with the largest individuals around 24 inches (60 cm) in Minnesota. But until relatively recently, very little has been known about its natural history. Believed to spend the majority of its time below ground, few areas are known where sufficient numbers can be reliably found for detailed study. 

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Trapped Below - How Turtles Spend Their Winter

Trapped Below - How Turtles Spend Their Winter

In temperate climates, many amphibians and reptiles hibernate during the cold winter months. Here in Minnesota, my current state of residence, it gets cold (mean winter temperate = 14° F / -10° C, record low = - 60° F / -51° C) - brrr. Yet, Minnesota is home 11 species of turtle (one of which is the invasive Red-eared Slider). This leaves turtles with roughly 5 - 7 months of good weather to breed, lay eggs, and feed to build up fat reserves. 

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Turtle vs. Porcupine - Video!

Turtle vs. Porcupine - Video!

Another example of how social media and citizen science can add to our knowledge of the natural world... Below is a video that was recorded by Dana and Elaine Hilmer while out kayaking in Wisconsin. The video was subsequently posted to the Wisconsin Naturalists Facebook Group where Dr. Gary Casper and I were first made aware of the observation.

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Citizen Science

Citizen Science

One of the most basic needs in ecological conservation and research is access to quality species occurrence data. Fortunately technology has made it easier than ever for the lay-public, nature enthusiasts, naturalists, and professionals to identify and document their observations, and then seamlessly share these observations with natural resource agencies and other conservation and research organizations.

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