Diets of Nestling Red-Headed Woodpeckers

The red-headed woodpecker has enjoyed better days. Over the past five decades, the species has suffered sharp declines in the northern and western parts of its range. While that much is clear, the role of their diets in the declines is not. A recent USDA Forest Service study observed the diets of nestling woodpeckers to…  More 

Can Southeastern Bats and Rock Climbers Share Cliffs?

“Researchers haven’t really studied cliffs as foraging areas for bats,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Susan Loeb. “When so little is known about that habitat, it can be hard to gauge the impacts of different uses or management plans.” Rapid growth in technical climbing has put rock climbers in the same spots as bats. How…  More 

Seminole Bats on the Move

Over the past 48 years, Seminole bats (Lasiurus seminolus) have drastically expanded their range. “The northern edge of their summer range has expanded by 323 miles,” says Roger Perry, a USDA Forest Service research wildlife biologist. “That’s approximately 7 miles a year since 1970.” The western range is also expanding, possibly because forests are replacing…  More 

Very Crafty Caterpillars

Butterflies are the charismatic megafauna of the insect world. Who doesn’t admire the stripes on an Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), the eye spots on the Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus), or the amazing journey of the Monarch (Danaus plexippus), flying from Canada to Mexico to return to a place only known to its great-grandparents? Their…  More 

Vernal Crayfish Life History and Habitat Use

What to call a freshwater crustacean that resembles a small lobster? USDA Forest Service scientist Zanethia Barnett has a clever answer: “I study crayfish, but I eat crawfish.” More than half of the nation’s 357 species of crayfish — also known as crawdads, mudbugs, or yabbies — can be found in the Southeast. Crayfish break…  More 

Prescribed Fire and Snags in Shortleaf Pine Woodlands

“I’ve spent years working in these shortleaf pine woodlands and always wondered about the availability of snags, especially given their importance to bats,” says U.S. Forest Service research wildlife biologist Roger W. Perry. Perry is talking about 250,000 acres on the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Efforts to restore shortleaf pine woodlands have…  More 

Generalist No More

Although the Yazoo Darter (Etheostoma raneyi) was previously thought to be a habitat generalist able to thrive in a variety of conditions, U.S. Forest Service scientists Kenneth Sterling and Melvin Warren guessed differently. “Literature suggested the darter was a generalist, but details at small spatial scales were lacking for its sand-bottom stream habitat in the…  More 

Home is a Pine Tree

Every summer, female Indiana bats fly through southern Appalachian forests looking for a place to rear their pups. A new study, coauthored by U.S. Forest Service research ecologist, Susan Loeb, suggests that the bats are looking for yellow pine snags. Although Indiana bats sometimes roosted in other trees, they strongly preferred yellow pine snags, especially…  More 

Bats Adapt to Disturbed Habitat

Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) is considered a rare and sensitive species. The bats are small, with a body length of three to four inches, ears just over one inch, a wingspan just shy of a foot, and they weigh around half an ounce — less than a slice of bread. Though their range includes much of…  More 

Life in the Rubbish: Crayfish Habitat in the Mississippi Yazoo River Basin

Crayfish – also called crawfish, crawdads, or mudbugs, depending on where you live – look like tiny lobsters, and live in freshwater rivers and streams. Crayfish need instream cover to hide from predators – and from larger, cannibalistic kin. They also use cover to find food, to shelter while incubating eggs, and to keep themselves…  More