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Friday, April 27, 2018

The Naturalist - EP 06 North Shore Forest Restoration

Episode 6 - North Shore Forest Restoration

Forest restoration on the North Shore of Lake Superior is a long and complicated process. Climate change, wildlife, and stakeholder interest are only a few of the factors that come into play. Learn more about what it takes to develop a project on this scale. 

Music by Twin Musicom.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Interested in helping monitor the impacts of deer on forest vegetation? Become an AVID volunteer!

Be AVID about forest health! Announcing the Assessing Vegetation Impacts from Deer (AVID) program Become a volunteer! Visit our website at for more information! Deer are a keystone species across Minnesota’s woodlands. They are considered a keystone species because when there are high deer populations, the composition and structure of the forest can change. Deer prefer tree species like pines and maples, but will also avoid certain plants. When there are deer present in a woodland they will browse the species that are preferred or palatable. So if there are high populations of deer in an area, the plants that they prefer will get more heavily browsed which can lead to other plants (that deer don’t like) outcompeting and taking over. Given the influence the size of deer populations can have on woodlands, it is important to monitor vegetation impacts from deer. If populations of deer are too large, it can put stress on important and economically and ecologically valuable tree species. While deer will likely not impact large trees that can be used for timber they can impact the next generation of trees. If seedlings and saplings are heavily browsed they can not mature and become a new generation of trees. Without that regeneration, it can open resources for other species and even invasive species, which can result in changes in woodland composition. However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about how deer populations impact Minnesota woodlands, which is why University of Minnesota Extension is starting a citizen science program where volunteers will assess the vegetation impact of deer, called AVID. To get involved you can sign up for one of our upcoming workshops in May or June where you will learn more about the impact deer have on forest health and how to set up plots and get started as a volunteer!

You can visit for more information about AVID and all the things the program has to offer!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bee Atlas 2016 bee blocks

The Minnesota Bee Atlas is excited to share the results from our 2016 bee blocks.  Citizen science volunteers observed 116 blocks across Minnesota from April to October, 2016 to see which of the six sizes of holes were being used for nests and what materials were being used.  Female solitary bees began building nests in the backs of the holes by laying an egg on a ball of pollen and sealing off the chamber before laying another egg.  The resulting larvae would typically overwinter before emerging from the nests as adults the following spring or summer but the blocks were instead returned to St. Paul campus and placed in cold storage to simulate a Minnesota winter.  As the blocks were warmed in the spring of 2017, adult bees, wasps, and other invertebrates emerged.  Each specimen was pinned, identified, and will be stored permanently in the University of Minnesota Insect Collection.

More than 2500 specimens were recorded, including 1218 bees and 1140 wasps.  Representing 8 genera and 20 species, the bees made up the largest group.  Solitary wasps were the next largest group, including some parasitic species.  Ants, beetles, spiders, and earwigs were also present in the blocks.

As with any first year research project, there were some interesting discoveries.  Using timely volunteer observations, the Bee Atlas discovered at least one species of bee that is multivoltine, meaning it has more than one generation in a summer.  Anthophora terminalis, the orange-tipped wood-digger bee was an unexpected find in a block near Afton.  Another unusual bee was Stelis coarctatus, a nest parasite that lays its eggs in nests of Heriades carinata.

To view the complete results, visit and click on "Results."  You can then search by a particular species or click on "Block Locations" to see the list of species at any one location.

The Bee Atlas would like to send a big thank you to the volunteers involved with this project.

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources
Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative‐Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Naturalist - 05 Youth and Aquatic Invasive Species

Episode 5 - Youth and Aquatic Invasive Species

This past summer Becky Meyer, and Educator with University of Minnesota Extension took part in the first run of Water Watchers, a program aimed at introducing youth to the world of aquatic invasive species. For this episode, we sit with Becky and discuss the development of the program and its future. 

Music by Twin Musicom.

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The Naturalist - 04 Deer Management in Minnesota

Episode 4 - Deer Management in Minnesota

Deer can have a major impact on a variety of things. Some of which you might not directly think about. Join us as we dig into this complex topic with Extension Educators Matt Russell and Johanna Desprez.  

Music by Twin Musicom.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Meredith Cornett from The Nature Conservancy takes part in The Minnesota Bee Atlas Program

Agapostemon virescens, a Western hemisphere sweat bee. Photo © sankax/Flckr 

Meredith Cornett has directed The Nature Conservancy’s science program in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota since August 2003. Between the months of April and October, Meredith took part in this year's Bee Atlas survey project. You can read all about her experience here - from learning about the program to signing up, installing a bee nesting block on her property, and making observations with her family. 

The Minnesota Bee Atlas, a four-year project funded by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), is a citizen science program designed to use volunteer participants to create a state-wide list of native bees found in Minnesota. The last time a survey of Minnesota bees was completed was in 1919 when only 67 species were listed. 

We recently sat down with Elaine Evans and Britt Forsberg from The Bee Atlas program to discuss bees, the impact of citizen scientists on their surveying efforts, and how people can get involved. You can listen to that conversation below in the third episode of University of Minnesota Extension's  The Naturalist podcast. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Naturalist - 03 Bee Atlas and Citizen Science

Episode 3 - Bee Atlas and Citizen Science

On this episode of the Naturalist we get a chance to sit down and discuss bee populations in Minnesota with Extension Educator, Elaine Evans, and Bee Atlas Program Coordinator, Britt Forsberg.  

Music by Twin Musicom and Silent Partner

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