Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ohio Natural History Conference

Come mid-February, we're all ready for a dose of spring. It won't have quite arrived by February 16, but the Ohio Natural History Conference will. This is the 5th annual conference, and as in year's past it will be held at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus. Jointly hosted by the Ohio Biological Survey and the Ohio Division of Wildlife, it will feature a variety of papers on many facets of Ohio's natural history. Anyone interested in the outdoors would enjoy the conference, and learn a lot. As with all these types of events, it's a great way to meet other like-minded people and network, too.

For more details and registration, go right here.

I hope this doesn't fall into the realm of shameless self-promotion - something bloggers are often noted for :-) - but I was flattered when organizers invited me to provide the keynote program. But I was more thrilled to be able to talk about some of the greatest remaining natural areas in Ohio. Legendary Cleveland-area photographer Gary Meszaros and I have a book coming out later this year that illustrates the very best places left in Ohio, and this will be the focus of my talk. Best of all, I'll get to share some of Gary's dazzling imagery in my program.

Following are a few of the several hundred images that Gary and I will feature in the book.

The rugged Appalachian topography of Conkle's Hollow in Hocking County. Massive sandstone cliffs rise nearly 200 feet from the floor of the canyon, creating some of the most spectacular scenery in Ohio. Biodiversity abounds, including many of our rarest nesting birds. A fern-lovers paradise, several dozen species can be found, some in lush abundance.

Great Blue Heron, a species that we sometimes overlook because it is so common. A close look reveals beautiful details the cursory eye won't catch. As a young kid, these primeval birds engaged me in natural history, probably more than any other animal. I was fascinated by their huge size, Neanderthal croaking, and incredible fishing ability.

Purple Fringed Orchid, Platanthera pyscodes. Almost shocking in appearance, this is one of the rarest of Ohio's forty-six native orchids. A botanical quester needs to know where to look, and must brave mosquito-choked swamp woods for the privilege of admiring this beauty. The specific epithet of the scientific name, pyscodes, means "butterfly-like". With a bit of imagination, perhaps, and maybe that's what leapt to Linnaeus's mind when he named it. To most, though, it is the rich magenta hue of the flowers that stop one in their tracks.

One of our smallest dragonflies, the Seepage Dancer, Argia bipunctulata. These Lilliputian carnivores are only known from a few pristine fens in Ohio. This one, quite appropriately, is perched on Walking Spikerush, Eleocharis rostellata, a sedge that forms the dominant biomass in many fen meadows.

Hope to see you at the conference.


Anonymous said...

I was fortunate to photograph the purple fringed orchid in Vermont this past August. Lots of goodies in those northeastern bogs; its cool to have some remnants in Ohio.

Tom said...


I sent a picture of a seepage dancer in the very same pose as this one (it was also on E. rostellata) to a dragonfly expert and they said it was in an unusual pose! I'm glad to see this one looking exactly the same as the one I observed at Gallagher Fen.
Happy blogging,