And it all added up to a fabulous Ecosystems and Restoration Ecology certification workshop!
We met Dr. Joydeep at Kiroli Park and hiked the Wildflower Trail, then went to the Ouachita Valley Branch Library to learn some basics of ecology, and ended the afternoon at Restoration Park just south of I-20, all in West Monroe.
And we came away with new questions to ask about the natural world. What happens over time when a hole opens in the forest canopy and shrubs and vines are allowed to grow unchecked? How does a beaver dam affect not only the flow of water but the plant and animal life that surrounds it?
Most specifically, why is Kiroli Park experiencing an “invasion of ferns”? It’s not that they are an invasive species, although Kiroli does have some of the dreaded Japanese climbing fern (Lygodium japonicum). But the “invasion” is by the native and lovely netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata). We saw several large patches of this fern that has not historically been a feature of Kiroli Park.
These are the kinds of questions ecologist asks. And along with the questions came a barrage of new terms and concepts: canopy gap dynamics, canopy shyness, arrested succession, edge effect, and more.
Ecology is about how organisms interact with their neighbors. And they do. No creature is an island. Everything is interconnected and interacting. Here’s one of my fave John Muir quotes to illustrate the point: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”
BTW, all of this sounded a little familiar to a communication scholar! I think I know the topic of my certification final interpretive project. Now to identify an “ecological niche” to focus on…
And, yes, we saw many plants and critters. There will be two species lists, one for each location. I’m counting on Suzanne Laird and Roselie Overby to send me bird lists, and I’m still going through my photos.