The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia
15 Life on Land

15 Life on Land (34)

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

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Research from Kimberly Sheldon at the University of Tennessee suggests insect behavior is adjusting for climate change

The ConversationIf the TV series “Dirty Jobs” covered animals as well as humans, it would probably start with dung beetles. These hardworking critters are among the insect world’s most important recyclers. They eat and bury manure from many other species, recycling nutrients and improving soil as they go.

Dung beetles are found on every continent except Antarctica, in forests, grasslands, prairies and deserts. And now, like many other species, they are coping with the effects of climate change.

I am an ecologist who has spent nearly 20 years studying dung beetles. My research spans tropical and temperate ecosystems, and focuses on how these beneficial animals respond to temperature changes.

Help control invasive exotic plants Saturday at Oak Ridge cedar barrens

Oak Ridge Cedar Barrens fall 2022

 

OAK RIDGE — The Oak Ridge Cedar Barren will again be the site of exotic invasive plant removal on Saturday, Nov. 5 as we conduct our fall cleanup, our third and final cleanup of the year.  Located next to Jefferson Middle School in Oak Ridge, the Barren is a joint project of the City of Oak Ridge, State Natural Areas Division, and Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning. The area is one of just a few cedar barrens in East Tennessee, and is subject to invasion by bushy lespedeza, leatherleaf viburnum, privet, autumn olive, mimosa, Nepal grass, multiflora rose, and woody plants that threaten the system’s prairie grasses. Our efforts help to eliminate invasives and other shade-producing plants that prevent the prairie grasses from getting needed sunlight.

Volunteers should meet in the Jefferson Middle School Parking lot at 9 a.m., with sturdy shoes, loppers, gloves, and water.  The work session will conclude at noon with a pizza lunch. For more information, contact Tim Bigelow at 865-607-6781 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Hellbender Press reported in detail on last year’s Cedar Barren spring cleanup.

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Bog TturtleThis baby bog turtle may be the face of a new generation of bog turtles raised by Zoo Knoxville for a return to the wild.  Zoo Knoxville

Bog turtles raised for resurrection at Zoo Knoxville’s ARC

KNOXVILLE — Zoo visitors might overlook the collection of critters behind a small, unremarkable window. But amid the showier gila monster, reticulated python, king cobra and Cuban crocodiles, there’s a regional species on the brink of extinction that’s worth a closer look.

Behind the glass, tiny juvenile bog turtles poke their heads out from underneath sphagnum moss at Zoo Knoxville’s Clayton Family Amphibian Reptile Conservatory (ARC).They are mostly brown, with splashes of gold on their heads. When they mature, they will move to the Bern Tryon Turtle Propagation Bog just outside. Eventually, the zoo will release the heartiest of the bunch. This process, called head-starting, involves raising the turtles from eggs and feeding them well in captivity so they’ll be bigger and have a better chance to survive after returning to the wild.

Beavers mitigate forest fires

beaver gc2f524423 1280European Beaver  Image by Ralf Schick from Pixabay

NPR: California enlists beavers in battle against climate change

Forest areas with beaver dams are less prone to severe fire damage because of more consistent soil moisture and less extreme air aridity and temperature conditions. Read about it or listen to Randy Simon’s 2-minute beaver podcast on National Public Radio’s Earth Wise web page.

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IMG 3985Kat Johnson meets a butterfly during a recent event at the University of Tennessee Arboretum in Oak Ridge. Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

UT Arboretum event reminds us to love and care for the butterflies among us

OAK RIDGE — With an orange flutter, a cluster of painted lady butterflies took to the sky.

It was a timed release, coming toward the end of the seventh annual University of Tennessee Arboretum’s Butterfly Festival last month. 

Earlier, other live painted lady butterflies were available to watch in mesh tents. Visitors got a chance to touch Madagascar hissing cockroaches and look at preserved insect collections with butterflies and other creatures from around the world. Children ran around the event with butterfly face paint, butterfly masks and butterfly wings. But the event was also a chance to buy butterfly-friendly plants and learn about butterflies and their relationships with other species. 

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IMG 4106Anne Child removes invasive exotic plants during a recent Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning event to mark National Public Lands Day at TVA’s Worthington Cemetery in Oak Ridge. Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

Citizens pay it back on Public Lands Day in Oak Ridge, Smokies and beyond

OAK RIDGE — Rain drizzled as volunteers dug and clipped plants in woods around an old cemetery turned science lab.

It was a Public Lands Day event at Tennessee Valley Authority Worthington Cemetery Ecological Study area in Oak Ridge near Melton Hill Lake. Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning, an environmental organization based in Oak Ridge, led the Sept. 24 work party in support of American public lands.

Other events were held throughout the country to mark the date (including Great Smoky Mountains National Park), which has proven itself to be the most productive day of the year for citizen sweat equity in public lands.

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GATLINBURG — The director of the National Park Service is expected in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Saturday to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

Director Chuck Sams plans to make some remarks in appreciation for the volunteers who help backstop national park maintenance costs before citizens fan out for various tasks across the park. Sams is the first Native American to head the park service, and he will be joined by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Chief Richard G. Sneed.

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American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) paint art for the Aquarium's fall fundraising auction.An American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) paints art for the fall fundraising auction for the Tennessee Aquarium. The auction runs through Sept. 26.  Tennessee Aquarium

Wildlife masterpieces mark an artistic autumnal fundraiser for the Tennessee Aquarium

CHATTANOOGA — While getting ready to tackle his next artistic masterpiece at the Tennessee Aquarium, Avior the red-ruffed lemur likes to take a few steps to center himself: languid naps in the sunshine, delicate nibbles of romaine lettuce, a resounding howl to focus his energy. 

Only after these rituals are complete can this master of composition — a true “Lemur-nardo” da Vinci — begin putting paw and tail to canvas to create his next opus. 

Avior’s latest triumph — made using non-toxic, animal-friendly tempura paint, naturally — is a 16-by-20-inch piece created in collaboration with his fellow lemurs and social media star Atlanta-based artist Andrea Nelson (TikTok video). Avior and Nelson’s masterwork is one of more than two dozen pieces of art made by aquarium animals now up for bid during the Tennessee Aquarium’s online fall fundraising auction. The auction will conclude at noon on Monday, Sept. 26.

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IMG 3876Gerry Moll is seen in the native garden of his home in the 4th and Gill neighborhood of Knoxville.  Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

People are restoring native plants on their properties. You should, too.

‘There are a lot of messes out there and this is something that you can do right at home that has a positive effect.’

KNOXVILLE — If you want to help native wildlife and attract it to your yard, plant some native plants and kick back on your porch and watch them grow. That’s a good place to start.

That’s the message from Native Plant Rescue Squad founders Gerry Moll and Joy Grissom.

People walking by Moll’s garden in the Fourth and Gill neighborhood off Broadway just north of the city center will see tall plants; not hedges or other foreign plants, but various short trees and native flowers. It looks like an explosion of growth on both sides of the sidewalk, but it’s not chaos.

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