BioBlitz Summary Gibraltar Rock

by Free Speech on June 23, 2009

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI Wisconsin

A wide variety of citizens enjoyed the BioBlitz event at Gibraltar Rock Natural Area.

A wide variety of citizens enjoyed the BioBlitz event at Gibraltar Rock Natural Area.

Approximately 20 citizens joined six biologists for the “BioBlitz” held at Gibraltar Rock on Saturday June 13th.  Although the biologists are still finalizing their reports, they were very happy with the results of their species inventories.  The DNR-owned Gibraltar Rock and adjoining private lands (with landowner consent) were surveyed for plants (including lichens) and animals (birds, mammals).  Citizens from the area were invited to join the biologists as they undertook their species surveys.

Gibraltar Rock and adjoining lands houses a variety of habitats, including deep woods, meadow, prairie remnant, shrubby field, bluff face, woodland edge, and leatherleaf bog.  This variety of natural communities provide habitat for a wide diversity of plant and animal species.  A total of 58 bird species were identified at the site.  The DNR ornithologists (bird specialists) Mike Mossman and Sumner Matteson did the breeding bird survey starting at 5am.  Mossman reported, “Most unusual breeding birds were Acadian Flycatcher (state-threatened) and Broad-winged Hawk (common up north but in southern WI breeds only in large upland forest tracts).  Overall, we found a good complement of forest interior and generalist birds (e.g., Broad-winged Hawk, Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ovenbird, Pileated Woodpecker) a good community of shrub-loving species in the old fields and woods edge (Alder Flycatcher, Blue-winged Warbler, Field Sparrow, Black-billed Cuckoo, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee), and a few open-country and grassland obligates (Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow).  A good mix of birds responding to a good mix of habitats embedded within a pretty healthy landscape of forest, shrub habitat and agriculture.

Mossman also set some live traps to catch small mammal species.  He reports, “I caught only two species, one of them common in southern Wisconsin forests and woodlots (our southern woodland deer mouse, Peromyscus leucopus) and the other common in grasslands and agricultural fields (meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus).  I wouldn’t expect much else, besides the shrews and moles that are undoubtedly present.  To get a thorough inventory of small mammals I would have set more traps in more habitats, run them for 4=5 days, and probably run them in Aug or Sep when population levels are typically higher.  But you never know what you’re going to catch, so it’s always fun to trap.  As I mentioned to the group at he parking area when I brought the critters down for viewing, one deer mouse gave birth to 3 young in the trap overnight.  I set them out in the batting they were nested in when I picked up the traps on Saturday, and when I returned an hour later, they were gone: presumably the mama mouse had moved them to their rightful den, as I’ve found to be the case on other such occasions.”

Lichens and liverwort found on the BioBlitz

Lichens and liverwort found on the BioBlitz

UW-Madison lichen specialist, Dr. Jim Bennett, explored the diversity of lichens (non-vascular plants) on the bluff face.  His report mentions, “During the blitz approximately 35 lichen specimens were collected from the two ends of the “Rock” (north and south), including both species on trees and rocks. The lichens at the north end were different from those at the south end, with some notable finds at the north end. Gibraltar Rock appears to have been last collected for lichens over 70 years ago, so Saturday’s collections will add considerably to what was known. I estimate that there are somewhere around 50 species in the “rock” part of the natural area.

A spot called the “party hole” near the south end of the rock has been spray-painted with blue paint in several areas, with the paint covering up lichen communities. The DNR plans to remove the graffiti eventually, and recommendations will be made about the lichen species and how to accomplish this with minimal impacts on the lichens.

The DNR botanist, Craig Anderson, was pleased with his species inventory, but is still working on his list.  He was able to identify at least 50 species beyond what was already recorded for the property, adding to the growing knowledge of this special treasure.

Wetland specialists Rich Beilfuss (International Crane Foundation) and Tom Bernthal (DNR) joined landowners Ron and Paulette Smith on their leatherleaf bog at the base of Gibraltar Rock as part of the extended survey.  They identified over 50 wetland and prairie plant species and added 6 wetland birds to the list.

Friends of Scenic Lodi Valley would like to thank the many “Friends” volunteers who helped set up the tent, provide food and beverage, and offered help at the parking area.  Special thanks go to our biologist team Craig Anderson, Jim Bennett, Mike Mossman, Sumner Matteson, Rich Beilfuss and Tom Bernthal for spending the day undertaking their species inventories.

The cool shade of Gibralatar's hardwood forest.

The cool shade of Gibralatar's hardwood forest.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 bilbo June 24, 2009 at 7:15 AM

Incredible! Gibraltar is more fascinating as we learn more about it.

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