Where’s Ted now?

…in the Loess Hills of northwest Missouri, looking for additional sites for Cylindera celeripes (swift tiger beetle). Recall that we (Chris Brown and I) finally found this rarely collected species last year in Missouri (after many years of looking) in high quality remnants of loess hilltop prairie (a critically endangered natural community in Missouri).  The beetle was found at Brickyard Hill, Star School Hill Prairie, and McCormack Loess Mounds Conservation Areas, which combined contain nearly half of the 50 or so acres of loess hilltop prairie still existing in Missouri. The remaining acres are located at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge and on private lands – my sincere appreciation goes out to Squaw Creek Refuge staff and three private landowners, who have all graciously extended to me (and my able field assistant Madison) access to the loess hilltop prairie remnants under their stewardship to better characterize the beetle’s distribution in the area. The sites I am visiting have varied burn histories, ranging from recent to 6 years or more since the previous burn, thus, I am also hoping to better understand the possible impact of prescribed burns on the species’ occurrence in loess hilltop prairie remnants. The beetle needs these remnants to survive, and prescribed burning is an important tool for helping to restore this natural community after decades of shrinkage due to woody encroachment. The trick will be to design management plans that accomplish these restoration objectives while at the same time minimizing possible negative impacts of the burns on existing beetle populations.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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5 thoughts on “Where’s Ted now?

  1. Wish I could be there. This month ended up with just too much stuff in it for me to try to make it out that way. Is there good evidence for a negative impact by fire? I would expect that a species with burrowing larvae might be fairly fire-resistant.

    • Hi Doug, I figured you’d gotten busy or something. We’ll hook up one way or another.

      I wish I had the answers about fire impacts and this species – we just don’t know. The sites where we have found the beetle have seen some fire, but I don’t know the details yet. I’ll certainly get that information as we move forward on designing a management plan for the species. I’m less concerned about direct impacts on the beetle as I am on indirect effects on prey abundance. I suspect the larvae have some adaptation for unpredictable food supply, but probably not for an entire season.

      Our backs are up against the wall with this species – I sure don’t want to mess up and lose it, so I tend to think we should be as conservative as possible until we have better information.

  2. Perhaps I will see you? I plan to be at Squaw Creek tomorrow…at least for part of the day. I wanted to look around McCormick.

      • Next time you are planning a trip to Squaw Creek let me know. I only live 35 minutes from there and visit the place often. In fact I volunteer for them occasionally and I know Cory and Charlie really well. I would love the chance to meet you. I know a young man by the name of Colton who would also like to meet you. He is planning to attend University of Missouri this fall and major in Wildlife Biology with an a focus on Entomology. I sent a friend request to you on his behalf on FB.


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