Identification of Bioluminescent Species in South Carolina Marshlands

Identification of Bioluminescent Species in South Carolina Marshlands

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I was in the brackish marshlands in South Carolina and the water was lit with short flashes of greenish bioluminescent light from a species that seemed to be floating in the current. The lights seemed to be associated with a crackling noise as well but I'm not 100% sure that the light and sound were related as there were so many flashes going off at a given.

When I turned a flashlight on I saw some quarter inch long bugs moving in the water but the light was too bright to confirm that the bioluminescent light was coming from those bugs.

Confirmed by a number of locals later on to be a small species of pistol shrimp. It was a pretty cool phenomenon. Thanks for the help here.

Butterflies of South Carolina

There are over 700 species of butterflies in North America however, this number narrows when considering each state. South Carolina is home to approximately 165 species of butterflies, though some species are more commonly seen than others.

Knowledge of habitat, host plants (for egg laying and caterpillar food), and nectar preferences helps in attracting butterflies to the garden.
Michael T. Waldrop, ©2018

Common names found in bold type are the 21 Most Common Butterflies Found Across South Carolina. These 21 species are listed by abundance in HGIC 1701, Butterflies in the Garden.

Superfamily Papilionoidea (True Butterflies)

Superfamily Hesperoidea (Skippers)

Dogbane (poisonous), Heal-all, Vetch, Japanese Honeysuckle, Thistle, Common Milkweed

Online Resources:

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at [email protected] or 1-888-656-9988.


LayLa Burgess, HGIC Horticulture Extension Agent, Clemson University

This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.

Identification of Bioluminescent Species in South Carolina Marshlands - Biology

Ph.D. Forestry and Natural Resources, Clemson University, 2006
M.S. Forest Resources, Clemson University, 2002
B.S. Biology, University of South Carolina Aiken, 1999


Professor, Division of Mathematics and Sciences
USC Salkehatchie (2018 - Present)
Associate Professor and Chair, Division of Mathematics and Sciences
USC Salkehatchie (2012 - 2018)
Assistant Professor, Division of Mathematics and Sciences
USC Salkehatchie (2006 - 2012)

Research Interests

Dr. Kilpatrick is a field biologist with research focused on herpetofauna and vascular plant ecology and natural history. His research, frequently coordinated with undergraduate mentees, is conducted in a variety of ecoregions and unique natural areas throughout the Carolinas. Current projects include a regional study evaluating hybridization and natural history patterns in the Eastern Newt, imaging and archiving specimens in the USC Salkehatchie herbarium to the Southeast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections, and identification of microbial flora isolated from the human hand.

Synergistic Activities

South Carolina Academy of Science (SCAS) Councilor, 2017 - present
Curator, University of South Carolina Salkehatchie Herbarium (SALK)
Institute of Higher Education Partner, Math and Science Partnerships Program (MSP): Transformational STEM Phase Two, 2015 - 2017
State Coordinator, USGS North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP), 2008 - 2016
State Collaborator, “Toads, Roads and Nodes: A Collaborative Course-Based Research on the Landscape Ecology of Amphibian Populations” (TRN), 2013 - 2014


2019 Chris P. Plyer Excellence in Service Award
2018 USC Distinguished Research Service Award
2014 John J. Duffy Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient
2014 University of South Carolina Salkehatchie Teaching Award Recipient
Nominee - Governor’s Professor of the Year Award, 2011
Xi Sigma Pi National Forestry Honor Society Member
USC Aiken Outstanding Senior in Biology 1998-1999

Selected Presentations

“Identification of Bacterial Isolates Originating from the Human Hand.” 92 nd Annual Meeting of the South Carolina Academy of Science, 2019, Florence, SC.

“Digitization of the Herbarium Collection at the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie: Contributing to a Regional Network of Herbaria.” Discover USC, 2018, Columbia, SC.

“Phylogeographic Patterns Among Eastern Newts (Notophthalmus viridescens)in the Southeastern United States.” Northeastern Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Annual Meeting, 2017, Charlottesville, VA.

“Results of a Course-Based Study Relating Amphibian Distribution and Land Use Features in South Carolina.” 90th Annual Meeting of the South Carolina Academy of Science, 2017, Conway, SC.

“The Importance of Gas Line Right-of-Ways as Breeding Habitat for the Pine Barrens Treefrog
(Hyla andersonii) at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge.” 77th Annual Meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists, 2016, Concord, NC.

“Phylogeographic Patterns Among the Subspecies of Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) in South Carolina.” 77th Annual Meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists, 2016, Concord, NC.

“A Comprehensive Survey and Comparison of Breeding Habitats for the Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii) at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge.” 88th Annual Meeting of the South Carolina Academy of Science, 2015, Furman, SC.

“Distribution and Habitat Characteristics of the Green-fly Orchid (Epidendrum magnoliae) in Four Coastal Plain Counties of South Carolina.” 73rd Annual Meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists, 2012, Athens, GA

“Evaluation of Anuran Species Detection and Site Occupancy in the South Carolina Coastal Plain using the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program.” 73rd Annual Meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists, 2012, Athens, GA

Physical Location

Data content is considered static once published. However, if issues with the Geodatabase linkages or table contents are identified, the Geodatabase and/or the associated Map Document may be updated. Assure most current data is being used by downloading from and/or comparing modification dates provided at this site.

The primary attribute tables associated with the ESI biology data are BIOFILE, SOURCES, and BREED_DT. The geographic data layer containing biological resource information (in this case, HERP) is linked to the BIOFILE using the RARNUM field. There is a many-to-many relationship from the data layer to the BIOFILE, as an RARNUM may be repeated in several geographic features. Likewise, in the BIOFILE, the same RARNUM may appear in multiple records, representing a unique combination of species found in that region. To be represented by the same RARNUM, these species groups must also share the same seasonality, concentration, mapping qualifier, and source information.

The items in the BIOFILE are ELEMENT, SUBELEMENT, NAME, GEN_SPEC, S, F, STATE, S_DATE, F_DATE, GRANK, GRANKDATE, MAPPING_QUALIFIER, CONC, JAN, FEB, MAR, APR, MAY, JUN, JUL, AUG, SEP, OCT, NOV, DEC, BREED1, BREED2, BREED3, BREED4, BREED5, RARNUM, G_SOURCE, S_SOURCE, and BREED. The G_SOURCE and S_SOURCE fields provide links to the SOURCES table, where object level source information is available. The BREED field is the link to the BREED_DT table, where searchable breed information is provided. The links to both of these tables are also many-to-many.

During the collection of the ESI data, six relational data tables are used to store the attribute data. These are the BIORES, BREED, SEASONAL, SOURCES, SPECIES, and STATUS tables. When we create new ESI data, we populate these tables to maintain the integrity of the data collected. Once completed, all information populating these tables is collapsed into the BIOFILE to ease data queries and general usability of the final product.

Although these data have been processed and used successfully on a computer system at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, no warranty, expressed or implied, is made by NOAA regarding the utility of the data on any other system, nor shall the act of distribution constitute any such warranty. NOAA warrants the delivery of this product in computer-readable format, and will offer a replacement copy of the product when the product is determined unreadable by computer input peripherals, or when the physical medium is delivered in damaged condition.


Rationale and design of the luxAB reporter cassette for integration into the genome of the P. cannabina pv. alisalensis PBSPCA1 phage.

V. harveyi luxAB was used as the reporter of choice because (i) luxAB has been successfully used as a reporter for phage-mediated detection of Gram-positive and -negative pathogens (3, 19, 22, 32, 33), (ii) bioluminescent signals may be easily visualized by a photon detection device (e.g., luminometer), and (iii) minimal processing of the sample is required (the only requirement is the addition of the substrate n-decanal).

To ensure early and constitutive gene expression, luxAB was placed under the transcriptional control of a strong bacterial promoter ( Table 1 ). The luxAB expression cassette was flanked by phage PBSPCA1 sequence for targeted integration by homologous recombination into the PBSPCA1 genome. In doing so, 798 bp of phage DNA corresponding to a putative phoH-like gene (encoding a phosphate starvation-inducible protein) was predicted to be replaced with 2,159 bp of reporter DNA. This strategy was chosen for two reasons: (i) phoH was not expected to be essential for phage viability or infection, and (ii) replacement of phage DNA with reporter DNA increased the genome size by only 𢏁.3 kb and was deemed unlikely to result in the production of defective phage.

Verification of PBSPCA1::luxAB.

To identify the presence of the PBSPCA1::luxAB recombinant phage and to confirm that luxAB integration had occurred at the correct site in the phage genome, cell-free phage supernatants were analyzed by PCR. Primers were designed to detect the presence of lamH (phage DNA putative tape measure gene), luxB (reporter), and phage DNA that was deleted by the recombination event (Del) or to span the 5′ and 3′ integration junction sites ( Fig. 1 A). The results of PCR analysis of the recombinant phage were positive for luxB, lamH, 5′-INT, and 3′-INT, as expected, and negative for the PBSPCA1 region predicted to be deleted (Del). PCR analysis performed using the luxB, 5′-INT, and 3′-INT primers generated PCR products of the predicted sizes ( Fig. 1 B and Table 1 ), indicating the presence of the reporter and that luxAB had integrated at the correct genome site.

Reporter phage fitness and stability.

To investigate whether the addition of the heterologous reporter compromised the 𠇏itness” of the recombinant phage, the ability of PBSPCA1::luxAB to lyse BS91 was analyzed. Lysis was assessed by monitoring bacterial growth (culture optical density) in the absence or presence of wild-type PBSPCA1 or PBSPCA1::luxAB phage. Both the wild type and PBSPCA1::luxAB caused a significant drop in OD600, and there were no differences in lysis times ( Fig. 2 ). Recombinant stock titers were also comparable to those of the parental phage (10 9 to 10 10 PFU/ml). These results collectively indicate that (i) a functional PBSPCA1::luxAB reporter phage was generated and (ii) the fitness of the phage was not adversely compromised, at least in rich media, by the introduction of the reporter.

PBSPCA1-mediated lysis and PBSPCA1::luxAB-mediated lysis of P. cannabina pv. alisalensis showed similar results. P. cannabina pv. alisalensis BS91 was grown in NBY at 28ଌ until an OD600 0.075 was seen, and the culture was divided into equal portions. Cultures were left untreated (BS91) or infected at a multiplicity of infection of 𢏅 with BS91 plus PBSPCA1 or BS91 plus PBSPCA1::luxAB and monitored for OD600 every 10 min (means [n = 3] ± SD).

The stability of the luxAB reporter was tested. The titers of PBSPCA1::luxAB phage that had undergone three rounds of phage amplification were determined using the agar overlay technique. Individual plaques were picked and analyzed by PCR for the presence of the luxB reporter. Of the 23 (96%) plaques from the passaged phage, 22 gave PCR-positive results for luxB (data not shown), indicating that PBSPCA1::luxAB was genetically quite stable.

PBSPCA1::luxAB-mediated detection of P. cannabina pv. alisalensis.

The ability of PBSPCA1::luxAB to transduce a bioluminescent phenotype to P. cannabina pv. alisalensis BS91 was assessed. A steady increase in bioluminescence was seen at 28ଌ in BS91 phage-infected cells, with a 㸐,000 increase in signal strength detected within 90 min ( Fig. 3 A). These data indicate that (i) PBSPCA1::luxAB can rapidly transduce a bioluminescent phenotype to P. cannabina pv. alisalensis and (ii) the LuxAB proteins are functionally stable in P. cannabina pv. alisalensis. Longer incubation (𾆀 min) of the reporter phage with cells resulted in a gradual decline in signal strength, presumably reflecting phage-mediated cell lysis (data not shown).

Rapid and sensitive phage-mediated detection of P. cannabina pv. alisalensis BS91. (A) Signal response time. BS91 was grown at 28ଌ in NBY media, mixed with PBSPCA1::luxAB (time zero 3.2 × 10 8 PFU/ml), and incubated at 28ଌ. Bioluminescence (RLU) was measured over time. Numbers represent means (n = 3) ± SD. (B) Sensitivity limit of detection. BS91 was grown to an OD600 of 0.15 (1.3 × 10 8 CFU/ml), 10-fold serially diluted, mixed with the reporter phage (3.2 × 10 8 PFU/ml), and incubated at 28ଌ for 120 min. Numbers represent means (n = 3) ± SD. *, significant increase (P < 0.05 [Student's t test]) compared to control results.

To investigate assay sensitivity and dose-dependent characteristics, cells serially diluted 10-fold (10 8 to 10 3 CFU/ml) were mixed with PBSPCA1::luxAB and analyzed for bioluminescence over time ( Fig. 3 B). The highest level of CFU per milliliter produced the strongest signal at over 300,000 RLUs within 120 min. As cell numbers decreased, the signal response decreased and the signal response time increased, indicating dose-response characteristics. As few as � cells (corresponding to 1.3 × 10 3 CFU/ml) were detectable 120 min after phage addition (P < 0.05 [Student's t test]).

Host cell fitness: detection of viable cells only.

The ability of metabolically active cells to elicit a bioluminescent signal response upon reporter phage infection was compared to the response elicited by compromised cells. Colonies from a freshly grown plate were resuspended in NBY media to an OD600 of 0.08 and either left untreated or treated with 70% (vol/vol) ethanol for 30 min. Ethanol treatment resulted in a 10 5 to 10 6 reduction in viable cell levels (to 㰐 2 CFU/ml). Following the removal of ethanol, both control and treated cells were incubated with PBSPCA1::luxAB and bioluminescence was assessed over time ( Fig. 4 ). Control cells elicited a rapid and strong bioluminescent response, whereas ethanol-treated cells were unable to elicit a bioluminescence signal. These data indicate that the PBSPCA1::luxAB phage could detect P. cannabina pv. alisalensis directly from colonies without the need for culture outgrowth and that only viable cells were detected.

Phage-mediated detection of viable cells. P. cannabina pv. alisalensis BS91 colonies were inoculated directly into NBY media until an OD600 of 0.08 was reached. The culture was divided into equal portions and either left untreated or incubated with 70% ethanol for 30 min. Following removal of the ethanol, control and treated cells were incubated with PBSPCA1::luxAB (3.2 × 10 8 PFU/ml) at 28ଌ. Bioluminescence (RLU) was measured over time following the addition of 2% n-decanal. Numbers represent means (n = 3) ± SD.

Reporter phage specificity.

Previous studies showed that PBSPCA1 phage infects all strains of P. cannabina pv. alisalensis isolated from widespread geographical locations and from various symptomatic crucifers (5, 6, 11, 17, 18) (data not shown). The activity of PBSPCA1 phage is also specific none of the 26 strains of P. syringae pv. maculicola tested (data not shown) displayed lysis with the phage by spot tests (9). The ability of PBSPCA1::luxAB to transduce a bioluminescence signal response to P. syringae pv. maculicola, P. marginalis, P. carotovorum, X. campestris pv. campestris, and X. campestris pv. raphani was assessed ( Table 2 ). These species were chosen as important bacterial pathogens of Brassica species. A bioluminescent signal response was not evident above background except for P. syringae pv. maculicola ATCC 51320 and 51322, which produced attenuated signals approximately 100-fold lower than those produced by P. cannabina pv. alisalensis. Thus, even closely related species can be distinguished by the use of this reporter phage.

Table 2

Reporter phage specificity: inability to detect non-alisalensis Brassica pathogens

SpeciesStrain or ATCC no.Mean no. of relative light units (SD) a
P. cannabina pv. alisalensisBS9122,599 (421)
P. syringae pv. maculicola51320243 (9)
P. syringae pv. maculicola5132117 (1)
P. syringae pv. maculicola51322102 (5)
P. marginalis5128129 (2)
P. marginalis1084427 (3)
P. carotovorum49531 (1)
P. carotovorum13831 (1)
X. campestris pv. campestris3391325 (1)
X. campestris pv. raphani4907927 (1)

Detection of P. cannabina pv. alisalensis on blight-infected B. rapa.

The ability of PBSPCA1::luxAB to detect P. cannabina pv. alisalensis in planta was tested in a controlled greenhouse environment. At 10 to 14 days postinoculation, the presence of bacterial blight was indicated by large expanding areas of chlorotic (yellow) and necrotic (brown) areas on the leaf surface ( Fig. 5 A). Leaf tissue from inoculated and noninoculated plants was harvested and assayed with PBSPCA1::luxAB ( Fig. 5 B). Only background levels of bioluminescence of noninoculated leaves were evident. In comparison, a strong (𾄀-fold) increase in bioluminescence was obtained from the symptomatic tissues of inoculated plants within 4 h of tissue harvesting. Therefore, PBSPCA1::luxAB can rapidly detect P. cannabina pv. alisalensis in samples from infected Brassica species.

Carolina Wren Nests, Eggs and Young Photographs

A Carolina Wren nest in a boot. Carolina Wren's often choose odd locations for their nests. They do not often chose to use nestboxes.

A Carolina Wren nest is a bulky, somewhat messy mass of debris like leaves with some coarse hay/grass, twigs, moss, little roots, weed stalks strips of bark, plastic or even snakeskin generally domed with tunnel like entrance and lined with feathers, animal hair, Spanish moss, wool, and fine grasses. Eggs are white/pale pink or rosy tint/light gray (larger than other wren eggs) usually with heavy brown/reddish-brown flecks often concentrated at larger end. Little or no gloss, unlike House Wren.

It is not common for them to use a bluebird nestbox, but may nest in a three sided platform box (sometimes sold as "robin box")

Guess Wayne won't be wearing these boots for a while.
(Wilmington, NC. Photos by Bet Zimmerman, May 2007)

From Bent: Dr. Witmer Stone (1911) writes: "In a country place near Philadelphia, a pair of Carolina Wrens entered the sitting-room through a window that was left partly open, and built their nest in the back of an upholstered sofa, entering where a hole had been torn in the back. Needless to say, they were not disturbed, and given full possession until the young were safely reared." Mr. Vaiden tells of a pair of these wrens that raised a brood of young "in the pitcher of a pitcher-pump," left in the basement of a house. "The parents came through the partly opened basement window and gave little attention to the humans that had to occasionally go into the basement."

This Carolina Wren nest was in CT, on the top of a propane tank (under the cover). The babies have already fledged. Lots of moss and dry leaves. Photo by Bet Zimmerman.

Several people report that, unlike bluebirds, Carolina Wrens often do not nest again in the same place even when successful.

Two day old Carolina Wren nestling from the light fixture nest above. Photo by Jana Fuhrman Deeks of North Texas.

Notice cellophane in nest. Birds sometimes use this in lieu of snakeskin.

The egg in the front looks different for some reason.

Unfortunately this nesting failed. Earlier, several eggs were found about 12 feet away on the ground. Jana returned the one uncracked egg to the nest, which still had three eggs inside it. One of the eggs hatched. Several days later, there was only one egg in the nest, no baby, and the nest appeared undisturbed, but was obviously pretty accessible to predators. See Predator and Problem ID and Solutions.

Carolina Wren Young. Photo by Karen Ouimet.

These babies are 4 days old. Five out of six eggs hatched. The nest is in Karen's bathroom. She left the window open one day, and the wren made a nest in a container she uses for hair scrunchies. She decided to leave the window open for a month to accommodate them. The nest was completed in 3 days. The babies hatched 14 days after incubation began.

The babies fledged on day 13, unprovoked, but could only fly about knee high, and landed on the floor. Karen managed to herd the back into the bathroom and put the nest on the floor and closed the door. The next morning they were huddled in the nesting material, but had decorated the entire bathroom with poop. The parents were still feeding them.

Unfortunately, one of the nestlings was found dead later that morning, perhaps from a crash landing. The parents continued to feed them and two days later were able to fly chest high, but were still in the bathroom.

An adult Carolina Wren feeds a fledgling (on the right.) Photo by Dave Kinneer.

Unlike House Wrens, Carolina Wrens co-exist well with other cavity nesters.

May all your blues be birds!

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Identification of Bioluminescent Species in South Carolina Marshlands - Biology

Common Name: coypu, coypu rat, swamp beaver, nutria, nutria rat (English), nutria, ragondin (French), Biberratte, Sumpfbiber (German), coipu (Spanish), ratao-do-banhado (Portuguese - Brazil)

Scientific Name: Myocastor coypus
The Greek words mys (mouse) and kastor (beaver) led to the genus name Myocastor. The latin form of coypu is the South American Indian name for this animal. (Georgia Museum, 2000)

Other Scientific Name: Myopotamus bonariensis (GSMFC, 2005)


Phylum or Division: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Subclass: Theria
Infraclass: Eutheria
Order: Rodentia
Suborder: Hystricognatha
Infraorder: Hystricognathi
Family: Echimyidae
Subfamily: Myocastorinae

Identification: A large rat-like rodent which is brown in color with a white muzzle and chin. The outer fur is dark brown and coarse while the underfur is softer and gray. While males are usually bigger than females, the average size of the head and body is 521mm while the average length of the tail is an additional 375mm. It has large, orange, protruding incisors. The hind feet are webbed and the tail is long, rounded and scaly with little hair. It is also similar in appearance to the beaver and the muskrat, although the tails of each are different.

Original Distribution: Native to South America, specifically middle Bolivia and Southern Brazil to Tierra del Fuego

Current Distribution: South America, Europe, Asia, North America (Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and from Texas and the Gulf States north through Maryland) in aquatic and marshland communities.

Site and Date of Introduction: Farmed for their fur, 'escapes and liberations' from fur farms in South America led to feral populations which mutliplied and spread rapidly. (D'Elia, G., 1999) Additionally, this species was introduced into North America intentionally in the early 1930's for its fur and in later years to control aquatic vegetation. (GSMFC, 2005)

Mode(s) of Introduction: Nutria were captured in South America and released in Louisiana for trapping and pelting purposes Escapes or releases from Louisiana and other fur farm captivity led to the widespread feral populations in North America. (GSMFC, 2005)

Reason(s) Why it has Become Established: Reproduction in this species is very high. Breeding occurs throughout the year, and sexual maturity may be reached in as little as four to eight months of age. Gestation lasts just over four months, and the litter size can range from one to eleven although the typical litter is four to six. Females typically have two to three litters per year. Although the species prefers fresh water and lowland areas, there exist populations in salt and brackish water and in higher elevations. All populations of this species, however, are found in habitats close to wetlands - swamps, marshes, rivers and lakes, particularly those with vegetation along the banks. Although initially farmed for their fur, the downturn of the fur market and human preference for muskrat fur has resulted in less hunting of this animal. Their primary predators in the wild are alligators, turtles, gars, large snakes, birds of prey, and to a small extent now, humans (for fur or meat). They are nocturnal and thus may not be easily preyed upon by daytime predators. Their lifespan is approximately six years over which time the amount of offspring produced is tremendous.

Ecological Role: The nutria is an herbivore, although coastal nutria have been known to consume shellfish as well. They eat primarily aquatic vegetation and can consume up to 25% of their body weight each day. They consume the entirety of a plant including the stems, leaves, roots and bark. As indicated above, the nutria's diet puts it in direct competition with the muskrat and various waterfowl. Predators are also listed above. In limited quantities, nutria would serve a very useful purpose in thinning waterways choked with vegetation.

Benefit(s): This animal is valued for its fur and in some places its meat. It is also valuable for its ability to consume vast quantities of aquatic plants - weeds and vegetation - which can reduce the over-vegetation of aquatic areas such as ponds, lakes and marshes.

Threat(s): The Nutria is too efficient at eating which is threatening habitats, native plants and other wildlife. Their high reproduction rate and resulting overpopulation is stretching limited trophic resources and threatening other species such as waterfowl (ie. bitterns and marsh harriers) and muskrats. By consuming the young and fragile plants in an area, they are capable of turning marshes into vast stretches of open water. Their burrowing actions damage habitats, dikes and levees. They also cause considerable damage to various crop areas such as soybean plantations, rice plantations, sugar cane fields, and sea oats (which stabilize Mississippi's beach dunes) (GSMFC, 2005). Nutria also carry and can transmit various parasites and diseases.

Control Level Diagnosis: Medium Priority. While this species is thought to be declining in South America due to the fur trade (D'Elia, G., 1999), in North America, it seems that this species has gained a significant foothold which is only increasing over time in terms of both overpopulation and damage to wetlands. Several states including Texas, Georgia and Maryland have already begun attempts at decreasing or eradicating this animal.

Control Method: Georgia has attempted control of small or medium sized nutria populations through shooting and trapping. (Bertolino, 2005) At least one county in Texas has spent hundreds of dollars trying to eradicate this animal.( NSRL) Maryland, greatly concerned about the nutria's effects on the marshes on the lower eastern shores, proposed a ten year nutria eradication program. The program was postponed pending the results of a two year study to determine whether "exclusion of nutria from emergent marsh habitats can stabilize or recover marsh vegetation." (Haramis, 1996) It is unclear whether this program was actually instituted. It is also unknown whether the efforts undertaken resulted in the eradication of nutria or reduction in damage to wetlands in specific locales.

Bertolino, 2005. "Mycastor coypus" (On-line), Invasive Species Specialist Group database. Accessed November 11, 2005 at

The Georgia Museum of Natural History and Georgia Department of Natural Resources, 2000. "Nutria" (On-line), Georgia Wildlife Web Site. Accessed November 12, 2005 at

Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC), 2005. "Myocastor coypus" (On-line), Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission Web Site. Accessed November 12, 2005 at

Haramis, M., 1996. "The Effect of Nutria (Myocastor coypus) on Marsh Loss in the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland: an enclosure study" (On-line), United States Geological Survey Web Site. Accessed November 11, 2005 at

National Science Research Lab (NSRL) [no specific author or date noted]. "Nutria" (On-line), The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition. Accessed November 11, 2005 at

Author: Pamela Millian
Last Edited: November 14, 2005
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Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs : Identification and Natural History of the Fireflies of the Eastern and Central United States and Canada

This is the first comprehensive firefly guide for eastern and central North America ever published. It is written for all those who want to know more about the amazing world of lightning bugs and learn the secrets hidden in the flash patterns of the 75+ species found in the eastern and central U.S. and Canada. As an independent researcher working with numerous university teams, naturalist Lynn Frierson Faust, “The Lightning Bug Lady,” has spent decades tracking the behavior and researching the habitats of these fascinating creatures.

Based on her twenty-five years of field work, this book is intended to increase understanding and appreciation of bioluminescent insects while igniting enthusiasm in a fun and informative way. Species accounts are coupled with historical background and literary epigraphs to engage and draw readers young and old into the world of these tiny sparklers. A chart documenting the flash patterns of the various species will aid in identification.

Clear photos illustrate the insects’ distinguishing physical characteristics, while habitats, seasonality, and common names are provided in clear, easy-to-understand yet scientifically accurate language. The guide will be welcomed by everyone who wants to learn more about fireflies' and glow-worms' unique traits and about their fragile niche in the ecosystem.

FEATURES Over 600 color photographsDetailed accounts and anatomical diagrams of 75+ species, as well as aids in distinguishing between similar speciesA first-of-its-kind flash-pattern chart that folds out on heavy-weight paper
• Extensive scientific details written in an understandable and engaging wayColorful, common names—Twilight Bush Baby, Shadow Ghosts, and Snappy Syncs, and more—for easy species identification based on flash patternsTips on ideal sites and times of year for firefly watchingConservation-oriented approach

Ecological restoration helps that happen by creating a resilient world, project by project.

Doubling down on nature’s own processes, we lift impaired ecosystems into restored health and ultimately, self-sufficiency.

From there, they can play the roles nature intended – cleansing water, sheltering wildlife, buffering storms and filtering carbon from the atmosphere.

It’s the resiliency we must have as a planet, alongside responsible human progress.

“Providing large-scale transportation opportunities that work to reduce carbon emissions, while supporting further economic prosperity and connectivity between the Dallas and Houston metro areas, is progressive and forward-looking. Partnering with RES ensures the project will be done right, and we are thankful to see Texas Central take this step.”

Vice President, Audubon Society

Wood Stork: Species Profile

The Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) is a large, bald-headed wading bird that stands more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) tall, has a 5 foot (1.5 meter) wing spread, and weighs 4 to 6 pounds (1.8 to 2.7 kg). It is the only stork breeding in the United States and was placed on the Federal Endangered Species list in 1984. The species was downlisted from endangered to threatened in June 2014, reflecting a successful conservation and recovery effort spanning three decades.

The Wood Stork serves as an indicator species for restoration of the Everglades ecosystem. Indicator species serve as excellent messengers of the past, present, and future because their specific habitat requirements are so closely associated with one particular environment. The quality and quantity of the required environment directly determines the well-being and the number of that species. Because it is much easier to count and record the biology of one or more indicator species than it is to measure the more complex workings of an ecosystem, close monitoring of carefully selected species provides important information about the health of the entire system.

A Wood Stork feeds by tactolocation, which means by groping with its bill in shallow water. When it touches prey, its bill snaps shut with a 25-millisecond reflex action.

Although the status of the Wood Stork has been downlisted from endangered to threatened, the Everglades ecosystem is still endangered. Storks were once more abundant in the wetlands of south Florida than in any other region throughout the southeastern states. The Wood Stork used to thrive in south Florida because it is a specialized species that prefers tropical and subtropical habitats with distinct wet and dry seasons. A stork locates food -- mostly small, freshwater fish -- not by sight but by tactolocation, or groping with its bill in shallow water. Often the water is muddy and full of plants, conditions that obscure prey from sight. The stork sweeps its submerged bill from side to side as it walks slowly forward. Its bill snaps shut with a 25-millisecond reflex action -- the fastest known for vertebrates -- whenever it touches prey. Each breeding pair of these large birds requires about 440 pounds (200 kg) of fish per breeding season.

In the marsh habitat of the Wood Stork, the effectiveness of this feeding technique increases as fish are concentrated in pools by seasonal water-level declines that result from the prolonged winter dry periods. The feeding behavior of Wood Storks has evolved over many thousands of years to reflect the natural conditions of the Everglades. When the natural hydrologic cycle is upset by human-controlled water-management activities, Wood Storks fail to feed and nest successfully because a breeding pair of Wood Storks will not attempt to nest if sufficient food is not available. Hydrologic conditions resulting from water-management activities in recent years often have been unfavorable to support Wood Stork feeding and nesting requirements.

A Wood Stork is easy to identify by its black, bald head.

The Everglades of the 1930s, largely undrained and without complex water-control structures, supported a nesting of population of 5,000 to 15,000 pairs of Wood Storks. Modern water-control programs in south Florida have so greatly changed the flooding and drying patterns of the Everglades that the survival of Wood Stork nesting colonies is in question. Accelerated development of water-control structures and unnatural water-delivery schedules in the 1960s has sharply reduced the number of birds since that time. By 1995, fewer than 500 pairs of Wood Storks were nesting in the Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve area of south Florida. If recent trends continue, Wood Storks may no longer be able to survive in south Florida. The dwindling population of Wood Storks in south Florida does not mean that the species is going extinct, but that they have moved to more suitable habitat in other locations such as north Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The restoration target for breeding pairs in the Everglades is 1,500 to 2,500 nesting pairs. Restoration of suitable Wood Stork habitat in the Everglades is expected to result in an increase in the number of Wood Storks in the area.

The indicator role of the Wood Stork is supported by the total number of all species of wading birds nesting in mainland colonies within the Everglades, which also has declined during the same time period. Since the 1930s, the number of breeding pairs of all wading birds has declined by 90 percent. Clearly, the southern Everglades ecosystem has been incapable of supporting viable populations of Wood Storks and other wading birds for several decades. In addition to documenting the deterioration of the ecosystem, the Wood Stork data provide information that is needed for successful restoration of the ecosystem. Knowledge of the habitat requirements of Wood Storks makes it possible to revise water-management practices to restore suitable feeding conditions for wading birds. The challenge, however, is to implement these improved water-management programs in the face of the rapidly growing human demands for water and space in south Florida.


The Food Habits and Nesting Success of Wood Storks in Everglades National Park in 1974
John C. Odgen, James A. Kushlan, and James T. Tilmant, 1978

Relation of Water Level and Fish Availability to Wood Stork Reproduction in the Southern Everglades, Florida
James A. Kushlan, John C. Ogden, and Aaron L. Higer, 1975

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