Field Station Natural History Workshops -- Summer and Fall 2014


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Field Herpetology: Identification of Wisconsin Amphibians and Reptiles

May 30 & 31 (Friday & Saturday). June 1 (Sunday) is optional

Instructor: Dr. Josh Kapfer is a Certified Wildlife Biologist ® with The Wildlife Society and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at UW-Whitewater. He received his Master's degree from UW-La Crosse in 2002 and his Ph.D. from UW-Milwaukee in 2007, where he studied the ecology of Bullsnakes in upper midwestern prairies. Josh has nearly two decades of professional experience working with wildlife. Josh’s current research projects range from radio telemetry investigations of Blanding’s Turtles to the behavioral ecology of Wolves.


The Course: This course will give students a sound background in identifying Wisconsin's amphibians and reptiles in both field and laboratory settings. Students will also receive information on the habitat, ecology, conservation, and status of these species within the state. Common techniques for field research in herpetology will be demonstrated, including handling, capturing and surveying techniques. The course can be completed Friday-Saturday, but students will have the option of returning on Sunday for further field surveys.

$105. Available for 1.4 CEU or 1 college credit.  There is an additional tuition fee for college credit.


Sedges: Identification and Ecology

June 6 & 7 (Friday & Saturday)

Instructor: Dr. Anton Reznicek, Curator of Vascular Plants, University of Michigan Herbarium, has studied Cyperaceae, especially Carex throughout North America and in the tropics, and has a special interest in the Great Lakes region.


The Course: Identification of sedges, especially Carex, will stress not only keying skills, but using ecological and vegetative characters to identify species and species groups. In addition to identification we will explore the importance of sedges in a variety of different communities, and gain an appreciation of the dynamics of some of the communities and the role of sedges in these dynamics.

$105. Available for 1.4 CEU. Not offered for college credit


Birds of Southern Wisconsin

June 10 - June 14 (Tuesday - Saturday)

Instructors: William Mueller is the Director of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, and Project Coordinator for the Milwaukee BIOME Project. Dr. Owen Boyle is the state coordinator for the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Network and an ecologist with WDNR. Tim Vargo is the Manager of Research and Citizen Science at Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center, and is a federally licensed bird bander.


Schedule: This course is a five-day-long field trip that visits important breeding bird areas of southern Wisconsin. The course begins at 9:00 am, Tuesday, 6/10, and finishes by mid afternoon Saturday, 6/14. Some days require a very early start (~4:20 am) to be in the field for the peak of bird song. A few evening sessions will allow us to study nocturnal bird species. We will also conduct several early morning bird banding demonstrations. Travel by van to each subsequent day’s location will take place in the late afternoon and early evening.

The Course: This course is a broad, field-based survey of the breeding birds of Wisconsin and the habitats in which they are found. We will study breeding birds and their habitats in wetlands, grasslands, and forests in state natural areas, state and federal wildlife areas, and major plant communities throughout southern Wisconsin. Our objective is to find the majority of Wisconsin’s southern breeding bird species and learn about their ecology, distribution, behavior, and conservation. We will also demonstrate field research and monitoring techniques. Participants will learn the basics of plant community associations which is key to understanding where bird species are found during the breeding season and how to assess their habitat needs for effective conservation and management. The course fee covers all transportation costs and lodging.

$575. Available for 5.0 CEU or 1 college credit.  There is an additional tuition fee for college credit.


Vegetation of Wisconsin

June 16 - 21 (Monday - Saturday)

Instructor: Dr. James Reinartz, Director, UWM Field Station is a plant ecologist and evolutionary biologist.


Schedule: This course will be a week-long field trip throughout Wisconsin. We will meet at 9:00 am Monday, return to the Field Station Friday night, and finish by mid afternoon Saturday.

The Course: Following "The Vegetation of Wisconsin" by John Curtis (1959), we will visit and study all of the major vegetation types in the state. In addition to study of the ecology, development, and dynamics of the original vegetation types of Wisconsin, we will explore plant communities which have developed as the result of disturbance, and the challenges associated with management of natural areas representing pre-settlement vegetation types. This will be a week of good old-fashioned ecology and botany. The course fee covers all transportation costs and lodging.

$410.  Available for 5.5 CEU or 2 college credits.  There is an additional tuition fee for college credit.


Methods for Description of Vegetation

July 14 - 19 (Monday - Saturday)

Instructor: Dr. James Reinartz, Director of the UWM Field Station, has 40 years of experience in designing and conducting studies to describe vegetation in a wide variety of habitats and for a wide range of purposes.


Schedule: Monday, 14 July – Friday, 18 July, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, each day; Saturday, 19 July, 8:00 am to 12:00 noon.

The Course: Learn how to plan, conduct, and summarize a description of plant communities. Several standard techniques for developing a quantitative description of herbaceous, shrub, and tree vegetation layers will be taught and practiced. After an introduction to statistical concepts related to sampling, we will compare different standard methods for forest sampling, and introduce methods for processing and summarizing quantitative data describing plant communities. We will practice various methods for quantifying plant cover, including line-intercept, point sampling, and visual estimates. Methods for estimating or measuring plant biomass will also be explored. Some GIS applications related to spatial data on vegetation will be discussed, but detailed GIS analysis methods are beyond the scope of this course. The concepts and techniques taught in this course will enable students to design and complete a quantitative description of vegetation for almost any purpose.

$205. Available for 5.0 CEU or 2 college credits.  There is an additional tuition fee for college credit.


Dragonflies and Damselflies: Identification and Ecology

August 2 & 3 (Saturday & Sunday)

Instructor: Robert DuBois is an aquatic ecologist with the DNR. In addition to research on aquatic ecosystems, he leads citizen monitoring efforts for dragonflies and damselflies and has recently published Damselflies of the North Woods and Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Rocky Mountains.


The Course: After an introduction to dragonfly and damselfly biology and the morphology/terminology used in the keys, the group will learn collection and/or observation techniques in the field. In the evening we will focus on keying with the goal of learning the families and genera represented in Wisconsin. On Saturday, the group will continue its field and laboratory work.

$105. Available for 1.4 CEU. Not offered for college credit.


Plant - Insect Interactions: Ecology and Evolution

Aug 8 & 9 (Friday & Saturday)

Instructors: Dr. Gretchen Meyer, Senior Scientist and Manager of the UWM Field Station, is an ecologist who studies the interactions between insects and their host plants. Robert Clare holds a Master's degree in ecology from UWM, and teaches ecology, botany and biology classes at UWM and MATC.


The Course: Plants have both beneficial and antagonistic relationships with insects: they rely on insects for pollination but also must contend with the numerous insects trying to eat them. This course will examine the interactions between plants and their insect herbivores and pollinators. We will survey the major groups of herbivores and pollinators, and discuss plant strategies for coping with herbivory and attracting pollinators. We will also cover carnivorous plants - a case where the tables are turned on herbivorous insects! The course will include time in the field observing plants and insects and a class project.

$105. Available for 1.4 CEU or 1 college credit.  There is an additional tuition fee for college credit.


Mushrooms and other Fleshy Fungi: Identification and Ecology

September 27 & 28 (Saturday & Sunday)

Instructor: Dr. Alan Parker, Professor Emeritus, UW-Waukesha, specializes in the taxonomy and systematics of higher fungi and has worked extensively with various groups of ascomycetes and basidiomycetes in Wisconsin and throughout the upper Midwest.


The Course: After an introduction to the morphology and terminology of the fungi, the course will concentrate on field collection, ecology, and identification of common mushrooms, shelf fungi, puffballs, and numerous other fleshy taxa. Identification using macroscopic and field characters will be emphasized. Other topics include: technical literature and field guides on higher fungi, collection and preservation methods, edible and poisonous fungi, and plant-fungus associations.

$105. Available for 1.4 CEU. Not offered for college credit.