05-20-11 Field Note: Fern, Ring-necked Duck Clutch, Whitebark Pines, Wildflowers, and Slime Mold

Lorinda Hunt's field note describes a brittle bladder fern, a local ring-necked duck nest, and a slime mold that grows throughout MPG North.

Posted on 5/20/2011 by Anonymous

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Ring-necked Duck
 MPG North Field Note: ferns, ring-necked clutch, whitbarks, wildflowers and slime mold May 20, 2011 Lorinda Hunt
This brittle bladderfern (Cystopteris fragilis), grew on a damp rock outcropping on the southern end of the property. This species resembles many other species in the woodfern family, but covered spore clusters on the underside of the leaf and narrower, longer leaves aid in identification.
A female ring-necked duck guarded her clutch between two aspen near the tributary to home pond (map below). As the duck flew away, a strong smell filled the air around the nest. Ring-necked females tend to defecate on their eggs to cover the scent and avoid predation from crows, skunks, muskrats and foxes.
White bark pine 3 (Pinus albicaulis), on the south-central side of the property, shows infection with blister rust (Cronartium ribicola). The severity of infection leaves little hope for recovery so to prevent further spread of aeciospores, we will remove this tree from the property. All whitebarks on MPG North show signs of infection, such as needle flagging (inset) and aecia. We collected aecia from this pine as well as infected western white pines on MPG North and will grow cultures in the lab to determi
Wildflowers continue to bloom all over the property. Maiden blue- eyed mary (Collinsia parvliflora, above left) is native throughout the western U.S. and Canada. Its small size makes it difficult to locate, except where it grows in large colonies.
The orange mass above occurred in various, moist areas throughout MPG North. Often mistaken as a fungus, this slime mold grows in wet, mulchy areas worldwide. Slime molds have no cell walls and develop a plasmodial mass that takes in nutrients, mostly from bacteria and fungi. This particular species of slime mold is Fuligo septica, commonly known as dog vomit slime mold due to its bile-like appearance.