Adventures in Flight Exhibit

We sent some of our specimens on a summer retreat, so that you can enjoy them. Bats, birds and their sounds are on display at the Adventures in Flight Exhibit at three parks in Delaware county: Deer Haven Park, Shale Hollow Park, and Gallant Farm

Each park’s exhibit has a different focus, at Deer Haven park birds rule – not only inside the nature center but also at the feeders outside. I did see a racoon sneak by though during my visit, but that’s a different story.

When you walk into the nature center, a friendly volunteer greets all visitors, explains that following last year’s Ice Age and dinosaur-era exhibit, this year’s exhibit showcases the only non-extinct dinosaurs, birds.

The first display highlights blue birds from all over our Blue Planet. A hummingbird from Brazil, a jay from Mexico and an Indigo Bunting from the USA. The oh so blue Cerulean Warbler greets people at the entrance desk.

display of different wings for different things

Further you will find differently shaped bird wings which allow speedy flight in some and gliding in others.

sound kiosk & acknowledgementsThe sound kiosk with various drumming patterns of woodpeckers and a snippet from BirdNote, a nonprofit radio program dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats, is tucked in the corner right next to the “window on nature” with great looks at various bird species visiting the numerous feeders. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird landed during my visit and drank leisurely from the provided sugar water solution.

In the neighboring room, bird skulls illustrate and highlight the enormous variability in size and shape among birds. Compare a hummingbird skull to a Bald Eagle!

On to the next park:

Shale Hollow park is only a short drive south from Deer Haven, you actually pass it on your way back to Columbus.

The exhibit is well worth a stop: Enter a darkened room to learn about bats, fireflies and moths! Insects and bats are the theme here, including butterflies (a tent with life butterflies is soon to open!).

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display explaining Bird FlightA poster gives basic information about the anatomy of flight and why some animals fly and we do not – at least not using our arms as wings, we built machines to take us into the air. To explore man-made flight visit the third of the exhibits at Gallant Farm.

note for Gallant Farm exhibit

Can you guess what’s inside this flower?

On my way out I discovered a microscope for smartphones – obviously I still have to practice perfecting my images, but you can guess the intricate patterns of this dragonfly’s wing.

I really enjoyed the exhibits which also showcase specimens from the Natural History Museum at Ohio Wesleyan University. Thank you Liz Neroni for working with us on these displays and letting some of our specimens be part of this exciting summer exhibit – and of course there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors while you visit each of these exhibit sites. Enjoy!

About the Author: Angelika Nelson on her last assignment as the social media outreach manager for the Museum of Biological Diversity.

Ohio Dragonfly Survey – Spring Training 2018

Last Thursday, MaLisa Spring, state coordinator of the Ohio Dragonfly Survey, gave the introduction to a series of talks about dragonflies and damselflies, how to identify them (Bob Glotzhober), how to photograph them (Jim McCormac) and how to report them on iNaturalist (Jim Lemon).

The audience was captivated by stories such as dragonflies being ferocious hunters, some have even been reported to prey on hummingbirds (albeit rarely).

On the other hand, watching dragonflies glide over open water on a warm summer day can be very peaceful and give us appreciation for their beauty and flying ability.

Bob Glotzhober even speculated that the origin of the shape of the Valentine’s heart can be found in the mating ritual of some dragonflies. What do you think?

So how does one identify a dragonfly?

And how do you distinguish a dragonfly from a damselfly?

But be careful, size is not the only difference and may be deceiving: in the tropics some damselflies grow to 7 inches in length!

If you want to learn more about dragonflies, visit the Ohio Dragonfly Survey website or attend the Odonata conference in June 22-24 2018 in Findlay, Ohio.

Save the date for Odo-Con-18! June 22-24, 2018

To identify dragons and damsels in the field, we recommend that you download the ODNR guide (booklet pub 320).

If you enjoy fishing, you may catch a dragonfly in its larval stage and the Atlas of the dragonfly Larvae may help you identify it.

As always, feel free to post any questions right here on our blog.

About the Author:  Angelika Nelson is the curator of the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics and the social media manager for the museum.

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Theme(s) and Variation(s)

A few weeks ago Ardine Nelson, Professor Emerita, OSU Department of Art’s Photography program, and Fredrik Marsh, instructor at Columbus College of Art & Design and The Ohio State University, visited our Insect, Fish and Tetrapods collections in order to take photographs of specimens for a new series featuring specimens from EEOB’s Museum of Biological Diversity.

Why Museum specimens? To quote Ardine: “Since my first visit to an open house at the OSU Museum of Biological Diversity, I remain intrigued by the specimens. They are beautiful, terrifying, and at times even repulsive, yet they are a visual curiosity with an innate quality that draws one in even closer.”

Ardine showcases photographs of specimens, in their drawers, just like they are preserved in the museum collection. Her master piece in this show is The Research Board (last one in this slide show).

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Fred features scans of specimens, most of them larger than life-size.

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To appreciate the large photographs and scans you have to see them yourself. The first selection is on display at the Fort Hayes Shot Tower gallery where you can admire their stunning art Monday – Friday 8am-5pm until April 27 (Please note, the gallery is closed for spring break March 30 – April 8). More information about the exhibit and the artists can be found through ColumbusMakesArt.

One of Grant Terrell’s specimen sheets is featured in this photo – the remains of an American Kestrel:

A big THANK YOU to the curators of the collections, Marc Kibbey (Fishes), Luciana Musetti (Insects) and collection manager Grant Terrell (Tetrapods) for hosting the artists and providing access to specimens!

About the Author: Angelika Nelson is the curator of the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics and the social media manager for the Museum of Biodiversity.

2018 Museum Open House – Magnified

Mark your calendars – we will have our annual open house on Saturday April 7, 2018. The event will take place at 1315 Kinnear Rd from 10am through 4pm. Following our success form the last years, we will have some kids activities outdoors – as well as plenty of things to do and see indoors.

Our motto this year is “Magnified“. Displays will focus on magnifying all small things in our collections. Have you ever looked an insect in the eye? What does the inside of a flower look like? Are bird feathers 3-dimensional? You will find answers to these and many more natural history questions at our open house.

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Junior Explorer Club of Upper Arlington visits ant lab

How do animals communicate?

ant sketch

Morgan Oberweiser introducing animal sound activities to junior explorer club

Morgan Oberweiser introducing animal sound activities to junior explorer club

The Adams Ant Lab hosted elementary school children from the Junior Explorer Club of Upper Arlington. Recent graduate Mazie Davis and undergraduate students Andrew Mularo and Morgan Oberweiser put together a program to teach the little ones about various ways that animals communicate. First the students played a bioacoustics guessing game – they listened to some diverse audio recordings, courtesy of the Borror Lab of Bioacoustics, and tried to guess what animals they came from.

Can you tell which animals make these sounds? Look for the correct answers at the bottom of this post.

mystery sound 1:

mystery sound 2:

mystery sound 3:

Next the students learned about the use of coloration for communication. They observed camouflage in northern walking stick insects and African ghost mantises, as well as warning coloration in Peruvian black velvet stick insects and yellow banded poison dart frogs.

The last animal communication system we discussed was chemical communication. The students played a game in which they were each given a scented cotton ball (peppermint, almond, vanilla) and were tasked with sorting themselves into groups using only their noses. Then they compared their skills to those of our large Atta ant colony.

Ant colonies & fungus gardens in R Adams lab at OSU-MBD

Ant colonies & fungus gardens

The grand finale of the trip was a quick tour of the tetrapod collection lead by Dr. Katherine O’Brien. It was a joy to have such wonderful and inquisitive kids come to visit – we expect to see many of their excited faces return come next spring’s Open House (April 7, 2018)!

About the Author: Morgan Oberweiser is an undergraduate (Evolution and Ecology major) research assistant in Rachelle Adams‘ lab.

Answers to animal sound quiz: sound 1 = American alligator (chickadees scolding the alligator), sound 2 = Texas leafcutting ant, sound 3 = South American catfish

Bat sounds

Bats are social mammals that use a repertoire of vocalizations to communicate with each other and to move around in the environment.

To detect obstacles and prey in their environment, bats emit a series of ultrasounds, very high-pitched sounds above 20,000 Hz, beyond our range of hearing. As a bat flies and calls, it listens to the returning echoes of its calls to build up a sonic image of its surroundings. Bats can tell how far away something is by how long it takes the sounds to return to them, how big the target is based on the strength of the returning signal, and what shape the target has based on the spectral pattern of the returning sound waves. We call this process echolocation.

Individual bat species echolocate within specific frequency ranges that suit their environment and prey types. This means that we can train ourselves to identify many bats by listening to their calls with bat detectors.

Let’s LISTEN to recordings of the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) for comparison. – But how can we listen, if we cannot hear their calls? Let’s use a trick: When we slow down the recordings by a factor of 10, the calls are transposed to 10 times lower pitch and become audible to us.

Note: To make the sounds visible in sonograms we plotted frequency in thousands of cycles per second (kilohertz, kHz) on the vertical axis versus time in seconds on the horizontal axis. The varying intensity of colors ranging from dark blue (low intensity or quiet) to red (high intensity or loud) indicates the amplitude or loudness of each call. Amplitude is also shown in the top part of each figure with larger waves representing louder calls.

Little brown bat: Calls last from less than one millisecond (ms) to about 5 ms and sweep from 80 to 40 kHz, with most of their energy at 45 kHz.

sonogram of little brown bat Myotis lucifugus calls

Call series of a little brown bat Myotis lucifugus

 

Big brown bat: Calls last several milliseconds and sweep from about 65 to 20 kHz, and are thus lower pitched than calls of little brown bats.

bigsonogram of brown bat Eptesicus fuscus echolocating calls

Call series of a big brown bat Eptesicus fuscus

 

 

The above call series were recorded when the bat is generally surveying its environment, but what happens when it actually detects prey? Listen to this feeding buzz of a little brown bat:

sonogram of feeding calls of little brown bat

Feeding calls of a little brown bat Myotis lucifugus

 

When closing in on prey, a bat may emit 200 calls per second.

What might sound to us like the bat is getting excited – don’t you talk faster when you are excited about telling something? – this rapid series of calls actually helps the bat to pin-point the exact location of its prey, then it swoops in, and GULP – dinner is served, or not!

 

We hope you enjoyed listening to these bat sounds; if you have any questions please contact Angelika Nelson.794@osu.edu, curator of the animal sound archive at The Ohio State University.

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All recordings are archived with the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics (BLB.OSU.EDU) at The Ohio State University.

An 1892 Framed Plant Mount on display at the Thompson Library

The first director of The Ohio State University Herbarium and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. William Ashbrook Kellerman, prepared quite a large number of framed mounts of Ohio plants in 1892. According to the previous curator of the herbarium, Dr. Ronald L. Stuckey, these were “part of an exhibit of the Ohio flora displayed in the Ohio State Building … at the Columbian World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. The total collection consisted of a display of mounted specimens of leaves, twigs, flowers, fruits, section of wood and bark of Ohio’s forest trees, and flowering plants, mosses, lichens, and algae.”

One of these framed mounts, twigs and wood section of the white oak tree, Quercus alba L., is currently on display at the Thompson Library until May 14, 2017. Dr. Florian Diekmann, head of the Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Library and Student Success Center, was in contact with the staff of the OSU herbarium early June last year seeking help in displaying specimens of white oak as many of the wooden structures of the main library were obtained from that plant.

Since the original twigs and leaves were not in good condition and the glass was chipped in a corner, Dr. Diekmann agreed to have it restored and refurbished. This is just one of the many framed, mounted but not displayed items in the Herbarium hitherto. The idea behind the gallery is to show the “unique connections and history shared between The Ohio State University and Ohio’s forests.” The Ohio State University Herbarium was glad to share its resources with the general public and has also made other items available for display at the gallery.

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Mesfin Tadesse, curator OSU herbariumAbout the Author: Mesfin Tadesse is curator of vascular plants at The Ohio State University Herbarium.

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Flight of the Butterfly

What does re-animated life in the Triplehorn insect collection look like? What if a butterfly took flight from its drawer? Watch for yourself: Flight of the Butterfly by Tamara Sabbagh

THANK YOU Luciana Musetti, curator of the OSU Triplehorn Insect collection for facilitating the students’ visit.

About the Author: Angelika Nelson is the outreach and multi-media coordinator at the Museum of Biological Diversity and facilitates visits of school classes and students.

*** Which of the animations is your favorite? ***

Samsara – Cyclicality of life

Another video of re-animated life produced by a student in the Moving Image Art class organized by Amy Youngs, Associate Professor of Art:

Samsara – Cyclicality of life by Yuntian Zang: Inspired by the antlers on the wall, a deer goes wandering …

THANK YOU Stephanie Malinich, collection manager of Tetrapods, for facilitating the students’ visit.

About the Author: Angelika Nelson is the outreach and multi-media coordinator at the Museum of Biological Diversity and facilitates visits of school classes and students.

*** Which of these animals is your favorite? ***

re-animated Life I

We scientists look at our natural history collections as a great resource for our studies. Specimens tell us about life in the past (where species lived, what they looked like, how many individuals existed etc.) and let us hypothesize about the future. This is one way of looking at these dead “things” that we so meticulously curate. Artists may have a quite different view. This was greatly illustrated by a Moving Image Art class organized by Amy Youngs, Associate Professor of Art, last semester. Students visited our collections of dead things and were asked to find ways to re-animate these animals. We were amazed by the imagination of these young artists-to-be. Over the next days we will share some of the best pieces with you. Here is the first animation, Re-Animated Life by Alina Maddex: Birds and one turtle moving in their natural environment

THANK YOU Stephanie Malinich, collection manager of Tetrapods, Marc Kibbey, Associate Curator of the Fish Division, Caitlin Byrne, Collections Manager of the Division of Molluscs, and Luciana Musetti, curator of the OSU Triplehorn Insect collection for facilitating the students’ visit.

About the Author: Angelika Nelson is the outreach and multi-media coordinator at the Museum of Biological Diversity and facilitates visits of school classes and students.

*** Which of these animals is your favorite? ***