Photos of readers

I have three more now, of which this is one, but do send in your photos (two max, please) and commentary.

Today’s reader is Gregory Zolnerowich, who has some interesting commentary (indented):

I’m responding your appeal for photos of readers, as I’ve enjoyed seeing other people and their photos. Karl Kramer, a retired USDA scientist you featured some weeks ago, lives right down the street from me.

I’ve been reading WEIT for several years, it’s part of my morning routine each day. To borrow from a well-known phrase, “Mornings are for coffee and WEIT.” I enjoy the fascinating tidbits of biology, science commentaries, cool photos, and as a food junkie, always enjoy the photos of your meals when you travel.

I’m an entomologist at Kansas State University, specializing in insect systematics. My love is the parasitic Hymenoptera in the superfamily Chalcidoidea, particularly the family Encyrtidae. They are the Lamborghinis of the wasp world, with some bizarre morphologies and fascinating biologies. [JAC: Go here to see some photos.] I really enjoy teaching and try to infect my students with my curiosity and enthusiasm, but fear the campus will shut down again and everything will be remote/online.

I enjoy all things outdoors, from kayaking to fishing to hiking. One of my COVID-19 activities was to kayak and camp the entire 173-mile length of the Kansas River, which took 9 days and 8 nights in July. It was an excellent group of people from Friends of the Kaw (www.kansasriver.org) along on the excursion, and we saw an abundance of wildlife like bald eagles, beavers, owls, deer, and, of course, insects. I did have to take advantage of some teachable moments to expound on tiger beetle larvae, dobsonfly egg masses, and stag beetles. The first photo was taken on the last morning of our trip, so I had not shaved in 9 days.

I also lead a burn crew that conducts controlled burns at the Konza Prairie Biological Station (kpbs.konza.k-state.edu). This is an NSF Long-Term Ecological Research site, with a long history of studying the interactions of fire, grazing, and climate. Fire is a management tool that is necessary to preserve the tallgrass prairie. I learn something new every time I’m out, and it’s just fun to coordinate and conduct a controlled burn. It’s also an opportunity to see some cool wildlife and some pretty impressive fires. The second photo is at the end of a burn when all the cameras come out.

 

11 Comments

  1. Posted August 9, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like it was quite unlike Deliverance which has probably (?) given the rural Eastern US an underserved reputation!

    Long live the entomologists!

  2. rickflick
    Posted August 9, 2020 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    “…kayak and camp the entire 173-mile length of the Kansas River”
    That sounds like a really fun trip. Reminds me there are countless outdoor activities like this that should be perfectly safe during COVID.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 9, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Another Kansas reader. Seems to be quite a few from K-state and KU. Fire is a seasonal thing around Wichita and all the way into west Kansas. During wet years not so much. Maybe you will take a ride on the Arkansas river some time and come thru Wichita. They have a river fest every summer but cancelled this year due to the virus.

    • GregZ
      Posted August 9, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Our kayak group wanted to try the Ark some weeks ago, starting at Great Bend, but it was a bit high. It’s on the list!

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted August 9, 2020 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        Yes, too much rain this year I would guess. That would be a good 100 mile trip from Great Bend to Wichita. Many folks probably don’t know the Arkansas starts in Colorado and goes all the way to the Mississippi – 1400 miles or more.

  4. Posted August 9, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Woa! That is the kind of field trip I would enjoy. It is experiences like that that will stick with students forever.

  5. Janet
    Posted August 9, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Gregory. I am sure your lucky students can’t help but be infected by your enthusiasm!

  6. Posted August 9, 2020 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    I know about Encyrtids. They have some lovely species. But they are very small and I lack the super macro lens to really get up on them. Pretty active little critters too, if I recall.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted August 9, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    With those deep root systems of prairie grass, fires don’t do any permanent damage. New archaeological studies suggest ancient humans conducted control burns to encourage grass health for the ungulates; ancient animal farming I reckon.
    That sounds like an amazing river trip.
    Thanks for the submission. I think of WEIT readers as my friends, whether I know them personally or not. Actually, I know none of them personally, but that’s ok.

    • GregZ
      Posted August 9, 2020 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      Yep, I’ve enjoyed seeing the readers of WEIT and the things they are up to.

  8. Posted August 9, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Sounds like it was an amazing trip downriver. Thanks, Gregory!


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