Fawn River Nature Preserve Inventory
A midday sun flashing through the canopy catches the steady ripples of Fawn River. At first glance, it’s a calm sparkling picture. But if you pause to watch and listen, the corridor is full of life! A heron flies overhead as water beetles zip through the duckweed. Dancing damselflies line the shore, aquatic plants are pulled by the current, and a pack of people…are wading through the water?
Our geared-up group of five looks quite out of place trudging through this serene summer scene on a mission to scour the preserve. A patch of riparian plants catches the eyes of senior botanist Nathanael Pilla from Midwest Biological Survey and ACRES Stewardship Director Evan Hill. As they pause to study, spider specialist Dr. Marc Milne from the University of Indianapolis pulls out a small collection jar and scans the mossy banks. A short shutter sound comes from the camera of ACRES Communications Manager Makayla Tedder.
The mission has begun: Fawn River Nature Preserve is receiving its very first surveys!
A species survey involves placing specialists like Pilla and Milne on a preserve with notebooks. They comb through the site and produce a detailed list of all species observed.
“Identifying what a site has in terms of biodiversity is one of the first steps in determining how to best manage the property,” Hill said. “Ideally, we would have botanical inventories completed at every ACRES property. We are currently playing catch-up on these inventories, focusing now on properties that possess more unusual systems. Our goal is to conduct these surveys on a few properties each year.”
As I stand in the hot sun and observe these specialists working so fluidly, I’m filled with appreciation. It’s a joy to join them in the field, knowing these surveys will benefit ACRES for years to come while strengthening the greater scientific community. These surveys wouldn’t be possible without ACRES and its members who protect Fawn River Nature Preserve forever in its natural state.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2023 ACRES Quarterly, mailed to members each season. The 20-page Quarterly features ACRES news, stories and events. You can subscribe by becoming an ACRES member with a donation of $20 or more. Click here to learn more!