Plants and Animals

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From Missouri Conservationist: Sep 2009

Species of Concern

Western Chicken Turtle

  • image of Chicken turtleCommon Name: Western Chicken Turtle
  • Scientific Name: Deirochelys reticularia miaria
  • Distribution: Extreme southeastern Missouri
  • Classification: State Endangered
  • To learn more about endangered species: explore the links listed below.

These critically imperiled reptiles get their name from their long, chicken-like neck. That long neck helps them catch invertebrates, such as dragonfly and damselfly larvae, crayfish and fishing spiders. The Show-Me State is at the northern edge of this species’ geographic distribution, so it probably never was common outside the Bootheel Region. Even there, however, its numbers have declined. Draining of the region’s vast historic wetlands and removal of Missouri’s historic cypress bottomland forest have reduced the species’ habitat to a fraction of its original extent. Non-point water pollution makes remaining wetlands less habitable, too. The Western chicken turtle’s best chance of survival lies in preservation or restoration of bottomland hardwood forests and associated still waters of permanent and temporary wetlands. The value of existing habitat can be enhanced by providing downed trees and other places where these turtles can safely bask in the sun. Protecting existing bottomland hardwood forest from water pollution is another important protective measure.

Bobwhites on a Budget

6 quail management tips that let you do more with less.

Short of cash? Follow these cost-saving quail management tips to improve habitat on your land:

  1. Cut food plots in half and reduce seeding by half to encourage seed-producing weeds.
  2. Burn. Prescribed fire is the most cost-effective quail management tool.
  3. Reduce mowing. This saves money and preserves quail nests.
  4. Forget quail stocking and predator control. They don’t work.
  5. Share equipment, supplies and work with neighbors.
  6. Work with existing shrubs, instead of buying plants.

For more detailed advice, visit the links listed below.

Nuts to You!

Nature has a backup system for this crucial wildlife food.

To you, acorns may be nuts, but to wildlife biologists they are “hard mast.” Technically, this includes any long-lasting tree fruit, from soft-shelled pecans to rock-hard hickory and walnuts. But for Missouri wildlife, hard mast mostly means the fruit of oak trees. Trees in the white oak group produce acorns the same year they set fruit. Acorns from red oaks (which have pointy leaves) take two growing seasons to mature. The difference builds a certain amount of stability into this important wildlife food source. If a late frost nips white oak flowers, red oak acorns that started growing the previous year fill the gap. When the red oak crop fails, chances are white oaks will be available.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler