By Coggin Heeringa, Interpretive Naturalist, Crossroads at Big Creek, Inc.
This is the week we return to Daylight Saving Time, and “losing an hour” makes us more aware of photoperiod—the hours each day that a plant or animal receives light. But Daylight Time, clocks, and even hours are human inventions. Yet each of the Crossroads’ programs this week, at least tangentially, pertains to photoperiod and circadian rhythms.
According to the International Dark Sky Association, “For billions of years, all life has relied on the predictable rhythm of day and night. It’s encoded in the DNA of all plants and animals which depend on this daily cycle of light and dark to govern life-sustaining behaviors such as reproduction, nourishment, and rest.”
According to research biologist Christopher Kyba, for nocturnal animals [and that includes both pollinators and insect pests], “the introduction of artificial light probably represents the most drastic change human beings have made to their environment.”
On Thursday, March 9, at 6:30 p.m., the Door County Master Gardeners will offer the lecture “Dark Skies and Flowers” which will discuss emerging research pertaining to photoperiod and artificial night lighting and how it may affect both plants and pollinators. This free, in-person lecture is offered in collaboration with Crossroads at Big Creek and Wild Ones of the Door Peninsula.
On Saturday, March 11 at 10:00 a.m., Charlotte Lukes will present the lecture, “Starting and Maintaining a Bluebird Trail. ” While it may seem early to talk about bluebirds, it truly is not. Eastern Bluebird migration is triggered by photoperiod rather than temperature, and these beloved birds often arrive in Door County in March, regardless of temperature, (though temperature and moisture do seem to determine their breeding activities.)
Photoperiod regulates the songs of breeding birds, so our Saturday Science program will shed some light on bird songs with a tutorial on using the truly amazing (and free) Merlin Bird Sound ID app. Learners of all ages are welcome to participate in this activity which will be offered in the Collins Learning Center Lower Level between 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Also on Saturday at 3:00, the community is invited to join the Door County Environmental Council and Kewaunee Cares for the program, “Cows and People,” featuring Tucker Burch, PhD, at Crossroads, either in-person or via a Zoom link – www.dcec-wi.org. Dr. Burch’s focus will be waterborne infectious disease, particularly in rural areas affected by agricultural activity. He has worked on risk assessment for drinking water in the upper Midwest and on studies related to antibiotic resistance in the environment. This program is free and open to the public.
The Door Peninsula Astronomical Society is negatively impacted by Day Light Saving Time (it makes sunset later, thus reduces the hours of evening telescope use), but their regular monthly meeting will be held at the regular time, 7:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month.
Board member Steve Ransom- Jones will present “Newcomer’s guide to knowing Nebula” describing some of the most beautiful objects in the sky, with many that are both easily located and stunning to see. How did humanity uncloud our original nebulous thinking about objects in the night sky to the clear understanding that we have today? If the sky is clear, the meeting will end with live nebulae viewing using the new telescope. This meeting will be held in the Stonecipher Astronomy Center, 2200 Utah Street, Sturgeon Bay.
Crossroads at Big Creek Learning Center and Nature Preserve is located at 2041 Michigan. Crossroads is a 501(c)3 organization committed to offering education, conducting research and restoration, and providing outdoor experiences to inspire environmental stewardship in learners of all ages and from all backgrounds. We welcome your support! Become a member of Crossroads by mailing a contribution to P.O. Box 608, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235, or donate online at crossroadsatbigcreek.org.