Phenology Project: Week 9

Monday, October 31, 2011, 3:20PM
42ºF, 100% cloud cover

As I posted about previously, we got our first snowfall to speak of last week, but it didn’t stick around and now we’re back to heavy gray skies and intermittent rain. Sunrise today was at 7:35AM and sunset at 5:46PM, giving us a whopping ten hours and eleven minutes of daytime. Of course, we set the clocks back this weekend, and let me tell you how NOT excited I am for the sun to be setting at 4:30.

What was once a fresh and crunchy carpet of leaves that the chipmunks seemed to love playing in has, after a couple weeks of moisture, become something else – walking through the leaf litter now is like walking on a layer of wet, used paper towels. In some places the new leaves seem to have already either decomposed entirely or been blown away, leaving patches of bare earth.

I blame the earthworms. A lot of people don’t realize this, but earthworms aren’t native to this part of the continent and are considered an invasive species where they’ve been established. They can drastically alter the nutrient cycling in a forest, quickly digesting what was once a much thicker litter layer, which in turn affects many other species. Someday this will be the subject of a full-length post of its own.


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