Advertisement
If you can't view this email, use the following address in your browser:
http://www.ravenswoodmedia.com/a/newsletter/march2012/rmnewsletter.htm
Questions or comments about the newsletter? E-mail us at mcgowan@ravenswoodmedia.com or call (312)356-9099

RAVENSWOOD MEDIA NEWSLETTER

Providing a conduit between science and the public

Email this newsletter to a friend

March 2012 - Issue #13
IN THIS ISSUE
Great Ideas for the Great Lakes — David McGowan
Elusive Snail Species — Stephanie Clark
Nature Tames My Obsessive Compulsive Disorder — Ken Redeker
Watching Over the Nest: Monitoring Bald Eagles — Margo Wallace
Battle For Bats — Margo Wallace
The Most Secretive Frog in North America — Nate Engbrecht
La Batalla de los Murcielagos — David McGowan
From the Russian Academy of Sciences: Nikolay Aladin — David McGowan

CALENDAR
Notebaert Nature Museum Screening

STAFF & INTERN PROFILES
Mike Brockway
Sammie Clifford
Jacek Lupina
Meagan O'Leary
Ken Redeker
Robert Teetsov
Margo Wallace
Alexis Zimmerlein

earlanddave
Former governor of Wisconsin, Tony Earl, with David McGowan.
Great Ideas for the Great Lakes

by David McGowan

Ravenswood Media began work on a film for the Great Lakes Protection Fund with an interview of the former Governor of Wisconsin, Tony Earl. Governor Earl described what motivated the Great Lakes governors to create the Fund and what they hoped to accomplish. After 25 years, the Fund has proved to be a nimble tool for staying ahead of the most challenging issues confronting the Great Lakes and its watershed. Ravenswood Media is no stranger to the Great Lakes Protection Fund. We produced the half hour documentary, Inventions and Invasions, in 1999. The documentary examined how invasive species spread through the Great Lakes through contaminated ballast water. The Fund provided support to test ways of treating the ballast to prevent the further spread of invasives. Our program, To Build A Better Ditch, for The Nature Conservancy in Indiana was an introduction to the 2 stage ditch, a concept funded by the Great Lakes Protection Fund. Several more interviews with founding members and current grant recipients are scheduled over the next couple months. Production will continue through the summer with a release date in late August, 2012.


Snail
Antroselates spiralis
© Stephanie Clark
 Print this article   Email this article to a friend

Elusive Snail Species

by Stephanie Clark

I work on the taxonomy and systematics of land and freshwater mollusks, especially those found in the US and Australia. One of the groups I specialize in, are the freshwater and estuarine snails of the family Hydrobiidae (Pebblesnails). This family is very diverse and found around the world, they tend to have very narrow ranges often restricted to a single springs or streams. The family is particularly diverse in the US with over 300 named species and it is estimated that at least that number remain to be discovered and named. Several species are adapted to life in caves, including the caves of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. The largest of the cave snails found
Stephanie Clark
Left to right: David McGowan,
Stephanie Clark, and Allen Pursell
© Ken Redeker
in the US is Antroselates spiralis (Shaggy Cavesnail) which is known from central Kentucky and southern Indiana. It is globally rare and indicative of high water quality.

Last August, there was an opportunity to undertake a small expedition to find this elusive species in some of the springs flowing into the Blue River of southern Indiana. My friend Dave from Ravenswood Media introduced me to Cassie Hauswald and Allen Pursell of The Nature Conservancy. Cassie is the aquatic biologist for the Blue River Office and specializes in malacology. In the early morning we set off to examine three springs and a cave near Corydon, Indiana.

The first location we tried was Firetail Spring, a very small spring that flows into the Blue River. After  30 minutes of examining the undersides of rocks in the head of the spring two specimens were discovered. The presence of this species is a good sign for the water quality of Blue River.

The populations of A. spiralis are known from two different drainages separated by about 100 km. My suspicion is that the Indiana populations may actually represent a separate but closely related undescribed species from the one in central Kentucky. One of the characters that distinguish this species from other related hydrobiids (pebblesnails) is that the shell has small raised spiral ridges. One examination of the two specimens found these spiral ridges did not appear to be present. Now there are several possible explanations for this apparent difference, not the least of which is population variation. Needless to say this is a very interesting preliminary finding and hopefully later this year additional samples can be obtained to study the shell, reproductive anatomy and DNA of these fascinating animals and hopefully resolve the taxonomic questions.

Dave McGowan and Cassie Hauswald
David McGowan and Cassie Hauswald
© Ken Redeker
Ken Redeker and Dave McGowan
"Nasha-mu-shu-din-it"
© Al Rasho
Ken Redeker
Ken Redeker
Photo by Rich Lounsbury
 Print this article   Email this article to a friend

Nature Tames My Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

by Ken Redeker
redeker@ravenswoodmedia.com

If my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was a mountain, it would be Mount Everest. The disorder has tortured me since my teenage years in the 1970s, and I have carried it like a backpack full of rocks. My story is different when I am in nature. On a grueling 5 day trek across the Rocky Mountains, my burden was reduced to a handful of pebbles. Moments like these temporarily eradicate my disorder. Several years ago, I had rappelled down a 586-foot deep pit in a Georgia cave, forcing me into a fully present state and extinguishing my OCD. Through physically demanding adventures, I discovered that nature is more effective than medication when treating OCD and depression. In fact the cost of medication is downright depressing. Annually, I spend over $2,000 on medication and therapy. However, I can spend five days in the backcountry of a National Park for under $10. Today researchers are examining the powerful effects that nature has on mental health.

Dr. Zelenski, a clinical psychologist at Carleton University, is currently head of the "Happiness Lab," which examines how our relationship with nature can make us happier individuals. Connections between social behaviors among extroverts and introverts are examined and the effects of environmental psychology. Components of Zelenski's research were inspired by a former student, Elizabeth Nesbit, who wondered if nature directly related to people's happiness. Zelenski says, "There is a lot of evidence out there that suggests that having more green space or natural space even in our urban environment could have a lot of benefit. Nature can restore our attention or self-control."

Zelenski and Nesbit first measured people's connection to nature by asking how it relates to happiness, and how that may correlate with sustainable attitudes and behavior. "We're just starting to pull apart what's important" Zelenski says. "Contact with nature is important to happiness but there are a lot of other things that go into it too," he added.

John ZelenskiJohn Zelenski Rachel HineRachel Hine Jane BodineJane Bodine

Rachel Hine, a researcher specializing in ‘Green Care’ from the University of Essex explained that “People can improve self-esteem and things like depression, and anger after contact with nature.” Hine, along with Professor Jules Pretty and Dr. Jo Barton, have been researching the health benefits of contact with nature through nature based interventions for vulnerable people including those suffering with mental health issues. Hine also works in the field for ‘Care Farming,’ which uses meaningful farming related activities as a component for improving mental and physical health.  Hine stated that “If you’re going to ‘work’ on a farm it feels less like treatment.  It’s easier doing therapy sessions in the wild or when you doing therapy activities in a natural surrounding because it doesn’t feel clinical.”  The results are promising.  Their research shows that Wilderness Therapy and Care Farming have contributed to a significant decrease in depression, fatigue, and stress, and an increase in self-esteem among participants.  

Everglades National Park
My 3-day, solo-trip into the Everglades
© Ken Redeker
Of course, taking people with OCD into the forest can present a unique set of problems unknown to the average camper. Jane Bodine, an OCD therapist in Naperville, Illinois, took several of her clients camping at Blackwell Forest Preserve. "People all came late due to checking rituals, so the first couple activities were delayed then cancelled," she said. However, once everyone became settled, Bodine began to see some success. "It was an invaluable experience. One person lived through her fear of thunder and storms as it rained." she noted. Despite a few surprises and difficulties, Bodine wants to continue the outdoor therapy with hiking and kayaking.

The world's population is quickly approaching 10 billion, and green spaces are vanishing at an alarming rate. According to the World Health Organization, the burden of mental illness is expected to rise significantly over the next 20 years. Green spaces have more value than just being open land, it is a cost effective treatment for mental health. Zelenski says, "It's a long road but I hope through policy, but also through people's individual choices that they will want to do more to protect their natural systems, and by doing that they can make themselves happier too."

In the last thirty years, I have taken just about every drug available for OCD. I still take medication, but it only helps a little. At $60 per month for medication, the solitude of the wilderness is a much better alternative. The rewards of turning to nature as a form of treatment is utterly priceless; a relief to my disorder as much as a relief to my wallet. Nothing works better or faster for me than immersing myself in nature. Perhaps someday my mountainous and rocky disorder will be reduced to nothing more than a shallow sand dune at sea level.

Ravenswood Media is working on a documentary about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder called "Embrace the Fear."  Ken Redeker, editor of our newsletter, suffers from OCD and is sharing highlights of his 40 years of living with a severe case of OCD. -- Dave McGowan

Watching Over the Nest: Monitoring Bald Eagles

by Margo Wallace

Bald Eagle
© Ravenswood Media
Bald Eagle
© Mindy Kralicek
Jacek Lupina
Jacek Lupina
© Bridie Nixon
Ravenswood Media has been contracted by the Iowa DNR to produce a video that will train citizen volunteers to monitor populations of breeding bald eagles in Iowa. The video is funded by a grant from the American Eagle Foundation. Dave McGowan met with Stephanie Shepherd, Iowa DNR Wildlife Diversity Program, and her colleagues in February to discuss the parameters of the video. The 20 minute video will demonstrate what kind of information of nesting eagles is needed and how the volunteers should act near eagles to lessen their disturbance.

In 1977 the first bald eagle nesting pair in Iowa since the 19th century was sighted. Today, there are 300 nesting pairs recorded in the state, far more than can be carefully monitored by state biologists alone. In 2007 the US Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the bald eagle from the endangered species list. The information collected by citizen volunteers will be collected into a database and shared with the US FWS as part of their 25 year post-delisting plan for bald eagles. The Iowa DNR hopes to share the video with other states that are considering similar volunteer plans.
Nina Fascione
Nina Fascione
© Al Rasho
 Print this article   Email this article to a friend

Battle For Bats

by Margo Wallace

On October 15, 2011 Ravenswood Media partnered with Bat Conservation International (BCI) and the Field Museum to inform the public about the importance of bats and the devastating disease “White Nose Syndrome” (WNS) that is killing millions of bats in the US. The Battle For Bats forum was the first time WNS research was presented to a general audience in a live event. Held at the Field Museum in Chicago on a Saturday afternoon, the
bat
Scott Heinrichs with fruit bat
© Al Rasho
event drew in over 400 attendees. The speakers included; Merlin Tuttle, Nina Fascione and James Eggers of BCI, Anne Froschauer of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, David Blehert of the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, Joe Kath of the Illinois DNR, and Cory Holliday from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Tennessee Chapter. Also in attendance was Scott Heinrichs from the Flying Fox Conservation Fund, and much to the delight of the attendees, had brought live fruit bats to the event.

The forum was not only an event to inform the public, but was also a call for political action. Towards the end of the event, everyone in attendance received a postcard which they signed, and were sent to their congressmen to encourage their support for WNS research. The event was a huge success thanks to the collaborative effort of the Field Museum, BCI, Ravenswood Media, the participating organizations and their speakers.

Merlin Tuttle
Merlin Tuttle
© Al Rasho
Merlin Tuttle
Merlin Tuttle
© Al Rasho
 Print this article   Email this article to a friend

The Most Secretive Frog in
North America

by Nate Engbrecht

Crawfish Frogs (Lithobates areolatus) are large, reclusive frogs that spend most of their adult life in crayfish burrows. In Indiana, Crawfish Frogs are listed as State Endangered, and their declining status across much of their range has caused broad concern about their conservation. Dr. Michael Lannoo and his lab at the Indiana University School of Medicine-Terre Haute have taken on the task of studying these secretive and imperiled amphibians. Beginning in 2009, Dr. Lannoo and his team began studying populations of Crawfish Frogs at Hillenbrand Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County, Indiana. Hillenbrand, formerly an open pit coal mine, has been restored by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and now contains one of Indiana’s most dense Crawfish Frog populations. Using radio telemetry and other scientific techniques, Dr. Lannoo’s team has learned that, despite spending most of their lives in burrows, Crawfish Frogs actually need a lot of space. During the spring breeding season, adult Crawfish Frogs will migrate over a kilometer from their burrows to breeding wetlands, and when finished breeding, typically return to the exact same burrow they left. The burrows themselves provide protection from predators, where frogs in burrows were 12 times less likely to be preyed upon than frogs that were migrating or ranging from their burrows. Because of their close tie to burrows, Crawfish Frogs are particularly vulnerable to destruction of their upland habitat. Their occurrence at Hillenbrand, however, is a testimony to their resiliency, and shows that when the right habitat is available, Crawfish Frog populations can be restored.

This video highlights emerging research on the biology of these most secretive frogs, and comes at a time when scientists are finally gaining a better understanding of the conservation needs of the species. In an era where megafauna such as polar bears and gorillas receive much attention (and rightfully so), “The Most Secretive Frog in North America” serves as an informative platform, even an advocate, for a species that has remained somewhat of a puzzle for over a century.

Minnehaha Mine before and after reclamation
Minnehaha MineMinnehaha Mine
Before After
La Batalla de los Murcielagos

by Dave McGowan

As White Nose Syndrome slithers into the Midwest, scientists worry that it could also hit bat populations in Mexico and Central America. It is imperative that the US warns its neighbors to the south about this devastating disease. In regards to this, Bat Conservation International, US Fish & Wildlife Service and the USDA Forest Service raised the necessary funds to translate, dub and duplicate Ravenswood Media's “The Battle For Bats” video into Spanish. La Batalla de los Murcielagos was translated with the help of Dr. Rodrigo Medellín Legorreta, Instituto de Ecologia UNAM. Dr. Medellin founded and today heads the Program for the Conservation of Migratory Bats. Ravenswood Media and Dr. Medellín met through the US Forest Service's BatsLive weekly Conference Call. Rachel Thiel did the translation. The Chicago chapter of Instituto de Cervantes was extremely helpful in verifying the translation and suggesting the Spanish voice-over talent, instructors Fabiola Ortiz and Hector Sepulveda. La Batalla de los Murcielagos was posted on the Internet and 90 DVDs were duplicated for distribution.

Nikolay Aladin
Nikolay Aladin
 Print this article   Email this article to a friend

Fom the Russian Academy of Sciences: Nikolay Aladin

by Dave McGowan

Ravenswood Media hosted Nikolay Aladin, Russian Academy of Sciences, in November. Nick and Dave McGowan spent the week brainstorming on their documentary plans about the Aral Sea. Professor Philip Micklin joined us for a day to review footage from their expedition to the Kazakhstan side of the sea.

The good news is that for the Northern Sea water levels keep rising and salinity keeps dropping. Native species of fish are recolonizing the sea much to the delight of local fishermen. It's hoped that within a few years the people of Aralsk will once again see the waves of the Aral lapping at their city.

The bad news is that the rest of sea is nearly dead. It will take a tremendous effort from the governments of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan along with outside groups to reverse the demise of the Western Sea. The technology is available but not the money.

Nick sat for an hour long interview that Ravenswood Media will edit into a short pilot of the proposed documentary. We produced a Podcast with Nick and Phil about their progress and expedition that's available at the Ravenswood Media website.
Calendar
Rachel Hine
Notebaert Nature Museum Screening: May 23, 2012

Two Stage Ditches: Helping Nature Clean Farm Runoff

The farms of the Great Lakes region hold a key to the health and cleanliness of the Lakes' water. Scientists are working with farmers to develop innovative methods to cleanse runoff from farms and to allow it to flow in more natural ways, benefitting people and wildlife around the Lakes. Join us for a screening of To Build a Better Ditch, a short film produced by Ravenswood Media that describes the environmental benefits of one of these approaches, "two-stage" ditch design. After the film guest speakers will discuss agricultural conservation and water quality.

Staff & Intern Profiles
Mike Brockway
© Alexis Zimmerlein
Mike Brockway

Mike Brockway is the Information Technology director and editor at Ravenswood Media and has been working for the company for the past decade. His current projects are assembling and editing the footage for the Great Lakes Protection Fund and an eagle monitoring training video for the Iowa DNR. Mike enjoys working at Ravenswood Media because of the variety of challenges that present themselves each day, especially when each new experience offers new opportunities to explore different aspects of video storytelling.


Sammie Clifford
© Al Rasho
Sammie Clifford

Sammie Clifford will graduate from Lake Forest College with a Degree in English and a Minor in Latin American Studies. She enjoys backpacking through the Rockies, holing up at local coffee shops with a good book, as well as all manner of storytelling, be it writing creative non-fiction, poetry, fairytales, or photography and documentary film making.


Jacek Lupina
© Jacek Czyz
Jacek Lupina

Jacek Lupina has shot and is editing a video about the Boulder Chamber Orchestra. Bahman Saless, the conductor, has scored several films for Ravenswood Media, including Blue River, Indiana and The Big UP Deal. Jacek spent several days with the orchestra as they prepared to perform Mozart's Requiem Mass in D Minor in Boulder and Denver last November. Jacek is an avid climber and found time to pursue his passion while filmming in Colorado.


Mike Brockway
© Alexis Zimmerlein
Meagan O'Leary

Meagan O'Leary is graduating from the Illinois Center for Broadcasting in March 22nd of 2012. Ever since starting her internship with Ravenswood Media in November of 2011, she has learned the ins and outs of Final Cut Pro, mastered color correction, learned to put together a concise narrative, and how to visually convey a story through the art of editing.


Ken Redeker
© Rich Pagel
Ken Redeker

Ken is writing a book about his lifetime experience with OCD. Besides being the newsletter editor for Ravenswood Media, he is also Calendar Editor for the International Union of Speleology. Additionally, Ken is an enthusiastic cave explorer, and avid backpacker.


Robert Teetsov
© Alexis Zimmerlein
Robert Teetsov

Robert Teetsov, a director and screenwriter, is currently editing a short film about the creative process of the painter Richard Laurent. Robert has acted in films in the United States and France and continues to work with directors from around the world. He has also acted in films by directors from India, Estonia, Thailand, China, France, and Germany. He was recently in the film "The Last Days of British Honduras," by Catherine Sullivan and Farhad Sharmini which was just shown at the Berlin International Film Festival.


Margo Wallace
© Alexis Zimmerlein
Margo Wallace

Margo Wallace is a senior at Lake Forest College. Soon to graduate, she will have her degree in Communications and Environmental Studies. Margo began her internship with Ravenswood Media in January of 2012. She hopes to gain a lot of experience with computers, cameras, and the process of documentary filmmaking. Her interests include memorizing tree species, reading comics, and riding her bicycle.


Alexis Zimmerlein
© Ken Redeker
Alexis Zimmerlein

Alexis Zimmerlein graduated from Columbia College in December with a degree in Documentary filmmaking and Environmental Studies. She joined Ravenswood Media as an intern in February where she works in video production. Her hopes are to one day create documentary films on nature and the environment.


Newsletter Editor: Ken Redeker redeker@ravenswoodmedia.com
Webmaster: Mike Brockway brockway@ravenswoodmedia.com
Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter? Like to remove your name from our mailing list?
Questions or comments? E-mail us at mcgowan@ravenswoodmedia.com or call (312)356-9099