Monday, February 27, 2017

Episode 357 (2-27-17): The Eastern Spadefoot’s Underground Digs Make This Amphibian a Virginia Scientific Challenge


CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:49)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, photos, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 2-24-17.


TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of February 27, 2017.

This week, we feature another mystery sound, from an amphibian whose population details remain, in fact, mysterious, even to herpetologists, the scientists who study amphibians and reptiles.  Have a listen for about 10 seconds, and see if you can guess what’s making this call.   And here’s a hint: to guess this name, combine a Virginia sunrise’s direction, a playing card suit or garden tool, and what’s in your shoe.

SOUNDS - ~12 sec

If you guessed an Eastern Spadefoot, you’re right!  This animal—which some reference consider a kind of frog, and others a kind of toad—is one of seven spadefoot species in North America, but the only one found east of the Mississippi River.  It’s 2-to-3 inches long, brownish with two yellow back stripes, and with vertically-oriented pupils, in contrast to the more horizontal pupils of other frogs and toads.  But a spadefoot’s most characteristic features are hard, spade-like projections on the hind feet, with which the animal can burrow into sand or other loose soil in order to avoid dry conditions.

In Virginia from early March through spring, Eastern Spadefoots typically emerge in large numbers after heavy rains to breed in seasonal wetlands, flooded fields, or other temporarily wet areas.  They’re mostly known in the Coastal Plain, but much remains unknown about this species’ distribution and habits in the Commonwealth.  That’s why scientists Jason Gibson, at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, and Travis Anthony, at J. Sargent Reynolds Community College in Richmond, are leading a project in 2017 to learn more about the Eastern Spadefoot in Virginia.  Collaborating with the Virginia Herpetological Society and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, they’re inviting other Virginians to participate, too, by watching and listening for this secretive creature, and by submitting information on any encounters.  To learn more about the project, or to submit spadefoot observations, e-mail jdgibson@patrickhenry.edu, or tanthony@reynolds.edu.

Thanks to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and to Lang Elliott’s NatureSoundStudio for permission to use the Eastern Spadefoot sounds.

SOUND - ~5 sec

SHIP’S BELL

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463.   Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The Eastern Spadefoot sounds were from “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads” CD copyright 2008 by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Lang Elliott/NatureSoundStudio, used with permission.   The calls CD is part of the VDGIF’s A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia.   For more information, visit https://www.shopdgif.com/product.cfm?uid=1928838&context=&showInactive=N, or contact VDGIF at 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230; phone: (804) 367-1000 (VTDD); e-mail: dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov.  Lang Elliott’s work is available online at the “Music of Nature” Web site, http://www.musicofnature.org/.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.
More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.

IMAGE

Poster from Jason Gibson (Patrick Henry Community College, Martinsville, Va.) and Travis Anthony (J. Sargent Reynolds Community College, Richmond, Va.) promoting their project to learn more about the Eastern Spadefoot in Virginia. Accessed at the Virginia Master Naturalists Web site, http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/home/in-search-of-spadefoots, on 2/27/17.

EXTRA FACTS ABOUT THE EASTERN SPADEFOOT IN VIRGINIA

From the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), “Eastern spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii),” online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/eastern-spadefoot/.

“This is the only spadefoot east of the Mississippi River. Spadefoots have a sharp, black spade on each hind foot for burrowing into sand or loose soil.   They also have inconspicuous paratoid glands (the bumps on the top of a toad’s head), few warts, and vertically elliptical pupils. ...It is usually brown, sometimes yellowish or quite dark, often mottled, with two light, yellowish, dorsal stripes extending from the eye down the back.  The throat and breast are white and the belly is tinged with gray. The eyes are large and protruberant.  This species emerges from its burrow only after heavy rain or during wet periods in warmer months.  The eggs are laid on the bottom of a pond in irregular bands 25-55 millimeters (mm) long.  The eggs are 1-2 mm in diameter and hatching occurs in 1.5 to 2 days.  Transformation occurs from 2-8 weeks depending on the temperature and water level. ...This species is usually found in areas characterized by loose sandy soils suitable for burrowing.”

SOURCES USED FOR AUDIO AND FOR MORE INFORMATION

Encyclopedia.com, “Spadefoot Toads,” online at http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spadefoot-toads-pelobatidae.

Jason Gibson, “In Search of Spadefoots,” Virginia Master Naturalists Blog, 1/24/17, online at http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/home/in-search-of-spadefoots.

J. Sargent Reynolds Community College, online at http://www.jsr.vccs.edu/.

John D. Kleopfer and Chris S. Hobson, A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia, Special Publication Number 3, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond, 2011.

Bernard S. Martof et al., Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1980, pages 104-5.

Joseph C. Mitchell and Karen K. Reay, Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles of Virginia, Special Publication No. 1, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond, 1999.

New Hampshire Public Television, “Scaphiopodidae—American Spadefoot Toads,” online at http://www.nhptv.org/wild/scaphiopodidae.asp.

Patrick Henry Community College, online at http://www.ph.vccs.edu/.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Eastern spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii),” online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/eastern-spadefoot/.

Virginia Herpetological Society, “Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii),” online at http://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/frogsandtoads/eastern-spadefoot/eastern_spadefoot.php; and “New 2017 Eastern Spadefoot Project,” online (as PDF) at http://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/2017spadefoot/Eastern%20Spadefoot%20Poster.pdf.

Virginia Wildlife Mapping Web site, online at http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/virginia-wildlife-mapping.  This site provides a location for citizens to post their observations about wildlife, including amphibians.  The site is a collaboration of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Master Naturalist Program, and iNaturalist.org.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  Please see specifically the “Amphibians” subject category.

For another episode on herpetological (amphibians and reptiles) research, please see Episode 69, 6/20/11, “Herp Blitz,” a Virginia Herpetological Society large-scale survey in 2011.  The Society does various surveys each year.

STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs) FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS

This episode may help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic Theme
SOLs for gathering and analyzing data for appropriate ages; possibly 1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1, and 6.1.

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
K.7 – basic needs and processes of plants and animals.
1.5 - animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
2.4 - life cycles.
3.4 - behavioral and physiological adaptations.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 - living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.6 - ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.
5.5 - cell structures and functions, organism classification, and organism traits.
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.4 - organisms’ classification based on features.
LS.8 - community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.

Biology Course
BIO.6 - bases for modern classification systems, including structures, biochemistry, and developmental stages.
BIO.8 - dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

Civics and Economics Course
CE.7 – government at the state level.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs, which become effective in the 2017-18 school year:

Civics and Economics Course
CE.7 – government at the state level.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Episode 356 (2-20-17): Polar Plunges for Special Olympics


CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:15)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, photos, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 2-17-17.


TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of February 20, 2017.

This week, we feature another series of mystery sounds. Have a listen for about 35 seconds, and see if you can guess what’s going on with this music, screams, and water splashing. And here’s a hint: When a good cause needs help, lots of people plunge right in.

SOUND - ~39 sec

If you guessed, excited people running into near-freezing water, you’re right! But the real mystery is: why did over 200 people jump into the cold New River one day in January 2011? They were Radford, Va., participants in the Polar Plunge®, held annually to raise money for Special Olympics, the international organization dedicated to sports for people with intellectual disabilities. At winter water plunges around Virginia and across the country, the charity gets contributions from entry fees and from donations raised by plunging participants.

The 2017 plunges in Virginia were scheduled for February 4 into the Atlantic Ocean at Virginia Beach; February 18, into the New River at Radford; February 25, into the Potomac River in Prince William County; also February 25, into an above-ground pool in Richmond; and March 11, into a pool in Charlottesville. Information about these events is available online at polarplunge.com.

If you’ve got thick skin, plus a warm heart for a good cause, you could be heading for a plunge!

SOUND – ~5 sec

Thanks to this week’s co-host, Eryn Turney, the spring 2017 intern at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.

SHIP’S BELL

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463. Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show. In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The sounds in this episode were recorded by Virginia Water Radio at the Special Olympics Polar Plunge into the New River at Bisset Park in Radford, Va., on January 29, 2011.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.

This episode is an update of Episode 96 (1-23-12), which has been archived.

PHOTOS
Above: Special Olympics Virginia Polar Plunge in Richmond in 2016.  Photo by Willow Lawn (a Richmond commercial area operated by Federal Realty Investment Trust), courtesy of Nicole Rappaport, Virginia Special Olympics, used with permission.
Four photos above: Special Olympics Virginia Polar Plunge in Radford, February 18, 2017.  Top: chute participants use to run into the New River.  Upper middle: Emergency services personnel at the ready in the water.  Lower middle: Participants just before their plunge.  Bottom: Blue Brother impersonator, post-plunge.

For photos from the Virginia Beach Polar Plunge on February 4, 2017, please see this WTKR TV-Norfolk link.

EXTRA FACTS ABOUT POLAR PLUNGES AND SPECIAL OLYMPICS

The year 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of Virginia Special Olympics polar plunges. The funds raise help the Virginia organization provide training, competition, leadership, and health services to over 27,000 athletes.

Special Olympics International estimates that 200 million people worldwide have intellectual disabilities.

Sources: Virginia Special Olympics Polar Plunge Web site, http://polarplunge.com/; Special Olympics, “What We Do,” online at http://www.specialolympics.org/Sections/What_We_Do/What_We_Do.aspx.

SOURCES USED IN AUDIO AND FOR MORE INFORMATION

Keith Hagarty, “Highlander Polar Plunge Makes a Big Splash for Special Olympics,” Radford University News Release, 1/29/11, online at http://www.radford.edu/content/radfordcore/home/news/releases/2011/01/polar-plunge-2011.html.

Special Olympics, online at http://www.specialolympics.org/.

Special Olympics in Virginia, online at http://www.specialolympicsva.org/.

Virginia Special Olympics Polar Plunge, online at http://polarplunge.com/.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).

For another episode on a winter-time plunge into the New River, focusing on the heat-absorbing properties of water, please see Episode 195 (1-6-14): Wading into the New Year, the New River, and Water Thermodynamics.

STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs) FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS

This episode may help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
3.4 - behavioral and physiological adaptations.

Grades K-6 Matter Theme
6.5 – properties and characteristics of water.

Life Science Course
LS.9 - adaptations for particular ecosystems’ biotic and abiotic factors, including characteristics of land, marine, and freshwater environments.

Physical Science Course
PS.7 – temperature, heat, and thermal energy transfer, including phase changes, melting point, etc.

Physics Course
PH.7 – energy transfer, transformations, and capacity to do work.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

Virginia Studies Course
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

World Geography Course
WG.3 - how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs, which become effective in the 2017-18 school year:

Virginia Studies Course
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

World Geography Course
WG.3 - how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.