Advanced Naturalist Workshops – Series 16

Mosses with a Hand Lens, Micromoths, Frogs & Toads, Mycorrhizal Fungi, Mites

Cincinnati Museum Center introduces the 16th in a series of natural history workshops that teach the identification and ecology of Ohio flora and fauna.

Workshops Overview

Series 16 is again offering one day overnight and day long workshops as well as the weekend long format. Please see individual workshops for length. The workshop series is a continuation of EOA’s systematic study and cataloging of preserve resources and field training for those interested in nature study. All sessions are taught by professionals in their fields and in all cases have written books or conducted research on their topics. The workshops are open to all skill levels, although naturalists, science educators, natural area managers and others in the natural sciences will find these workshops especially beneficial.

2020 Advanced Naturalist Workshops – Series 16

Registration opens Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Full Weekend Workshops

Full weekend workshops take place from Friday at 7 p.m. to Sunday at 1 p.m.

Mosses with a Hand Lens

Friday, June 12 at 7 p.m. to Sunday, June 14 at 1 p.m.
Karl McKnight, PhD, Professor, St. Lawrence University & Joseph Rohrer, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Enter the Lilliputian world of the mosses. Their spore-bearing capsules wave on stems in every imaginable habitat from forested slopes and prairies to sidewalk cracks or even on old roof shingles. They are ubiquitous and most all are evergreen even in the winter. But even with something so commonly encountered ask yourself how many people you know that can name a single moss species? Even seasoned naturalists struggle. But why, when they are in nearly every habitat in the eastern U.S.? The reason stems from the standard method of identification which requires a compound microscope to view cross-sectioned leaf cells at high magnification—no small task! Naturalists and biologists alike have been craving a simpler method without the need for expensive microscopes. Finally in 2013 their wish came true! Researchers Karl McKnight, Joseph Rohrer, Kristen McKnight & Warren Perdrizet created an ingenious new field guide to mosses with a hand lens, Common Mosses of the Northeast and Appalachians (2013) which uses three key features to break mosses into more manageable groups for identification. Be one of the lucky ones to join two of the four authors who will reveal that it can be done with a hand lens and some determination. Moss diversity in Ohio is very high at 420 species, and Adams County is the 3rd most diverse in the state at 192 species! The preserve is the perfect place to begin your studies of the oldest and simplest plants on Planet Earth with two respected scientists.

Full. Email Preserve Director to be put on backup list.


Friday, August 21 at 7 p.m. to Sunday, August 23 at 1 p.m.
Jason Dombroskie, PhD, Manager, Cornell University Insect Collection and Coordinator, Insect Diagnostic Lab, Cornell University

This workshop is being held to honor the legacy of Annette Braun who was an esteemed microlepidopterist and sister to the renowned plant ecologist, E. Lucy Braun. Annette quietly joined her famed sister on many plant excursions at the preserve (and beyond) all the while collecting and studying small moths--many new to the scientific world. She described over 363 new species. This workshop will be the first to look at these remarkably beautiful moths that captured Annette’s imagination but have managed to remain hidden from the gaze of most naturalists. They are ubiquitous on the landscape living their larval lives as leaf miners or rollers, stem or root borers, across a wide spectrum of plant groups from liverworts to angiosperms. While others feed on fungi, dead animals, detritus and even some are parasitoids of other insects. The niches and environments they inhabit are endless and they are integral to the fabric of life as we know it, yet they are overlooked, avoided or just plain ignored. Their fascinating life histories and jewel like intricacies of design are sure to beguile the seasoned biologist and naturalist alike. Jason Dombroskie has been identifying moths since he was 12 and used his deep skill set to develop ingenious keys to these tiny moths’ families and genera. He will bring these moths into view for all of us to see and enjoy and to honor the undisputed Queen of the Micromoths—Dr. Annette Braun. Don’t miss this landmark workshop in Ohio.

Full. Email Preserve Director to be put on backup list.

Overnight Workshops

Overnight workshops take place from Friday at 7 p.m. through Saturday at 4 p.m.

Frogs & Toads

Friday, May 29 at 7 p.m. through Saturday, May 30 at 4 p.m.
Jeff Davis, Co-Editor & Contributing Author, Amphibians of Ohio (2013), Adjunct Research Associate in Herpetology and Ichthyology, Cincinnati Museum Center

While some naturalists may be able to name the eleven frog and three toad species found in Ohio, what they know about each would likely be slim. Be one of the few to go deep into these species’ life histories and ecologies with one of Ohio’s most respected authorities on frogs and toads, Jeff Davis. He will bring his countless years of field research and voluminous life history/ecology information to bear at this workshop to bring us all to the next level. The timing of the workshop should be perfect for adult animals in the field, as well as tadpoles for many species, allowing us to hone identification skills for both adults and their larvae. Observing these creatures at night will be integral to the experience as well as learning techniques for capturing them. Jeff has worked as a contract herpetologist for many years so has deep experience with survey techniques and quantifying species found on any property. Frogs and toads are the “canaries in the coal mine” for overall health of ecosystems and many disturbing trends and diseases are impacting these charismatic animals. This along with a universe of amphibian narratives will be discussed. If you are someone looking to broaden your skill set of Ohio’s frogs and toads, then this is the workshop for you! Don’t miss it!

Full. Email Preserve Director to be put on backup list.

One Day Workshops

One day workshops take place on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Mycorrhizal Fungi

Saturday, July 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
David Burke, PhD, Chief Program Officer Science and Conservation, Holden Arboretum Holden Forests and Gardens

The green, leafy world as we know it would not exist were it not for underground mycorrhizal fungi growing into (endo), and around (ecto) plant roots. In fact, 90% of all plants live in association with mycorrhizal fungi and depend on them for their survival. Why then do many of us know so little about such an important partner in the very life support system that provides our oxygen? Only recently have scientists begun to develop a fuller understanding of these fungi and their complex relationships with the universe of plants. While many a naturalist tells the story of the Orchid Family’s dependence on these fungi, this workshop will expand the discussion to why most all plants are involved. It’s a mysterious mutualistic system where the fungi are receiving carbohydrates from the plants photosynthetic system while the plants receive increased water and nutrient absorption, protection from pathogens and connection to other plants through the fungi’s extensive hyphal system. It is a mindboggling world with countless yet to be described species of fungi and much that is unknown about how it all works. David Burke will share what is known about this amazing system and how it defines the eastern woods as we know it. Participants will collect and view tree roots to see different kinds of ectomycorrhizal associates as well as learn their function. Holden Arboretum studies these fungal systems to better understand how climate change and other factors may affect their plant collections in the future so David Burke is the perfect ambassador for this strange unseen world.

Full. Email Preserve Director to be put on backup list.


Saturday, September 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Risa Pesapane, PhD, Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University

Prepare to be amazed by a world seldom seen and rarely discussed—the bizarre and intriguing world of mites! They are small arthropods belonging to the class Arachnida and are among the most diverse and successful of all invertebrate groups. It’s thought there are as many different kinds of mites as there are insects. Their bewildering diversity is humbling if not unimaginable. While they remain cloaked in mystery due to their tiny size, some do come into contact with humans and can be a nuisance or, worse case, can affect human health. Such as the scabies causing mite that burrows into our skin, the itch mites that can blow out of oak trees where they feed on gall forming fly larvae and cause painful welts that itch, or the larval stage of the chigger mite with skin-digesting saliva that literally makes our skin crawl. Others share our homes with us like dust mites, there can be upwards of 100 dust mites on one gram of dust, and clover mites that invade homes in the fall in numbers and leave red stains when inadvertently stepped on. The myriad of other mites in the environment are scavengers, some living in the soil as decomposers, others feed on plants or cause galls, many prey on insects (like ants and bees) and other arthropods--this list could literally continue for pages so why do we all know so little about them? This and other questions, will be answered by mite aficionado and researcher Risa Pesapane who studies parasite ecology. Dare to enter a world where few have ventured and prepare to be amazed!

Naturalist Workshops Series 15

Carex, Robber Flies, Spider Behavior, Ticks, Crayfish

Cincinnati Museum Center introduces the 15th in a series of natural history workshops that teach the identification and ecology of Ohio flora and fauna.

Workshops Overview

New this year: Series 15 is now offering one day overnight and daylong workshops as well as the weekend-long format. Please see individual workshops for length.

The workshop series is a continuation of EOA’s systematic study and cataloging of preserve resources and field training for those interested in nature study.  All sessions are taught by professionals in their fields and in all cases have written books or conducted research on their topics. The workshops are open to all skill levels, although naturalists, science educators, natural area managers and others in the natural sciences will find these workshops especially beneficial. Workshops are held at the 20,000 acre Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County, Ohio.

Weekend-long workshops (Carex & Robber Flies) Includes all food/lodging/text/microscopes $200
Overnight workshop (Spider Behavior) Includes lodging/breakfast & lunch on Saturday $100
One-day workshops (Ticks & Crayfish) Includes lunch & microscope use $50
Weekend-long workshops (Carex & Robber Flies) Friday, 7 p.m. through Sunday, 1 p.m. Max 10 people
Overnight workshop (Spider Behavior) Friday, 7 p.m. through Saturday, 1 p.m. Max 10 people
One-day workshops (Ticks & Crayfish) Saturday, 9 a.m. t0 4 p.m. Max 20 people

Cincinnati Museum Center’s Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve. One hour forty-five minutes east of Cincinnati. Directions mailed upon receipt of registration with full payment.

Lodging for Weekend-long and Overnight workshop only

The Rieveschl Chalet on the Rieveschl Preserve. Rustic and comfortable with four beds to a room, private bathrooms with showers on both floors and is air-conditioned and heated. Private rooms are not available. Meals prepared by preserve staff and a caterer. Bedding and towels not provided. Complete list provided with registration fee. Workshop cost cannot be discounted if lodging off site. Please note that overnight lodging will not be offered for the one-day workshops.

Series 15 Workshops
Full Weekend Workshops (Friday, 7 p.m. to Sunday, 1 p.m.)

SOLD OUT! Sedges (Carex, Cyperaceae)
May 24 to 26, 2019
Rob Naczi, PhD, Arthur J. Cronquist Curator of North American Botany, New York Botanical Garden

The genus Carex of the Sedge Family (Cyperaceae) provides one of the great challenges in the botanical realm with 500 species in North America and 160 in Ohio. Carex is often included on even the most seasoned naturalists’ list of “plants to avoid”, or are simply lumped as sedges and ignored. However, they are ecologically important as they inform the ecology of an area with their high fidelity to specific habitats and must be considered when doing any botanical field study. While differentiating one species from another may seem a study in subtlety to the untrained eye, microscope work and a modicum of patience to learn and interpret sedge morphology will put you on your way to effective sedge ID. Coupled with an understanding of the habitats of each species, one can become a qualified Carex student, and if not careful—a real sedge enthusiast! Dr. Naczi’s qualifications to teach this class are unparalleled. He’s been studying sedges for 35 years and is one the country’s great botanical minds. Late May is peak time for sedges at the preserve and with over 70 species recorded, The Edge is the natural place to begin your studies.  Quit avoiding the sedges and be one of only ten people in Ohio to study with one of the country’s leading botanical experts.

Robber Flies (Asilidae)
July 19 to 21, 2019
Tristan McKnight, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor, St. Lawrence University

The long drought is over and a robber fly workshop is finally taking place at the preserve with a qualified and enthusiastic instructor! Robber flies are one of the most bizarre and intriguing of the fly families. Their aerial assaults on other insects are impressive, deadly and precise. Their long, strong, bristled legs are used to capture prey in mid-flight before injecting a deadly neurotoxic saliva that immobilizes the prey and liquefies it for easy uptake. They come in a wide range of sizes from 3mm to 50mm with some reminiscent of damselflies while others remarkable bumble bee mimics--few people will forget their first sighting of a large bumble bee mimic hawking insects on the wing. They are known for their affinity for sunny niches which we will take advantage of while surveying this diverse group. With robber flies being fairly ubiquitous and fascinating creatures, why is it they are virtually unknown by even experienced entomologists? Be one of the first in Ohio to learn this group. With over 1000 species in North America and 95 species known from Ohio they are regularly encountered in many habitats. This workshop will take to the open, sunny prairies and woodland edges of the preserve to document this elusive fly group in yet another landmark workshop in Ohio. A mix of field and lab time at the microscopes to learn identification skills will be necessary to build the first-ever list for this group on the preserve. Don’t miss this workshop.

Overnight Workshop (Friday, 7 p.m. to Saturday, 1 p.m.)

SOLD OUT! Spider Behavior
September 13 to 14, 2019
Nathan Morehouse, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati

Spiders are one of the most captivating, yet misunderstood, group of organisms on Earth. Their lineage goes deep in geologic time owing much to their success at securing prey, finding a mate and mastering environmental challenges. Their ability to produce different kinds of silk for different purposes separates them from many other organisms and their breadth of diversity is staggering. These features, along with the relative ease of viewing them, makes them especially interesting subjects for behavioral studies. No one knows this better than Dr. Morehouse and his lab where they study color vision in jumping spiders and how their ability to detect a limited color palette may have played out evolutionarily. This workshop will delve into the lab’s work on jumpers and spider sight but will also investigate the breadth of spider behavior from web building, mating behavior and capturing their prey. Topics covered will include spider adaptations, silk deployment, spider vision and other fascinating biological aspects. The overnight event will be conducted primarily in the field to take advantage of observing and interpreting spider behavior both at night and in the daylight hours. With over 250 species of spider recorded for the preserve the opportunity for viewing spider behavior will be particularly rich. While spider identification will not be the central theme of the workshop, preserve Ecological Manager, Mark Zloba and lab members will be along to provide IDs as known and desired.

One-Day Workshops (Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

July 27, 2019
Glen Needham, PhD, The Ohio State University, Associate Professor Emeritus of Entomology

Ticks are one of the most successful parasites on Earth. Their adaptations are fodder for science fiction movies. Some species of ticks can survive under water for weeks, some species locate their hosts without having eyes, they use a Lidocaine-like substance to numb the bite site like a dentist, and secrete substances akin to epoxy to secure their mouthparts in your skin. Gone are the days of only one tick species in the state—the American dog tick. Ohio now plays host to three pest species and each has a unique life history and all are vectors for diseases they transmit to humans and dogs. The new Asian Longhorned tick may also be on Ohio’s doorstep (found in West Virginia). The invasive deer or blacklegged tick that spreads Lyme disease, is a woodland species discovered in Coshocton and Ashtabula Counties nine years ago. It is active as an adult in the fall and winter so there is no longer a tick-free season. Dr. Needham is one of Ohio’s undisputed tick experts having contributed to zootic disease research for more than 40 years. With the uptick in tick-borne illnesses everyone needs to develop a better understanding of tick biology and seasonality, especially those who work in outdoor industries and enjoy hiking trails. Join Dr. Needham to learn more about these formidable arachnids and how you can protect yourself, your children and your pets from this serious immerging threat.

September 28, 2019
Emily Imhoff, PhD, Cincinnati Museum Center, Zoology Collections Manager

Crayfish are the gateway organism into nature study for many budding naturalists. They are some of the most ubiquitous, easily found aquatic creatures in our region, living in streams and rivers, ponds and lakes, all kinds of wetlands, and perhaps even burrows in your backyard. With all the attention they receive why is it that so few people can tell one species from another or answer even the most basic life history questions? If you find yourself in this group then this one day workshop is for you. Emily Imhoff is an astacologist (crayfish scientist) and a bona fide crayfish enthusiast! Her passion for the group is unbridled and contagious. She will lead us through the finer points necessary for identifying the 20+ species known to exist in Ohio and beyond, and give us a well-rounded understanding of the ecology and life history of our crayfish. Finally you will have answers for questions like: How long can they live? How do they raise their young? How do you tell a male from a female? Have something to say the next time a child says to you: “I caught a crawdad!”