eNews | December 2019
An early winter storm frosts the summit of Mount Ascutney in southern Vermont. / © K.P. McFarland
A Field Guide to December
Even during December's short days and long nights, life abounds in the waning light. Once we pass the winter solstice, which strikes at precisely 11:19 PM on December 21st, more light will begin to creep back into our days. Until then, here’s some wintry natural history to keep you going. Learn more in our Field Guide to December .
Bicknell's Thrush / © Marc Faucher
VCE Study Documents Fir Mast and Winter Weather as Drivers for Survival in Bicknell's Thrush
"This is what I love about science. Our data picked up our hypotheses, laughed at us, and threw them back in our faces—we were completely wrong! That just shows you how much we still have to learn about the population ecology of birds," states VCE's Jason Hill when describing the results of VCE's latest paper published in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology

This new paper describes unexpected findings in VCE's quest to understand how environmental processes shape the population dynamics of Bicknell’s Thrush throughout its annual life cycle. Read all about our findings on the VCE Blog!
Citizen scientists at work / © Susan Hindinger
Shining A Light on Our Citizen Scientists
One way in which VCE is unique among wildlife research organizations is that our biologists engage—and in fact, depend upon—an army of volunteer citizen scientists for the success of our field research and monitoring projects. Because we so value our volunteers, we want (and need) to learn more about them. So, this past spring we engaged the services of a local team of experts in program evaluation and social science to help us design and launch a detailed survey to our 13,800 citizen scientists.

We learned an incredible amount about our existing volunteers, and also gained invaluable information about whom we aren’t reaching. Visit VCE's blog to find out more...
Gifts for the Conservation-minded Person Who Has Everything

We all have them: people in our lives who are impossible to shop for, because they have everything they need. The holidays are stressful enough without the added burden of having to think outside the box (and quickly) to make sure you have something for everyone. We at VCE would like to help you out this season by providing some creative, conservation-themed solutions to your gift-giving dilemmas! Find gift-giving inspiration on our blog.
Ross and Joyce Bell
A Tribute to Ross Bell
By Kent McFarland

Last month we lost a giant among us. Dr. Ross Bell , a world-renowned entomologist and naturalist died at the age of 90. In 1955, he was hired for a one-year position at the University of Vermont. A year later he was offered a permanent tenured position and spent his entire career there as a popular professor teaching inspirational courses, guiding graduate students, and pursuing his own research.

Teamed with Joyce, his wife of 62 years, the pair more than quadrupled our knowledge of Rhysodine beetles by adding descriptions of ~260 new species to the Vermont list of ~80 known species when they started. During the 1960s the Bells began a program to learn the fauna of Vermont and to compile extensive records of natural history information. Through this work they built the UVM Entomological Collection into an important resource for science and conservation, and they inspired us here at VCE to launch the Vermont Atlas of Life, where we’ve helped to digitize, publish, and archive some of their amazing work with Carabid beetles and Orthoptera in Vermont.

Ross Bell’s interest in insects began with the childhood gift of an insect collecting kit from his parents. Let’s get more kids outdoors looking at bugs and spawn a new generation of entomologists that would make Ross smile.
Bohemian Waxwing / © Bryan Pfeiffer
'Tis the Season for Year-end Giving
Whether you’re a volunteer, scientist, fan of Outdoor Radio, or an all-around cheerleader for VCE, we are grateful for your interest in our work. We couldn't do what we do without you! With your help VCE continues to do the research, train the volunteers, and produce the results that generate sound policies for wildlife conservation.

Your financial support is also critical to our work to conserve wildlife. Please support the Vermont Center for Ecostudies with a generous year-end gift. Your tax-deductible donation will strengthen our citizen science, research, and conservation projects in 2020. And if you've already given - thank you!
Pass the Suds: January's Talk is On Hold
Due to a scheduling conflict at the Norwich Inn (our usual Suds & Science venue) we are sorry to report that we have to postpone January's presentation by Simone Whitecloud to a later date.

In the meantime, mark your calendars for the next Suds & Science event on February 4, 2020  featuring  Brett Amy Thelen from the Harris Center for Conservation Education !
Suds & Science
VCE's Suds & Science is a free event for all ages. All talks are recorded by Community Access Television (CATV) , and you can find past talks on VCE's Suds & Science webpage !
Photo-observation of the Month
"Eastern" or "Red" Fox Sparrow
by Joshua Lincoln
"Eastern" or "Red" Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca iliaca). / © Joshua Lincoln
Congratulations to Joshua Lincoln  for winning the  November 2019 Vermont Atlas of Life iNaturalist photo-observation of the month . The image of an "Eastern" or "Red" Fox Sparrow ( Passerella iliaca iliaca ) in Waterbury, Vermont garnered the most votes. Visit the VCE blog to Learn more about this species and see the runner-up photos!

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist,  where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking 'fav' on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries - and you could be a winner!
The Vermont Center for Ecostudies promotes wildlife conservation across the Americas using the combined strength of scientific research and citizen engagement. Find us online at:  vtecostudies.org