Photo caption: Spiders like this goldenrod crab spider eat an impressive number of pest insects over the course of a year, and also provide essential nutrients to the food chain. (Photo by Emily Stone)
Do you feel a bit squeamish about bugs, worms, fungi and bacteria? These and other misunderstood critters play essential roles in our ecosystems and gardens. They also have surprising adaptations and sometimes are even beautiful.
Join naturalist Emily Stone — an advocate for the underdogs — during the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire – Barron County “Thursdays at the U” lecture Nov. 11 to learn about their positive contributions to the web of life. Her presentation, "The Unsung Heroes of Nature," will be from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Blue Hills Lecture Hall (Room 234, Ritzinger Hall) on the Rice Lake campus.
As education director for the Cable Natural History Museum in Cable, Stone teaches kids of all ages about nature.
“One reason I love studying the little things — the unsung heroes — is that complete stories can play out in a tiny patch of the forest,” Stone says. “Birth, death, conflict and cooperation happen down to the microscopic scale. But the impacts don’t stay small. When invertebrates, fungi and bacteria go about their business, they keep the ecosystem healthy for all of us.”
Stone writes a “Natural Connections” column for more than 15 local newspapers. She has compiled the best of those articles into two books, the second of which, “Natural Connections 2: Dreaming of an Elfin Skimmer,” won second place in the Outdoor Writers Association of America 2020 Excellence in Craft Contest.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in outdoor education-natural history from Northland College in Ashland, Stone held naturalist positions in several national parks across the U.S. and completed a field naturalist master’s degree at the University of Vermont.
The “Thursdays at the U” weekly series is free and open to the public thanks to support from the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation.
Please note: At all UW-Eau Claire campuses, everyone, including presenters, are required to wear a mask indoors.
For more information about the series, contact Dr. Linda Tollefsrud, professor emeritus of psychology, UW Colleges, at email@example.com.