Daily Archives: December 6, 2014

Fairy Shrimp in Kansas

Fairy Shrimp drawn by Norwegian zoologist Georg Ossian Sars (1896)

Fairy Shrimp drawn by Norwegian zoologist Georg Ossian Sars (1896)

It is important that artists where able to capture scientific details of wildlife before cameras were able to photograph them accurately. A species of Fairy Shrimp was drawn with both scientific accuracy and artistic appreciation in 1896 by Georg Ossian Sars, a Norwegian marine and freshwater biologist. His work, centered around crustaceans,  was published in the Fauna Norvegiae. His drawing of Branchinecta_paludosa, a species of Fairy Shrimp is shown above. Fairy shrimp are found in ephemeral waters of Kansas.

Fairy Shrimp

Redtail Fairy Shrimp from http://www.arizonafairyshrimp.com/photo.html

Redtail Fairy Shrimp from http://www.arizonafairyshrimp.com/photo.html

Redtail Fairy Shrimp (female)  from http://www.arizonafairyshrimp.com/photo.html

Fairy shrimp are a class of crustacean that is usually a quarter of an inch to a inch in length. Their exoskeleton is thin and flexible. Most species have a highly segmented body with three parts: head, thorax and abdomen. The head has two compound eyes, each located on the end of a prominent stalk, and two pairs of antennae. The second pair of antennae is longer. In males these longer antennae are specialized for holding the female during mating although few species reproduce by parthenogenesis. Fairy shrimp have 11 pairs of leaf-like phyllopodia (swimming legs) along their thorax that move in a synchronized rhythmic manner (metachronal) to propel them gracefully through the water. They live in vernal or ephemeral pools but can survive in hypersaline lakes, desert pools, and even icy waters. They swim “upside-down” (ventral side facing the water’s surface) either filtering organic materials from the water or obtaining algae from the surface of submerged rocks. According to Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, Fairy shrimp could be found in eastern Kansas before 1950 in “small pools in roadside ditches, along railroad fills, in drainage canals in floodplains and in pastures and woodlands are of frequent occurrence; these pools are richly supplied with vegetation which makes excellent culture media for small crustacean animals.” They are an important food source for fish and birds. Pintails and mallards feed on them in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Great Plains. For a more interesting details about Fairy shrimp visit the vernalpool.org.

USDA Approves 12,300 More Acres in Kansas for Wildlife Habitat

Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced that a total of 64,400 acres in Kansas are now available for wildlife habitat improvement incentives.

FSA is accepting applications to enroll more acres in the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program, part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) whereby FSA contracts with landowners so that environmentally sensitive land is not farmed or ranched, but instead used for conservation. Targeted wildlife species in Kansas are prairie-chickens.

Program participants establish long-term plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality, or strengthen declining wildlife populations. In return, participants receive annual rental payments between 10 and 15 years.

The SAFE program allows state fish and wildlife agencies, non-profit organizations and other conservation partners to target the Conservation Reserve Program within distinct geographic areas to help wildlife. SAFE is limited to 1.35 million acres nationally, with 97 projects in 36 states and Puerto Rico.

Interested landowners can enroll acres in a designated wildlife project in their state at any time. Participants and land must meet certain eligibility requirements. Other restrictions may apply. For additional details, contact your local Farm Service Agency office at offices.usda.gov or visit the website at www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation.