Sunday scientist program to explore Nebraska's endangered, invasive species

Released on 04/08/2010, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

WHEN: Sunday, Apr. 18, 2010

WHERE: NU State Museum, Morrill Hall, south of 14th and Vine Streets [map]

Lincoln, Neb., April 8th, 2010 —
"Sunday with a Scientist" logo
Invasive reeds (phragmites) along the Platte River
Invasive reeds (phragmites) along the Platte River
Invasive zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) encrusted over a shoe
Invasive zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) encrusted over a shoe
Students from the UNL Wildlife Club (left-to-right, Kelly Herlacher, Elyse Watson and Angie Rasmussen) pose with
Students from the UNL Wildlife Club (left-to-right, Kelly Herlacher, Elyse Watson and Angie Rasmussen) pose with "Pebbles" of the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership

The University of Nebraska State Museum will present a program for children and families about Nebraska's endangered and invasive species as part of its Sunday with a Scientist series 1:30-4:30 p.m. April 18 at Morrill Hall.

The program, "Conserving and Conquering: Increasing Endangered Species and Controlling Invasive Species," will help visitors of all ages learn about Nebraska's threatened and endangered species, as well as the science behind invasive species and the destructive impacts they have on the environment. Morrill Hall is south of 14th and Vine Streets on the UNL City Campus [map]. Museum Sunday hours are 1:30-4:30 p.m.

"Conserving and Conquering" will be led by Karie Decker, project coordinator of the Nebraska Invasive Species Project in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources, and Chris Thody, outreach coordinator of the school's Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership. A photo and video gallery of Nebraska terns and plovers can be found here:

Decker and Thody, with other educators, will inform museum visitors about Nebraska's threatened and endangered species and their habitats, with specific emphasis on interior least terns and piping plovers. The presenters will also discuss the different realms of invasive species and how they spread across Nebraska. They will explore the negative environmental and economical consequences non-indigenous species create for our state, such as the disruption of biodiversity and ecological processes, and the erosion of natural resources creatures depend upon for survival such as rivers and lakes. Some of the invasive species in Nebraska include certain types of birds, insects, mollusks, fish, viruses and noxious weeds.

Posters, demonstrations, and other hands-on activities will help visitors of all ages to better understand the prevention efforts that are being made to work against the harmful impacts of invasive species and the ways they can help protect Nebraska's natural legacy. A highlight will be an appearance by "Pebbles," a larger-than-life plover replica that makes for great photo opportunities.

Sunday with a Scientist is a series of presentations that highlights the work of museum scientists and those from other institutions, while educating children and families on a variety of topics related to science and natural history. Presenters will share scientific information in a fun and informal way through talks, demonstrations and activities, or by conducting their science on site. Sunday with a Scientist programs are 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Morrill Hall on the third Sunday of each month through December.

Upcoming Sunday with a Scientist Topics: May 16 -- Nebraska's climate; June 20 - ponds and toxic algae; July 18 -- poop!; Aug. 15 -- beetle mania; Sept. 19 -- archeology; Oct. 17 -- ancient people; Nov. 21 -- Native Americans; Dec. 19 -- Nebraska amphibians.

For updates on the Sunday with a Scientist schedule through the year, visit

The University of Nebraska State Museum of Natural History in Morrill Hall is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursdays, and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults (19 and over), $3 for children (5-18 years, 4 and under are free), and $10 for families (up to two adults and children). UNL staff, faculty and students are admitted free with valid NU ID. There is an additional charge for planetarium shows. Parking is free. For further information, telephone the museum at (402) 472-3779, visit its Web site or Mueller Planetarium's Web site,, or contact Kathy French, education coordinator, at (402) 472-6647 or by e-mail.

The Nebraska Invasive Species Project in the UNL School of Natural Resources works to disseminate information to the public and private sector on invasive species issues. Information includes invasive species biology, monitoring and management methods, actual and potential maps of impact and risk, and invasive species news and events. The Project continues through a federal aid grant from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. For more information, visit

The Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership in the UNL School of Natural Resources is comprised of various organizations working together to increase the reproductive success of state and federally endangered least terns and threatened piping plovers nesting at Nebraska sand and gravel mines, river sandbars, and lakeshore housing developments, while minimizing conflicts with private industry and landowners. The partnership also works to understand the relationships between Platte River habitats and nesting and migrating birds, and educates and involves the public in these efforts. For more information, visit

WRITER: Dana Ludvik, Public Relations Coordinator, NU State Museum, (402) 472-3779

Background on zebra mussels: Zebra mussels are small shellfish named for the striped pattern of their shells and are native to the Black, Caspian and Azov seas in Eurasia. Zebra mussels are notorious for their biofouling capabilities by colonizing water supply pipes of hydroelectric and nuclear power plants, public water supply plants and industrial facilities. They colonize pipes constricting flow, therefore reducing the intake in heat exchangers, condensers, fire fighting equipment, and air conditioning and cooling systems.