Over the Hump

I’ve already had enough of this summer’s heat and humidity and I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. There is some encouragement, however, in the average annual temperature data. A look at a plot of the average temperature highs and lows for mid-Missouri shows that mid-July is the peak of both curves. Of course, that is just the average and no guarantee that we’ll see steadily declining temperatures every day after mid-July. And it is only a gradual decline near the peak of the graph. It won’t be like driving over a hump on a country road where you feel the temporary lack of gravity in your stomach. But it should be some consolation for those of us who are looking for any encouragement at this time of the year. At least we are on the downhill side of the curve now and headed for the steeper parts of the curve this fall, when even a few days can lead to a noticeable cooling.

So how does this climate analysis relate to conservation? Seasonal change is everything to wildlife and plants that live in the outdoors. It drives reproduction, migration, hibernation, fur and feather condition, amount of photosynthesis, food and water availability, growth periods and dormancy, social behavior, parasites, diseases and more. Every wild plant and animal is a product of the previous seasons and, to survive, will have to respond and adapt to the seasons to come.

Seasons also drive the conservation and management of forest, fish and wildlife resources. Most land and wildlife management actions are based on seasonal timing: when to spray herbicide on exotic invasive shrub honeysuckles and when to count quail from their whistling around dawn. As close observers of the natural world, we inevitably become more attuned to seasonal changes. Living in a temperate climate region, we are able to experience four distinct annual seasons. I’m looking forward to experiencing the next one!