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Highland Wonders

Highland Wonders is a monthly education series featuring the natural history of the Okanogan Highlands and surrounding areas. Come and meet some new people and enjoy refreshments; leave with a better understanding of your watershed.

The indoor series runs on the First Friday of the month, from November through May (skipping December). The outdoor series is offered during summer, and the schedule varies.

Stream Ecology with Mark Oswood
Saturday, July 19
10:00 a.m. at the Chesaw Community Building
Field trip to follow
Please note: Indoor presentation open to everyone; preregistration required for field trip due to limited space

Photo by Susan Ballinger

On Saturday, July 19th, OHA’s Summertime Highland Wonders series will bring a unique opportunity to learn about Stream Ecology, hands-on in the highlands. The event will be lead by freshwater ecologist and emeritus professor Dr. Mark Oswood. An indoor presentation in Chesaw will cover the basics of stream ecology, followed by a demonstration of books and gear, and a field trip to a local stream. This event aims to increase our community’s understanding of stream ecology, and how riparian zones and streams interact to support and affect populations of aquatic insects. Community members will have the opportunity to collect macroinvertebrates and look at and identify specimens with field optics, streamside. Connections will be made between populations of aquatic insects and what their presence indicates about water quality.
Mark Oswood - photo by Susan Ballinger
Mark lives in the Wenatchee area, retired from the department of Biology and Wildlife and the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, with a research specialty in freshwater ecology. Mark focused mainly on running waters (streams and rivers), with an emphasis on aquatic entomology (the scientific study of insects) and trophic structure of stream ecosystems. He has taught limnology (freshwater science), ecology of streams and rivers, aquatic entomology, as well as introductory biology. Most of his research was on ecology of stream insects, especially biogeography, and decomposition of organic matter. Mark has applied experience studying the effects of heavy metals from mining on streams, and has a side specialty in statistical analysis.
Trophic diagram
Riparian Functions
Throughout his career, Mark has taught a wide variety of “introduction to stream ecology” events in classrooms, Elder Hostels, and for government agencies, fly-fishing groups, and conservation organizations. “Seeing the diversity of invertebrates that live in streams can be analogous to a first experience looking at tide pool organisms,” he says. “Plus, aquatic insects are a stream’s way of turning green algae and brown leaves into fish food.” 

Event logistics:
The presentation will begin at 10:00 a.m. at the Chesaw Community Building (across from the General Store), and is open to everyone. Pre-registration is required for the field trip portion. For those attending the field trip, there will be a picnic lunch (please pack a brown bag lunch), followed by the field trip. The event will wrap up roughly around 3:00 pm. This event is free of charge (donations welcome but not required).

Due to the nature of the outdoor event, participation is limited, and priority registration will be offered for OHA members. A waiting list is being generated on a first-come, first-serve basis. To begin or renew your OHA membership and be first in line to register for the summertime events, please visit, or contact OHA for more information. To sign up for this event, email or call 509-476-2432.

The 2012 Summertime Highland Wonders season brought Cedar Ecology, The Magic of Wetlands, and a school bus tour highlighting the Geology of the Okanogan Highlands. The 2013 outdoor season brought Seeing the Forest Among the Trees, Watershed Functioning, Plant Ecology and Stream Processes, Geology of the Okanogan Highlands, and Grassland Ecology and Grass ID. Each of these events was jam-packed with information tailored to the sights, sounds, and natural history of the highlands. The events are often full to capacity. Be sure to begin or renew your OHA membership for priority in signing up for next summer's events. 

Summer 2014 will bring events on Stream Ecology on July 19th, and a Geology Tour on August 16th, as well as an innovative event in September called, "Evening with the Experts." You can start preparing for this event now by taking photos and/or collecting plant specimens that you would like help identifying. See Evening with the Experts for must-read details if you'd like to be involved.

Questions? Contact OHA's Conservation Coordinator, Julie Ashmore: 

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