Monday, July 13, 2009

Georgia Conservancy, DNR Announce Species of the Week in Photo Contest

Georgia Residents Encouraged to Submit Photos of the Greenfly Orchid

WHAT: The Georgia Conservancy and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources announce the Greenfly orchid as the species of the week as part of a new statewide photo contest to encourage citizens to learn more about high-priority species and habitats listed in the State Wildlife Action Plan. The plan, commonly called SWAP, is a comprehensive strategy that guides DNR efforts to conserve biological diversity.

SPECIES OF THE WEEK: The Greenfly orchid, or Epidendrum conopseum, is the only orchid found on trees in Georgia. A small perennial herb that grows on trees or rocks from May through the end of July, its leafy stems attach to the orchid's substrate by a mass of roots. Marked by glossy evergreen leaves, the orchid can be found on shaded limbs of southern magnolia and live oaks, as well as other hardwoods in swamps and on bluffs. It is frequently hidden among the fronds of resurrection fern. The fruiting period runs from September to January, when its small, drooping capsules harden and then burst open, dispersing thousands of tiny seeds.

STATUS: The Greenfly orchid is state-listed as unusual in Georgia, where it has been recorded in 20 counties in the state's southeastern Coastal Plain. It is not federally listed, but is considered a high-priority species in Georgia's State Wildlife Action Plan. Timber harvest is the major threat to this species, which grows only in intact old-growth oak forests. The species' frost-tolerant characteristic also make it a target in the wild of irresponsible collectors.

HABITAT: This species lives in maritime evergreen oak forests and in Georgia's outer Coastal Plain. It is found across the Southeast's Coastal Plain from North Carolina to Louisiana; Eastern Mexico has a separate population.

SWAP PHOTO CONTEST: The Great Georgia Photo SWAP contest, a new project sponsored by the Georgia Conservancy and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), highlights nearly 30 high-priority species in all eco-regions of the state as listed in Georgia's State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP).

Unaltered and original photos submitted by citizens to swap@gaconservancy.org will be posted on the Georgia Conservancy's Web site, and participants will be awarded prizes each month as well as a digital camera grand prize for the person who submits the most photos over the course of the one-year project. The Species of the Week schedule includes animals such as the painted bunting, gopher tortoise and bottle-nosed dolphin.

Online:
** State Wildlife Action Plan: www.georgiawildlife.com/statewildlifeactionplan_conservation.aspx
** Georgia Conservancy: www.georgiaconservancy.org
** Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division: www.georgiawildlife.com
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