Episode Summary:

Today on the EOC podcast we’re talking with Texas Tech University professor Robin Verble-Pearson. Robin was featured in our latest EOC film about the Texas Horned Lizard – she talks in the film about the relationship between harvester ants and horned lizards. In today’s interview with Robin we’ll get some more in-depth information about the harvester ant, as well as ants and ant research in general.

But before we hear our interview with Robin we’ll be checking in with Ben Mirin for a special edition of the Birds and the Beats! Ben has put together a truly unique song/soundscape this week to go along with our conversation about fire ecology. You’ll hear a variety of natural sounds pieced together to create a song that is representative of all the components of a fire adapted ecosystem in central Texas. He’s even got samples in there from a song sung by the classic Looney Tunes character Michigan J. Frog – a character that was based on the legend of “Old Rip” – a horned lizard (also known as a horny toad) that was supposedly preserved for decades in a cornerstone of the Eastland County Courthouse in Texas. In leu of actual horned lizard vocalizations, Ben decided to include samples of Michigan J. Frog’s singing in this week’s song!

After the Birds and the Beats, we delve into our interview with Robin Verble-Pearson. Robin talks about fire and the various roles that it plays in central Texas ecosystems. She talks about a variety of research projects going on at her lab at Texas Tech University and explains how they all revolve around this critically important environmental factor.

We talked a bit about burn collectives, also known as prescribed burn associations, in our interview with Rachel Granberg in episode 18 – and we return to this important topic in today’s interview. These organizations are made up of landowners interested in using prescribed fire to better manage tracts of privately owned land. These groups are allowing landowners to re-introduce fire into areas where it has been suppressing for a century or more, providing benefits to both ecosystems and the landowners themselves. Below you’ll find a variety of links to help you find a burn collective in your area. This is NOT a complete list – burn collectives are popping up all across the country so if your state isn’t represented here just do a google search to see if you can find one in your area.

Prescribed Burn Associations:

Prescribed Fire Councils of Florida

List of Prescribed Burn Associations in Texas

Oklahoma Prescribed Fire Council

Prescribed Burn Associations in Nebraska

Kansas Prescribed Burn Associations

Michigan DNR information on using prescribed burning on private land

Minnesota DNR information packet about prescribed burning on private land


Verble-Pearson Fire Ecology Lab at Texas Tech University

Harvester Ant fact sheet

Ben Mirin’s website: wingbeat.co

Texas Horned Lizard video:


Listen to the Podcast Episode here:

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