Kristen Garrison

Joined: Nov 16, 2017 Last Active: Jul 23, 2024 iNaturalist

Originally from the Pacific Northwest with a forester as a father, I started learning the different trees and plants in that area at a young age. I have also been an avid birder since grade school. Before I left Washington State I had graduated with a BS degree in Zoology and worked as a field technician collected data used to assess the health of stream buffers on timber ground for the NW Indian Fish Commission. This included identifying many trees and plants in the buffers. I also worked for WDFW measuring growth rates and conducting abundance surveys on amphibians in the Olympic Mountains. This science-based background gave me a good foundation to build from for learning all the new species I would encounter when I moved to Tennessee in 2014. In 2015 I became a park ranger at Burgess Falls State Natural Area. Since becoming a park ranger in 2015, I have been working on learning many different species of flora and fauna that exist in Tennessee. Many of these are different from what I knew in Washington and so in some ways it feels like I have had to start all over - learning a completely different collection of species. I started with amphibians and birds in Tennessee - since these are my most familiar topics. In 2016 I taught myself the various calls of frogs in Tennessee using the TAMP (TN Amphibian monitoring program) recordings and self quizzes available through LEAPS and I have collected and identified salamanders in various locales in middle Tennessee. I have volunteered on Streamside Salamander surveys with the Department of Natural Areas (DNA) and worked with David Withers (amphibian specialist with DNA) to confirm many of my amphibian sightings. I am constantly working on improving my birding knowledge and I bird primarily by ear. Most of the birds have different songs and dialects here compared to those in WA, so I have had a lot of catch-up to do. This year I researched which warblers can be found in middle TN in March-May and identified 34 different possible species so far. I have since learned their songs and appearances (and there are multiple variants of songs for each!). I have taken a recent interest in moths and butterflies (so that I can better showcase our butterfly garden at Burgess - and because they are beautiful). Luckily I have a few coworkers that are skilled in the identification of the local Lepidoptera, which has allowed me to gain knowledge more quickly (and to confirm my sightings). Plants I am still learning but have most of the basics down on common plants and trees. I am still working on learning the wildflowers at Burgess Falls and Window Cliffs in order to lead more informative wildflower hikes. So there you have it - Tennessee is fabulously diverse and I have my work cut out for me, but I am happy to lend a hand in identifying the flora and fauna I have already learned.

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