A few months ago, my wife and I joined a Williamstown group connected to the West Virginia Naturalists. We are studying with guided hikes and classroom sessions to become master naturalists. Last Saturday, we drove to North Bend State Park for a session on the impact of winter weather on plants and animals. I have always wondered where all the wildlife I see during the summer go when it gets cold. I am in the woods and on the river every month of the year but there is still a lot I would like to know. At our last class, I got some answers.
Of course we all know that some birds leave for warmer climates when the days get shorter. Monarch butterflies, dragonflies, and bats take their own migratory trips. Many, including songbirds such as cardinals, Carolina wrens and blue birds, stay with us in Ohio. Since insects are less available, some of these birds change their diet from insects to seeds. They survive the coldest days by huddling and communal roosting.
Other animals hibernate. We usually think of the bear as a typical hibernator. However, bears are considered denning animals since their body temperature varies little even in the winter. Extended sleeping animals include squirrels, which can be seen on warm winter days but will sleep for days at a time when the temperature drops to dangerous lows.
Some frogs and insects such as wood frogs and woolly bear caterpillars employ extreme hibernation. Their coping mechanism when the weather gets really cold is to simply freeze. With the help of natural antifreeze in their systems, the individual cells are saved and the freezing occurs in the body cavities.
Other insects seek the burrows of ground hogs, chipmunks, or snakes and opportunistically share the warmth. Spiders and some insects just lay their eggs in late fall and die. A new brood continues the species in the spring.
Turtles dig into the bottom of a pond or stream, dramatically slow down their metabolism, and live off energy stored in their bodies. Leopard and bull frogs lie on the mud on the bottom of a stream or pond while absorbing oxygen through their skin. They will awake and swim around occasionally during the winter.
These highly diverse processes designed by insects, spiders, and other larger animals to survive severe temperatures are fascinating. Different species across North American and the globe have adapted to their environments to perpetuate their kind.
In these days of uncertainty, leaders must find ways of adapting their businesses and how they operate. Running a business is never easy, but in good economic times, there is more room for error. When times get tough, look at your systems and seek opportunities for reducing waste. Talk to your customers to understand the products or services they value the most and those that you may need to change. Also discuss your business with your employees. They may have information you do not. There are many ways to survive in business. Like nature around us, find your niche and you will increase your chance of survival.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray's new book, "Tons of Stone above my head: Coal Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.