Archivos de diario de febrero 2022

01 de febrero de 2022

Mason Wasp Uses Cicada Exuviae as a Nesting Site - Observation of the Week, 2/1/22

Our Observation of the Week is this wasp (Subfamily Eumeninae) which made its nest in a cicada exuviae! Seen in Australia by @cinclosoma.

 @cinclosoma is the joint account of Tony and Jenny Dominelli, who hail from different parts of the continent but are currently interested in the Mallee, an area in northwestern Victoria. Jenny “spent her childhood along Australia's east coast visiting many reefs, estuaries, beaches and mangroves from Sydney to Townsville and beyond,” while Tony hails from the Mallee but has also explored “the monsoon forests and vine thickets of Cape York Peninsula…We both have a keen interest in the birdlife of the Mallee, especially blossom nomads and ground dwelling birds.”

And while doing so (and looking for what's likely an undescribed species of Kobonga cicada along the Murray River) they stumbled across the scene you see above - a female wasp who’d constructed her nest inside the exuviae of a cicada. “This made our day,” they told me, “these encounters with the natural world are just priceless!”

Members of the subfamily Eumeninae are often called mason wasps or potter wasps and, as you can see, they generally construct their nests from mud (or sometimes sand or masticated wood). After the nest is constructed, the female wasp lays an egg in it then provisions the nest by finding prey items such as caterpillars or spiders. Prey are paralyzed with a sting, then brought back to the nest. When it hatches, the larva will eat the provisions and metamorphose into an adult. Some, the “potter” wasps, make exposed pot-shaped nests, while others use cavities (or in this case exuviae) as a starting point for construction. 

“These days we have settled down to document, as best we are able through iNaturalist, the flora and fauna of Far North West Victoria,” say Tony and Jenny.

Our participation in iNaturalist has emphasized the immense diversity of nature and how much there is to lose, should we all not care enough, and more importantly, do enough, to allow this wonder to survive and thrive.

We also have a special interest in the accumulating effect of anthropogenic climate change in the Mallee; expressed mainly as declining winter rainfall and accelerating evaporation through ever higher average summer temperatures.


- Desert nomads is a term I wasn’t familiar with, but Tony and Jenny tell me “Down our way it refers to highly nomadic bird species, such as honeyeater or lorikeet, which respond to mass flowering events of species like eucalypt, melaleuca, callistemon or other nectar rich flora. These nomads often range over long distances and broad areas in their quest.”

- The Animal Architecture project has quite a few observations of mason wasp nests, take a look!

- Here’s some excellent footage of a potter wasp building and provisioning her nest. 

- While in a different subfamily, paper wasps also sometimes construct nests in interesting places or from interesting materials.

Ingresado el 01 de febrero de 2022 por tiwane tiwane | 15 comentarios | Deja un comentario

02 de febrero de 2022

Oahu iNatters Happy Hour?

I'll be on Oahu next month for a friend's wedding and was hoping to meet up with some Hawaii iNatters to talk story and have a drink! Most of my trip is pretty busy but I think Sunday, February 20th is pretty free.

  • is that a date that would work? If so, what time would be good?
  • I'd like to meet up at an outdoor bar - COVID and all - any suggestions for a centrally located one? I'm so out of the loop on current Hawaii places.

Tagging some of the top active Oahu observers who I think actually currently live there: @davidr @kevinfaccenda @kyhlaustin @humu797 @tchakamaura @anuschka @spencer157 @monikaward @ronbrasher

UPDATE (2/28/22): here's a photo! From L to R: @tiwane, @davidr, @kevinfaccenda, @tchakamaura, @thiebaud. Thanks for coming everyone, I was great to meet you in person!

(Just noting we were outdoors and all patrons of the establishment had to either be vaccinated or have a negative test result)

Ingresado el 02 de febrero de 2022 por tiwane tiwane | 15 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de febrero de 2022

Identifier Profile: @roman_romanov

This is the eighth in an ongoing monthly (or almost monthly) series profiling the amazing identifiers of iNaturalist!

Currently at the Komarov Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, Russia, Roman Romanov tells me 

It seems to me it is quite usual to be interested in nature being a child [and] this is my story too. I remember when I was a child sitting near a body of water, viewing small and not so small creatures visible in water like larvae of mosquitoes and chironomids, different aquatic plants etc. My first sighting of Hydrocharis morsus-ranae was truly amazing, and it happened when I was less than ten. I took it to my home and placed it in water for better viewing, but, sadly, this plant disappeared during the night because my parents were not thrilled with it as I was.

Thankfully Roman was not discouraged and continued to pursue his interest in aquatic plant life (and protists), which he brought to iNaturalist in 2018. “I found iNaturalist accidentally,” he says, “because I searched for images of charophytes around the world.” 

[iNaturalist] is essential for my research. [It allows me to view] many images of the same species taken at different seasons, from different habitats etc. It also allows me to test and polish my opinion about concepts for some species.

In the nearly four years since he joined iNat, Roman has identified over 34,000 observations from around the world, many of which document less commonly-observed aquatic life, often photographed via microscopes.

I prefer to apply keystone taxonomic works for ID in combination with recent papers, the number of which are growing like an avalanche. It allows me to help with IDs as well as test myself. Outstanding records of rarely reported species are not infrequent here because of continuous additions of observations from around the world.

Roman’s current focus is integrative taxonomy of macroscopic algae, including “their distribution in time and space, and protection issues.” While charophytes (which he’s holding in the photo above) are his favorites, he keeps up with other algae and protists. “I think I could be named ‘plantwatcher’,” he says, “because I like viewing plants as well as many aquatic inhabitants.”

(Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.)


- Take a look at Roman’s research here

- There are so many remarkable images among the most-faved observations which Roman has identified. Check them out!

Ingresado el 03 de febrero de 2022 por tiwane tiwane | 47 comentarios | Deja un comentario

08 de febrero de 2022

Meet the First Phlox pattersonii Plant on iNat! - Observation of the Week, 2/8/22

Our Observation of the Week is the only Phlox pattersonii observation on iNaturalist! Seen in Mexico by @manuelnevarez.

One of the cool (but sometimes frustrating!) things about iNat is that you never know when your observation will finally get that species ID! Well, it took five years for Dr. Manuel Nevárez de los Reyes’s observation to get there, and here’s the story.

In May of 2016, Manuel Nevárez was working towards his PhD in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Wildlife Management and Sustainable Development at Autonomous University of Nuevo León. Research for his doctoral thesis - Herpetofauna of the Sierra de Gomas in the North of Nuevo León - took him, as you would expect, to the Sierra de Gomas mountains. In addition to reptiles and amphibians, Manuel is interested in plants and other organisms so he photographed the plant you see above and posted it to iNat. Some IDs were added by the community, but last year @grahamayer added an ID of Phlox pattersonii and this ID was confirmed a few months ago by @alan_prather, who described the species back in 1994, making it the first and still only observation of this plant on iNaturalist!

I reached out to Alan about this plant, and he told me it’s the very first plant species he described, which he did while working on his PhD. “I had been poking around in Phlox from Mexico when one day I came into the herbarium and found a specimen of Phlox on my desk,” he recalls. 

A fellow student had collected it from the same canyon where this observation was made and left a note asking me to identify it because he couldn’t figure out what species it was. I knew immediately that it wasn’t a species known from Mexico, and after poking around I found a few other specimens of this species that had either been mis-identified, or just filed away without an identification. So I compared it to other North American Phlox to be sure it wasn’t a disjunct population of a species from Texas or Arizona and I was able to describe it as a new species.

I’ve been there to collect it myself, and I have to say that it’s a beautiful area. The town of Bustamante is lovely, folks are friendly, and the Grutas de Bustamante are fascinating. And the area is full of cool plants like Pinguicula bustamanta and Poliomintha bustamanta

My favorite thing about iNaturalist is how anyone can make really special observations (in this case, anyone being a vertebrate biologist who has come to appreciate the beauty of plants).

As for Manuel (above), he’s currently working for an environmental consultancy, sampling flora and fauna and preparing environmental impact reports. He’s described not only a species of lizard (Gerrhonotus lazcanoi), but also several plants, including Pinguicula bustamanta  - discovered around the same time and area as his Phlox pattersonii observation - and Astrophytum caput-medusae (with @aztekium_tutor).

“For me,” says Manuel, “the use of iNaturalist is a way to learn from other fields of biology that are not my specialty. Photographing and identifying what I find in the field is a habit that I acquired a long time ago and has allowed me to learn a lot.”


- There are nearly 57,000 observations of plants in the genus Phlox on iNat, check out the most-faved ones!

Ingresado el 08 de febrero de 2022 por tiwane tiwane | 14 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de febrero de 2022

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Ingresado el 10 de febrero de 2022 por tiwane tiwane | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

16 de febrero de 2022

A New iNat User Posts an Amazing Guatemalan Neckband Snake! - Observation of the Week, 2/15/22

Our Observation of the Week is this Guatemala Neckband Snake (Scaphiodontophis annulatus), seen in Mexico by @perlachuc!

Last February, a few of Perla Chuc’s friends from Mexico City and Chiapas came to visit her in the Mexican state of Tabasco, near the Guatemalan border. “We planned a field trip to the municipality of Macuspana to try and photograph whatever we could find,” she says.

After walking for a while my companion Leo spotted something moving through the vegetation and saw the Scaphiodontophis annulatus snake. We just had the right time to photograph it, and I only had my cell phone, but I still took one photo. It’s a spectacular species, just too beautiful. It was a good day, my friends and I were satisfied and happy with this new personal record.

While Guatemalan neckband snakes do occur in Guatemala, they obviously range elsewhere and can be found from southern Mexico into Colombia, often in forest leaf litter. They prey mostly on ground skinks (Scincella sp.) as well as other lizards and sometimes frogs, but one was recently observed dining on a Tantilla moesta snake. 

A nature lover since she was a child, Perla (above, with her first salamander) is a biologist with a particular interest in amphibians and other herpetofauna. She’s hoping to study them further while going for a postgraduate degree.

As for iNat, she tells me she’s known about it for a few years

and I used it to confirm records and species distribution or occasional identifications, but I had no real interest in uploading photos. It wasn’t until some friends started using it that I was actually encouraged to do so as well. I created my account and started to upload all the photos I was able to capture from previous years. Yes I was late to iNat, but using the app is now part of my day. Most of all I like to review herpetofauna and see what is new in this group. I love seeing how people get interested in uploading photos, identifying them,  and knowing more about a particular species once they get an identification. This makes us care about the world around us and the living things we share the planet with.

(Perla’s answers were translated from Spanish by @aztekium_tutor and have been lightly edited for clarity. Photo of Perla by Leonardo Ponce.)


- Check out the pattern variability of Guatemalan Neckband Snakes on iNat! 

Ingresado el 16 de febrero de 2022 por tiwane tiwane | 13 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de febrero de 2022

A Botanist in Nepal Posts a Prickly Blue Poppy - Observation of the Week, 2/22/22

Our Observation of the Week is this Prickly Blue Poppy (Meconopsis horridula), seen in Nepal by @suresh_ghimire.

Professor Suresh Ghimire tells me he was born in the Tarai region of Nepal, and

The western Tarai region of Nepal at that time was densely forested, impenetrable and teeming with flora and fauna; but in the1970s, the then His Majesty’s Government of Nepal implemented a resettlement program for people coming from mountains. My father was one of the employees of the program in western Tarai, where we witnessed the pristine forests, the diversity of flora and fauna, and the ways how forests were later cleared for human settlement. I was also greatly inspired by my father who was very passionate about nature, particularly interested in birds and mammals. He was also a great storyteller who wrote poems portraying love and affections about nature.

Studying biology while at university, Suresh “studied plant population ecology and ethnoecology, with a dissertation on harvesting practices and conservation ecology of Himalayan medicinal plants” for his PhD and is currently a professor at the Central Department of Botany at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu. He continues to collaborate with traditional Tibetan doctors, known as amchi, and recently published a book “documenting 570 species of medicinal plants used in Tibetan medicine (or Sowa Rigpa) practiced in Nepal.”

So fittingly, the plant documented in this week’s observation is used in traditional medicine, and was seen by Suresh way back in 1999. Working as a botanist for the People and Plants Initiative in collaboration with WWF Nepal and local communities, he studied medicinal plants and traditional ecological knowledge. “Out of about 300 medicinal plant species that we documented, Meconopsis horridula (locally known as ajak tserngön) was one of the most important,” he says, “highly preferred by the amchi for treating bone disorders, fractures, and also in lung and bile disorders.” 

This species is restricted to relatively high elevation in the area, mostly over 4300 m. We had to cross high passes in order to find its better population for ecological study. I discussed with amchi Tengyal Zangpo [above, with Suresh] and village head Chupur Baiji about the possibility of their participation in the field trip. In late June 1999, with their consent, we decided to cross one of the challenging mountain passes of this area, known as ‘Kagmara La’ (5115 m). This pass lies in a traditional trade route. After three days camping in and around the pass, we came across a very intact population in a steep rocky and scree slope, just within 200 m distance from the pass. We were so happy to find a good population of Meconopsis horridula for sampling. There were also other fascinating alpine species, with high medicinal value, including Saussurea gossipiphora and Nardostachys jatamansi. However, I had already exhausted my film and battery so I could take only a few pictures of these plants. Unfortunately, after a few years, Mr. Chupur Baiji who participated in our 1999 field trip slipped over on the ice near the slope where we took this photograph and died while crossing the pass. I'd like to pay tribute to him for his great help and support.

Prickly blue poppies range from Nepal into China and Myanmar, and according to Suresh they’re “particularly common to the north of the main Himalayan range and in rain-shadow areas. There has been concern in a few places in the northern districts of Nepal where it is occasionally harvested for trade across the northern border to feed the growing Tibetan medicinal industries. However, there is a lack of study to quantify this trade and about the status of its populations across the country.”

A member of iNat since 2019, Suresh (above) tells me

I found iNaturalist to be the best platform for sharing my observations to the world and learning those of others. It makes it easy to network with experts in different fields and may provide opportunities for future collaboration. I am particularly fascinated with plant observations from the Himalayan region shared in this platform, which give me the opportunity to learn about species that I had never seen before. I am also glad to help identify those I am very familiar with. In the course of my field studies, in the central and eastern Himalayas, I have accumulated thousands of plant photographs, many of which are not yet identified. I use iNaturalist not only to share those observations but also use it for future identification.

(Some quotes lightly edited for clarity. Photo of Suresh and Tengyal Zangpo by Chupur Baiji. Photo of Suresh by Bandana Awasthi. )


- You can read Suresh’s entire book about ethnobotany in Nepal for free on Resarch Gate, and also see his other research there as well.

- Check out other beautiful specimens of the genus Meconopsis on iNat!

Ingresado el 23 de febrero de 2022 por tiwane tiwane | 12 comentarios | Deja un comentario