16 de noviembre de 2022

State of Vermont’s Wild Bees Report Assesses Conservation Status for First Time

New report adds 55 species to a conservation watch list

Over 350 wild bee species call Vermont home, but 55 of those species urgently need conservation action. A new report from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE), in collaboration with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD), provides the first comprehensive assessment of Vermont’s bees. The Vermont State of Bees report, released today by biologists working on VCE’s Vermont Atlas of Life, was created using more than 55,000 observations of bees from hundreds of community scientists and biologists across the state.

"Many people are enthusiastic about helping to save bees," said lead author Spencer Hardy. "Our work is now shedding light on which species are in urgent need of conservation action and how we might begin to help their populations."

The team created a watchlist of 55 of the state's most imperiled species based on their restricted ranges, changes in abundance, and the threats they face. These 55 species should be prioritized for conservation work, as they are the most likely to disappear from the state without targeted intervention.

"The important role that pollinators, particularly bees, play in Vermont’s ecology and economy has become better recognized by the public in recent years," said VFWD biologist Mark Ferguson. "This report identifies our more vulnerable bee species and can be the catalyst for developing management strategies to ensure populations remain robust and viable."

Using sophisticated computer modeling techniques, the scientists identified 12 Important Bee Areas, the conservation of which are critical to protecting some of Vermont's most vulnerable bees and valuable bee habitats. Each Important Bee Area meets at least one of several criteria. They may have several specialist bees, regionally rare species, or contain bee habitat that is rare regionally or in Vermont.

The report also contains newly synthesized information about the variety of life history strategies represented in Vermont. One such group of particular importance is the so-called specialist bees —species that only visit a single species, or closely related group, of flowers. Roughly 25% of Vermont’s 352 bee species are considered specialists, and declines in these species are of particular concern.

"The specialists are the picky eaters in the family," said Hardy. "This can make them vulnerable to environmental stressors. However, it also provides an excellent conservation opportunity since many specialists have an uncanny ability to find new populations of their favorite flowers, which we can provide."

Wild bees play a pivotal role in pollinating both wild and crop plants, a critical ecosystem service many people take for granted. The report highlights that native, wild bee species were recorded visiting 438 plant species in Vermont during the Wild Bee Survey. Most people associate Western Honey Bees with pollination, but the report documents more than 170 bee species visiting food crops.

While the domestic Western Honey Bee is important to agriculture and the economy, it can be a source of pathogen spillover to wild bee populations and compete for resources that wild bees need to survive. Collaborative efforts will be required to guard wild bee populations while supporting beekeepers striving for healthy hives.

Among the 350 species included in the report, 65 were only documented for the first time within the last four years during the Vermont Wild Bee Survey.

“The mountain of bee observations from community members, historical museum specimens, and targeted surveys cover the state remarkably well, and our findings suggest we’ve documented most bee species in Vermont," said co-author Michael Hallworth. "However, a few species may have eluded our efforts and possibly occur in the state."

The survey has compiled some of the most likely candidates into a Most Wanted list to help guide motivated community scientists in a quest to find more species.

“Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of people, we’ve learned an incredible amount about the status of wild bees in Vermont,” said Kent McFarland, a co-author and director of the Vermont Atlas of Life. “But it will take strong collaborations between biologists, public agencies, conservation organizations, land owners, land managers, and even beekeepers for us to conserve Vermont’s diverse wild bee fauna effectively now and for future generations.”

If you want to learn more about this report and ask the authors questions, please join us for a webinar on Thursday, November 17, at noon. Please register here to receive the webinar link.

Ingresado el 16 de noviembre de 2022 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de noviembre de 2022

Help Us Help Biodiversity: A Note on Geoprivacy Settings in iNaturalist

Wood Turtle

This time of year, Wood Turtles are slumbering through winter at the bottom of frigid streams and rivers throughout Vermont. This past spring and fall, however, the Vermont Atlas of Life received dozens of reports of Wood Turtles from across the state. Due to its designation as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Vermont, Wood Turtle observations submitted to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist are automatically obscured to protect these turtles from being harassed or illegally collected by unscrupulous people. But sometimes conservationists like us can’t see the locations either.

For example, we share observations each year with the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, which collects data needed to make informed recommendations regarding the state status, state rank, and conservation priorities of Vermont’s reptiles and amphibians. To do this, the atlas requires exact locations of observations. Unfortunately, if we don’t have access to the locations, they cannot be used for conservation.

iNaturalist also places geoprivacy in your hands. You can make make any of your observations obscured or even completely private, if you so choose. However, if you are uploading obscured or private observations, or are uploading observations of rare or threatened species that are automatically obscured, like the Wood Turtle example, it is likely that your observations are not fully contributing to research and conservation.

The default settings of an iNaturalist project like the Vermont Atlas of Life are such that the coordinates of any obscured or private observations actively shared with the project are visible to our team of biologists, but the coordinates of observations passively gathered by the project (any observations that are made within the state of Vermont but the observer is either not a member of the VAL project or didn’t purposely add the observation to the project) are not visible to VAL curators. This means that the coordinates of many important observations of rare and threatened species are hidden, and conservationists and researchers are unable to fully use them. There is a quick fix for this!

If you would like your obscured sightings of rare species or species of conservation concern to be accessible to professional conservationists, biologists, and researchers that work with VAL, go to our  short primer on iNaturalist geoprivacy and learn how you can best set your geoprivacy settings for the Vermont Atlas of Life.

Ingresado el 07 de noviembre de 2022 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de noviembre de 2022

October 2022 Photo-observation of the Month


A Peregrine Falcon stretches and preens, can you spot the metal numbered band on her leg? ©
@ckhunt

Congratulations to @ckhunt for winning the October 2022 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His photo of a banded Peregrine Falcon received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

The Peregrine Falcon is known far and wide as a speed demon, a champion migrant, and a true conservation success story. Those are all reason enough for a stellar image of this charismatic bird of prey to sit alone atop the list of most-faved Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist observations for the month, but this individual Peregrine Falcon is more than meets the eye. Thanks to a keen eye and crisp photos, Vermont iNaturalist-er Craig Hunt was able to learn more about this Peregrine Falcons’ past by documenting and reporting the colored and metal numbered bands on its legs. Things came together piece-by-piece as Craig and other iNaturalist users inspected the bands. The placement of color bands on the left leg revealed that this bird was a female, and the combination of black over green color bands indicated that this was a bird banded in eastern North America. Craig sent his photos and as many of the numbers on the metal band as he could read to the USGS Bird Banding Lab and learned that this Peregrine Falcon was banded as a hatchling alongside three siblings in Lewiston, Maine in May of 2021. In addition to this information, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was even kind enough to send along a photo of the very same Peregrine Falcon on the day she was banded! With this tale in mind, keep an eye out for other banded birds (especially waterfowl and birds of prey, which often have large, colorful, more easily visible bands) and be sure to report any banded bird sightings to the USGS Bird Banding Lab at the link above.


With 12,656 observations submitted by 1,370 observers in October, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Ingresado el 03 de noviembre de 2022 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de octubre de 2022

September 2022 Photo-observation of the Month


A North American Porcupine snacks on fresh fall apples. ©
@ckhunt

Congratulations to @ckhunt for winning the September 2022 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His photo of a North American Porcupine munching on fallen apples received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

While porcupines are famous for their fondness for salty snacks, often gnawing on axe handles and work gloves and other salt-infused items around people’s homes, they certainly have a sweet tooth as well! The harvest season is as bountiful for wild animals as it is for farmers, and falling apples provide food for everything from deer to porcupines to yellowjackets. Craig’s photo of this porcupine enjoying a fresh apple shows off two features that are often difficult to view on a porcupine. The subtle transition from defensive spines on the back to soft hairs on the face and underbelly are easy to spot in this photo, as are the long, sharp claws shown clutching an apple here that are also used to climb thick-barked trees with ease. Porcupines, for good reason, are often a difficult species to appreciate up close, so thank you Craig for providing a glimpse at one of Vermont’s most interesting mammals having a classic fall treat.


With 18,663 observations submitted by 1,716 observers in September, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Ingresado el 05 de octubre de 2022 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de septiembre de 2022

August 2022 Photo-observation of the Month


A Bedstraw Hawkmoth sips nectar from a blooming daylily. ©
@joannerusso

Congratulations to @joannerusso for winning the August 2022 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Her photo of a Bedstraw Hawkmoth visiting a daylily received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

Moths may not be the first thing to come to mind when you hear the word “pollinator”. You might think of bees, or hummingbirds, or butterflies, or even bats! The truth is, moths are terrific pollinators who visit a host of flowers, most often at night. You may be lucky enough to catch some moth pollination action during the daylight as big, showy clearwing moths and other sphinx moths in the family Sphingidae visit meadows and gardens to sip nectar in the sunshine. Vermont moth expert JoAnne Russo captured one of these visits beautifully as this Bedstraw Hawkmoth reveals its showy hind-wings as it wedges itself deep into the blossom of a daylily. Be on the lookout for the hefty caterpillars of this species, which can be abundant in fields and meadows during late-summer. Their dark-olive bodies and bold cream spots are almost as hard to miss as the colorful adult moths!


With 25,634 observations submitted by 1,934 observers in August, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Ingresado el 01 de septiembre de 2022 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de agosto de 2022

July 2022 Photo-observation of the Month


A group of American Mink frolic in a field. ©
@hobiecat

Congratulations to iNaturalist user @hobiecat for winning the July 2022 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Their photo of a playful band of American Mink received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

Vermonters seem to have a particular fondness for the American Mink, as this is the 3rd time the photo-observation of the month contest has been won by a photo of this charismatic species! This series of images, which presumably shows a family of mink, demonstrates how Mink kits will stay with their mother until the fall. During this time they’ll often play together, and this play behavior helps them develop many skills that will be necessary when they head out on their own. Mink are aggressive carnivores seeking out prey on land and in the water. They’ll prey on muskrats, rabbits, small rodents, waterfowl, birds, crayfish, insects, and fish. They’re excellent swimmers which allows them to feed in and along rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. Learn more about Mink and add your observations on iNaturalist Vermont.


With 34.070 observations submitted by 2,056 observers in July, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Ingresado el 05 de agosto de 2022 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de agosto de 2022

Identification Resources for Vermont

Even the most confident naturalists need some help identifying plants, animals, and fungi from time to time. That is why we compiled this list of helpful resources. Whether you want to learn how to recognize Vermont bee species or differentiate between grasses, we are sure that there is a resource waiting to assist you. Can’t find a resource on the topic you’re curious about? Don’t see your favorite guide on our list? Then please send us an email! We are always looking for new suggestions.

See the list with links at https://val.vtecostudies.org/about/identification-resources/.

Ingresado el 03 de agosto de 2022 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

29 de julio de 2022

Join the Vermont Mission Monarch Blitz (July 29- August 7)

The International Monarch Monitoring Blitz invites community scientists from across North America to come together with the shared goal of helping to protect and conserve the beloved and emblematic Monarch butterfly. Data collected by volunteers each year support trinational efforts to better understand the Monarch butterfly’s breeding productivity, range, and timing in North America. Learn more about our Vermont efforts and join the Blitz today at https://val.vtecostudies.org/missions/vermont-mission-monarch-blitz/.

Ingresado el 29 de julio de 2022 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

27 de julio de 2022

Vermont Moth Blitz 2022 (July 23-31)

Explore Vermont's astounding moth diversity! By participating in our annual Moth Blitz - https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/vermont-moth-blitz-2022, you will help the Vermont Moth Atlas develop a better understanding of the moths that call the Green Mountain State home. Over 2,200 moth species have been documented in Vermont with new species being found all the time. Who knows, maybe you will find one! We encourage everyone, from experts to amateur enthusiasts, to find, photograph, and share their moth discoveries with the Vermont Moth Blitz during National Moth Week (July 23th-31th). Can we beat last years' tally? Check it out at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/vermont-moth-blitz-2021. The Vermont Moth Atlas is a project of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies' Vermont Atlas of Life.

Ingresado el 27 de julio de 2022 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

15 de julio de 2022

eButterfly Webinar on July 21st, 4 PM (EST)

Do you want to learn about the latest features released on eButterfly (https://www.e-butterfly.org) such as computer image recognition, a discussion forum, eBLabs, and more? Or maybe to learn how to use eButterfly at its full potential? If so, join our upcoming Webinar on Thursday, July 21st, at 4 PM (EST). Preregister here: https://bit.ly/3IxTUSj

eButterfly Overview
A real-time, online checklist and photo storage program, eButterfly is providing a new way for the butterfly community to report, organize and access information about butterflies in Central and North American and the Caribbean. eButterfly provides rich data sources for basic information on butterfly abundance, distribution, and phenology at a variety of spatial and temporal scales across the region.

eButterfly is maximizing the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of butterfly observations, photographs, and collections made each year by recreational and professional butterfly enthusiasts. With your help, we are amassing one of the largest and fastest growing insect data resources to inform our understanding of ecological and agricultural systems in the region.

Through time, each participant, each observation and photograph, each checklist, and each identification builds the database. eButterfly then shares this treasure trove of butterfly information with a global community of community scientists, educators, students, lepidopterists, conservationists, and land managers. In time, this information will become the foundation for a better understanding of butterfly distribution and population trends across the region.

How Does It Work?
eButterfly documents the presence or absence of species as well as abundance through checklist data. A web-interface engages participants to submit their observations through interactive questions and answers. eButterfly encourages users to participate repeatedly by providing tools to maintain their personal observations and photo records as well as providing tools to enable them to visualize data with interactive maps, graphs, and bar charts. All these features are currently available in English, French and Spanish.

An eButterfly user logs into their account and enters when, where, and how they observed butterflies. Then they are prompted to create a checklist of all butterflies seen or photographed during the outing. eButterfly provides several options for data gathering including transects, area searches, timed searches or even incidental observations. Just like in a museum with specimens, other users and experts help to verify the identity of each observation. Users can even discuss observations and checklists with each other.

Ingresado el 15 de julio de 2022 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

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