Archivos de diario de julio 2020

01 de julio de 2020

June 2020 Photo-observation of the Month

Congratulation to Charlotte Bill for winning the June 2020 Photo-observation of the Month. Charlotte discovered the cocoon on April 28 and was fortunate enough to see the Cecropia Moth emerged on June 5th. With more than 21,000 photo-observations submitted by 1,505 observers this month, it was extremely competitive. Click on the image to see and explore all of the amazing photo-observations.

This richly colored, nocturnal beauty is North America’s largest silkmoth. Zadock Thompson, Vermont’s first naturalist, described this species in Vermont as a “butterfly” when he found a cocoon in March 1840 in a “pine plain” in Burlington and watched it eclose in captivity. Females release an airborne pheromone that is capable of attracting males from miles away. Mating occurs during the early morning hours after midnight. Females lay rows of 2-6 eggs on both sides of the leaves of small host trees or shrubs. Eggs hatch in 10-14 days. Young caterpillars feed in groups on leaves; older caterpillars are solitary. The cocoon is attached along its full length to a twig; to escape predation by rodents and birds, the cocoon is usually constructed in a dark, protected area.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fav’ 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!

Publicado el julio 1, 2020 02:57 TARDE por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

02 de julio de 2020

The Bees of July

As June fades into July, summer strengthens its grip on the landscape, bringing with it sweltering days and billowing thunderheads. It also means increased bee activity after a month with relatively little. In terms of diversity of genera, July may be the best month for bee watching in Vermont. In fact, all approximately 35 genera are likely flying this month. And unlike April and May, there are numerous species that are identifiable from photos, so there’s lots to look for!

You can read the full article and learn more about the bees that are active in July on the Vermont Atlas of Life website.

Publicado el julio 2, 2020 02:17 TARDE por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de julio de 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: Navigating Suggested Identifications

I forgot that July is one of my favorite months. I realized it as soon as I saw the doe with her delicate, spindle-legged fawn nibbling the long grass along the forested edge of my backyard. I remember a similar pair appearing around this same time last year, their footsteps careful and eyes wide as they paced through the short grass. I had seen evidence for weeks—cropped jewelweed near the stairs, angled prints in the soft soil along the garden’s perimeter—however, I had not laid eyes on them until recently. They must have heard the door open because by the time I was fully outside, they were nervously stepping into the shaded tangle of vines and limbs.

After a long dry spell, the forest has come back to life. Plants that were lingering, parched, now are vibrant. In the tangle of thorns and leaves underneath the back porch, Black Raspberries are creeping into view, fruits turning from white to rose pink and soon to inky purple. To me, July feels like a full expression of life in the Northeast. If you’re wondering what you can expect to see in July, check out this month’s Field Guide and Bees of July for some ideas.

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

Sometimes the ability of iNaturalist software to guess a species’ identification for us seems like magic. How did it know that the animal in the photo was more likely to be a Gray Squirrel than an American Mink? If we journey backwards a couple months through the Tech Tip Tuesday archives, you might remember that I wrote a piece about how iNaturalist uses a type of artificial intelligence (AI) called “computer vision” that is trained to recognize features in a photograph that help distinguish one species from another. Thanks to this technology, you can often get fairly accurate suggested identifications that help you better understand the plant, animal, or fungi that you’re seeing in the field.

The key phrase in that last sentence is “suggested identifications”. While it can be tempting to select the top species, genus, or family recommended, it’s important to think through a recommendation before choosing it. Although the AI often gets identifications correct, especially for frequently submitted species, it isn’t right 100% of the time. In some cases, it may provide incorrect suggestions, either because the photograph wasn’t clear, the species isn’t very common, or can’t be identified from a photo alone. But, don’t despair—think of this as a learning opportunity! By exploring the suggested species, you will learn features that will help you make your own identifications and you will become more familiar with other organisms that you might encounter in the future.

So, what should you look at when deciding whether a certain species, genus, or family might be a good fit?

  1. Think about it—one of the first things you can do to rule out an incorrect suggestion is to take a moment and consider the species on the list. Are any of them species you recognize and, if so, are they wildly out of place? Or, if you don’t recognize them is there anything in their name that might give you pause? Sometimes, the AI will suggest species from a completely different continent. If you’re in Williston and it’s suggesting a Springbok, I would say there’s a 99.5% chance that it’s wrong (about that last 0.5%—hey, you never know).
  2. Compare the photos—sometimes you can quickly tell that a suggestion is wrong by looking at the pictures for the suggested species, genus, or family. This can easily be done when uploading either by clicking on the two arrows next to the suggestion in the app or by clicking on “view” next to the suggestion on the computer. You may not always be able to say that a suggestion is incorrect based on the photos—sometimes species have multiple color morphs, like the Asian Lady Beetle. However, if you aren’t seeing any photos that look similar to your observation, it’s definitely a reason to pause before selecting it.
  3. Look for “visually similar/seen nearby”—when looking over the list of suggested species, it’s important to pay attention to which species are considered “visually similar and seen nearby” (this appears below the species’ name). This can help when deciding between two species who look fairly similar—if one is visually similar and one is both visually similar and seen nearby, chances are good that it’s the second one.
  4. Check the species’ distribution—besides relying on “seen nearby”, you can also find the suggested species on a map and see how your observation compares to the species’ range. If the suggested species doesn’t seem present in your area then chances are good that it isn’t correct. However, in some cases, a species may appear outside of its range, either as an introduced species or a misplaced migrant. If you believe that this is the case, choose the genus or family and add a comment asking for others’ input before selecting the species.
  5. Learn more—if you haven’t been able to rule in or out a suggestion by using the previous steps, take some time to learn more about a suggested species, genus, or family. Develop a better understanding of what conditions it needs to survive in an area, where it’s usually found, and if there are any key features to look for.

Sometimes, you can improve the suggestions by either improving your photo (if your observation is still nearby) or selecting a different photo. Many people don’t realize that, although you can upload multiple photos at once, iNaturalist only looks at the first photo to make its suggestions. So, if your first photo of a tree is the bark and it isn’t yielding any accurate suggestions, try choosing a leaf photo for the first picture. However, it’s still important to include the bark because it will help other users to confirm or contradict the identification.

There are also some species that the AI can’t recognize because there aren’t enough observations available for training. If this happens, other users will likely be able to help provide a more specific identification after you have uploaded the observation. In some instances, a definitive, species-level identification may not be possible. Some species’ identifying features are not visible in an ordinary picture and may require a microscope or a behavioral observation. If you’re unable to select a suggestion, it’s perfectly fine (and encouraged) to pick a broader category, such as “bird” or “fern”, or “animal” or “plant”. Other users will then find these observations and help narrow them down.

TTT Task of the Week

This week, take some time to evaluate suggested identifications before selecting them, if that’s not something you already do. Take some time to look up additional information about the suggested species, paying close attention to their ranges’ and life history traits that may help indicate a correct or incorrect suggestion.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity, stay safe, and happy observing!

P.S. If you want to learn more about how computer vision works, check out these two articles:

Publicado el julio 7, 2020 06:08 TARDE por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

14 de julio de 2020

Join the Vermont Moth Blitz During National Moth Week July 18-26

National Moth Week celebrates the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths. “Moth-ers” of all ages and abilities are encouraged to learn about, observe, and document moths in their backyards, parks, and neighborhoods. Held worldwide every July, National Moth Week offers everyone, everywhere a unique opportunity to become a citizen scientist and contribute information about moths. You can help map moth species distribution. Just find a moth, snap a photo, and add it to the Vermont Moth Blitz project on iNaturalist!

How many species can we find during moth week?

Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark. Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them. Check out this short introduction on how to start mothing. It's easy and fun!

Thanks to the tireless efforts of both professional and amateur Lepidopterists, since the 1995 landmark publication Moths and Butterflies of Vermont: A Faunal Checklist, over 400 new moth species have been found in Vermont. Preliminary results show us that there are now 1,903 species of moths known from Vermont. And, there are likely more awaiting our discovery.

Since 2013, professional biologists and naturalists have contributed moth observations to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Many of us turn on special lights in our backyards on summer nights to find hundreds of moths and other insects gathering on our sheets, hunt fields and forest for day-flying moths, and place rotten fruit bait out to attract other moths. Many of these moths can be identified from good photographs (although some are impossible without examination under a microscope). With today’s amazing digital photography technology, coupled with the newer Peterson’s Field Guide to Northeastern Moths and web sites like iNaturalist, BugGuideMoth Photographers Group, or Moths of Eastern North America Facebook Group, moth watching (aka mothing) has become increasingly popular.

Moth watchers have added more than 100 new species to the Vermont faunal list via iNaturalist and have documented over 1,450 species across the state. What’s even more amazing is that together we’ve recorded over 60,000 moth observations, which help us understand their phenology, habitat use and range in Vermont like never before.

Discover and share which moths are flying in your neighborhood during National Moth Week!

Publicado el julio 14, 2020 06:21 TARDE por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

21 de julio de 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: Joining Projects

And just like that, July is over halfway done. I’ll admit, I’ve lost track of the summer days passing while waiting for each scorching heat wave to end. This summer is less busy than others in past years, providing lots of opportunities to nature watch from my back porch. From my vantage point, I can often observe the movements of chipmunks and deer in the forest without alarming them. I’ve also become more aware of the Black-capped Chickadee alarm calls that point the way towards a Barred Owl, hawk, or other predator nearby. Gaining this deeper acquaintance with the nature surrounding my home has been one small gift to come out of the chaos.

I hope that you have also found your knowledge of the nature around you deepen. If you still have more exploring to do, the good news is that summer isn’t over yet! August is just around the corner with all the sights and sounds that late summer brings. And it doesn’t take a backyard or unlimited wild spaces to enjoy them either—the tree along your street, your neighborhood park, or even a patch of grass growing next to the side walk all provide spaces to learn more about the other species we share this planet with. In the meantime, if you’re looking for some nature exploration inspiration over the next few days, I highly encourage you to take part in the Vermont Moth Blitz 2020!

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

Joining projects and taking part in bioblitzes is a great way to take your iNaturalist use to the next level. Besides providing a place to contribute your observations to a larger collection of information, getting involved with projects is also a great way to connect with a community whose interests are similar to yours. Whether you enjoy documenting cool tracks, the plants in your local town forest, or the animals that visit your backyard, there’s a project out there for you!

First, I recommend spending some time browsing through different projects. You can find the projects page by going to the dropdown menu under “Community” and selecting “Projects”. You can look over the “featured”, “recently active”, and “recently created” projects, or look for others in your interest areas in the search bar.

Once you find a project that interests you, it’s a good idea to officially join it. While you can often contribute to projects without joining, becoming a member will allow you to receive project updates, such as notifications when new blog posts are shared. In some cases, joining the project will allow the project curators (the iNaturalist users running the project) to see your observations’ exact locations. This comes in handy later when they are using the data collected by the project to conduct studies and develop a better understanding of the region. There is no limit on the number of projects you can join and you can leave them any time you want.

To join a project, click on the project that interests you. Once on the project page, you will see text in the top right corner above the project banner that says “Join this project”—click on that. On the next page, you should see the project’s description and below that a list of the curators. Looking further down, you will see a list of project rules. These are the requirements for adding observations to the project. Any observations that don’t meet one of these requirements won’t be accepted to the project. If you continue on, the final section is “Other”. Here, you can select whether you want to receive project updates, like notifications about new blog posts, and whether you want to make private/obscured observation coordinates viewable by the curator(s). As I mentioned above, you should consider changing the privacy settings, since they will allow the project curators to use the observations as data more easily. Once you’re all set, click “Yes, I want to join”.

And that’s it! Occasionally, you may run into an issue where you either can’t add your observation to a project or it doesn’t appear in the project. This could be for a couple reasons. You may not be able to add your observation if the project you’re trying to add to is a collection project. There are different types of projects. Collection projects are the most common type and don’t actually store observations—they simply act as a filtered search. If you go to the project’s page, you should be able to find your observation there by clicking on “View Yours”. In other instances, your observation won’t appear in a project if either the accuracy circle or obscuration box fall outside the project’s place boundaries. Sometimes, you may be unable to add an observation if other rules aren’t followed. For example, if you’re adding an observation to a project like a bioblitz that has specific date requirements, you won’t be able to add observations made outside that date range. So, if you’re trying to add an observation that was made in March, but uploaded in May, to a project that only wants observations from May, you won’t be able to add the observation.

These are just a couple examples of issues you may encounter when uploading observations. If you run into other problems, I recommend searching in the iNaturalist forum to see if other users have encountered a similar issue. Chances are someone else has had a similar experience and will be able to give you some pointers.

TTT Task of the Week

This week, take some time to explore the projects page. If you come across a project that sounds interesting, join it! Keep in mind the potential problems and, when you can’t find an answer, remember that you can always ask for help in the forum!

That’s all for this week. Thanks for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity, stay safe, and happy observing!

Publicado el julio 21, 2020 08:55 TARDE por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

27 de julio de 2020

Join the International Monarch Monitoring Blitz!

Few insects rival the Monarch when it comes to iconic North American pollinators. With their striking colors, widespread distribution, and dramatic migrations, it’s easy to understand why. However, these beloved butterflies may face an uncertain future—eastern migratory populations have declined by more than 80% in the last 20 years. Conserving them requires international cooperation and a better understanding of how populations are distributed within the Monarch’s breeding range.

You can help gather information by joining thousands of volunteers in Canada, Mexico and the United States, from July 24 to August 2, 2020 for the 4th annual International Monarch Monitoring Blitz! With limited ability to do field work due to COVID-19 restrictions, researchers need your observations now more than ever.

To take part in the Blitz, submit your data to Mission Monarch:

You can learn more on the Vermont Atlas of Life newsfeed:

Publicado el julio 27, 2020 07:43 TARDE por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

30 de julio de 2020

August Bees to Find

While July might have been the best month for bee diversity, August brings the best chance for rare species that can be identified from photos. In addition to the many fall specialists, there are numerous kleptoparasitic species active right now (in the genera Epeolus, Triepeolus, Nomada, and Coelioxys). Look for stout bees with white or yellow bands on the abdomen. Many of the fall composites (sunflowers, goldenrod, asters, etc) are starting to bloom and should be productive through September. There is an abundant and diverse group of goldenrod and aster specialists including members of ColletesAndrena, Pseudopanurgus, Melissodes and Perdita.

Among the most wanted species for the state is Paranthidium jugatorium, an uncommon native sunflower specialist that has been photographed just a few miles over the NY border.

And if you are lucky enough to have a fen near your house, late August is the beginning of the bloom for Fen Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia glauca) which is the host plant for another rare bee - Andrena parnassiae.

Finally, here are a few plants from previous months that should still be blooming:

Thistles (especially the large flowered species) - Thistle Long-horned Bee (Melissodes despondus) which is relatively common, at least in the Champlain Valley. Also Osmia texana which is known from only one record (Centennial Woods in 1979).

Native Loosestrifes (primarily Whorled and Fringed) - host to the rare genus of Oil-Collecting Bees (Macropis) found in Williston and Addison last summer (after many hours of searching). So far in 2020 we have added records for West Haven and Springfield.

Pickerelweed - Two specialists in Vermont: Dufourea novaeangliae which is widespread and common, and Melissodes apicatus found last year in the larger marshes of Chittenden County.
Evening Primroses (Oenothera) - Lasioglossum oenotherae a relatively large Lasioglossum with large ocelli for flying at low light when primroses are blooming.

Physalis - Host to two Colletes, 1 Perdita, and 1 Lasioglossum. At least three of these bees have been found on cultivated tomatillos and ground cherries in VT, so might be in your garden!

Publicado el julio 30, 2020 06:33 TARDE por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario