Archivos de diario de marzo 2016

02 de marzo de 2016

Observation of the Week, 3/1/2016

This Snow King Pleco seen by elliot403 in Florida is our Observation of the Week.

It was Ray-finned Fishes Week on iNaturalist last week, and elliot403 posted this huge Snow King Pleco catfish, which he managed to catch barehanded!

Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, Elliot Lindsay explored his backyard to look for “bugs and other creepy crawlies,” and spent time fishing and playing in the woods and in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. His love for the outdoors, and especially fish and riparian zones, never left him, and he’s focused on “native salmonid conservation, and bioengineering and riparian enhancement” nowadays, although he also has several years of experience working in the aquarium trade.

It was this experience that helped Elliot recognize a plecostomus catfish while he was vacationing in Florida. He spotted it in the dark, feeding on plants, and says “I came by later on with a flashlight and was able to catch it with my hands, I was really excited, being from chilly Canada it seemed surreal to see a plecostomus living anywhere other than a fish tank.”

The aquarium trade is the likely reason that Snow King Plecos and their plecostamus brethren have now become naturalized in Florida waterways and in many places around the world. Originally from South and Central America, these fish belong to the Loricariidae family of bony-plated catfish, and are commonly put in aquariums to clean algae from the rocks and substrate. However, these fish can quickly grow large (up to 24” (61 cm) in length) and are often released into the wild by overwhelmed aquarists. In places where they have introduced, plecostomus catfish can compete with native fish for food and resources, and they also dig burrows in embankments, which can possibly create more erosion and silting issues. In Florida they have also been observed cleaning algae from the skin of manatees - as of now it is unknown what affect this has on the manatees.

Elliot is a recent member of the iNaturalist community and says “using iNaturalist has furthered my data collection/mapping obsession, I love being able to browse around and see what people are finding in the city and in rural areas.” He plans on adding many more observations, especially fish, invertebrates and plants, once spring returns in Canada.

- by Tony Iwane

- Have you seen an invasive catfish in US waters? There’s an iNaturalist project for that.

Publicado el marzo 2, 2016 06:38 MAÑANA por tiwane tiwane | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

iNaturalist Video

Just wanted to share a video I made for iNat to help get folks interested in iNat and the upcoming National Parks BioBlitz. @danielled83 is in it and look for a cameo from @robberfly! Some footage in the "grid" section was shot by Winn Brewer of Nat Geo.

Observe Nature with iNaturalist from iNaturalist on Vimeo.

Publicado el marzo 2, 2016 06:47 MAÑANA por tiwane tiwane | 8 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de marzo de 2016

Observation of the Week, 3/9/16

This Zombie Ant Fungus seen by jonathan_kolby in Cusuco National Park, Honduras is our Observation of the Week.

“I was walking down the trail, in pursuit of a frog, when this alien-like creature suddenly grabbed my attention out of the corner of my eye,” says National Geographic Explorer Jonathan Kolby. “This was the first time I had ever seen cordyceps fungus and didn’t know what it was at the time.” What he photographed (identified by Prof. David Hughes of Penn State), is likely the incredible fungus known as the Zombie Ant Fungus, which parasitizes its insect host and basically controls its brain. The host is often compelled to climb up the stem of a plant and uses its mandibles to latch onto it (known as the “death grip”). Fruiting bodies of the fungus eventually grow out of the host and release spores back into the forest. “After seeing this in person, I don’t think anyone would argue that nature is more amazing than the best sci-fi movie,” he says. “I now keep my eyes peeled every time I return to the forest to see if I can find another zombie insect! Just a few weeks ago, I found another one, this time of a moth (see below).”

(By the way, the BBC has incredible footage of an ant afflicted by Zombie Ant Fungus, you should definitely check it out.)

It is, however, another fungus which brings Jonathan to the rainforests of Honduras - Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, commonly known as chytrid. It and the newly discovered B. salamandrivorans cause the disease chytridiomycosis, which is devastating amphibian populations around the world. The fungus does its damage by affecting the keratin-producing layer of skin in amphibians, disrupting electrolyte balance and chemical flow, “and ultimately kills the amphibian by causing a little froggy heart attack,” says Jonathan. For the past 10 years, Jonathan has specifically been working to combat the global amphibian extinction crisis and recently established the Honduras Amphibian Research & Conservation Center (, where they are working to protect three endangered species of frogs from chytrid. He’ll be finishing up his PhD at James Cook University in Australia and “now wants to help develop policies to protect biodiversity from emerging infectious diseases, reduce the spread of invasive species, and combat the illegal wildlife trade.” 

Believing  that photography and social media are important for raising awareness about these issues, Jonathan is active on many social media outlets (see below) one of which is iNaturalist. In addition to adding his own observations, he created an iNaturalist Project called Saving Salamanders with Citizen Science, where he’s asking folks to upload any photos they have of dead salamanders. “A new chytrid fungus disease [B. salamandrivorans] is beginning to spread around the world killing salamanders and we’re having a hard time tracking where it’s going,” he says. “With so many people outside looking at nature, anyone who snaps a picture of a dead salamander can provide valuable scientific data that might help us pinpoint where an outbreak is happening, so we can respond as quickly and efficiently as possible.” He invites anyone who’s interested in the issue to join, as he’ll be providing updates via the project; “iNaturalist has provided me with a way to communicate this message and raise awareness with a large audience of people who want to help protect nature.”

- by Tony Iwane

- You can follow Jonathan on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram, and check out his photos on SmugMug. Proceeds from SmugMug sales go to supporting his frog rescue operation at the Honduras Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Center.

- Here are links to two other cordyceps observations Jonathan has uploaded.

- Cordyceps fungus have even inspired video games! The acclaimed survival horror video game The Last of Us posits a world where a mutant strain of cordyceps affects humans, turning them into cannibalistic monsters. 

Publicado el marzo 9, 2016 04:43 TARDE por tiwane tiwane | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

16 de marzo de 2016

Observation of the Week, 3/16/16

This larval Elopiform seen in Texas by saraj is our Observation of the Week!

Sara Jose is the Recreation Coordinator at the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve & Learning Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the Learning Center itself will be opening to the public this week. She and her colleagues, including iNat user @justinquintanilla were using a seine net to catch fish and other organisms for the Learning Center’s freshwater tank, “meant to highlight our local freshwater species.” (They have an Educational Display Permit to do so.) After collecting specimens of interest for the tank, Sara and a park technician were returning stranded fish to the water when this tiny, transparent larval fish caught her eye - she thought it could be a larval eel. “I recently attended the Texas Academy of Science conference and knew that researchers in the central part of the state were beginning to do eel research, specifically larval eels and were hoping people in coastal areas would begin contributing sightings.” After taking some photos, she returned the larva to the water.

Once Sara posted her photo on iNaturalist, Dr. John Friel (@friel on iNaturalist), Director of the Alabama Museum of Natural History, was able to help her ID it as an Elopiform, which he says includes “ tarpons, tenpounders and ladyfishes with a total of 9 species worldwide…[they] are closely related to bonefishes, halosaurs, and true eels, and evidence for this includes the fact that all these fishes have a unique larval form known as a leptocephalus.”

So what the heck is a leptocephalus? Leptocephali are the larvae of Elopomorpha, and are transparent due to their insides consisting of clear, jelly-like substances, and due to their lack of red blood cells. They won’t gain red blood cells until they enter the “glass eel” stage of metamorphosis. Oh, and at this point they lose the sharp fang-like teeth they have has leptocephali.

The aquatic world is where Sara got her start in science and studied marine biology in college, intending to do research. However, she says that “by the end of my four years I realized that I enjoyed sharing science with the public more than spending time in the lab. I began learning more about local, native species as I took environmental education jobs that required me to share this information with the public.”

Sara found out about iNaturalist through her colleague Colleen Simpson (@colleenm on iNaturalist) and together they started a project to document the life of the Oso Bay Wetlands. Colleen has taught iNaturalist to educators in Texas, and Sara plans to incorporate it into public programs at the Learning Center there. “iNaturalist has encouraged me to look for more ‘small stuff’ on the trails,” she says. “Since I know that the members of iNaturalist can help me ID insects, bugs, and flowers I am more inclined to pause and check out those life forms these days.”

- by Tony Iwane

- Here are two awesome videos of leptocephali swimming - one a presumed moray larva off of Bali, and the other an ophichthid with green chromatophores, swimming off of Hawaii.

- Photos of leptocephali were also used as part of a “scary” meme, which purported them to be giant water parasites

- Sara is a Windows Phone owner, and while there is no official iPhone app for Windows Phone, iNat user @coachbenson created the iNaturalist Observer app for Windows Phone. It’s a cool use of our open API.

Publicado el marzo 16, 2016 04:30 TARDE por tiwane tiwane | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de marzo de 2016

Observation of the Week, 3/23/16

This Stegodyphus tibialis spider seen by vipinbaliga outside of Bangalore, India, is our Observation of the Week!

Not only is this gorgeous male Stegodyphus tibialis the first one posted on iNaturalist, Vipin Baliga found and photographed it under pressure and in front of a crowd! He spotted the spider while waiting for a bus outside of Bangalore. “The bus i was waiting for would reach any minute,” he writes. “If i miss it, I would have to wait for at least 3 hours for the next one. With this in mind I quickly got my camera out and started photographing this fast little spider from every angle possible.”

As Vipin followed the spider, which was a “nightmare to photograph,” he began to draw a crowd. Taking the spider in hand so it wouldn’t be stepped on, he had to “answer all the curious questions from the watching audience while holding my breath, trying to get the focus right and frame well.” After he safely released the spider, the bus soon arrived and Vipin says “the bus journey turned into a Q&A session. The interested students and local people taking a closer look at the pictures, asking all kinda questions, narrating their version of spider stories, etc.” A wonderful example of interest in nature sparking a conversation between strangers.

The spider was identified on iNaturalist by Vijay Barve, who coordinates DiversityIndia - which “started as a Yahoo group for Butterflies of India in 2001 and then expanded to other groups of taxa and Social Networks as well as now specialized portals like iNaturalist and Indian Biodiversity Portal.” His SpiderIndia project on iNaturalist has nearly 600 observations!

Siddarth Kulkarni is a spider expert who helps SpiderIndia with identifications, and he was kind enough to give me some information on this particular species. He says that S. tibialis has been recorded in India, Myanmar, Thailand and China, and that “they are mostly known to construct solitary webs on thorny plants...Phanuel (1963) records that these webs are generally kept clean than other Stegodyphus species with all prey bodies dumped in a corner of web.” And fascinatingly, “young ones of S.tibialis are reportedly known to feed upon their mother,” which is a trait found in other Velvet Spiders (Family Eresidae). In fact, mothers in the Stegodyphus genus have been known to liquefy their own insides (!) to aid in this, as spiders can only eat liquid food.

As for Vipin, his spider story session with kids on the bus is similar to his own childhood, when he was an avid bug catcher, pretending each of his captured fireflies was a “magical bulb.” On weekends he currently works for Bangalore-based NGO Wildlife Conservation Group (WCG), which is “actively executing independent conservation programs, assisting the Forest Department in their activities and conducting nature awareness programs for kids in the forest fringes.”

An avid nature photographer, Vipin says his archive of wildlife photos is “meaningless” just sitting on his hard drive. Therefore, “I use iNaturalist to give a purpose to my pictures, to share them with the scientific community minded people.”

- by Tony Iwane

- He also shot a video of the spider running, and a close-up of it cleaning its legs.

- You can check out more of Vipin’s awesome nature photos on Flickr.

- Here’s a detailed description of matriphagy (yes, matriphagy) in Stegodyphus lineatus spiders.

Publicado el marzo 23, 2016 05:40 TARDE por tiwane tiwane | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario