Bogus Run Corridor's Journal

January 24, 2022

Species at the Edge

I've been thinking about species I've found in the Bogus Run Corridor project area that are at or near the edge of their range. Are there any patterns?

Here's a hypothesis -- and I'm just putting it here to memorialize it. I'm not sure if there's anything to it at all.

Species that are at the south edge of their range (i.e. are mostly more northerly, esp. more north and east) are found here in hyrdric habitats. Species at the north edge of their range (i.e. are mostly more southerly, esp. more south and west) are found here in xeric habitats.

Now, at some point I would need to pick out, say, twenty or so species that are at the edge of their range - at least as mapped in iNat, and then see if this holds up.

Posted on January 24, 2022 04:35 PM by martinlucas martinlucas | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 07, 2021

A New Year

It's 2021 and I'm thinking about my iNat goals for the upcoming season.

My primary goal for this season's field play (I can't honestly call it work) is to delve into area where I haven't documented much. These include:

  1. Using UV lights in remote parts of the property, especially the sand prairie of the south tract and the Bogus Run bottoms and associated uplands. My goal is at least four evenings of documentation total, and at least two from both of these key locations. I've acquired a small Jeep to help do this, but still need to figure out battery power for running the lights. June-August seem the most promising times.
  2. Documenting common fish by collecting them with traps, hook and line, and maybe by net. I'm particularly interested in fish in Hook Creek. I want to collect (photograph, measure and release) at least three times, including at least once on the Lower Bogus, once on the Lower Hook and once on the Upper Hook. May-July seem the most promising times. If I get some crawfish, etc. all the better.
  3. Lower on my priority list - but still I'm hopeful to spend a bit more time in under-visited portions of the property. The woods on the cabin tract and south of 700S probably have more to offer.
  4. I'd like to do more video and audio recording, but not at the expense of the efforts listed above.
  5. Successfully photographing smaller pollinators is another goal but tends to be frustrating. I may need to alter my tactics a bit (extension tube? lights?)

We'll see how I do!

Posted on April 07, 2021 04:18 PM by martinlucas martinlucas | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 03, 2020

Maps, Dates

It's been awhile since I made a blog post. I don't think anybody reads them, so really they are an open notebook. Here are some things I've learned since last I posted.

  1. Mapping observations is quite helpful. I noticed some conspicuous holes in my observations, and made a point to get to those locations and see what I'd been missing. For example, I noticed I hadn't logged any observations from a little sand ridge in the middle of the Lena Park Cabin woods. My trips there were rewarded both with some interesting observations, but also with a sense that this section is one of the less disturbed portions of the property.
  2. Searching "your observations" is a useful practice. Often I photograph something I've observed and recorded previously, but don't remember the exact name. By specifying what I do remember and an approximate season (e.g. "Diptera" and "May or June") it's easy to make a query that generates a manageable list to scan through. For example, when I photographed an unfamiliar potter wasp this spring, I wondered if it was from a genus I hadn't previously recorded. Looking at the list of all potter wasps I'd observed in May and June, it was quickly obvious that it was a new genus for me, and after some looking I concluded it was Symmorpha. I tagged Heather Holm, and she was able to get it to species - Symmorpha canadensis. Not just new for me, but the first for Indiana.

So I'm still pretty much smitten by the iNat interface. All for now.

Posted on June 03, 2020 06:19 PM by martinlucas martinlucas | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 11, 2018

Format Upgrade

The Bogus Run Corridor Project is now an iNat "Collection Project". The transformation uses all of the previously entered photos, recordings and data, but presents it in a more sophisticated way.

Also, we've changed our logo. It's one of the characteristic wasps from our sand prairie, Cerceris intricata.

If you see anything amiss, please let us know.

Posted on June 11, 2018 01:43 PM by martinlucas martinlucas | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 16, 2018

What to Post?

This spring, my sister Donna joined the Bogus Run Corridor Project in earnest – so far she’s been concentrating on documenting birds; but also insects and amphibians. She’s already contributed some interesting observations and some really outstanding photos. She recently got several beautiful photos using her new telephoto while standing in a few inches of water at Lena Park Marsh – an experience she says she likes because, “no ticks!”. That’s a pretty good reason.

At dinner a couple of days ago she asked me for my thoughts on what kinds of observations are appropriate to post, especially if the species has previously been documented to the project. What to leave in, and what to leave out – it’s a question that never goes away, but it’s certainly worth thinking about.

To me, the iNaturalist platform seems best used as a notebook or journal. The design makes it easy to capture and preserve observations in an orderly and credible way. When posting photographs, dates and times are captured by the camera, and the images are given a unique identifier. With the addition of the location data, a solid observational data point is preserved.

The observations then become accessible to experts and researchers, and to the interested public as well. This is particularly important when doing a project at a place like the Bogus Run Corridor, where the land is privately owned and far from a major university. Few government or academic researchers venture out here, and many would assume there’s “nothing but corn” and therefore not bother to look. It’s like the part of an old nautical map labelled “dragons be here”. They might be – nobody really looked.

The mission statement of the Bogus Run Corridor project is:

To build an orderly, usable and attractive overview of some of the highlights of the flora and fauna in the Bogus Run corridor in Starke Co. Indiana.

It’s not envisioned as an all-inclusive catalogue of life-forms; it’s intended to document highlights, those deemed interesting in some sense. The orderliness and usability are largely contributed by the iNaturalist platform. But it’s up to the contributors to decide what constitutes an observation that is sufficiently useful, interesting or beautiful to be considered a highlight.

Overall, the project is primarily focused on native flora and fauna and their interactions, and to a lesser extent issues associated with invasive or persistent non-native species that may interfere or degrade the indigenous ecosystem. This native oriented viewpoint is, of course, vulnerable to criticism, but at least I’m acknowledging it.

So, given that POV, the appropriateness of posting an observation intended for the Bogus Run Corridor Project can be analyzed in regards to three criteria: (a) usefulness, (b) interest and (c) beauty.

Useful observations can provide salient data both to us for future reference, and for others doing research on a taxon represented here, or the geographical location or an ecotype represented here. Interesting observations show life stages or interactions, or feature species of particular interest or concern. Beautiful observations are those that are of outstanding technical and aesthetic quality, even if the content has been previously documented or is unremarkable.

Applying these criteria, I came up with a list of observations appropriate for posting as iNaturalist observations:

  • New species photo
  • New species audio
  • New form of species (immature, male and female forms, flowering)
  • New interaction between species (insect and host, predation, parasite and host)
  • Dates establishing the calendar range during which the species is observable (e.g. FOY bird photo)
  • Evidence of reproduction of species on site (nest, fledglings, breeding behavior)
  • Additional observations of species of special interest or concern
  • Observations documenting mortality, especially non-routine mortality
  • Outstanding photo, audio or video captures of previously documented observations
  • Any of the above that was previously documented by another’s observations, but not by yourself

The Bogus Run Corridor Project is not primarily intended to appeal to non-participants, but identifications and confirmations by others is at the core of the iNaturalist architecture. This works better in some areas than in others – birds, butterflies and odes are popular and well known. They usually get quick expert attention. Flies and beetles are another thing entirely – they seem destined for an eternity under the cloud of a “needs ID” tag. And yet these more obscure observations may prove to be of more scientific value -- someday. Also, part of the stated project purpose is to help move the project area into the mainstream of regional natural areas study and preservation. For both of these reasons, we want to measure the pace and quality of our posted observations.

Frequency of posting is another potential issue. Too many posted observations -- particularly too many of poor quality or low interest level -- could result in experts becoming unwilling to invest more time to plow through them. Posting too infrequently could cause a fading of interest too. There’s a sweet spot there somewhere. My thought (with no basis whatsoever) is that two to four per day per observer is a good rule-of-thumb. Saving something for the long nights of winter can be good anyway.

Posted on May 16, 2018 04:46 PM by martinlucas martinlucas | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 13, 2018

The Birds are Back in Town

Spring 2018 was slow to arrive, but it's finally starting to break through. Usually service-berries are in bloom by now, but this year the willows are still only getting started.

My sister Donna has been upgrading her photography equipment, and has kindly loaned me some of her now eclipsed but still excellent gear. One item of particular interest for this project is a Tamron zoom telephoto lens. I've only taken it out twice, but have already gotten some decent photographs -- and though it's a few years old it seems to work well with the Nikon D750. It's rugged too, it doesn't make me too nervous out in the bush.

So I'm going to seize on this opportunity and try to photograph lots of birds this spring, especially neo-tropical migrants. That means I'll likely miss some of the macro action, but it'll be new and exciting for me. When practical, I'll also have a macro on hand, but there's no escaping that I usually pick one setup and quarry to 'focus' on and tend to push other things to the back-burner. In fact, that sense of quiet concentration is one of the things I love about documenting nature through photography.

It's stormy and rough outside today, but that low pressure system is coming in from the south with warm air in front -- and there will be little wings in those winds.

Posted on April 13, 2018 07:27 PM by martinlucas martinlucas | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 05, 2018

Mid Winter Review

In the bleak mid-winter going out into the field isn't appealing, and generally isn't too productive either. But one thing I learned doing archaeology many years ago -- reviewing what's already 'in the bag' can be very productive. Don't get much exercise that way though.

So I've been reviewing my photos, especially from the summers of 2016 and 2017, looking for new things, and in particular trying to make some headway in taxa where I am often stymied -- beetles and flies, for example.

Also, I've started contributing to "Flower-visiting Wasps of the US and Canada", a category that I suspect the Bogus Corridor is particularly rich in. Reviewing my photographs of flower-visiting wasps has resulted in some interesting new information: Palmodes dimidiatus, Poecilopompilus interruptus, Cerceris intricata ssp. graphica, Paracyphononyx funereus, Parazumia symmorpha and Cerceris insolita.

In October, I'd spent some time analyzing my photos of long-legged flies and felt I made some progress, but some of my conclusions have yet to be supported by expert review. The diptera are daunting.

Posted on January 05, 2018 05:07 PM by martinlucas martinlucas | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 02, 2017

So now it's June

It's June 2nd, and I've posted more than 150 distinct organisms.

I'm really happy with the iNaturalist design, it makes photo based observations easy to collect and document.

The "research grade" concept makes sense, but the general lack of expertise out there is a huge weakness. It's easy to get "white oak tree" up to research grade, but that's not too interesting. The more interesting species are rarely approved for RG; there just aren't people with that degree of knowledge who are going to volunteer. I hope the data will still prove useful to well qualified researchers, and believe that it will, so onward.

Wish I had more time to spend in the field in the summer. It goes by too fast, and as one gets older, one become acutely aware that the days of wandering the bush under the summer sun are ticking away, never to return.

Posted on June 02, 2017 04:09 PM by martinlucas martinlucas | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 23, 2017

Launched!

A relatively quiet Thursday morning at my law office was the perfect opportunity to launch the Bogus Run Corridor iNaturalist project.

My goal is to create an orderly collection of observations of flora and fauna on Big Eastern, Inc. properties and on surrounding lands that I believe form a useful conservation zone.

At first, it's photographically oriented, meaning that most observations posted here will be ones with useful photographic evidence, particularly recent photos with dates and times as well as some kind of identification.

It's best characterized as a set of highlights too, at least initially, I'm not interested in documenting non-native species, nor getting into extremely tiny creatures let alone microscopic ones.

I'm excited about the opportunity to put this material in a useable, and hopefully attractive format. An initial goal is 1000 distinct creatures. Species identification is ideal, but I'll do the best I can.

Posted on March 23, 2017 06:13 PM by martinlucas martinlucas | 0 comments | Leave a comment