21 August, 2022

Please participate in a gesture of support for our fellow iNatters in Ukraine

Some Ukrainian iNatters have organized a worldwide bioblitz in honor of Ukraine's Independence Day, on August 24th. Anyone can join and participate, no matter where they are. All you have to do is join the project, and then make observations on the 24th and they will automatically be included: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/independence-day-of-ukraine-2022

It may seem like a small thing, but it really will mean a lot to some of our fellow naturalists who are currently trapped in a horrific war zone.

I will certainly be making observations, and would love it if you can as well.

Posted on 21 August, 2022 21:35 by graysquirrel graysquirrel | 2 comments | Leave a comment

16 August, 2022

Is it "captive" or is it "wild"?

The line on where to mark things captive versus wild has been debated often on the forums, and still seems to cause a lot of confusion. I hope this will clarify matters somewhat.

At the basic level:

Captive = an organism that exists in a place and way that a human intended. Examples would be a potted plant, a household pet, or livestock in a pasture.

Wild = something that lives in a place where humans did not (intentionally) put it. A wild bird, a tree in the forest, a mushroom - these are all obviously wild.

Here's where it gets more complicated, and where a lot of people get confused:
Things growing ON captive things - plant pathogens often get marked as captive because they're growing on a captive plant. But unless you deliberately inoculated your houseplant with powdery mildew fungus to see what it would do, the mildew would be wild. Same goes with unintended organisms in your house or sprouting in your garden bed. These are often particularly important to NOT mark as captive, because they can indicate new outbreaks of diseases or invasive species, and they become hidden from view when marked captive.

Brief captivity - if you capture a bug in a jar so you can take a photo, or pick up a lizard, it is still "wild" - you are still in the spot that you found the creature, and it was at that location on its own. The fact that you have briefly interrupted it doesn't require it to be marked captive.

Samples brought home: Some organisms, such as certain fungi, just can't be identified in the field, or you need access to equipment you don't have with you. If you take a sample home, examine it, photograph it, and upload those photos, (and the specimen hasn't gone through any significant changes since you found it) it should still be considered wild, but you should upload it with the date and location you found it in originally, NOT where you took it to examine.

However, if it has changed substantially - say you found a cocoon in the woods, but when you brought it home and put it in your nice warm house for 2 days, it hatched into a moth - the moth should be considered technically captive, because it was your influence (putting it somewhere warm) that caused it to hatch at a time when it probably wouldn't have otherwise.

Some people take a picture of the cocoon in its original setting, and then add the additional images of the moth to that same observation, with a note about the adults being reared in captivity. Some people prefer to make a second, captive, observation of the adult moth and put a link to that in the cocoon observation. Either approach is fine.

A tree that was planted in landscaping is Captive, but if that tree sheds seeds and those sprout, the new seedlings are "wild". This goes for restoration plantings as well.

Gray areas:
A feral cat is considered "wild" and should be marked as such, while a pet cat is "captive" - even if they're sitting side by side hanging out in the same field. This seems weird, but it's important to know if feral cats can survive independently in an area. Some places might be fine for domestic cats, but cats living on their own outdoors don't survive.

Similarly, a pet dog that got abandoned on a roadside, stayed in that same spot, and eventually died, would be still considered captive - it was exactly where a human had intended it to be. But if that same dog took off running and wound up surviving in the woods a few miles away, it would be "wild".

Escaped pets should generally be considered wild, especially because there's no way of proving that they were pets, or how they got there. An unusual animal wandering around loose in an area should be taken as just that - making assumptions about how it got there doesn't do anybody any favors.

It could be an abandoned pet, or it could be the start of a new population of a non-native species. Or it could be a species known to harbor some disease that might spread to whatever predator snaps it up. But in any case, it's interacting with the rest of the natural environment, and ignoring it would be a mistake.

I do make an exception for "temporary escapees" - stray cattle that wander out of a broken fence, the neighbor's tortoise that gets apprehended halfway down the street, well-cared-for and collared dogs that happen to be currently unsupervised, etc. If it's obvious they were recently captive and will become so again very quickly, I think it's fine to ignore them. But this generally requires some personal knowledge of the area and animals in question, so I'll go with whatever the observer's wish is on those.

Another gray area is garden plants that volunteer from seed year after year, but only in cared-for conditions of a garden bed, and they do not survive outside of that location. There are valid arguments for both sides on that one, and I haven't decided which one I'm in favor of.

Posted on 16 August, 2022 00:52 by graysquirrel graysquirrel | 8 comments | Leave a comment

07 May, 2022

Call for assistance with the Sugarloaf State Park Plant List

Hello folks!

As some of you may already be aware, I've been volunteering with @dlevitis at Sugarloaf State Park in an attempt to build a new plant list for the park.

The current list we have was published over two decades ago, contained only 400 species, and was restricted to only vascular plants. Since that time, the park's boundaries have expanded considerably, adding some interesting new habitats, and it has also burned multiple times resulting in some pretty major vegetation shifts. We're also hoping to add as many mosses, liverworts, and other non-vascular plants to the list as we can, since those appear to have never been surveyed at all.

We have a project for collecting observations taken within the park boundaries. However, species that are considered threatened usually don't get caught by the geographically-based projects since their locations are obscured. We have a second project for manually adding observations of threatened species.

It would be an enormous help if you all could see if you have any relevant observations, and if so, add them to the project. This link should show you any observations that would qualify:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?not_in_project=biodiversity-at-sugarloaf-ridge-state-park&place_id=91302&subview=table&taxon_geoprivacy=obscured&verifiable=any

Other ways you could assist, if you feel so inclined:
Going to the park and helping to fill in some of the gaps in observations:
Test image

Dan (@dlevitis) and I will be going on some expeditions to the more rugged areas of the park in the coming weeks, including some spots not generally accessible to the public - if you're interested in joining in those, please message him.

Identifications, including correcting inaccurate RG observations - if there's a species or genus you're particularly familiar with, it would be great if you could review any observations posted of it and make sure they're correct. Especially for things that have only rarely been recorded in the park.
This will take you to the Identify page for all the plants in the park: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?quality_grade=needs_id%2Cresearch&iconic_taxa=Plantae&verifiable=any&project_id=sugarloaf-ridge-state-park-umbrella-project&place_id=any

So far, we've nearly doubled the number of plants on the list from 400 to about 775! We have set a deadline of the end of June for the "final" list (though we will of course continue to add species to the spreadsheet as we come across them).

We also have a number of species that were listed in the original Bowcutt list or have been mentioned on Calflora or CNPS checklists, which we have been unable to locate so far -or which may have already been observed, but not yet identified (this may be the case with a lot of the grasses, rushes, and sedges, in particular).
If you feel like going on a quest, you could search for:

Agoseris aparagoides var. aparagoides // Seaside Agoseris - I'm skeptical, since this is usually a coastal dune plant. However, an herbarium specimen exists at UC Davis identified as this.
Agrostis capillaris // Colonial bentgrass - notes just say "In grassland"
Agrostis pallens // Seashore bentgrass - "Adobe Canyon N of Sonoma Creek, N of Adobe Canyon Road, at Pony Gate trail juncture."
Allophyllum divaricatum // Purple False Gilia - on a checklist, no herbarium specimens recorded, though there's one from Cavedale Rd not too far away.
Ancistrocarphus filagineus // Woolly Fishhooks - notes say "grassland; disturbed sites"
Aphyllon fasciculatum // Clustered Broomrape - probably actually Aphyllon franciscanum, but we haven't found that species yet either. A fasciculatum tends to parasitize Artemesia species, and A franciscanum has a wider variety of hosts
Aphyllon tuberosum // Chaparral broomrape - Almost certainly exists in the park, but parasitizes chamise roots, so it's hard to find unless you're crawling around in chamise thickets
Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. canescens // Hoary Manzanita - been recorded from Hood Mountain in the north and Cavedale Rd in the south, and mentioned in the Bowcutt list
Arctostaphylos stanfordiana ssp. stanfordiana // Stanford's Manzanita - same as above
Barbarea orthoceras // Wintercress - We have two observations of Barbarea, but they have not been identified to species level and I can't tell if they're B vulgaris or B orthoceras.
Boechera breweri ssp. breweri // Brewer's Rockcress - Reported in Hood Mountain in 1902, and reputedly also found in the McCormick Addition of the park.
Brassica nigra // Black Mustard - on the CNPS checklist, and reported on Hood Mountain as recently as 2021
Brodiaea leptandra // Narrow-flowered California Brodiaea - Willis Jepson and Milo Baker both recorded this from near the mouth of Adobe Canyon, outside of current park boundaries. However, it's certainly possible it could be within the park as well, and it'd be really cool to find if so.
Bromus caroli-henrici - notes say "Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, McCormick Addition, along power line maint. road, directly under power lines, ~ 1 km WSW of NE property boundary at gate". Have not been to the area to look.
Bromus orcuttianus - "At Goodspeed trailhead pullout. On bank edge above Sonoma Creek."
Calamagrostis rubescens - on CNPS checklist, herbarium records from near Trinity Road in the 1940s.
Carex brevicaulis - Somewhere in McCormick Addition?
Carex densa - on Bowcutt's list, "In main campground. Ca. 150 yards south of Sonoma Creek; 1/4 mile NW of confluence with Rattlesnake Creek at toe of Sugarloaf Ridge."
Carex leptopoda - On several CNPS checklists. "Moist woodland along South Fork Santa Rosa Creek"
Carex simulata - On CNPS checklists. "Riparian".
Carex subfusca - Somewhere in McCormick, "Woodland"
Clarkia rhomboidea - reported 1930s, "3 mi w Kenwood; Adobe Canyon, 500 ft elevation, dry ground"
Conium maculatum - reported in 1994, "Just S of Adobe Canyon Road and kiosk, Along ephemeral swale, Wild oat grassland" Hopefully no longer present!
Crepis pleurocarpa - on CNPS checklist for McCormick Addition
Cryptantha muricata - on CNPS checklist, also reported from Hood Mtn in the past
Cymopterus terebinthinus var. californicus
Cynodon dactylon // Bermuda grass - "Adobe Canyon just NW of Sonoma/Rattlesnake Creek confluence"
Cytisus scoparius // Scotch broom - Hopefully no longer present . Single plant found in 1993, along Goodspeed Trail
Delphinium hesperium - several old records in the area, could already be observed and just not correctly identified, buried among the other observations of blue delphiniums from the park.
Didymodon rigidulus - moss. "Along trail near headquarters of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. On seasonally moist, sunny soil among grasses in area of sheet drainage, in grassland with patches of Quercus agrifolia, Baccharis and Umbellularia."
Diplacus congdonii - Serpentine areas, no details.
Diplacus douglasii - same as above
Diplacus kelloggii - same as above
Eleocharis macrostachya - marshy areas?
Erigeron biolettii - on the Bowcutt list, recorded from Mt Hood and from Adobe canyon
Erigeron greenei - Calflora record from 2018 from in park
Eriocoma lemmoni (Stipa lemmoni) - on CNPS checklist, no details
Eriogonum compositum var. compositum - "Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, McCormick Addition, on steep slope above small canyon at sharp U-curve in powerline road, near W park boundary"
Erythranthe microphylla - old record from "Adobe canyon"
Erythranthe moschata - "Near pond"
Festuca elmeri - On Bowcutt's list, "Various habitats" -extremely useful description!
Fragaria vesca // wild strawberry - seriously, there are still zero iNat observations of a strawberry plant ANYWHERE in the park! There's gotta be one out there somewhere.
Fritillaria recurva // scarlet fritillary - found on hood mtn, might be in McCormick area too.
Galium divaricatum // Lamarck's Bedstraw - "Along Meadow trail about 3/4 mile from trailhead. East from trail about 100 yards."
Garrya flavescens - several observations of Garrya from inside the park but none have been identified to species level yet.
Harmonia nutans // Nodding Tarweed - several historical reports around the general area
Juncus nevadensis
Juncus occidentalis
Juncus oxymeris
Lemna minuta - I've found lemna in a bunch of the marshy/damp areas of the park but haven't managed to key any of them out yet.
Linanthus dichotomus ssp. meridianus - "rock outcrop above S fork, near logged grassland"
Lolium arundinaceum (Festuca arundinacea) - herbarium specimen originally reported as Festuca elmeri, but has since been reidentified. Reported in 1993, "At lower camping area, 50 m east of foot bridge."
Lolium multiflorum - possibly actually L perenne?
Lupinus adsurgens - One herbarium record, "near junction of Meadow, Hillside, and Gray Pine Trails, east of bridge across Sonoma Creek"
Lupinus affinis - on a CNPS checklist for the park, but no specimens or specific locations.
Lythrum hyssopifolia - "On Hillside Trail 1 mile from junction with Grey Pine Trail. Ruderal (middle of dirt road) near oak woodland of Quercus agrifolia and Q. kelloggii."
Melica subulata - "Adobe Canyon, campground S of Sonoma Creek about 150 yds. 1/4 mile NW of confluence with Rattlesnake Creek, toe of Sugarloaf Ridge."
Myriopteris gracillima - M intertexta and M covillei have been found, in difficult to reach rocky outcrops. M gracillima is probably out there somewhere as well.
Navarretia leucocephala ssp. leucocephala - Bowcutt only says "In Adobe Canyon"
Olea europaea // Olive - one mention of it in "woodland, lower Vista trail". Possibly a misidentification, or possibly it was killed in the fires?
Oxalis pilosa - On CNPS checklist
Oxalis suksdorfii - Also on CNPS checklist
Paspalum dilatatum - "Entrance to campground in Adobe Canyon." in 1996.
Persicaria amphibia - on CNPS list
Persicaria hydropiper - On CNPS list
Phoradendron villosum // oak mistletoe - Bowcutt reported this species, but the herbarium specimens have been synonymized with Phoradendron leucarpum ssp. tomentosum, in line with Jepson. We have iNat records identified as Phoradendron leucarpum ssp. tomentosum. However, POWO is in disagreement with Jepson, and considers Phoradendron leucarpum ssp. tomentosum to be native to the southeastern US and mexico, while Phoradendron villosum is the California species. So I'm not sure which name to follow or if all reports refer to a single species or not.
Pinus attenuata - on CNPS checklist, no other records
Platanthera elegans - "Brushy peaks trail"
Platanthera elongata - specimen collected from park in 1989, no further location details given
Poa nemoralis - on the park CNPS checklist, but has never been recorded elsewhere in the county and no specimens seem to exist. May be a misidentification.
Polygonum aviculare - reported as "growing in gravel road bed". Probably one of those species nobody bothers to photograph.
Polygonum douglasii - another one from the CNPS checklists with no further details
Polygonum spergulariiforme - somewhere in McCormick Addition
Polypogon interruptus - on CNPS checklist, and herbarium specimen exists from 1885..
Polystichum dudleyi - on CNPS checklist, and records exist for specimens from Hood Mountain and Bouverie.
Prunus emarginata - McCormick somewhere
Pseudognaphalium beneolens - perhaps already recorded and just not identified, who knows
Psilocarphus oregonus - on CNPS list
Pyracantha angustifolia - Possibly eliminated from park. "one plant seen along S fork, Sta. Rosa Cr."
Raphanus sativus - "disturbed grassland"
Ribes inerme - "Campground S of Sonoma Creek approx. 150 yds 1/4 mile NW of confluence with Rattlesnake Creek, toe of Sugarloaf Ridge."
Ribes quercetorum - Supposedly in McCormick, but no observations of this species anywhere else in the region
Ribes victoris - multiple old records, but no specimens collected since 1947.
Robinia pseudoacacia - old homestead sites, may not have survived fires
Rubus leucodermis - on checklists, but no location details given
Sairocarpus virga - on checklists, old records exist from hoot mtn and adobe canyon
Salix breweri - "Sonoma creek canyon" in 1933
Solanum americanum - CNPS checklist
Stebbinsoseris heterocarpa - serpentine areas
Trifolium glomeratum - "Trails, roads"
Trifolium incarnatum - "Disturbed sites"
Trifolium obtusiflorum - "seeps"
Trifolium oliganthum - "grassland; oak woodland, on Hillside Trail."
Trifolium striatum- "Near corral and service area/office. Along trail/old dirt road used for commercial horse rides."
Trillium ovatum - recorded as "Vegetative plant observed in redwood forest". No herbarium specimen, and quite likely was actually a young T albidum, which is common there. Still worth looking for though!
Triphysaria eriantha ssp. eriantha - reportedly collected near the park, might be within as well.
Viola pedunculata - McCormick somewhere
Whipplea modesta - Another one I'm surprised hasn't been observed yet.
Zeltnera davyi - "N-facing flat, old ranch road, S. of S. fk.Sta. Rosa Cr."
Zeltnera trichantha - "0.75 air mile S of Red Mountain, 0.5 air miles NNW of confluence of the Malm Fork, 1.0 air miles WSW of Brushy Peaks."

Some wildcard species that have been found in areas nearish to the park, and would be really cool to find if they exist in the park at all:
Amorpha californica var. napensis // Napa false indigo
Astragalus claranus Clara hunt's milk vetch
Calochortus uniflorus Large flowered star tulip
Hesperolinon clevelandii Allen springs western flax
Leptosiphon acicularis Bristly leptosiphon
Minuartia californica Sandwort
Navarretia heterodoxa Calistoga navarretia
Navarretia pubescens Purple navarretia
Odontostomum hartwegii Hartweg's odontostomum
Packera greenei Flame ragwort
Penstemon newberryi var. sonomensis Sonoma beardtongue
Trichostema ruygtii Napa bluecurls
Viburnum ellipticum Common viburnum
Xerophyllum tenax Beargrass

Posted on 07 May, 2022 05:53 by graysquirrel graysquirrel | 47 comments | Leave a comment

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