Journal archives for April 2019

01 April, 2019

March 2019 Photo-observation of the Month

Congratulations to Kyle Tansley for winning the March 2019 Vermont Atlas of Life iNaturalist photo-observation of the month. The image of a male Northern Cardinal attacking his own reflection garnered the most votes. With nearly 2,000 photo-observations submitted this month, it was competitive. But the action shot showing this annual rite of spring won the most attention.

This time of year, as male songbirds increasingly produce more testosterone, singing and territory defense begins. Some males will repeatedly and aggressively fly at, and even strike, reflective surfaces such as windows and mirrors in attempts to drive away a perceived intruder. This behavior can go on and on throughout the breeding season, potentially injuring the bird. The best course of action is to cover the reflective surface. In the case of car mirrors, carry an old pair of large socks and slip them over the mirrors when you park in an aggressive songbird's territory.

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

Posted on 01 April, 2019 13:58 by kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comments | Leave a comment

04 April, 2019

Help Us Find the Missing Lady Beetles of Vermont

Here at the Vermont Atlas of Life we're always on the lookout for historic biodiversity data. When we find it, our mission is to save it from potentially being lost in the dustbin of history. Recently, we unearthed a 43 year old document - Lady Beetles: A Checklist of the Coccinellidae of Vermont. The authors listed the first and last date each species was collected in Vermont and the total number of specimens known, a snapshot of Lady Beetle life in Vermont prior to 1976.

Since at least the 1980s, native Lady Beetles that were once very common across the Northeast have become rare or have even gone missing. But there was little information readily available from Vermont. Spurred on by this old document, we began to assemble as much data as possible. First, we digitized 201 records covering 37 species reported in the historic document. We added 185 Vermont records from the Lost Ladybug Project and uploaded them to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) through the Vermont Atlas of Life IPT server. This is coupled with over 400 verified photo-observations comprising 20 Lady Beetle species that community naturalists have reported to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist that are also shared with GBIF.

These datasets join other records at GBIF, where there are now 865 records representing 40 lady beetle species (seven introduced) available for use. Uniting Vermont data, stored in locations far and wide, shows the power of a data gathering infrastructure like the Vermont Atlas of Life and GBIF.

Most records come from Vermont Atlas of Life iNaturalist users contributing photographs of these beetles. In 2018 alone, 13 verified species were documented from 128 observations. And observers have contributed some unique Vermont records to crowd-sourced databases:

Lady beetles, aka ladybugs, are adored by many. But they are also important for farmers. Many species eat plant pests like aphids, scale insects, and mealybugs-- which can be serious pests of trees, vegetables, and flowers. Lady beetles lay hundreds of eggs and when they hatch, the larvae immediately begin to feed. Several species are even collected and sold to growers for control of insect pests.

The Missing Lady Beetles in Vermont

What species are we missing now? Fourteen of the 34 native species known from Vermont have not been reported since the 1976 checklist was completed. Three of these species were designated as "species of greatest conservation need" in 2015 in New York: Two-spotted Lady Beetle (Adalia bipunctata), Nine-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella novemnotata), and Transverse Lady Beetle (C. transversoguttata). And the Nine-spotted Lady Beetle  was recently declared "Endangered" in Canada.

An extensive USDA APHIS survey in 1993 failed to find any Nine-spotted Lady Beetles in 11 Northeastern states, including Vermont. Both the Two-spotted and the Nine-spotted lady beetles were both thought to be extinct in New York until citizen scientists rallied to help Cornell University Lost Ladybug Project search for them. In 2009 the Two-spotted was reported from western New York and in 2011 several Nine-spotted lady beetles were spotted by citizen scientists on Long Island.

Help Us Find Vermont's Missing Lady Beetles

This year, we hope you’ll search for Lady Beetles near you and report them to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Here’s a couple of resources to help you identify them too: Discover Life pictorial key  and a the Field Guide to Ladybugs of North America app for iphone. But no experience is necessary! Just find them, photograph them, and add them to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist, even if you don't know what species you found. Maybe you'll be the lucky person to find one of our missing lady beetles!

Posted on 04 April, 2019 12:36 by kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 2 comments | Leave a comment

10 April, 2019

Workshop Wednesdays at Vermont Center for Ecostudies

Have any burning iNaturalist questions that you need answered? Curious about how to use iNaturalist to the fullest? Or simply wondering how you can contribute to citizen science? Join Nathaniel Sharp, Vermont Center for Ecostudies’ Citizen Science Outreach Naturalist, every Wednesday at Noon for live iNaturalist, eBird, and eButterfly help, as well as tips and tricks for how to become a better citizen scientist. To catch up on previous broadcasts, check out the Workshop Wednesday Playlist on the VCE Facebook page, and feel free to post questions on any of the videos!

Posted on 10 April, 2019 18:23 by nsharp nsharp | 0 comments | Leave a comment