NPR has a story that raises the issue of Is Collecting Animals For Science A Noble Mission Or A Threat?
Collecting animals for science has been a standard practice for some time. Scientists want to study all the places species have been collected and paleontologists study fossils to reconstruct evolutionary patterns, researchers may use the specimens to study what a bird ate, or whether it was sick, or if it was exposed to a toxin.
However it is possible that collecting species that have small or isolated populations may pose a serious threat. A recent article in the Journal Science raised just that issue
It warned that scientific collection has the potential to hurt animal populations that are small and isolated. The article also asserted that “collecting specimens is no longer required to describe a species or to document its rediscovery.”
Audublog reported on research at the University of Edinburgh that found birds rely on experience when building nests. This contradicts the earlier thought that nest-building was passed down genetically. The research was with Zebra Finches and found the birds used physical cognition of building materials when nest-building. Read more at Do birds rely on experience when building nests?.
McGee Creek in the Eastern Sierra Nevada has scenic high desert landscapes that. are looking good with lots of Rabbitbrush and Sulphur Buckwheat. The area is very dry and most flowers are past peak. There are still some late bloomers and the last few flowers of some of the earlier ones. The following resources were helpful in identifying flowers:
McGee Creek Plant List from the Bristlecone Chapter of the California Native Plants Society (available at the Chapter Website)
Eastern Sierra Wildflower Hotspots Booklet (available at visitor centers)
Wildflower Hot Spots of the Eastern Sierra And Wildflowers of the Eastern Sierra and adjourning Mojave Desert and Great Basin by Laird Blackwell.
Click Read More to see today's Plant List
The Washington Post reports
In recent years, scientists have identified numerous other threats to the region — which spans across eight countries — including damming and mining. And now, a new study is calling attention to yet another way human activity can harm the forest and its inhabitants. Published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the new paper explores the effect of other human disturbances, besides deforestation, on the Amazon’s biodiversity — including selective logging (which typically targets specific types of trees while leaving the rest of the forest intact), wildfires, hunting, altering or fragmenting the landscape, and other forms of habitat degradation.
Today was exploring wildflowers along Bishop Creek in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. We drove from 395 to South Lake (approx. 22 miles). The Wildflowers don't start to appear until about 11 miles and the best flowers along the road were during the last few miles.
The highlight was a very short hike we did through a wildflower “garden”, which was a short spur to left of the main trail just above the parking area. This was probably the most flowery area we have seen during this trip. There were lots of Kelley's Lily, Monkshood, Red Paintbrush, Western Columbine, Sierra Rein-Orchid, Arrow-leafed Groundsel, and Ranger Buttons. Other flowers in this area included Green Rein Orchid, Fireweed, Single-stemmed Groundsel, Goldenrod, Slender Cinquefoil, Grass-of-Parnassus and Swamp Onion. The Lupine and Shooting Stars were pretty much finished.
The Bishop Creek Checklist (annotated) booklet by Jack and Pat Crother was very helpful with plant ID's. Click read more to see a detailed plant list from today.
We visited the Carson Pass area this past weekend and the wildflowers are going strong. I was able to identify around 45 different kinds, and I missed quite a few of them, especially all the white ones that I can never remember. The variety in that area is just amazing, and I'm not sure if it's because of the type of soil, rainfall amounts, or what it is about this area that makes it so outstanding. I think the peak will be next week, and I would recommend a visit.
A new study has found that frigatebirds, sea-going flyers with a 6-foot wingspan, can stay aloft for weeks at a time. The results paint an astonishing picture of the bird’s life, much of which is spent soaring inside the clouds.
There are some outstanding roadside flowers on the road up to Rock Creek. The best flowers start around 8500 feet elevation. There is are area with Kelley's Lilies, maybe 100's, along the road to Rock Creek Trailhead at about 9570 feet, just after the sign that you are entering Inyo County. Same area saw Rein Orchids. Some things were drying up along Rock Creek trail in the meadows but still many flowers in bloom along the trail. Did find Alpine Gentians as well. If you plan to visit this area go soon.
Used Rock Creek Wildflowers book by Cathy Rose and Stephen Ingram. It was very helpful. Click read more to see detailed plant list.
Science Daily reports
Sparrows form pair bonds that are normally monogamous, but many females are unfaithful to their partner and have offspring with other males. Biologists believe that the male birds are unfaithful to ensure they father as many chicks as they can, while females are unfaithful with males of better ‘genetic quality’ — ones that are fitter and could produce stronger offspring. But new research shows that cheating comes with a cost — the cheating female’s partner will provide less food for their nest of young.
Read full story at: Sparrows with unfaithful ‘wives’ care less for their young — ScienceDaily
We spent the entire day on White Mt. is in Inyo National Forest, which is east of Bishop, CA. We drove from highway 395 to Patriarch Grove. The best flowers were on the last 12 miles, which is the unpaved road between Schulman Grove, where the visitor center is, and the Patriarch Grove. All flowers were close to the road. Flowers are listed mainly from lowest to highest elevation with some exceptions. Click read more to see detailed plant list.
A Very Big California Year – July 21 in San Francisco
Date: Thursday July 21
Time: 6:30 p.m. for refreshments, 7 p.m. for program
Place: First Unitarian Universalist Church & Center
1187 Franklin Street at Geary in San Francisco
Cost: Free for GGAS members, $5 for non-members.
Conservation Magazine reports
Urban birds may age fast, die young
Urban life has its ups and downs, for birds no less than for people. On the one hand, birds in the city often have easy access to abundant food sources thanks to humans, but on the other they have to contend with stresses like air pollution, traffic noise, and artificial light.
Read full story at Urban birds may age fast, die young – Conservation
Today I drove across the Yosemite high country on highway 120. Although Tuolumne Meadows was disappointing and Crane Flat had less flowers than I had hoped for there were many wildflowers in bloom and some nice gardens in a number of spots along the road. Below is a list of some of what I saw.
Adélie penguins are one of two true Antarctic penguins, and they are threatened by a changing climate.
Read full story at Antarctica Could Lose Most of Its Penguins to Climate Change
Carson Pass Information Station has a Wildflower Walk this Saturday July 16 9:30-11:00 Meet the Wildflowers of Carson Pass A docent led walk to identify some of wildflowers around Carson Pass. Sorry no dogs.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a study of San Francisco’s urban coyote population
Amid the tension, experts don’t know exactly how many coyotes live in the city, and they don’t know much about their movements. That’s why, in May, Young launched the first comprehensive study of urban coyote behavior and ecology in San Francisco. The tagging and tracking program is part of an effort to educate the public about the creatures, which aren’t going away anytime soon.
The BBC reported on a study that found that frogs can pull up to three times their body weight with their tongues. Read more at: BBC News – Frogs tongue can lift three times own body weight.
Mono County Tourism – California’s Eastern Sierra has several recent posts showing wildflower bloom in a number of spots in the Sierra including Gaylor Lakes Yosemite, Virginia Creek and the Ansel Adams wilderness.
Stanford News Release
Stanford research details ‘one-two punch’ of climate and land use changes on certain species
Study highlights that paying attention to current and future regional climate can help decision-makers expand agriculture in ways that minimize harm to, and maybe even benefit, particular at-risk species.
By Rob Jordan
Some species are luckier than others.
A new study shows the effects of deforestation and climate change are amplified into a one-two punch that pushes particularly vulnerable rainforest species towards extinction, while dry-climate species persist. The findings could help guide decisions about where land can be converted to agriculture while minimizing species losses.
A new study of more than 300 bird species in Costa Rica, including this rufous-tailed jacamar, found that when rainforests were cleared for agriculture, bird species that require wetter climates tended to die out, while dry-climate birds took their place. (Image credit: Daniel Karp)
“The current and future climate of a region must be considered when evaluating the impact of habitat conversion,” said lead author Luke Frishkoff, a Stanford biology doctoral student at the time of the research. “By paying attention to current and future regional climate, agricultural landscapes may be modified in practical ways to minimize harm to, and maybe even benefit, wildlife.”
See a field report for the Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve. It includes wildflowers currently blooming and photos at at the Marin CNPS website at
Xerces Society News Release
State of the Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Sites in California
New Report Documents a 74% Decline in the Number of Monarch Butterflies Overwintering in Coastal California
The Xerces Society prioritizes the top 50 monarch butterfly overwintering sites most in need of conservation
SANTA BARBARA, Calif.; Friday, July 8, 2016—A report released today by the Xerces Society shows a sharp two-decade decline in the number of monarchs which overwinter along the California coast and prioritizes the top 50 overwintering sites most in need of conservation and management attention.
State of the Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Sites in California provides an analysis of western monarch population trends. A comparison of the average number of butterflies overwintering in California during the periods 1997–2001 and 2010–2014 shows a decline of 74 percent, a figure that is comparable to declines documented at monarch overwintering sites in Mexico.
Wildflower Hikes and More has a new posting from a recent hike along Muddy Hollow at Pt. Reyes. It has a detailed description of the trail along with many photos and flower identifications at Muddy Hollow Trail at Point Reyes. Due to shade and coastal fog it still has many flowers in July.
Late July, 2016 – around July 28 or 29 – presents the nominal peak of the Delta Aquarid meteor shower, but this rambles along steadily from about July 12 to August 23 each year.
Mount Rainier National Park reports
Currently Blooming – Updated July 8, 2016
At Paradise, early bloomers such as avalanche and glacier lilies are at prime bloom. Many flowers appearing in the lower meadows, which are estimated to be 2-3 weeks from peak bloom. Three or more weeks to reach full bloom for upper and east meadows in the Paradise area. At Sunrise, lilies and marsh marigold are in the meadows near Shadow Lake and the approach to Fremont Lookout is a good spot for blooming wildflowers. Please remember to stay on trails.
Sunrise (7/7) – western spring beauty, valerian, magenta paintbrush, harsh paintbrush, glacier lily, avalanche lily, penstemon, speedwell, cinquefoil, buttercup, marsh marrigold, pasqueflower, pink heather, bracted lousewort, American bistort, broadleaf lupine, cascade aster, Lewis monkeyflower (White River), low and elegant jacob’s ladder, tall bluebells, mountain monkeyflower (Fremont), partridge foot, smooth mountain dandelion, spreading phlox, subalpine buckwheat, western columbine
Paradise (7/4) – valerian, paintbrush (particularly along roadway), glacier lily, avalanche lily, penstemon, speedwell, cinquefoil (Alta Vista trail), buttercup, marsh marigold, pasqueflower, pink heather, Jeffrey’s shooting star, bracted lousewort, western spring beauty
Carbon River (7/5) – foam flower, buttercup, pearly everlasting (early), thimbleberry, slender bog orchid, twin flower
Summerland Trail (6/28) – lupine, pussytoes, sandwort, bracted lousewort, penstemon
Fremont Trail (6/27) – cascade wallflower, Drummond’s anemone, king’s crown/roseroot, red columbine, small flowered penstemon, tall bluebells, lewis monkeyflower, yellow mountain heather, elegant Jacob’s ladder
Longmire to Paradise Road (moving up in elevation) (6/27) – tiger lily, cow parsnip, thimbleberry, goats beard, thistle, bear grass, yarrow, penstemon, rosy spirea, paintbrush, jeffrey’s shooting star, sitka valerian, bluebells, subalpine daisy
Longmire (6/22) – bunchberry, pipsissewa, foam flower, pinesap; (6/16) cow parsnip, lupine, coralroot, bog orchid, salal, common speedwell, candyflower, gnomeplant, starwort, curly dock, yarrow, fringecup, buttercup, wood sorrel, twin flower, tiny trumpet
See photos and more information on Mt. Rainier Wildflowers at Discover Wildflowers – Mount Rainier National Park (U.S. National Park Service)