November 10, 2023

Random tidbits of information from the 10th California Islands Symposium

6–10 November, 2023; Ventura Beach Marriott

Apologies for my notes below – terribly random and incomplete, missing "main punch lines" from most of what I listened to. Also missing the names of speakers... I found the 15-minute time slots so hectic and fast-paced that I barely could keep up...

Adam G. Dillon – Anthropogenic Restructuring of Trophic Network
and populations of Spotted Skunk and Island Fox

1990s DDT crash of Bald Eagle
was trigger (in combination with introduced ungulates) that allowed for invasion of Golden Eagle

(ranch ungulates were removed, but deer and boar remained once switch to GE apex occurred).

44 GE relocated 2000-2007
during this time foxes were being captive-bred. So for a short time, Spotted Skunks were the apex predator.

2012 – Last known GE depredation of Island Fox on northern islands.

Spotted Skunks weigh 500-900 grams

1892 first modern written report of their existence on the islands

1973 – Lyndal Laughrin was first to publish a scientific report of the existence of skunks on the island (late!)

Mate in fall, birth in spring –—> Delayed implantation

2016 “Skunk Renaissance” – new working group formed:
Calypso Gagorik studies fox home ranges, Juliann Schamel (dietary partitioning) and Adam Dillon (food web dyamics)

Fox and skunk population abundances are virtually directly inverse – indicative of interference competition
Aggressive interactions? If so, expectation would be skunk avoidance of foxes.

Fox peak activity around dusk; skunk activity peaks around midnight

Skunks use low shrubs and rugged terrain to avoid foxes

How and when did skunks colonize the islands?

Both populations (Rosa and Cruz) can be traced to a single maternal ancestor!
Split between islands and mainland and between islands happened at same time.

Early Holocene colonization, just prior to breakup of Santarosae (at time, 4-7 mile channel width).
Rafting or anthropic (Chumash) dispersal. NOT Euro dispersal.
Pattern of dispersal to northern islands directly mirrors foxes. Single maternal ancestor, same timing.
Full species status for island skunks?

Skunks have larger home ranges than foxes, but only use small parts of it at a time (seasonal).

Ellie Armstrong – measuring and managing bias in interpretation of genomic data in Canidae

“Genomics is becoming an integral part of conservation management.”

Urocyon is 10-14 million years diverged from rest of Canids – basal lineage.
Domestic dog is 2n=78
Urocyon 2n = 66
Arctic Fox variably 48-50 (!!!!)

Island foxes are extremely territorial, and their home range size is strongly negatively density-dependent;
having shrunk 83% (!!!!) on average in a decade of population recovery (now approaching carrying capacity). Virtually no overlap in home ranges either at low or high density.

San Clemente Island:
NE side of island is moister, SW side is drier – on NE side snails grow larger; little intermediate habitat

Micrarionta maxima and gabbi – two similar congeners – distinct-ish by geography and habitat; distribution of shell size.

Genetics show full intergradation: 1 species. gabbi is a forma; a distinct-looking one, but no more.

David Headrick — 80 year history of Cochineal-Opuntia biocontrol on Santa Cruz Island
Sheep came with Spanish colonists, cattle 1851, pigs 1854, fennel introduced 1886

Overgrazing turned grasslands into habitat for Opuntia. Stanton controlled his cattle grazing and corralled sheep, but Opuntia expanded and Stanted searched for a method of control. AJ Nicholson (Australia) suggested use of Cactoblastis cactorum (S. American moth). Stanton asks Harry Scott Smith (Father of Biocontrol; UC Riverside), who declined – fear of havoc on mainland Opuntia.

Smith suggests cochineal instead – obtained permission in 1940, releases begin.
Cochineal became fully established only in 1951 at the ranch.

In 1958, they started hand-spreading cochineal-infested pads around the islands.
Cactus reductions begin to happen by 1961.

Don Ricker, UC Riverside, begins biannual photosurvey to document cactus decline through 1980s. In many areas it has incredibly strong effects. But by 1970s – cactus decline slows down due to more-susceptible O. littoralis being mostly knocked back and resistant O. oricola left over.

Cactus declines continue into modern times, with serious consequences – e.g. reduction in safe Spotted Skunk denning sites.

Study in 2018: Four orders and families of CA insects that are predators on cochineal.

  1. Ladybird
  2. Brown lacewing Sympherobius barberi
  3. Leucopis sp. Chamaemyiidae aphid fly (most common predator in 2018)
  4. Caterpillar! Laetilia coccidovora – reached island in 1970s

Cochineal has no known parasitoids!!! However, their predators do! e.g (Pachyneuron eros) (Pteromalidae)
Currently, increase in cochineal-predator parasitoids may be shifting the balance back towards cactus decline!

In the last decade, cochineal has dispersed to Anacapa; worry is that it will reach Clemente.

David Headrick – Gall forming insects of Santa Cruz Island
Known oak galls on mainland - 136
33 undetermined

15 of known on SCI
4 unknowns from mainland on SCI
2 not known from mainland.

Torymus californicus – ovipositor 10 mm long (twice as long as body) – correlates with oviposition when gall has grown large. Some parasitoids with short ovipositors deposit eggs

1 gall inducer and 3 inquilines, but all Cecidomyiids!

Up to five species of gall on a single oak leaf!

Orrock — Rodents + Sin Nombre Virus (Hantavirus)
Deer mice primary host

Sin Nombre is what we mean when we say Hanta
35-50% mortality, but difficult to contract

Inhalation of aerosolized urine/airborne fecal dust. Exposure to saliva from a bite.
Mice remain viral carriers even after they clear the acute infection.

Some islands had 0 SNV, others had huge prevalence (SCR had 60-70%)

After ’14-’17 surveys, SNV absent from 5 islands.
Adult males twice as likely to have SNV (probably due to aggressive interactions/biting)
Significant annual variation in prevalence

Long-term data is "addictive" because it positions you to interpret consequences of unpredictable disturbances: Fire, drought, biotic change

Burned habitats have significantly higher prevalence of SNV in year 0, 1, and 2 after fire.
Pattern driven by male mice. SNV degrades rapidly with UV exposure.

Bites much more risky than feces!

“Island Syndrome of reproduction”
Larger adult body mass
Higher density and survival
Reduced aggressiveness, litter size, and dispersal

Life history consequences of island dwarfism in reptiles?

Gopher Snake and Alligator lizards are much smaller on the N. ChIs islands than mainland, but less pronounced difference for Yellow-bellied Racers.

Side-blotched and Fence Lizards do not show this pattern.

Do dwarf reptiles have smaller clutches on islands?
– Alligator had fewer eggs, mostly because smaller. Fence lizards have fewer eggs even when accounting for body size. Racers had same or more than expected for their size, but maxed out at around 4-5.

Do dwarf reptiles reproduce at smaller size on islands?
Both racers and alligator lizards had lower mean SVL of reproductive individuals.

Plenary 9 Nov 2023
Exequiel Ezcurra — Islands of Sea of Cortés
San Pedro Martir island – Cardon cactus dominant
Isla Rasa (note, “S” spelling – flat, low-lying, not “Z”, a genetic lineage)
“Guano valleys” – since seabirds have been nesting there since the Pleistocene, much of the sediment is guano.

Posted on November 10, 2023 07:30 PM by leptonia leptonia | 1 observation | 1 comment | Leave a comment

January 01, 2022

Nudibranching/Tidepooling to start the New Year?

@imlichentoday @amidzooids @u_phantasticus

Howdy y'all! My name is Christian; although I'm a San Diego native, I mostly live in Santa Cruz these days. And although I primarily study mushrooms now, my first love was tidepools.

I'm planning to go out tidepooling today as well as Sunday and Monday afternoons/evenings, and wondering if any of you have an interest in meeting up (or can suggest other local tidepool enthusiasts who might want to go out).

My interest isn't just in nudibranchs, but was just looking through those observations for SD county...

Happy New Year!

C

Posted on January 01, 2022 07:29 PM by leptonia leptonia | 2 comments | Leave a comment

August 22, 2019

5 Mile Radius Birding (3.1 km)

My 5 MR Circle, mapped: CFS 2019 5MR map

Posted on August 22, 2019 08:49 PM by leptonia leptonia | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 11, 2019

Searching for Euphorbia hooveri – Esquon Lake, 11 Aug 2019 (Trip)

I visited Esquon "Lake" (a vernal pool now heavily surrounded by grass under a grazing regime) to look for the late-blooming Euphorbia (=Chaemasyce) hooveri; a rare and threatened plant (CRPR 1B.2).

My understanding was to look for areas of open, cracked mud in what would have been the vernal pool's last spots to dry. I found very little of this presumed appropriate habitat, apparently the surrounding grass and other graminoid vegetation has encroached heavily into the middle of the pool. Although little else was blooming, remnant vegetation of Marsilea, Navarretia, Eryngium etc. indicated that it is still home to a significant wet grassland pool flora.

I found thousands of Euphorbia ocellata subsp. ocellata in the more bare mud areas, but they also extended deeply into the surrounding grassland.

I found 0 Euphorbia hooveri.

Witham, 2013 (in my opinion, optimistically) lists this occurrence as "presumed extant".

From Witham, 2013:
[This site] heavily grazed and trampled, but occurrence is doing fine (1986). Unknown number seen in 1980. 1000‐2000 plants observed in 1986. Under the current grazing regime, this population is large and probably stable." "Surveyed 09‐09‐2010. Habitat present but no plants found." "...no plants seen 2007‐2011."

Posted on August 11, 2019 04:55 PM by leptonia leptonia | 10 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 09, 2019

The Green Gill Gap

Full post with images here:
https://www.redwoodcoastmushrooms.org/blog/the-green-gill-gap

"Green about the gills" – idiom describing the appearance of queasiness; about to vomit; sickly and uneasy.

In the spotlight: the Green Gill Parasol (Chlorophyllum molybdites). The common name of this species serves double duty, signaling both the potential sickening effects of eating this mushroom while simultaneously describing its most distinctive identifying feature: The greenish-gray color of the mature gills (a correlate of the green-gray spore deposit). In fact, no other mushroom in California shows this character! Although not seriously toxic, it certainly has the potential to be enqueasening. By the available numbers, this appears to be one of the species most frequently involved in mushroom poisonings in the United States.

There some obvious factors contributing to this mushroom's nauseating track record:

  1. The species is widespread and abundant – it’s common for multiple tens of fruitbodies to appear in small areas simultaneously, often in striking fairy rings.
  2. The fruitbodies are enticingly large and attractive.
  3. They look similar to a few edible species.
  4. This species’ preferred habitats are almost always in close proximity to humans (think irrigated lawns). So folks encounter it more frequently than the average mushroom.
  5. It is expanding its range! With every passing year, there are more interfaces for humans to encounter them.

Besides the perspective of public health, this is an interesting species for biogeographers. This post is focused on the latter point in the list above. What factors are driving the expansion of this species? The geographic area occupied by C. molybdites has expanded in the past few decades – generally speaking, it has radiated northward as well as westwards from more tropical climes.

But there are some puzzling gaps in this species’ distribution…

One striking example is the central coast of California (see map below). Note the large gap from Santa Barbara to the spine of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with a single dot in San Luis Obispo (documented by the ever-vigilant Michelle Torres-Grant).

Screen Shot 2019-08-01 at 10.46.47 AM.png
Some of this pattern can be ascribed to lack of coverage. Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties are not (yet) major nuclei for folks posting mushrooms to iNat. But given that this is a big, showy mushroom that grows on people’s lawns, we can be confident that the general pattern here is real: Chlorophyllum molybdites is (apparently) either absent or very scarce west of the central Coast Ranges in places like Monterey, Salinas, Castroville, and Watsonville – places which definitely contain patches of appropriate substrate (watered lawns, soccer fields, urban parks, manicured cemeteries, golf courses).

Look just how close that swarm of documented Green Gill occurrences comes to the Santa Cruz County line!
Look just how close that swarm of documented Green Gill occurrences comes to the Santa Cruz County line!

It’s also clear from looking at the distribution map that the reason C. molybdites is absent from some places on the California coast is not due to a lack of available spores to start new populations.

This species is emphatically not dispersal-limited. Whether their spores are being dispersed by wind, adhering to tires, or otherwise moving with people, C. molybdites appears to be a proficient traveler, having thoroughly colonized not only North America but also Hawaii and apparently even some further-flung outposts such as Fiji and Tahiti!

So if not the lack of lawns or the lack of spores, what factors have so far prevented the Green Gills from invading Watsonville?

As evidenced by the populations of this species in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan we know that it’s not cold winter temperatures limiting the distribution of C. molybdites – this species is apparently able to go dormant and tolerate very cold winters, rebounding to fruit again in the more saunoid months.

Temperature may still be a primary factor shaping this species’ distribution though, albeit in a more nuanced way. Else Vellinga has hypothesized that this species is tightly constrained by nighttime temperatures exceeding some minimum temperature for extended stretches of consecutive dates. Think of the warm, muggy summer nights that are so characteristic of much of eastern USA, where this species is most common.

The Muggy East has lots and lots of Green Gills. Southern California and the Central Valley have plenty as well. Most areas of the Northwestern quadrant of the USA are too dry, too cold, or both.
The Muggy East has lots and lots of Green Gills. Southern California and the Central Valley have plenty as well. Most areas of the Northwestern quadrant of the USA are too dry, too cold, or both.

Support for this model can be found by studying the geographic pattern of occurrence of C. molybdites in California. It seems to be absent from areas with otherwise appropriate habitat, and surrounded by potential source populations, but lacking prolonged periods of warm nighttime temperatures.

By sheer happenstance, a sort of natural experiment can be found at UC Berkeley: A steam vent lets out from one of the buildings at ground level, significantly warming a small patch of lawn. UC Berkeley happens to be the academic home of Else C. Vellinga; global expert on Lepiotaceous fungi. A few years ago, she walked by the vent, and found Green Gill Parasols fruiting in the steamed lawn. She noted that it was a significant record for Alameda County (one of the first), and so history was made! Even micro-local warming is enough to make an appropriate substrate suitable habitat for C. molybdites. The spores are probably available almost everywhere in coastal California, they just need the right conditions to gain a foothold.

So what does the future hold?

The asymmetrical effect of global warming on nighttime vs. daytime temperatures has been investigated in a number of studies, and although the signal is complicated, it seems that in many places, global warming is driving a faster increase in nighttime temperatures than of daytime temperatures. From the perspective of humans, this is uncomfortable and dangerous. But from the perspective of C. molybdites this is just peachy. More warm nights in more places = more places where Green Gills can establish populations.

If a place has appropriate substrate (big grass lawns), is at least somewhat humid, and experiences spells of consecutive warm nights, sooner or later it’ll be colonized by Chlorophyllum molybdites. As climate change continues to warm the summer nights of central Calfiornia, it seems only a matter of time until Green Gills start to live here.

After more than a decade of of cultivating a useless preoccupation with the arbitrary geopolitical boundaries of Santa Cruz County, I like to think I’ve developed a good sense for what critters can be found within them. During last year’s heat waves and warmth lingering well into November, I could practically feel the mycelium growing somewhere within county lines… But by December rains and cooler temperatures finally arrived, and the window for the appearance of our inaugural Green Gills seemed to have closed.

Could the summer of 2019 be the year we finally encounter Green Gills in Santa Cruz?

Let’s get some skin in the game. I hereby offer a $20 bounty for Santa Cruz County for a first record of C. molybdites. I bet an additional $20 that it will come within the next five years, in case anyone wants to bet against. Those seeking to collect on this bounty must provide documentation, preferably supported by a voucher specimen.

Go make it happen… Judging by this phenology chart from iNaturalist data, NOW IS THE TIME.

california green gill season.png
I’ll be doing some investigating by bike, by car, by foot; prowling the hotter, lawn-ier areas of the county looking to prove myself right. I could use the money.

References:

Ge ZW, Jacobs A, Vellinga EC, Sysouphanthong P, van der Walt R, Lavorato C, An YF, Yang ZL. 2018. A multi-gene phylogeny of Chlorophyllum (Agaricaceae, Basidiomycota): new species, new combination and infrageneric classification. MycoKeys 32: 65–90

doi: 10.3897/mycokeys.32.23831

Obradovich N, Migliorini R, Mednick SC, Fowler JH. 2017. Nighttime temperature and human sleep loss in a changing climate. Science Advances
doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1601555

Pierre-Louis K, Popovich N. 2018. Nights Are Warming Faster Than Days. Here’s Why That’s Dangerous. The New York TImes
Accessed on 30 Jul 2019: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/07/11/climate/summer-nights-warming-faster-than-days-dangerous.html

Vellinga, Else C. 2003. Chlorophyllum and Macrolepiota (Agaricaceae) in Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 16, 361–370

Posted on August 09, 2019 07:37 PM by leptonia leptonia | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 17, 2019

Wrap up on the Southern California Mycoflora Challenge 2018/'19!

It's over! Finally! Great work out there, and a big thanks to everyone who participated. I can't wait to dig in.
As it stands, iNat users made almost 6,000 (!!!) observations of macrofungi from SoCal and Baja California Norte during this period. Incredible!

Nearly 50 iNat users made at least 20 observations and will be receiving a snazzy North American Mycoflora circle sticker. They look great on a laptop, water bottle, bike frame or bumper, and will bring you lots of admiration and attention from the coolest folks around.

If you are one of the following users, send me a private message with your preferred mailing address and I'll get your NAMP sticker in the mail:
@nickiegurney
@beverly33
@runforcandy
@bigsurwild
@ctrubo
@henfrigate
@dkincmbria
@lindsaybest
@bjdion
@stupickell
@garmonb0zia
@johngarrett
@silversea_starsong
@adambryant
@acorncap
@afnoesta
@sierracarr
@andy71
@carrdj
@morningglory
@stephanomeria
@fungilovingfungal
@richbreisch
@sarahinslo
@dmotte
@danistentzel
@michele38
@coletroya
@cedric_lee
@terrilldactyl
@ronvanderhoff
@rjadams55
@blueskyes
@alex_bairstow
@jasonsteinberg
@mykoryzal
@biophilic1
@hikingsandiego
@keirmorse
@btsalyuk
@gashawksquawk
@mgruen

The awards for best photography and most interesting specimens are still pending (since I have to do a little more lookin' through all the aforementioned ~6,000 observations, and for folks to finish sending me any voucher specimens that you might have made).

IF YOU HAVE VOUCHER SPECIMENS RELATED TO THIS PROJECT: PM me here or on iNat (@leptonia) to get mailing instructions

I'll be making some follow-up posts here about what we found, what we learned, and any results of further investigation of the specimens received.

Posted on March 17, 2019 06:44 PM by leptonia leptonia | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 22, 2018

Field Notes – 9 July 2015 – Mount Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo

Staying at Kinabalu Mountain Lodge (bordering N.P.).
Weather cool and windy at night. Rain at 11 PM. Morning very foggy and breezy/gusty. Mist, then light drizzle, then real rain at around 7 AM. Eventually completely socked in with fog.
Moth situation unbelievable. Porch lights, hallway lights, and bathroom lights attract thousands if not tens of thousands of moths and other insects. Frog calls all around at night, but failed to see any while spotlighting.
Maybe too windy?

Takeaways/Tips:

  1. Buy Phillips' guide to Birds of Borneo. Spend a lot of time with it before you leave. Keep spending time with it every chance you get while you're there. I didn't buy the Myers guide, so I can't compare them. The Phillips guide is mildly outdated, and some of the illustrations are definitely wonky, but the richness of the natural history tidbits and the authors' obvious love of place in this book are delightful. There are notes on mammals, flowers, seasonality, culture... It's really a great book.
  2. Get into the park early, and spend as long as possible birding. I had a number of two-hour stretches where I saw fewer than five individual birds, interrupted by five minute stretches during which I saw 30 individuals representing 10 species. Not sure if this was just due to the unsettled weather and the birds were hunkering down, or what. At no point was the birding easy or fast-paced by my temperate-zone California standards. My understanding is that this is typical of a lot of tropical birding, but the punctuated pattern seemed particularly intense on Kinabalu compared to my time in the neotropics. This is kind of an exhausting way to bird (especially given the elevation changes on some of these trails).

Note - entrance fee to the park is totally affordable, BUT the park kiosk doesn't open as early as you might like (as a birder). Everyone I've talked to seemed to think that it's accepted practice to buy the ticket on the way out, or try asking the attendant to buy your ticket ahead of time for the next day.

  1. Mind the trail ahead. It really pays to scan the visible span of the trail ahead of you before you walk it. This is especially true in the morning if you are out before the first hikers. If you come around a bend or corner, do it super slowly and scan it for 30 seconds before you keep walking. I think Justyn Stahl mentioned this to me as a way to see guans and tinamous in the neotropics. Everett's Thrush was one of the rewards of this method.
  2. Learn the barbet calls. I wrote mnemonics for each of the barbets in the back of my Rite-in-the-Rain notebook as a cheat-sheet. They are kind of omnipresent.
  3. Photography was difficult. The forests of Kinabalu are wet, dark, and the vines and leaves are all tangly and wreak havoc with autofocus. I ended up dramatically under-exposing my photos, then lightening them in Photoshop. I used exposure compensation two or three stops down (or more??). This gets you the benefit of faster shutter speeds when in Aperture priority mode. I didn't take full advantage of this myself - it's something I learned accidentally, months later. You're not going to get art with this method, but it can work wonders in salvaging record shots.
  4. Take a day elsewhere. If you're interested in seeing the maximum diversity of birds (and not, say target-twitching at max-tweak-levels), you would be be very much in error not to make at least a day trip to Poring Hot Springs. I split a taxi with some other folks from the hostel and did it as a day trip. The bird assemblage here was pretty much completely different. Scaly-breasted Bulbul was the outstanding star, but in general I saw a whole slew of foothill birds here and not at the higher elevations of the park.

Taxi fares around Kinabalu can be pretty steep, especially because common destinations (Crocker Range, Poring, etc.) are fairly far apart. I hired a guy who was sitting at the Restoran Panataran - he turned out to be a wise investment, since the next morning, he spotted my only Orange-headed Thrush of the trip in his headlights shortly after he picked us up.

A few last notes: Firstly, If you can afford a guide, a lot of this becomes easier. A few companions at the hostel I stayed at hired a guide who knew where Whitehead's Broadbill and Whitehead's Spiderhunter had been reliable in the past week. I had to go blindly, and dipped on both (pain). It's also just a good thing to spend money on.

Secondly, I apparently arrived in the midst of a drought. My understanding is that droughts in Borneo often have the effect of pushing higher-elevation birds downslope. This allowed me to catch up with birds like Mountain Blackeye and the usually-difficult Everett's Thrush (!) within a kilometer of the botanical garden. Although I couldn't access the trails above the Timpohon Gate due to the earthquake damage, my understanding is that under more normal conditions, it is only Friendly Bush-Warbler and Mountain Blackeye that really stick to the areas above the gate. Pretty much all the other birds of interest can be found on the lower trails (though perhaps not as regularly or easily)

Posted on January 22, 2018 09:42 PM by leptonia leptonia | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 05, 2018

2018 Resolutions for iNaturalist - 100 Fish Species, Journaling, and more

My first fish of 2018. Predictably, a Barred Surfperch (Amphistichus argenteus)

I spent the afternoon on New Year's Day coming up with some qualitative and quantitative goals for iNaturalist this year.

Thanks to the 2017 year-end visualization thingy, I had some approximate numbers to go on with regard to what might be realistic for next year. Taking into account that I spent the first six months of 2017 severely under the thumb of finally finishing college, I figure (perhaps over-optimistically) that I can aim to hit these targets next year:

General goals:

1. Make 5,000 observations for the year.
(average 13.6 per day... Wooooooah that's gonna be tough.)

2. Make 5,000 identifications for others' observations.
Thanks to the Identify tool released last year, I think I can do this with general maintenance and maybe some Marathon days.

3. Use this journal tool more.
Observations by themselves are valuable, but it seems to me that putting them in context (with temporal, interspecies-relational notes, etc.) makes them way more valuable. For example, what will be the fate of the oaks in Santa Cruz that appear to have been subject to an outbreak of an as-yet unidentified partial leaf-dieback pathogen?

I should communicate in a separate journal post that I first started noticing symptoms this summer, and then go on to track the fate of these trees as the years go by.

Specific goals

1. Observe and document 100 species of fish (ray-finned, cartilaginous, or otherwise)

I'm really excited about this goal! (for a number of reasons)

Firstly, I've loved fish since I was maybe 11 or 12, when my dad asked my brother and I to choose projects to work on for the summer. I think my brother chose to learn trigonometry, and I chose to learn fishing. Since I didn't actually have any fishing gear or family members who were anglers, I mostly spent my time reading about fishing. I checked out and read every volume of the Ken Albert series of fishing books from the North Park library, but never accumulated any money for gear. The summer ended with me taping a bunch of split rings to a long bamboo pole, taping a water bottle to the end of it as a kind of spool to wrap the line around, (I used red yarn), and then tying the yarn to a bent paperclip as a hook. I think I baited it with cut carrots. If I recall correctly, I went fishing with this rig off the Imperial Beach pier. Even if I don't recall correctly, I caught nothing. But I stuck with it for a while, and after getting some actual fishing equipment, and a lot of failing to catch anything (really an astonishing amount of not catching anything at all), I started to catch some fish.

Secondly, and even more importantly, I was fascinated with Scott's analysis which showed that fish in general (and especially Ray-finned Fishes) are iNat's most under-observed group of vertebrates!

Clearly a situation begging to be remedied. Sometimes a man achieves fish, and sometimes a man has fish thrust upon him.

I love seeing fish. I like thinking about fish. I love eating (many) fish. I like the planning of and act of fishing. And I don't do anywhere near enough of it. They get me closer to the ocean, and to streams and lakes and rivers. This can never be bad and can only be good.

100 species of fish in a year is going to be really hard to achieve, I suspect. Although I've come a long way since the days of carrots on a paperclip, I'm still not a very good angler. I suspect I might fail to reach my goal by multiple tens of species, but I look forward to the motivation I'll get from tracking my progress.

Snorkeling, seining, trapping, etc. are likely going to be crucial to my success or failure. I predict that sculpins and other tidepool-dwelling fish are going to take an outsized share of the pie.

I posit that one cannot gaze upon this triggerfish without experiencing an strong swell of admiration and desperate love for this group of creatures.

Happy New Year!

Posted on January 05, 2018 02:59 AM by leptonia leptonia | 1 observation | 5 comments | Leave a comment

September 30, 2017

"Fallout" Conditions - Landbird Migration, Santa Cruz, 29 Sep 2017

Drove down to the Pajaro River mouth this morning, on a hunch that the sudden cool weather might drop a bunch of migrating landbirds.

The offshore fog/dense marine layer appears to have been enough to sufficiently disorient some southbound migrant warblers especially, and the shorebirds pond at the end of Shell Road (limited public access) was amazingly dense with warblers.

I'd never felt so fully surrounded and overwhelmed by birds in Santa Cruz as I did this morning. I encountered Yellow, Orange-crowned, Townsend's, Common Yellowthroats, Yellow-rumped, and one Tennessee Warbler, with a total of 77 individual warblers in the small area of the pond, entrance road, and back pond.

The back pond area is especially interesting by virtue of the presence of some native plants I rarely encounter elsewhere in the county. Hoita macrostachya, Bidens laevis among them.

Posted on September 30, 2017 12:42 AM by leptonia leptonia | 3 observations | 3 comments | Leave a comment

February 17, 2017

Ecosystem of the Self

I want to explore the (barely) visible critters that dwell on me.
I shall begin my journey here:
https://www.rosacea.org/patients/demodex

Posted on February 17, 2017 04:11 AM by leptonia leptonia | 1 comment | Leave a comment

Gracias al apoyo de:

¿Quiere apoyarnos? Pregúntenos cómo escribiendo a snib.guatemala@gmail.com