יוני 06, 2022

Common Moth, Rare Caterpillar

It's probably not an unusual situation that the larvae of a common species of moth are poorly known and seldom documented. Despite the efforts of guru's like David L. Wagner and enthusiasts like @k8thegr8, a lot of caterpillars still elude us or remain unidentified.
Such seems to be the case of the Spotted Peppergrass Moth (Eustixia pupula, Crambidae; a.k.a. the "Peppergrass Pyralid").
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=4794
https://bugguide.net/node/view/29262
Eustixia pupula_6166

I accidentally documented a couple of larvae of this species on the Texas coast in late May and only recently discovered what I had done:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/120496553
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/120653172
Eustixia pupula_7384cropEustixia pupula_7383

I tell the story of that documentation in the notes with the first of these observations, but to recap: Between Moth Photographer's Group, BugGuide, iNaturalist, and a few other online resources, there are well over a thousand images of adults of the Spotted Peppergrass Moth...and yet my images of the caterpillar seems to be the first. I uploaded these to BugGuide a short while ago.
https://bugguide.net/node/view/2125868
https://bugguide.net/node/view/2126333
Dyar described the later instar larvae over 120 years ago:
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/27876086

I suspect there are any number of images of the larva of this species "out there" on iNaturalist and other venues but they have been overlooked or unidentified. I guess one could start seaching through unidentified Lepidoptera on iNaturalist to look for similar caterpillars, but that seems to be a very inefficient method. Observers have annotated the host plant (e.g., "Lepidium") on only a very small percentage of such images of caterpillars. Those annotations might point in the right direction, but such instances are unfortunately rare. There needs to be a more efficient way of searching through unidentified caterpillars once a search image for a species (to the human eye) can be established. I'm open to suggestions!

UPDATE: With hours after I posted the above images to BugGuide, the Balabans were able to uncover three additional observations of previously unidentified larvae from NY, NJ, an AL (2016-2021) which all appear to be various instars of Eustixia pupula:
https://bugguide.net/node/view/2126333
And so, science marches on!

פורסם ב יוני 06, 2022 12:41 אחה"צ על־ידי gcwarbler gcwarbler | תגובה 1 | הוספת תגובה

מאי 05, 2022

A Couple of Tricks for Moth Identification Using MPG

I spend a lot of time trying to identify moths—my own images and moth observations from other iNatters. Aside from the mass of observations already identified on iNaturalist, the most prominent online resource in my arsenal is Moth Photographers Group, maintained by the Mississippi Entomological Museum of Mississippi State University,
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/Plates.shtml
There are lots of resources to help with identifications on MPG, including the very useful “Try Walking Through The Moth Families”,
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/WalkThroughIndex.shtml
Walk Through Moth Families
I highly recommend that page as a starting point if you are not familiar with moth families, especially the micromoths. I come back to that index time and time again, even though I’ve been studying these darned things for over two decades.

But undoubtedly the majority of my time on MPG is spent combing through the main plates of moth images to try and find a match to the moth of interest. You’ll find two slightly different sets of these plates, both with the same large set of images. The traditional one uses the “Hodges Check List” numbering sequence:
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/Plates.shtml
MPG Plate Index

MPG has also arranged the thumbnail plates under the newer “Phylogenetic Sequence”, which uses the “Pohl numbers” from a more recent checklist of Lepidoptera of North America.
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/Plates2.shtml
It doesn’t really matter which index plate set you use because eventually clicking on any moth thumbnail on MPG will take you to the same species page.

Once you’ve decided which set of moth family thumbnails to look through (from either of the above lists), you have a choice of going to a set of index pages (known as “plates” in MPG terminology) showing either “Collection Specimens” or “Living Moth Photographs” (see the above screen capture). The Collection Specimens have square thumbnail images of the left wings of mounted museum specimens. Anything that has been photographed and uploaded to MPG will be seen on that set, and I’d guess that includes maybe 50 to 70% of the micromoth species and >95% of the macromoths of North America. You’ll see small button links to L, M, and S pages, meaning large, medium, or small size pages. Most modern internet connections and speeds handily support the large format; choosing the “L” format gives you more species on a page and thus fewer thumbnail pages to wander through. Here’s a link to a typical page of Collection Specimen thumbnails and a screen capture of an example of the first line of thumbnails you might see on a typical page of Collection Specimens:
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/pinned.php?plate=28&size=l&sort=h
MPG Collection Specimens - Acontiinae
Note that an MPG “plate” for a given family or subfamily will usually have two to several “pages” of images (small numbered buttons just above the family header). Don’t forget to look through all of the pages before moving on to the next (or previous) plate.

The “Living Moth Photographs” are an alternative to the Collection Specimens and it’s tempting to go right to those pages since we are normally trying to identify an image of a live critter, but keep in mind a very important caveat: IF a moth species has NOT been photographed in the field (and the image made available to MPG), it WON’T be on the Living Moth index pages. And a great many moths, especially micromoths, don’t have live photos available, so using only the Living Moth index plates can lead to overlooked possibilities. Always check a potential ID against the Collection Specimen plates to look for similar species. Also, the Living Moth index plates have two options, Slow and Fast. The Slow set displays one line of images per species and often has multiple image for a given species—very useful! Here's a link and a screen capture for a typical Slow page of living moths:
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/slow.php?plate=28&size=l&sort=h
MPG Living Moths - Slow
The Fast set offers only a single image per species, which of course can’t include all the variation within a species—and a reminder, these are only for species which have been photographed alive. Here's a link and a screen capture for a typical Fast page of living moths:
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/fast.php?plate=28&size=l&sort=h
MPG Living Moths - Fast
Again, modern internet and wifi download speeds are such that in most areas, the Slow index plates, with their multiple examples, are very convenient and most useful.

Another fairly recent innovation on MPG which can be useful is the “View by Region”, which allows you to subset all the possible species to view only those for which MPG records are available in a given region of North America or a given state.
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/AboutRegions.shtml
MPG Viewing Regions
Links on each side of the View by Region button take you to an explanation of these viewing options and the list of available subsets. But another important caveat: When you look at only a regional subset of all images, it ONLY displays those species for which the MPG database (and map) have an explicit record in that state or region. For common species that’s not a problem, but for uncommon species or something you might be looking for at the edge of its range, MPG may not have a state or regional record for the species—even though the species is illustrated on the full set of MPG plates—and the species won’t show up in your geographical subset. ALWAYS check the full array of species for all of North America if you can’t find a species match in the geographic subset you look through.

One final trick I employ when I really settle into a detailed image search involves the window setup on my desktop computer screen. These searches can involve a lot of clicking back and forth between windows and browser tabs. So I have an advantage with a large screen on my desktop Mac which allows me to set up a search like this:
CWS Screen Arrangement copy
In the above example, you can see that I have my browser open to the MPG Collection Specimen plate, but I also have tabs available back to the original iNat observation and to MPG Living Moths, and to BugGuide as well. To minimize having to click back and forth among tabs (e.g., to iNat), I have downloaded an image from the iNaturalist observation—in this case an unidentified moth from @jcochran706—opened the downloaded image in Preview, cropped the image closely, duplicated it, and rotated the two versions to give me standard MPG angles of view. I arrange the two versions of the image side by side with my browser page so that the visual comparison with either the left-wing museum specimens or the right-facing live moths (standard for MPG) are immediately comparable to the subject iNat moth. The ease of finding a match for a given image of a moth (or any critter) has a lot to do with visual perception and our brain’s pattern recognition abilities. Anything I can do to facilitate those visual and mental processes will make moth identification that much easier.

Easy-peasy, right?!

Acknowledgements: I must always thank Founder Bob Patterson, Editor in Chief Steve Nanz (@steve_nanz), and all the staff and volunteers (such as @krancmm, @blocky, etc.) working on MPG who make this incredible resource available.

p.s. The screen captures of the MPG site above are sourced from the website itself but individual images are copyrighted by the listed photographers.

Moth Photographers Group. 2022. http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu. [accessed 5 May 2022].

פורסם ב מאי 05, 2022 09:50 אחה"צ על־ידי gcwarbler gcwarbler | 2 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מאי 04, 2022

Earliest First-hand Field Photos on iNaturalist?

I was taking a look again at the earliest images that I've scanned and uploaded to iNaturalist. Those date from the late 1960s (see below). There are now thousands of earlier images of organisms on iNaturalist but the majority of them are images of museum specimens of plants, insects, mollusks, etc. So I began looking for the earliest images of organisms in the field, so to speak, using the simple filters on the Explore page.

I quickly had to qualify my search of old observations on iNaturalist. First, I summarily ruled out those museum specimens, and since I wouldn't expect to see photographic field evidence prior to 1900, I started my search at the beginning of the 20th Century. I also disregarded the unfortunate set of modern observations with erroneous observation dates (evident from high quality digital images dated to the 1900's, etc.).

I began to uncover a number of "observations" from secondary sources like images out of newspapers of beached whales, captured sharks, etc., and photos from published research papers. Those certainly provide "evidence" of an organism, but the dates are sometimes estimated or very approximate and the original "observer", i.e. the photographer, is rarely stated. These include such examples as a Pel's Pouched Bat from Niangara, Congo, presumably a captured specimen and dated May 27, 1913, documented in a Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, and uploaded in 2014 by @jakob :
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/604690

So I began combing through observations chronologically, looking for the earliest first-hand personal evidence of living or recently dead animals or plants.

There is a photo of a public gathering around a Great White Shark, presumably captured off the coast of Turkey in 1920, and uploaded in 2021 by @gorkialkan.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/93239174

The earliest image of any animal which is not a captured or museum specimen seems to be the following beached Rorqual (Baleen whale) in Tampico, Mexico, dated February 4, 1922. @josecastaneda2 uploaded the image, stating that it is from the digital Historical Archives of Tampico.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/102773699

The earliest first-person, non-photographic account of an organism seems to be W. C. Russell's notes on Yellow-bellied Marmots ("woodchucks") in Elko Co., Nevada, recorded in his field journal for July 13, 1935, and uploaded by @floydch in 2019:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/26545985

And--drum roll, please--the earliest first-hand, field photo on iNaturalist of a living organism seems to be this Koala documented in Victoria, Australia on December 31, 1935. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/77862210
I've left a message for @nimzee, who uploaded the image in 2021, for more details on the photographer, etc. It does not appear to be a commercial or secondary source image, so I'll look forward to learning more about its provenance.

The earliest observations of any plant uploaded to iNaturalist are apparently some European Larch trees in the background of a set of family ski vacation images in the French Alps, taken by L. Hunault in January 1936, and uploaded in 2021 by @mercantour.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/67659308

It gets a little difficult when trying to pin down the earliest first-hand, first-person photos of an organism, since it isn't often clearly stated that the iNaturalist/uploader was the person who took the image. But there are some likely candidates.
In 2020, @hoaryherper uploaded a couple of herp pics from his childhood. The earliest is one he took of a Blue Racer grabbed by his friend John Evans on June 20, 1949 in Ohio:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/47768061
@hoaryherper also uploaded an image of himself (taken by John Evans) with a captured Prairie Kingsnake in Pennington Co., South Dakota from June 21, 1955:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41106492

@blastcat uploaded a couple pictures of recently-caught fish at Chincoteague, Virginia in June 1955. These are akin to the above documentation of a Great White Shark but these are family photos, in the first instance taken by his grandfather:
Red Drum: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/106281440
Billfishes: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/106281439

My late pal Greg Lasley got minimal documentation with his dad's Bell and Howell movie camera of an Eastern Cottontail in Shillington, Pennsylvania, on/about September 19, 1962, during a family trip:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/52178520
And just 10 days later, about Septermber 29, 1962, found himself with his family in La Rochelle, France, using the same camera to document a Gray Heron:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/52178521

My own earliest personal upload of a first-hand field image dates from May 1969, a butterfly photographed in Taiwan with my first new SLR camera, a trusty Minolta SRT-101:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/69211543

So I offer a challenge for anyone to mine the iNaturalist database of images to find earlier personal, first-hand, field observations. What can you find?

פורסם ב מאי 04, 2022 10:05 אחה"צ על־ידי gcwarbler gcwarbler | 10 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

אפריל 30, 2022

Surprise first-day leading species for Austin's City Nature Challenge

I just glanced at the project page for Austin's City Nature Challenge 2022 and was tickled when I saw the leading species for the first day of the event: Rain Lily!

CNC 2022 Austin 0429

Just like 95% of Texas, much of the Austin area is in moderate to exceptional drought, although the region is split about half and half in and out of the drought areas:

Drought Monitor map Texas 20220426

It was only a brief passing storm system last Monday that prompted the appearance of the rain lilies ... but we'll take 'em!

פורסם ב אפריל 30, 2022 02:52 אחה"צ על־ידי gcwarbler gcwarbler | תגובה 1 | הוספת תגובה

אפריל 14, 2022

Digital Archives of Scientific Literature

During a recent bioblitz at the Timberlake Biological Field Station, some of us were discussing how to access older scientific literature which might be available in digital form online. I'll have more to say in a follow-up post about my favorite archive, the Biodiversity Heritage Library,
https://biodiversitylibrary.org
https://about.biodiversitylibrary.org
but I thought I'd take a moment to list some other potential online archives which may be useful. Here are some I've discovered. There certainly may be others:

Google Scholar
https://scholar.google.com/schhp?hl=en
A good starting place. The results might link to free pdf downloads, pay sites, or only literature citations without digital access, but it's pretty thorough--often too thorough, bringing up distantly related or unrelated titles. You can test it by searching for your favorite plant or animal like "Calyptocarpus vialis", "Jalisco Petrophila", or even a location like "Timberlake Biological Field Station".

JSTOR (a part of ITHAKA)
https://www.jstor.org
Accessing articles through their front-end search engine may involve some cost, but JSTOR downloads are available for free through many/most academic institutions (such as University of Texas, Austin Community College, etc.) and even Austin Public Library (with a library card).
https://www.jstor.org/institutionSearch?redirectUri=%2F

The Hathi Trust Digital Library
https://www.hathitrust.org
https://www.hathitrust.org/about
https://www.hathitrust.org/community

PubMed Central
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/
Less focused on natural history, per se, but includes many relevant journals. Their Full-Text Archive Search can bring up some surprisingly useful results:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/journals/

SORA (Searchable Ornithological Research Archive)
https://sora.unm.edu
A great resource for searching journals like The Auk, Condor, Wilson Bulletin, and a growing list of other bird-oriented publications.

Please feel free to add links to useful resources you are aware of.

פורסם ב אפריל 14, 2022 03:19 אחה"צ על־ידי gcwarbler gcwarbler | 3 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 03, 2022

Struggling With Straggler

February 2022 finally broke my string of months with at least one upload of blooming Straggler Daisy (Calyptocarpus vialis), a string that dated back to March 2020. With a couple of hard freezes at the beginning and end of this February, the species never had enough growing “season” in CenTex to put out flowers. There were five observations of Straggler Daisy uploaded in the Greater Austin Metro Area during the month, but none of them show evidence of blooming:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2022-02-01&d2=2022-02-28&place_id=60211&taxon_id=84405
Across the state, there were a few observations of blooming Straggler Daisy in the first few days of February, particulary in Laredo, the LRGV, and on the coast, but including one in the DFW area on February 1 as a hard freeze set in:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2022-02-01&d2=2022-02-28&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=18&taxon_id=84405
I should have gotten out in my neighborhood on February 1 as well and might have kept my string alive. No one documented flowers on the species again in Texas until February 22 on the coast at Corpus Christi:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/107270482
I failed to find flowers on any Straggler Daisy on a 4-mile walk in the neighborhood today (March 3).

פורסם ב מרץ 03, 2022 10:06 אחה"צ על־ידי gcwarbler gcwarbler | תגובה 1 | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 01, 2022

Way Back Recap: June 2021 Panhandle Excursion

When I go on a targeted iNaturalist trip, whether with a group or on my own, my focus on Nature is pretty intense. But I’ve wondered occasionally how this compares to other people’s experience and outcomes. Just this morning (March 1, 2022) I’ve completed the uploads from a rather grueling six day journey last June to the Texas Panhandle. (Other trips and obligations delayed these uploads.) So I’ve compiled some overall stats from the trip, as follows.

Over the six days and five nights of the trip, I made stops at eight target destinations:

— Timberlake Biol. Station (Mills Co.) with other iNaturalists
— Lake Meredith NRA (Moore/Floyd Co.)
— Rita Blanca Lake (Dalhart, Hartley Co.)
— Rita Blanca Nat. Grassland (Dallam Co.)
— Palo Duro Res. (Hansford Co.)
— McClellan Creek Nat. Grassland (Gray Co.)
— Caprock Canyon SP (Briscoe Co.)
— E.V. Spence Res. (Coke Co.)

There were other miscellaneous roadside stops and observations most days. Most of my focus was botanical, trying to learn new plants in the South Plains and Panhandle, but of course I tried to document any critters I encountered that would sit for a photograph. I made concerted mothing efforts at three of the locations (Timberlake, Rita Blanca NG, and E.V. Spence Res.).

I got home with a little over 2,200 photos, out of which I eventually created 707 observations of 431 taxa of plants and animals (according to iNat’s accounting). Excluding two days which were primarily long travel days, my uploads amounted to 652 observations from 4 primary field days, thus averaging 163 observations/day on those intense days (range 116 - 181).

Here is a link to the full set of observations over the six days of the trip. It includes a small number of moths that I'd documented at home early on the first morning before I hit the road.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2021-06-12&d2=2021-06-17&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=any&subview=table&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any
And here are links to my observations for the counties of some of the above destinations:
Mills Co.: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2021-06-12&d2=2021-06-17&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=1714&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any
Moore Co.: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2021-06-12&d2=2021-06-17&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=888&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any
Hartley County: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2021-06-12&d2=2021-06-17&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=1551&subview=table&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any
Dallam Co.: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2021-06-12&d2=2021-06-17&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=807&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any
Hansford Co.: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2021-06-12&d2=2021-06-17&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=2777&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any
Gray Co.: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2021-06-12&d2=2021-06-17&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=814&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any
Briscoe Co.: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2021-06-12&d2=2021-06-17&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=801&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any
Coke Co.: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2021-06-12&d2=2021-06-17&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=1770&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any

So how does that compare to field days for you? I seem to recall that during one of the first City Nature Challenges I participated in for the Austin area—a five-day event at the time—I was uploading something on the order of 150 to 200 observations per day (you could check me on that). So this Panhandle trip was a roughly equivalent effort. That early CNC effort was exhausting. This Panhandle trip was steady and there was a lot of travel involved so the changes in location were as much responsible for the high number of observations as the diversity of plants and animals, per se.

I love taking these iNat trips. For me, documenting so many plants and animals cements in my memory the broader, diverse landscapes that I encounter during each journey. Among those thousands of photos, I do include any number of general “habitat” shots, but the encounters with this plant or that critter offer hundreds of “defining moments” that I can think back on. The trips and the subsequent research to identify all the plants and animals deepen the learning experiences. They are overt evidence of my old adage, “Travel is taxonomically broadening.”

פורסם ב מרץ 01, 2022 05:29 אחה"צ על־ידי gcwarbler gcwarbler | 8 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 18, 2022

Guatemala Recap

Well, it took me a little over a month, but I've finally edited and uploaded the last of my images from our Guatemala journey in early January. Here's the whole set:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6940&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any
These are the product of sorting through about 1700 photos to compile just under 500 observations. By iNat's calculation, the effort documented about 343 species of plants and animals, but I'm not sure how that total is calculated for my Observations page. There is still a fairly large set of my observations left at genus, subfamily, family, or higher levels of classification. In many cases, of course, some plants and animals won't be ID-able better than genus or so, but that still leaves a lot that I haven't pinned down. If anyone has a desire to delve into those groups needing more work, here are some subsets of my observations that could use some help:

Flowering plants IDed no lower than tribe (currently 17 observations):
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?hrank=kingdom&lrank=tribe&place_id=6940&taxon_id=47125&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any

Insects with an ID no finer than tribe (about 84 observations; mostly moths, see next):
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?hrank=kingdom&lrank=tribe&place_id=6940&taxon_id=47158&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any

Moths IDed no finer than tribe (about 53 observations):
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?hrank=kingdom&lrank=tribe&place_id=6940&taxon_id=47157&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any

For a country with such incredibly rich biological diversity, Guatemala is in dire need of additional attention to document this diversity. My meager efforts on a 12-day visit now place me among the top dozen in observations and species out of some 3,000 iNat observers in Guatemala (local and visitors). To date, this most populous country of seven Central American nations has the 2nd lowest iNaturalist observer density (in terms of both population and area), 2nd lowest number of observations per 1000 sq. km. and the lowest number of observations per iNaturalist observer. There are obviously some difficult and complex socio-economic issues behind such numbers and I am in no position to analyze this further. That said, I have been encouraged by some of my Guatemalan friends to solicit further attention to this biological wonderland. I am certain I will be making a return visit to Guatemala in the not-too-distant future.

פורסם ב פברואר 18, 2022 03:21 אחה"צ על־ידי gcwarbler gcwarbler | 16 תצפיות | 3 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

ינואר 16, 2022

Back From Guatemala

My wife and I enjoyed a relatively quick (12-day) getaway to Guatemala for a birding trip. Traveling, flying, or just being in public places in this continuing pandemic is particularly stressful, but we were traveling with a trusted group of Covid-vaccinated and tested friends and excellent local guides with a well-established itinerary. Aside from the two long and uncomfortable travel days (airports, planes, etc.), touring in Guatemala was very exciting and pleasurable.

Arranged through JB Journeys, our local guides were the incomparable (and surprisingly young) John Cahill and Josue de León L. Part of our stay was at the Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) in the highlands of central Guatemala, hosted by John’s parents, Rob and Tara Cahill. All of these folks are superb birders and naturalists. The work being done at CCFC is particularly inspiring; see the link below to their website for full details of their important efforts. One afternoon, I got a picture of John, Rob, Josue, and visiting friend Moises Rodriguez, who collectively constitute 4 of the 5 top eBirders in the country!
https://ebird.org/tx/region/GT/ebirders?yr=all&m=
My first upload from the trip is appropriately emblematic of the country and the journey:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/105035553
We saw two male Quetzals in beautiful cloud forest habitat. I ended up with a bird list of over 300 species, including at least 27 Life Birds. That latter number may be supplemented by some "heard only" species--some glimpsed briefly--that were new to me.

Perhaps most thrilling for me were a few encounters with over-wintering Golden-cheeked Warblers in cloud forest and humid pine-oak habitat in the highlands. In very real ways, those brief sightings rounded out my life-long studies and work with the Golden-cheeked Warbler. I certainly hope to spend more time with GCWAs on their winter range, but now their full life history story has so much more meaning to me personally, bringing it “full-circle” in an ecological sense. John even took us birding in the hills above the village of Tactic, presumably close to the spot where the Golden-cheeked was originally discovered by Osbert Salvin in 1859. We saw one of our Golden-cheeked Warblers close at hand, foraging in oaks in those hills. That gave me chills just thinking about the history involved in all of that.

I will have hundreds of iNat uploads of plants, insects, and a few more birds over the next several days and weeks. Stay tuned! Here are a some relevant links to information on the tour company, guides, and other Guatemalan information:
https://www.jbjourneys.com (our U.S.-based tour company)
https://xikanel.com (John Cahill’s tour company)
https://cloudforestconservation.org (CCFC; hosted by Rob and Tara Cahill)
https://www.hotelatitlan.com (4-star hotel for our first two nights)
http://www.hposadaquetzal.com (2 night’s stay in cloud forest)
http://www.tikalnationalpark.org (our last 2 days and nights. It’s Tikal; what more can I say!)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6940 (all iNaturalist observations for Guatemala)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6940&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any (my Guatemala sightings—keep checking back)

פורסם ב ינואר 16, 2022 05:33 אחה"צ על־ידי gcwarbler gcwarbler | 25 תצפיות | 10 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

דצמבר 28, 2021

New Paper on a Catabenoides (Noctuidae)

Vitor O. Becker, a Lepidopterist in Brazil, just published a revision of the Noctuid genus Catabenoides in the J. Lep. Soc. (JLS 75(4):259-279, Dec. 2021). The paper substantially revises the taxonomy of the genus including some important corrected synonymy. He also describes nine new species from South America. The paper affects species occurring in Texas.

From Becker’s research, two species of Catabenoides occur in Texas, C. vitrinus and C. divisa. This is where the synonomy gets complicated. Most previous records in this genus in Texas and the Southwest were assigned to C. terminellus (with synonym C. candida)(iNat, MPG, BG, etc.). Becker synonymizes terminellus, candida, and a Florida species insularis under C. divisa. His expanded concept of divisa ranges from the British Virgin Islands, through Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Cuba, to south Florida, and from Texas to Arizona south into Mexico.

Importantly, Becker also offers an expanded concept of C. vitrinus, stating that it is “sympatric throughout” the range of divisa, and not just confined to Florida and the Caribbean as indicated in other sources (e.g. MPG). He maps vitrinus from Hispaniola, Jamaica, and south Florida, as well as from Texas and Arizona south into Mexico.

Taking his concepts of vitrinus and divisa at face value, the issue facing us in Texas is where each occurs and how we might tell them apart. A distribution map in Becker’s paper is unfortunately flawed and certainly incomplete. He indicates he examined 11 Texas specimens of vitrinus (but no genitalic slides) and 24 Texas specimens of divisa (including 3 genitalic slides). His map (Fig. 31, p. 264) has some misplaced symbols for divisa so it is somewhat unreliable for a detailed examination of the ranges. That said, if we take as a starting point that both species occur and overlap broadly in Texas, his map suggests that both species occur in South Texas and the Hill Country. He lists records of divisa in the Trans-Pecos but none there for vitrinus.

Here is another case where the utility of iNaturalist could be demonstrated: iNat presently contains 314 observations of this genus in Texas including at least 216 Research Grade observations (all RG assigned to “terminellus”). We have accumulated records of the genus as far north as I-20 in such locations as Palo Pinto SP, Maddin Prairie, Big Spring, and Midland. The challenge now is to be able to distinguish and assign photographic observations to one or the other of Becker’s species. It will not be possilbe to put a species name on all of them. But Becker offers one little tidbit which might help distinguish the two in photos:

The patagia are the “epaulets” which flank the middle of the thorax on most moths. On C. vitrinus, there is a “diffuse ochreous [pale orange] line across the middle of the patagia”, whereas in divisa there is a thin black line in the middle of the patagia. These marks might be tricky to see in dorsal views, but can be judged in clear lateral views of unworn moths. The primary image of “Catabenoides vitrina” on MPG shows the dull orange on the patagia:
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=10036
Here is an example of mine (dorsal view) at Timberlake Biologocal Station (Mills County) from October 2019 which seems to show the diffuse dull orange color on the patagia which would place this in the revised vitrinus:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/34161132
Note that the long black stripe on the FWs is not related to species discrimination; it is found on females of both species, absent on males of both species.
But another of my examples from Timberlake seems to show both a dull orange color and a thin dark line on the patagia:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/34161133 (2nd image)
So it is not going to be easy to separate these two in Texas.

I am NOT going to attempt reidentifying a lot of Catabenoides in Texas just yet. For one thing, “Catabenoides divisa” isn’t in the iNat taxonomy. For another, Jim Troubridge and other researchers may still have different concepts of the species of Catabenoides occurring in the U.S. So as informative as Becker’s brand new paper is, it may not be the final word.

If you want to dive into this further, here is a link to all 314 observations of Catabenoides in Texas on iNat:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=18&taxon_id=330406
and on BugGuide (total 55 images but none assigned to vitrinus):
https://bugguide.net/node/view/169895/bgimage?from=0

פורסם ב דצמבר 28, 2021 05:26 אחה"צ על־ידי gcwarbler gcwarbler | 2 תגובות | הוספת תגובה