Diario del proyecto 2023 Brandeis Bioliteracy Project

16 de abril de 2023

Species of the Week: Garlic Mustard

Welcome back!

Hope everyone had a good break filled with opportunities to observe! As we prep for our final iNat assignments, I think its worth highlighting a species that has come up a few times in class now, our tastiest invasive species, garlic mustard. Pretty much anywhere you go on campus, you're sure to spot this species.

Garlic mustard (Alliaria pitiolata) is a species of plant native to Asia and Europe that has become highly invasive in the northeastern United States. Young garlic mustard can be identified by its rounder, heart-shaped leaves that grow very low to the ground (first image). Older garlic mustard forms a stem with sharper leaves, and eventually produces small white flowers (second image).

Garlic mustard is a particularly problematic invasive species due to the ease by which the wind spreads its seeds, and because of its very early emergence in the spring. Before our native plants even have the chance to begin popping up, garlic mustard is already grown to the point that it easily outcompetes them for sunlight, water, and nutrients. The chemicals produced from the roots of garlic mustard even have a destructive effect on the fungal networks that are vital to forest ecosystems.

Fortunately, garlic mustard is edible and especially delicious in pesto recipes, so it can be put to good use after pulling it from the ground (roots and all) to help our native species. Its best to harvest garlic mustard for cooking purposes when it is young, as it tends to get more bitter the longer it grows.

Publicado el abril 16, 2023 09:35 TARDE por jackthropod jackthropod | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

13 de febrero de 2023

Species of the Week: Mourning Cloak

Welcome back!

For this week's species highlight, I'll be giving the spotlight to one of my favorite local butterfly species, the mourning cloak. It looks like we're in store for a couple of warmer days this week, so hopefully we will begin to see these beautiful insects flying around.

The mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) is an easily recognizable butterfly with a unique appearance that resembles no other species. The upper sides of this butterfly's wings are a rich maroon, with pale yellow edges and iridescent blue spots. In contrast, the under sides of a mourning cloak's wings are a drab grayish-brown that resembles the bark of a tree, serving as some very impressive camoflauge when the wings are folded up.

Mourning cloaks are some of the earliest butterflies to emerge in the spring. This is due to the fact that this species overwinters as an adult, unlike the majority of lepidopterans (butterflies and moths) that overwinter as caterpillars or pupae. This also means that mourning cloaks live far longer than most butterflies, with an adult lifespan that lasts about a year. As soon as the sun comes out, these butterflies are ready to emerge from their winter hiding spots.

Below are some images I took of a mourning cloak butterfly found in the woods behind the International Business School on campus!

Publicado el febrero 13, 2023 11:33 TARDE por jackthropod jackthropod | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de febrero de 2023

Species of the Week: American Robin

Happy Monday!

Welcome everyone to our first species of the week highlight! In these weekly posts, I will be highlighting some of the amazing species that you are likely to encounter as you begin your iNat journeys. In case these organisms are not interesting enough on their own, they may or may not pop up as extra credit opportunities on future exams...

For our first species, it is only fitting that we take a look at the champion of last year's Bioliteracy Project, the American Robin. Coming in with a whopping 385 observations, the American Robin was by far the most observed species on campus last year.

The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is one of the most recognizable birds across North America. They are plump little birds that sport a rusty orange belly, gray wings, and black heads. Adult males and females are visually quite similar, but females typically have lighter colored heads. They are often among the first songbirds you will hear in the morning, producing a complex and cheerful song.

The number one predator of American Robins is the domestic cat. As you will soon learn in this course, an important action that we can take in our day-to-day lives as conservationists is keeping our beloved cats indoors.

That concludes our first species highlight, make sure to tune in next Monday to learn more about our local biodiversity!

Publicado el febrero 6, 2023 08:59 TARDE por jackthropod jackthropod | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

20 de enero de 2023

Welcome Conservation Biologists!

Welcome students of Biol17b!

It's never too early to start observing! To kick things off, I thought it might be helpful to offer some suggestions on where you can go to make some great observations within our project range. On campus, I recommend exploring the paths through the woods behind the Brandeis International Business School. The woods surrounding the Chapels can also have some good stuff (especially fungi from my experience).

For those feeling a little more adventurous, one of my favorite spots to iNat is Mt. Feake Cemetary. Its just a short walk from campus, and is full of some really great wildlife. If you're lucky, you might even see the bald eagles that live there!

These are just a few ideas to get you feeling inspired, but remember that there are opportunities to make iNat observations on campus all of the time, even as you are walking between classes. Happy iNatting, can't wait to see what you all find!

Publicado el enero 20, 2023 06:56 TARDE por jackthropod jackthropod | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario