June 05, 2012

Discovery Park - (Final)

Lat: 47.35775, Lon: -122.4205
6/2/12
Day, 2012
4:20-5:00

At the GPS coordinates I was given, I ended up just off one of the trails in Discovery Park. The area was quite woody and deciduous. It was sunny and about 65 degrees F, maybe slightly cooler under the cover of all the trees. It had rained a few hours earlier but the area was relatively dry due to all the tall trees.

I think these were Oregon Ash trees. They were about 50-60 feet tall with bright green leaves towards the top of the tree. I could see no cones on the branches or any that may have fallen to the ground. The trunks of these trees were almost a foot wide and were covered in splotches of mosses and lichens. I observed common green shield lichen, Ramalina, possibly Candelaria concolor, Parmelia saxatilis, and a few more that I could not identify. Seeing as this was a very deciduous area, I was not surprised by all the mosses and lichen. I did notice that the bottom foot or so of these trees was covered in moss, which is something I hadn’t really seen before.

Among the leaves of these ash trees were several spotted towhee. There was perhaps 15-10 of these white-chested birds that were visible at the time. Aside from their white chests, the spotted towhee had a burnt orange color on their sides and a long, black, rectangular-looking tail. Their calls were persistent, starting off soft and gradually getting loud. They only slowed down on the amount of calls being there for about half an hour. This I was surprised about because usually when you go into an area where birds nest, they get quiet and stop their calls.

As this was a deciduous area, there was much understory under the ash trees. The dominating plant looked very similar to Himalayan blackberry though it was not fruiting and the stems and leaves were much less pokey. However, the flowers and leaf structure looked a lot like that of the Himalayan blackberry. This plant covered almost every area of ground that hadn’t been stomped down to make the small path. It’s white flowers seemed very attractive to these two bumble bees that kept coming back to one of them.

Along with a few bees, there were many other insects in this particular area. I observed mosquitos and red-eyed flies; and earlier in the park there was a metallic green fly (maybe) flying and hovering over a patch of dandelions and grass near the trail. There was also a lot of spittle bug spittle. Not just at this location but it seemed like every place in the park that I went to had spittle bug remnants.

The last thing I observed at this location was Oregon grape. This particular one was barely a foot or so off the ground and its berries were just starting to turn purplish-blue. I thought it was nice to sort of end with Oregon grape since that was one of the first things I learned about when we went up to Pack Forest and now I can easily identify it.

Species List:
False Lily of the Valley
Candelaria concolor
Common Vetch
Oregon Ash
Salmonberry
Pink Purslane
Oregon White Oak
Western Swordfern
Common Greenshild Lichen
Bracken Fern
Dull Oregon Grape
Big-leaf Maple
English Ivy
Dandelion
Ramalina
Parmelia saxatilis
Spotted Towhee
Meadow Spittlebug

Posted on June 05, 2012 12:51 AM by lisad22 lisad22 | 24 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Bees Tour

UW Campus
5/31/12
Day, 2012
2:30-3:30

Bees eat nectar and are vital for cross pollination. 95% of them are solitary and 5% are communal. Solitary bees are when every female is fertile and they make nests. They don’t have to produce honey or work because they aren’t part of a colony. Communal bees are those like honey and bumble bees.

With communal bees, the queen bee is chosen by the worker bees while she is only a larva. The worker bees make the honey and feed the queen bee extra so she can reproduce. Interestingly, the queen bee only has one week to mate. She then stores the sperm so she can keep reproducing once the mating period has ended.

While the worker bees are making the honey, they flap their wings in order to evaporate the moisture. With all the wing flapping, temperatures can get up to 98 degrees F in the hives. This is good for these communal bees because bees in general like the sun and warmth. This is why a lot of solitary bees can’t fly around in the winter seeing as there is no communal heat.

Species List:
Honey bee
Bumble bee
California Firefly
Great Night-Stalking Tiger Beetle
Alder Flee Beetle

Posted on June 05, 2012 12:40 AM by lisad22 lisad22 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Mammals Tour

UW Campus
5/31/12
Day, 2012
1:30-2:30

On the mammals tour we learned about a whole bunch of squirrels. The mammals group started off with a really cute video of squirrels they had seen on campus that introduced to the dominating Eastern Grey squirrel. The Eastern Grey squirrels, while smaller than Western Grey squirrels, have been able to drive out the western greys and claim the campus for themselves. I think they said this began soon after they were introduced around 1925. Being a very territorial species, it is interesting that squirrels don’t really fight each other for their territories. There has been research showing that all they do is sort of bark at each other but don’t attack. That is one of the reasons why they think the eastern grey have been so successful, because they can just outnumber the western greys.

Something I definitely did not know about squirrels is that they make nests. These nests are for their young and also to just sleep in. I found this very interesting because there are so many squirrels all over the city and I don’t think I’ve seen one of their nests.

Squirrels have a very light skeleton which makes it easier for them to make fast, sudden movements and also to jump and hang from place to place. They also have ankle joints that can bend backwards so their feet are facing the opposite direction. This is why they are so good at hanging and climbing in very odd positions.

Species List:
Eastern Grey Squirrel
Western Grey Squirrel
Yellow Bely Marmot
Douglas’ Squirrel
Columbian Ground Squirrel
Antelope Ground Squirrel
Yellow Pine Chipmunk
Pine Squirrel
American Red Squirrel

Posted on June 05, 2012 12:28 AM by lisad22 lisad22 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Trees & Shrubs Tour

UW Campus
5/22/12
Day, 2012
1:30-2:30

We started off the trees & shrubs tour looking at a huge Horse Chestnut tree. It must have been about 50 feet tall with huge leaves, the biggest ones probably over a foot in diameter. There were lots of smaller sets of leaves growing out of the trunk of the tree as well. The horse chestnut is a poisonous tree and has these small white flowers all over. This is the tree responsible for all those small white flower petals that cover the ground in some areas on campus.

Next, we looked at a Pacific Madrone. Madrones are identifiable by their smooth and thick bunches of leaves that sort of hang over. The pacific madrone is also called the “refrigerator tree.” This is because there is no dead bark which makes the trunk cold to the touch. An interesting thing about these madrones is that their leaves are used to get rid of cramps and stomach aches and their berries are used to make cider.

The “Big Cone” Coulter Pine we saw was about maybe 40-50 feet tall. It had long thick needles, 3 per cluster and huge cones. The biggest cones can weigh up to 10lbs. What’s strange about this tree is that its needles somehow act as an herbicide. This could explain why there wasn’t much else around the Coulter Pine; although it was right next to a building so that may’ve been the reason also.

The last tree we looked at was the Ginko biloba. This tree is the oldest unchanged tree on Earth. I found that very interesting since we have so many right on campus. You’d think humans or other animals would’ve had some kind of impact on it. The only Ginko trees we have on campus though are male, seeing as the female trees have seeds that smell like vomit or ransid butter. The leaves of this Ginko biloba resembled those of a shamrock to me. And apparently the leaves are used in tea which has been used as an aphrodisiac and also to help concentration and memory.

Species List:
Pacific Madrone
Horse-chestnut
Ginko Biloba
Common Douglas Fir
Coulter Pine
English Elm

Posted on June 05, 2012 12:13 AM by lisad22 lisad22 | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 04, 2012

UW Greenhouse - Fungi

Lat.: 47.652349451369396 Lon.: -122.31024686535949
Day, 2012
5/10/12
2:00-3:30

Today we went to the Botany Greenhouse and learned about various fungi. We started off with powdery mildew. This was seen on an ornamental maple tree as well as a cucumber plant. Powdery mildew look like someone dusted white powder onto the leaves of these plants. Interestingly, the tiny dots that make up the white powder are actually piles of little spores. These spores can be broken off and therefore spread easily to other vulnerable plants.

They had a Dracula orchid out at the greenhouse. This is such a beautiful plant. It was in an open pot so the Dracula orchids were hanging there next to the roots. The orchid looks like it has two leaves that open like a mouth. Inside there is a small white flower with structures that resemble gills. This is in order for it to attract gnats that pollinate it. The gnats are attracted to the mushroom-looking structure of the “gills.”

On this tour, we talked a bit about lichens. They are pollution sensitive which is why they aren’t found as much here in the city. However, they can colonize on bare rock and therefore make it more suitable for other living things. We saw an example of this right outside of the greenhouse where a small bunch of Caloplaca (a lichen genus) were located on the side of a cement wall.

Species List:
Cucumber
Powdery Mildew
Genus Caloplaca
Dracula orchid

Posted on June 04, 2012 11:48 PM by lisad22 lisad22 | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

UW Wildflowers

UW Campus
Day, 2012
5/9/12
1:30-3:30

Today I went all over campus looking at wildflowers for our iNaturalist project [http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/uw-wildflowers]. Most of the species around campus are obviously planted but I did find a few that looked like they could be native. It was interesting though to see all the plants the campus chose to use to decorate the landscape. For instance, I saw a lot of bluebells, ceanothus, and azaleas.

Bluebells were in areas that were slightly more “protected” I guess; in places like the Quad. They were mostly blue hybrid bluebells but I did see some white hybrids too.

I kept seeing ceanothus around campus as well. They had dark shiny green leaves and tiny blue flowers in bunches. The stamen had yellow tips that I'm assuming were pollen because bees were really attracted to this plant. I see ceanothus a lot around the Seattle neighborhood. It’s really pretty but I thought it was interesting people like to plant this so much because of all the bees.

Finally, rhododendrons were actually everywhere. I saw the big 10-15’ rhododendron trees and the small azalea bushes in just about every area of campus I visited. The big trees were much more abundant than the small azalea bushes though.

The best part of going out and taking pictures for the website was just wandering and seeing what’s on campus. I hadn’t really taken that much time to observe the plants around campus before. Though it’s too bad there aren’t more native species and that at least most of the wildflowers and trees/shrubs with flowers were planted.

Species List:
Daphne
Carpet Bugle
Camellias
Azalia
Stinking hellebore
Common Dandelion
Daisy
Greater Periwinkle
Red Baneberry
Common Vetch
Pacific Bleeding Heart
Hybrid bluebell
Chinese Caps
Irises
Wood Sorrel

Posted on June 04, 2012 06:34 PM by lisad22 lisad22 | 24 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 01, 2012

Mammals

Lat: 47.65520606989774, Lon: -122.30810444799601
Day, 2012
5/15/12
1:30-3:30

Today we had a guest lecture by Jim Kanagy. He is the curator of mammals at the Burke Museum. Jim told us that mammals and birds have only been here for the last 60 million years or so, so they are a relatively young species. Of all the vertebrates, mammals make up only 1/16 -1/8 of them, while fish make up about half. There are 29 orders and about 5,400 species.

Some of the general characteristics of mammals are that they have fur, produce milk, they have one single lower jaw bone, three middle ear bones. All mammals (humans included) have the same set of bones; they just differ in form and location. Some of this diversification is due to differences in diet which can affect the shape and structure of the skull, where the teeth are placed and how many there are, etc.

One thing I found really interesting was that rodents and bats make up almost 2/3 of all mammals. There are 2,277 rodentia (rodent) species and 1,186 chiroptera (bat) species. Carnivores only have 286 species which is considerably smaller in comparison. The reason for such great success of the rodents is that they are generalized creatures, which means there are a lot of very similar species.

Another fact is that Washington State only has 9 of the 29 orders of mammals. This doesn’t seem like a whole lot but when you consider the fact that the Pacific Coast is so diverse and contains so many different habitats and topographies, 9 orders may actually be a lot. The state has carnivore, artiodactyla, rodentia, lagomorph, chiropetra, soricomporpha, primates, didelphimorphia, and catacea. The interesting part is that about 10,000 years ago we used to have a lot more orders and species. We used to have perissodactyla (horses, rhinos…), proboscidea (elephants), cingulate (armadillos), pilosa (sloths, anteaters), and sirenia (manatees, dugongs). This makes me wonder why these orders are no longer seen here; did they become extinct, did humans overhunt them, did they just move, or did climate change affect their habitat so they could no longer live hear?

Posted on June 01, 2012 04:45 PM by lisad22 lisad22 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Fungi

Lat: 47.65520606989774, Lon: -122.30810444799601
Day, 2012
5/8/12
1:30-3:30

Today we learned all about fungi and went on a little tour to see the species around campus. One of the things we learned about in the lecture part was rot. There’s soft rot, brown rot, and white rot. We focused a lot on white rot because it is infamous for stripping away the lignin to get to the carbon in trees and completely breaking down the wood in the process. Consequently, it there’s no white rot around, the trees will be immense.

The first thing we saw on the tour was actually white rot. This crab apple tree had a huge hole looking thing in it that was caused by white rot. The wood of the tree is being completely decimated so the tree will die and have to be removed in the future.

We also saw a lot of mushrooms. We saw oyster mushroom which can apparently grow on almost anything. Turkey tail was also seen on a downed log by the greenhouse. This is a white rot fungus that is very efficient and doesn’t like conifers. This explains why it was found on a downed log that looks deciduous. An interesting thing about turkey tail is that it only grows parallel to the ground. I thought that was very interesting because if this white rot mushroom finds its way to a living tree it will grow parallel to the ground. But if the fungus kills the tree and it falls, the tree will be on the ground so new turkey tail will grow perpendicular to the older turkey tail.

Species List:
Turkey Tail
Artist bracket
Oyster mushroom
Inky caps
White rot

Posted on June 01, 2012 04:07 PM by lisad22 lisad22 | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Field Sketching

Lat: 47.65520606989774, Lon: -122.30810444799601
Day, 2012
4/10/12
1:30-3:30

Today we learned about field sketching from Maria Coryell-Martin. She goes on expeditions with teams and sketches where they are and what they're looking at. I thought that sounded like one of the coolest jobs; traveling and drawing and getting paid!

Anyway, Maria taught us techniques she uses in her sketches and drawings/paintings. There are gesture, subjective, and objective sketches, contouring and value.

With the gesture sketches, Maria had Josh make a bunch of poses and we were supposed to do rough sketches of them. Gesture sketching is when you use squinting, rhythm, and measuring with something like your pencil or arm to get the big ideas and shapes of whatever you're sketching. It is very rough and just used to draw things really quickly so you can come back to them later for more detail.

When we did contour sketches we drew our hands. Contour sketching is when you draw where edges come together or “anywhere an ant may crawl.” We tried blind contouring our hands where we closed our eyes and tried to picture and draw hand without lifting the pencil. Mine was really bad, but when we did normal contour sketching with looking, my hand drawing was a lot better.

We also learned about value. Value is the amount of pencil you use when sketching if you don’t have actual colors for coloring or shading. The darks are supposed to be really dark and the lights are supposed to be really light in order to enhance the contrast and depth of whatever you’re sketching.

Species List:
Red-winged blackbirds
Cattails

Posted on June 01, 2012 03:34 PM by lisad22 lisad22 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Entomology - 2

Lat: 47.65461893881919, Lon: -122.30878036466777
Day, 2012
5/3/12
1:30-3:30

Also today we observed a few insects under the microscope and drew them. I observed a Scarabaeidae beetle, Nymphalidae butterfly, and a Lady Beetle.

The scarabaeidae beetle was only about maybe 1/3 of an inch. It had a shiny green head and thorax and a brown abdomen and tiny black legs. Upon looking under the microscope I could see a lot more. The beetle was covered in a thin layer of tiny white hairs and actually appeared slightly fuzzy under the microscope.

The second insect I observed was the Nymphalidae butterfly. This butterfly was really beautiful. It had a light orange/brown head, thorax, and body with multicolored fore- and hind wings. The light orange/brown color extended outward to the fore wings, followed by a black line and then oval shapes of white. These white ovals were followed by another black line, a more rusty orange/brown line, and then sequential black and white lines. This pattern was similar for the hind wings but the white ovals were connected and the bold black lines seen on the fore wings were more like dots than lines. However, they still had sequential black and white lines near the wing’s edges; they were just a bit thinner. An interesting thing about this butterfly was that when I turned it over, the colors on its wings were much duller. It was a lot whiter underneath with orange and white and light brown colors instead of the bright and vibrant colors seen on top. This could be because most species see them from above when the butterfly is in flight, or from the side when it’s landed on something.

The last insect I observed was the Lady Beetle. This was just a common red and black lady bug. It had a mostly black head and black abdomen under the elytra and wings. It also had the classic shiny red elytra with black spots however this particular lady beetle had an orange tint to it. This was the insect I had the least time with but I couldn’t really see a whole lot of difference when I looked at it under the microscope versus just looking at it with the naked eye.

Species List:
Scarabaeidae beetle
Nymphalidae butterfly
Lady Beetle

Posted on June 01, 2012 02:53 PM by lisad22 lisad22 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Archives