Observation of the Week, 11/12/15

This Long-tailed Blue butterfly seen by Tamsin Carlisle in the United Arab Emirates is our Observation of the Week!

After obtaining a BA in Zoology from Oxford and a PhD in Evolutionary Ecology at UC Santa Barbara, Tamsin Carlisle had every intention of being a field biologist, but the “disruptive nature of life itself” intervened and she has since become a successful business journalist, based in Dubai and writing mainly about oil and gas.

She’s never given up on her passion for biology, however, and soon after moving to Dubai she joined the Dubai Natural History Group, a group whose members “head out of the Glitter City to explore the surrounding expanses of far-from-barren desert and mountains, along with the occasional mangrove swamp.” For the past year she’s been the Bird Recorder for the group, and began to use iNaturalist as a way for her to keep a list of her sightings, and for help with identification.

With her background in evolutionary biology, Ms. Carlisle is interested in “how new species arise and become established, why they spread or contract geographically and wink in and out of existence over time.” This led to her observation of the Long-tailed Blue butterfly, which she noticed looks and behaves similarly to another lycaenid butterfly, the the Plains Cupid (above). The former she has seen east of the rugged Hajar Mountains, and the latter she observed on the western side of them. These observations, along with two similar Lacertid lizard species divided by the mountains, has made her wonder if “a pattern [was] emerging and, if so, what role was being played by the physical barrier of the Hajar Mountains?”

With questions such as these, in “a region where fauna and flora have been incompletely inventoried and mapped,” she writes, “citizen naturalists can help.”

Citizen Scientists: Keep exploring. Keep sharing.

Maybe your discovery will become an iNaturalist Observation of the Week!

- by Tony Iwane

Hey, iNaturalists! See something that blows your mind? Click ‘Add to favorites’ so it can be considered for the Observation of the Week!

Posted by loarie loarie, November 18, 2015 19:48

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