Sunday, August 29, 2010

Field Photos: White-eyed Vireo in Nest

Vireo griseus the white-eyed vireo; nested in a forked branch of Myrica cerifera (wax myrtle).

Snapshot taken a couple months back in Manatee County, Florida – where vireos nest year around.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Field Photos: Jewel Beetle Vs Yellow-eyed Grass

A jewel beetle [Buprestis rufipes (?)] having a go at the wetland plant Xyris caroliniana.

Xyris caroliniana is a species of “yellow-eyed grass” belonging to the Xyridaceae Family of monocots. It’s an herbaceous perennial common to Florida’s marshes, hydric pine flatwoods, and wetland ecotones. They display a compact erect stem and ascending leaves. Its flowers are short lived with three yellow petals.

The iridescence shown by Buprestis rufipes isn’t due to pigmentation in the exoskeleton, but rather microscopic textures in its cuticle which reflect and scatter particular frequencies of light.

These photos were taken near Goethe State Forest back in April.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Field Photos: An Endangered Fern

Below are a few snapshots of an endangered “hand fern” - Ophioglossum palmatum.

Members of the Ophioglossum palmatum are epiphytic ferns that take root in the humus that collects between the fronds and the trunks of palm trees.

These snapshots were taken last month during fieldwork near the Fakahatchee Preserve in south Florida.

Although, they’re listed by the State of Florida as an endangered species, the hand fern can also be found in Southeast Asia, South America and Madagascar.

A close-up showing the spore-bearing

sporangial spikes

Here are a few more specimens – these ones guarded by Toxicodendron radicans (Poison Ivy)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Motivating Herd of Squirrel Frogs

I’ve really neglected this blog the last few months… There’s really no excuse for the lack of posts; I’ve just been tied-up with work, extra work (thanks for nothing BP) and personal commitments. In an effort to get things rolling again, I thought that posting a couple of snapshots would be a good idea. Small steps…

Despite a recent malaise brought about by incidents in the Gulf of Mexico, I was briefly inspired this weekend when I discovered a couple hundred juvenile frogs in my backyard. Yeah, a COUPLE HUNDRED!

Though, I’m not exactly certain where the deed went down (no ponds or puddles around), my best guess is that about 45-days ago (tadpole-to-froglet growth time) a couple (perhaps a few) of the squirrel frogs that reside in the rafters of my porch got “frisky” (i.e. mated). The result: hundreds of these guys in my yard:

Squirrel frogs (Hyla squirella) are common throughout the Southeastern United States. They’re terrestrial tree frogs that breed and undergo early development in water (puddles, ponds, ditches, etc…). Once sufficiently mature to undertake travel, they move to forested areas (or the exteriors of human dwellings) to live as adults. Eventually, the upland dwelling adult frogs return to water to reproduce and the cycle starts anew.

As another quick natural history note, Hyla squirella are at least bimodel when it comes to sexual selection. Like many frog species, the females home-in on distant males by converging on the sound of the male’s song; but, in addition to sound, female squirrel frogs also select mates based on appearance.

Squirrel frog in rafters of porch

Males with low-frequency and energetic calls are preferred by the females, but the females also consider the size of the yellow stripe that runs down the male’s side. The male’s yellow stripe may give some indication as to his overall health.