Diario del proyecto The Preserve at Bull Run Mountains

05 de agosto de 2022

Biodiversity Highlight - Series #1: Lucanidae of the Bull Run Mountains - Part Three

Biodiversity Highlight (Series #1: Part Three): Ceruchus piceus (Red-rot Decay Stag Beetle)
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve


Ceruchus piceus (Red-rot Decay Stag Beetle) - minor ♂ spotted on The Preserve's north section

© Michael Carr (@mjwcarr), some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)


Hello again everyone!

Welcome back to yet another installment exploring the biodiversity of the Bul Run Mountains. This week's mention mark's the final stretch of our deep dive into the Lucanidae of the Bull Run Mountains. Armed with much more intimidating mandibles, a slick, yet stocky build, and an entirely different habitat preference than our previous highlights let's jump into our subject - Ceruchus piceus, or the red-rot decay stag beetle. Like our other Lucanidae, this particular species has the same voracious appetite for decaying wood (at least as a larva). However, this species requires another type of rotting wood from which it gets its common namesake - red rot More on that later though). The red-rot decay stag beetle is another diminutive species of Lucanidae (perhaps tied with Platycerus quercus), only reaching a maximum size of ~18mm (or about the size of a thumbnail). The species occurs relatively commonly across both undisturbed and even urban habitats where suitable deadwood occurs - just check out the locations it has been spotted around NOVA.

Typical of its family, the red-rot decay stag beetles have a geniculate antenna culminating in a multi-antennomere club at the distal end. The elytra of the species are striated, meaning they are marked with long, thin, parallel lines. The specific epithet of the species piceus translates directly to "pitch black" - a pleasantly literal representation of the species. One of three species of Ceruchus, this is the only species of the genus to occur within The Preserve and Virginia as a whole. However, should you come across a similar-looking species in the north or west, the males of this species can be identified by a large "tooth" present along the center of the mandible. Beyond identification and biological notes, this species has been the subject of some interesting scientific studies. Some of which involve the larval form of the organism's capacity to tolerate sub-freezing conditions without extensive use of anti-freeze alcohol, a technique typical of many freeze-tolerate insects. This may be a great topic to explore in a future winter-specific post on insects.


Ceruchus piceus (Red-rot Decay Stag Beetle) ♂ - male specimen observed in Massachusetts

© Tom Murray (@tmurray74), some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)


Wow, look at those chompers! The major males (males that show exceptional development of mandibles and which approach or have reached maximum size) of this species are likely armed with the second largest mandibles relative to the body size of any other Lucanidae in the United States. Interestingly, unlike other species of stag beetles with such large mandibles, the red-rot decay stag beetle does not use its well-endowed appendages to secure the female during the mating process. In good taste, this stag beetle prefers to woo a receptive female by massaging her elytra with his midleg during mounting and mating. This behavior is interesting in that it excludes the function of the mandibles in courtship behavior. With the resource allocation needed for developing such weapons, they are restricted to male-on-male mate competition.

As promised earlier, let's have a brief look at some stag beetle ecology involving deadwood. It is just as important to understand the organism as it is to understand its habitat. In the family Lucanidae the habitat of choice is typically rotting, deadwood materials in forest environments. Many of us are familiar with rotting wood, whether in our own homes or having encountered it in a natural state. However, there are several types of rotting wood that have to provide very different resources to the surrounding habitat. The two main types are brown (or red)rot and white rot. These types of wood rot are determined by a panoply of fungal species associated with each type. Common species include Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail), considered a "white rot" fungus, and Laetiporus sulphureu (Chicken-of-the-woods), considered a "red rot" fungus. These fungi consume different polymers found in dead wood leaving behind materials for which the rot types get their names.

In white rotted wood, the fungal species colonizing the deadwood break down the lignin of the wood, in turn releasing carbon dioxide and water. Once completed this process leaves an abundance of fiber-rich, white-colored cellulose remaining. This process is switched in red-rot-associated fungal species, which breaks down the cellulose of the deadwood and leaves behind the brown-red colored lignin. The brown lignin is also consumed in white rot fungi, but the polymer is "bleached" leaving the materials much lighter in color. The textures of these rot types are also distinct from one another. White rot is typically stringy or soft, highly fibrous, and very easy to pull apart. Red rotted wood tends to produce blocky, harder pieces of processed wood which can be very fractured in appearance.


Ceruchus piceus (Red-rot Decay Stag Beetle) ♀ - female specimen observed in Massachusetts

© Jason M Crockwell (@berkshirenaturalist), some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC-ND)


The preference of rot types between Lucanidae species has been recorded around the world. There have even been correlations between the size of rotted woody materials and the state of decay playing a role in habitat selection by females for oviposition. Some of this is understood, and much of it isn't specifically known. There are many mysteries and nuances left to be discovered in stag beetles!

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this short article please leave a comment below to help us gauge community impact for our annual summary. Additionally, if you have any questions, comments, or corrections leave them below. While niche, this platform provides a unique opportunity for naturalists and enthusiasts to share their insights and stories regarding the amazing biodiversity that surrounds all of us.

If you are interested in visiting the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area preserve or attending public events, please check the links below for more information.


ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.

Follow us on Social Media!
iNaturalist: VOF-BRMNAP Preserve Manager Joe Villari (@jvillari)
Instagram: @bullrunmountains
Facebook: Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve)
Our website: VOF RESERVES: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve
Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group

Anotado en 05 de agosto de 2022 a las 10:03 PM por mjwcarr mjwcarr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de julio de 2022

Biodiversity Highlight - Series #1: Lucanidae of the Bull Run Mountains - Part Two

Biodiversity Highlight (Series #1: Part Two): Dorcus parallelus (Antelope Beetle)
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve


Dorcus parallelus (Antelope Beetle) ♀ spotted on The Preserve's north section

© Joe Villari (@jvillari), some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)


Hello again everyone!

Welcome to the second installment of our four-part dive into the Lucanidae, or stag beetles, of the Bull Run Mountains. This week we will be looking at the antelope beetle, Dorcus parallelus. This stag beetle is one of two species of its genus found in North America, both of which are found throughout the eastern portion of the United States. While very few of these have been observed in The Preserve, they seem to prefer the biodiverse quarters found in our northern section. This species of stag beetle is medium-sized, all black, with striated elytra, and modest to medium-sized mandibles (but we'll come back to that). With all our other species of Lucanidae, this gorgeous, albeit incredibly stereotypical-looking beetle has a strong affinity with hardwood tree species like Quercus sp., or oaks - though a thorough ecological investigation has yet to be published (at least I couldn't track one down).

Similar to their sister species in Europe (Dorcus parallelipipedus - thank goodness our species got the easier name), these beetles are frequently encountered in gardens. At least two female specimens have been observed in a garden here on the preserve! This is likely due to the reproductive cycle of the species, which lays its eggs in soil rich in decaying wood and hardwood tree leaves - which may be a large component of a gardeners homemade compost materials. Burrowing into these materials, the female stag beetle will lay her eggs within the substrate where tiny beetle embryos will develop over the next several weeks. Upon hatching the c-shaped, white grub larvae can spend the next one-to-two years feeding and growing underground. Although similar in appearance, these grubs should not be confused with other, more detrimental garden pest species, as they do not feed on living plant materials like roots.


Dorcus parallelus (Antelope Beetle) ♂ - male specimen observed in Ontario

© Bob Noble (@bob15noble), some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)


Wow, look at those chompers!

The picture above of an adult male specimen illustrates the most charismatic feature of the Lucanidae - the mandibles. These oversized "teeth" are used for male-on-male battles in competition for females. Just like our last highlighted species, Platycerus quercus, these battles can be fierce, though rarely end with the demise of one of the suiters. These relatively large endowments also don't pose much threat to any human handler. Having been chewed on by much larger Lucanidae, this author can attest that the bite force from one of these beetles is more surprise than pain. Interestingly enough, the real pinch comes from the female, whose small pincers are more suited for chewing into decaying wood. These compact mulchers have a bit more torque, bringing a bit more ouch! to your insect encounter.

Taking a step back, our two species Dorcus are just a couple of many distributed across the world. The genus Dorcus is widespread with 30 or more species and found in eastern North America, Europe, and prolifically across India and eastern Asia. Here in the states, the stag beetle diversity is pretty low (unless you decide take some exceedingly long walks through the western California mountain ranges), but how to do even tell a stag beetle from another family of beetles, let alone species?

There are a few easy ways to pick a stag beetle apart from other local beetle fauna. The family may be the best know for their champion antlers, but the morphology of the antenna is a much better indicator of your Coleopteran family. Although not true for every Lucanidae you may come across here in the United States, the elbowed, or geniculate antenna is a major distinguishing feature of the family. As you can see in the photo above, the antenna of this male D. parallelus possesses an extended initial antennal segment , followed by a series of smaller segments leading into a distal club. This trait can also be observed in our last species and will be a persistent feature as we review additional Lucanidae here at the Preserve. As we continue our exploration of Lucanidae I'll highlight the more subtle morphological features to help with identification.


ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.

Follow us on Social Media!
iNaturalist: Preserve Manager Joe Villari (@jvillari)
Instagram: @bullrunmountains
Facebook: Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve)
Our website: VOF RESERVES: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve
Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group

Anotado en 26 de julio de 2022 a las 06:20 PM por mjwcarr mjwcarr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de julio de 2022

Biodiversity Highlight - Series #1: Lucanidae of the Bull Run Mountains - Part One

Biodiversity Highlight (Series #1: Part One): Platycerus quercus (Oak Stag Beetle)
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve


Platycerus quercus (Oak Stag Beetle) ♀ spotted at the South Section Trails

© Izabella Farr (@izafarr), some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)


Hello everyone!

Welcome to the first in a new series of posts focusing on the amazing biodiversity held within The Preserve. It has been a while since my last post and new highlights have been irregular (quite the understatement). Today I will be experimenting with some new content to better highlight some of my favorite species that can be observed at The Preserve. To start us off, we will be delving into one of the most interesting families of insects - the Lucanidae, or stag beetles. The Preserve is home to several species of stag beetle, though they are seldom seen. If you've already poured through the project filter you'll see that three different species have been observed on the trails and backwoods of The Preserve. In addition to these three amazing critters, I'll be adding another species that has been observed just outside the preserve and is very likely within the Preserve's border - just waiting to be recorded. These species include:

Dorcus parallelus (Antelope Beetle)
Ceruchus piceus (Red-rot decay stag beetle)
Lucanus capreolus (Reddish-brown stag beetle)
Platycerus quercus (Oak stag Beetle)

Let us start with a little background. Lucanidae is a relatively small family within Coleoptera and contains approximately 1,500 species (It may sound like a lot, but families like Scarabaeidae have over 30,000 species!). The area of the world with the highest Lucanidae diversity in Asia also contains some of the largest and most striking examples of the family. Within the United States the most striking example of a stag beetle is the American giant stag beetle, Lucanus elaphus . The giant stag beetle boasts the largest mandibles of any other North American Lucanidae. L. elaphus is one of my favorite species and a subject of my own research projects, but doesn't occur this far North in Virginia and will not be included on this list. Big mandibles are cool, but bigger doesn't always mean more interesting. You may have already noticed the intimidating mandibles of the male oak stag beetle highlighted below - an interesting feature a common observer may overlook due to the small size of the species. The nuance of morphology in Lucanidae is all the more on show in the smaller species, especially Platycerus.


Platycerus quercus (Oak Stag Beetle) ♂ - male specimen observed in Oklahoma

© Thomas Shahan (@tshahan), some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)


The namesake of this species is not leaving much to the imagination. The species is most associated with Quercus species throughout its range. As far as common naming conventions go, honesty is always the best way to make a species more reflective of its ecology - the more it makes sense the better (Looking at your earwigs). Typical of the family, the oak stag beetle spends most of its life as a larval grub deep underground in the decaying roots and wood of oak and other hardwood trees. The adult form of the beetle is only a brief period of life in which the beetle emerges from the ground to disperse, compete for females (in regards to males), locate adequate habitat to oviposit (lay eggs - more for the ladies), and end their multiyear journey of life. These periods only last a few months each year, usually between March and June. Females may overwinter to oviposit and can be encountered in the winter months under tree bark or rotting wood cavities. While several studies have been published regarding the general natural history, life cycle, and mating behaviors of this species - there is always more to learn.

Like other species of Lucanidae, the well-endowed mandibles are used for male-on-male combat to secure mating privileges with females. Those recurved, serrated mandibles can be used to bluff another beetle into submission or back up his bravado. Most of the time these battles result in little injury to the combatants. If a smaller contestant decides to push a much larger rival into battle, however, the result can be fatal. Although these natural spectacles are typically out of view for most nature enthusiasts, these tiny forest warriors emphasize the wildness and drama that awaits to be found if one only decides to look a little closer.


ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.

Follow us on Social Media!
iNaturalist: Preserve Manager Joe Villari (@jvillari)
Instagram: @bullrunmountains
Facebook: Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve)
Our website: VOF RESERVES: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve
Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group

Anotado en 19 de julio de 2022 a las 01:22 AM por mjwcarr mjwcarr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

22 de febrero de 2022

The Preserve at Bull Run's 2021 iNat Year in Review

Annual Update #2: 2021 in Review
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve


Chelydra serpentina (Common Snapping Turtle) Observed: Apr 4, 2021
© Jacob Saucier, some rights reserved (CC-BY)


Introduction

Hello again everyone!

With another year behind us it is time to review the many observations made at the Bull Run Mountains Natural Areas Preserve in 2021. Despite the secondary surge of COVID-19 cases and its variants, visitors and researchers alike managed to observe an additional 1,000 observations (an exceptionally precise 1,000!) across our 2,486 acre natural area preserve. While this is lower than the total number of observations from last year, our iNaturalist project contributors remained steady. We appreciate all the help our community contributes every year in the quest to better document our natural flora and fauna. This year we were able to document some great endemic species. Some naturalist were also able to flex their photography skills and capture some amazing snapshots of feathered, scaled, or cellulosed neighbors. As we continue to learn more each year, this review aims to acknowledge the naturalist who have given their all in sharing their appreciation for the habitat the Virginia Outdoor Foundation's works to protect every day. With our introduction out of the way, lets dig into the reason we all come back to iNaturalist - to look at some critters, plants, and the things that aren't either!


Entoloma abortivum (Aborted Entoloma) Observed: Oct 9, 2021
© forestbathing, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)


Summary of Results from 2021 - What a Year!

Overview

Interested in viewing the observations pictured above? Icterus galbula, Goodyera pubescens, Dicrtomina ornata, Tolype velleda, Coluber constrictor.


Total Observations by Phylum

The representative pictures used above are a from observations shared here on iNaturalist by our visitors and researchers. Our Arthropoda representative is a Six-spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata) observed by @mjwcarr, spotted chowing down on a unidentified ant species! Our Chordata observations included a plethora of amazing photographs, including many by naturalist @saucierj! It seemed fitting for his observation of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) to represent the Phylum. The final representative for the Animalia is a Gray-foot Lancetooth Snail (Haplotrema concavum) observed by naturalist @izafarr - only the second observation of the species for The Preserve's iNaturalist project! Coming in as our fist representative for the Fungi is a Eyelash cup (Scutellinia sp.) observed by naturalist @jeffdc - a great find. Representing the Basidiopmycota (a diverse division of fungi) is a Collared Calostoma (Calostoma lutescens) observed by Preserve Manager @jvillari. With only one representative for the division Zygomycota (now former according to Google - I am pretty ignorant regarding fungi taxonomy) is of Syzygites megalocarpus observed by @izafarr (this naturalist was on fire!). Our penultimate Kingdom, Plantae, saw a lot of observational footwork by our naturalist community. Representing the Phylum Bryophyta is Broom Moss (Dicranum scoparium) observed by @mjwcarr - a shameless pick. For the Marchantiophyta, some beautiful Snakewort (Conocephalum salebrosum) observed by @mjwcarr (it's the last self post I swear!). The final representative for the Plantae Phyla is a Striped Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata) observed by naturalist @forestbathing. The final representative is for the Protozoa! Only six observations were recorded for this Kingdom over the course of 2021. Representing them is Metatrichia vesparium observed by @jeffdc.


Supplementary Analysis


Similar to last year, the most active time for our iNaturalist project is through the warmer portions of the year. However, unlike last year, December offered the highest number of observations for a single month in 2021. This proves that even at the start of winter there are many wonderful things to observe in nature.


Accolades

Interested in viewing the observations pictured above? Goodyera pubescens, Tipularia discolor, Notophthalmus viridescens.


The Preserve and Partnerships

Oak Spring Garden Foundation

Danaus plexippus (Monarch) Observed: Jul 10, 2021 at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation Property
© Joe Villari, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)

Last summer the BRMNAP Preserve manager Joe Villari organized and co-hosted the first ever BioBlitz at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation. The event included specialist, students, researchers, and naturalists from all over the country to help better document the biodiversity of the property. A more in-depth write-up of the event will be included in the 2021 Annual Report published by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation in the coming weeks - follow our social media links at the bottom of this article for updates! The event is captured over 450 species over the course of the event. Additional species are expected to be added to this total following the identification of collected insects specimens taken during light trapping equipment. You can view the observations recorded on iNaturalist by visiting the OSGF 2021 BioBlitz collection project. A general iNaturalist project for the Oak Spring Garden Foundation can be found here.


Coccyzus americanus (Yellow-billed Cuckoo) with a Norape ovina (White Flannel Moth Caterpillar) Observed: Aug 31, 2021
© Jacob Saucier, some rights reserved (CC-BY)


Thank you!

Thank you everyone who contributed observations and assisted in identifying our floral and faunal community members! I hope to continuing seeing your input into our collection project throughout 2022!

@libby39
@mjwcarr
@groutta
@saucierj
@lauragoley
@rubyhari
@becky443
@janisstone
@danglin
@dayahall
@liliana_ramirez178
@impossible_toad
@jbuck74
@travelingross
@cthompson1963
@jvillari
@megmuthupandiyan
@pgwamsley
@thecrunchyleaf
@macktheknife
@ines_nedelcovic
@michael2256
@mike1135
@banshee
@mbarreda
@xbarreda
@taryn20
@snakepuncess
@cmuzyk
@amielhopkins
@forestbathing
@mveiman
@jeffdc
@izafarr
@davidenrique
@mmmmbugs
@catullus
@d_kluza
@tsn
@pipsissewa
@jeffdc
@mjpapay
@graytreefrog
@tlit46
@choess
@imasongster
@izafarr
@rikimaru
@amanda_gorman
@birderkellyk
@nomolosx
@jacob62
@pwilson06
@arielbonkoski
@mjwcarr
@dburton4444
@asquithcm
@burningblue
@heather_b1
@easpears
@saucierj

@conboy
@mpintar
@mcgowenm
@megachile
@alanliang
@grigorenko
@bugzilla
@dayahall
@pranavchandrabose
@johngsalamander
@tapaculo99
@bertharris
@wildreturn
@hughmcguinness
@arethusa
@matthewbeziat
@spins
@a-tristis
@bryan-maltais
@morganstickrod
@jrcagle
@dougstotz
@treegrow
@finatic
@sdjbrown
@ana_kaahanui
@ericwilliams
@k8thegr8
@kevinfaccenda
@brennafarrell
@jsulzmann
@sharrow-sparrow
@szucsich
@afid
@tca12345
@spyingnaturalist
@karakaxa
@susanmcrae
@jtotero
@haley_
@chickenparmesan24
@staslit
@thebals
@polemoniaceae
@janetwright
@tom-kirschey
@arrowheadspiketail58
@joseph92
@barbaraparris
@susanna_h
@alex_abair
@roomthily
@tysmith
@johnplischke
@alex_cicindela_guy
@alanhorstmann
@wolfgangb
@alexb0000
@danielvogt
@margaretchatham
@edlickey

@birdboy
@hikerguy150
@syrherp
@bmathison
@maryah
@jrambler
@malcolmgreaves
@ephofmann
@hannahwojo
@seins
@stomlins701
@calconey
@juan_sphex
@ribydog
@annkatrinrose
@rdz
@esummerbell
@chuuuuung
@pedro3111
@pdegennaro
@dannynelson94
@michaeldow
@brothernorbert
@pointrond
@fernsibley
@rusty_shackleford_13
@ab_orchid
@jbecic2
@gallusgallusdomesticus
@grinnin
@rynxs
@scmayo
@pavel_avdeev
@viperidae4ever
@joannerusso
@carrieseltzer
@adeans
@treichard
@joshualincoln
@danielatha
@dan_johnson
@slapcin
@nataliemhowe
@michiganhummingbirdguy
@catenatus
@ritirene
@philipwoodscc
@collinst
@fabienpiednoir
@mantodea
@ac-soilgirl
@fauna_maya
@colinpurrington
@kyhlaustin
@kgrebennikov
@erlonbailey
@jmmaes
@michael_mulligan
@ginsengandsoon
@ericroscoe
@terrimewbornagain

@upupa-epops
@atronox
@michael_jacobi
@jane41
@lysandra
@myelaphus
@traylorc
@sterrett
@baldeagle
@salticidude
@jacobgorneau
@stevenaugustine
@dhricenak
@dgorsline
@naturepup
@feistyone
@jilliankern
@williamwisephoto
@lotteryd
@josephthebirder
@hillcraddock
@tristanmcknight
@jraiford
@fboetzl
@someplant
@trinaroberts
@natev
@jgw_atx
@pynklynx
@botanicaltreasures
@peter251
@harleyfoundaspider
@dsmorris
@sarahlloyd
@rosalie-rick
@cserpentina
@sleepybun
@zahnerphoto
@behmrachel
@bugman422
@marina_gorbunova
@peywey
@radekwalkowiak
@rachelperezudell
@weecorbie
@lsueza
@fernslu
@arman_
@kdstutzman
@klsnature
@caterpillarofsociety
@thomaseverest
@wsweet321
@chrisangell
@spencerpote
@mettcollsuss
@muscadinemoon
@maxbird1
@elytrid
@saifudeen_muhammad
@sabutaro

@igor_kuzmin
@jumping_arachnids
@joedziewa
@cedar-glade
@yudval
@hilszczj
@jurek3
@abelkinser
@wearethechampignons
@woodhaunt
@mydadguyfieri
@birderboy2015
@nrudzik
@roshan2010
@radoslawpuchalka
@oliverc29
@anastasia_braznnikova
@jfmantis
@plawrynpx
@jiangciao
@banewood
@spiritconnection
@zitserm
@adriennea
@rudolphous
@tnich
@carabid_47
@taluswalker
@eli_rinker
@spencer166
@wrc_crew
@steven_dm
@daniel_schelesky
@plexippus
@roberto618
@thomasdr
@nonbinary-naturalist
@hakkitakki
@lindsey_monteith
@beeenvironment
@trichopria
@aglenn20
@schlegal1
@hughpart
@nancylightfoot
@elfthief
@magicgator11
@bk-capchickadee12
@jacob_bauman
@oiledolives
@jimmbo_tron
@portulaca
@jan_thornhill
@alblueheron
@cmlifelisting
@kitemongoose
@thomas_panebianco
@zarutskiy_semyon
@daria_dreval
@tanya_averyanova
@balashov_egor
@vera_sokolova
@anastasia_barsukova



Asimina triloba (Common Pawpaw) Observed: Aug 15, 2021
© pgwamsley, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)



ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.
*
Follow us on Social Media!
Instagram: @bullrunmountains
Facebook: Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve)
Our website: VOF RESERVES: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve
Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group
Anotado en 22 de febrero de 2022 a las 08:01 AM por mjwcarr mjwcarr | 13 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de marzo de 2021

Observation Highlight of the Week: Anaxyrus americanus americanus

Observational Highlight #13: Anaxyrus americanus americanus (Eastern American Toad)
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve



© Joe Villari, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)


Hello everyone and happy daylight savings time!

Spring is fast approaching with late winter rains bringing about the movement of so many of our amphibian friends and beckoning the return and farewell of so many of our favorite backyard birds. This week's observational highlight from The Preserve comes to us from the preserve manager and passionate naturalist @jvillari. As you might have gathered from the array of warts, resting grump-face, and the impressively zen meditative posture, we are highlighting the humble Eastern American Toad! Toads are one of the most emblematic amphibian species within western (English) folklore and idioms: ugly as a toad, biggest toad in the puddle. There is also the myth that I believed as a child that touching toads could give you warts - oh no! Thank goodness that today it wasn't true or I wouldn't be able to see my hands. While these sayings might not mean much on their own, the fact that so many of us can easily identify a toad without much prior experience signifies their value within not only our ecosystem but our culture as well.

But let's dig in! the American toad is a ubiquitous species in our state and is the most widely distributed member of Bufonidae in North America. This wide distribution is a testament to the ability of the toad to tolerate the multitude of environments throughout the eastern United States and Canada. Typically associated with hardwood and pine-hemlock forests, the eastern toad can adapt to live in open fields, pastures, and even urban environments as long as leaf litter (or other hiding spaces), borrowable soils (loam/sand), and stable moist habitats are available. The ever-present issue of food is another factor, though the American toad is not a very picky eater. Their diet can include crickets, slugs, earthworms, spiders, or any other small critter it can fit in its mouth.

Soon enough, the toad breeding season will bring about an almost ear-piercing chorus of male toads singing their hearts out to attract the much larger, and quiet females. The call of the male is described as a long, high pitched bur-r-r-r-r- that can last from 6-30 seconds. You can listen to an example of this distinct call of the wild here, on the Virginia Herpetological Society's website (an amazing resource and whose membership includes yours truly). Following a rigorous courtship, which includes the incredible application of amplexus, the duel strings of potentially 4000-8000 eggs are deposited in shallow vernal pools or even waterfilled potholes (which I witnessed last year). The eggs may hatch in as short as four days but may take as long as two weeks. The small black tadpoles that hatch consumes algae and mature into toadlets after about two months. Remarkably, the longest living recorded captive toad lived to be 36 years old. This longevity is not however typical of wild toads which only live a few years at most.

As the end of this month marks the beginning of the American toads breeding season, please show extra care when moving about the public stream trails. If you are lucky enough to come across any of our resident croakers, please share your observation here on iNaturalist!


ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.

Follow us on Social Media!
Instagram: @bullrunmountains
Facebook: Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve)
Our website: VOF RESERVES: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve
Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group

Anotado en 18 de marzo de 2021 a las 08:55 PM por mjwcarr mjwcarr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de marzo de 2021

Observation Highlight of the Week: Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens

Observational Highlight #12: Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens (Red-spotted Newt)
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve



© Jonathan Kolby, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC-ND) [left; juvenile red "eft"]; © Michael J. W. Carr, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC) [right; adult]


Happy Thursday everyone!

What a wonderful time to start our delve into the ectothermic, skin-breathing realm of Amphibia at The Preserve! If you haven't ventured out during the cool rains of mid-to-late winter, you might have missed the on-going migration of salamanders and frogs to vernal pools occurring in our area. The marbled salamanders, spotted salamanders, and wood frogs are just a few of the stars of this cold-weather dash to find the best spots for egg-laying. While many may be surprised to learn that such delicate creatures can tolerate the harsh winter weather (even moving over snow and ice!), we will have to discuss them further in coming highlights. This week we will delve into our most commonly observed amphibian species (but definitely not the least interesting) and highlight the observations of the Red-spotted Newt, which comes to us from @jonathan_kolby and @mjwcarr. You might have noticed that the highlight is, for two weeks in a row, is another twofer! However, the two individuals highlighted in this post belong to the same species at different points in their life history.

While being one most commonly observed amphibian on the preserve, the red-spotted newt is also one of the most interesting creatures living in our area. Newts, as they are commonly referred to, represent the Subfamily Pleurodelinae, a branch of the Family Salamandridae which includes true salamanders and newts. Newts exhibit a metamorphose throughout their life history similar to other amphibians like frogs. However, these life stages are a bit mixed up from what we may be familiar with. Per the norm, the red-spotted newt begins its existence hatching from an egg into an aquatic larva. Following this, the red-spotted newt develops into a terrestrial "red eft", or juvenile stage where the bright red, four-legged teen wanders the forest floor with a slightly rough, dry skin. Once maturing (which can take two to three years - Wow!), the red-spotted newt takes a wild turn from the typical route of metamorphosis exhibited in other groups of Amphibia, by returning to the water to again becoming fully aquatic. In this mature "adult" form the red-spotted newt changes from a bright red to a dull olive, while retaining the characteristic red spots.

The amazing life journey of the red-spotted salamander can last as long as 15 years in the wild, so be sure to remember the names of the newt friends you make along the public trails of the preserve - you might come across them again! This impressive life span is also a reason why preserving our natural community resources is so important for our native species. Amphibians, including our highlighted species, are incredibly sensitive to pollution, habitat degradation, and human activities. When utilizing The Preserves trails, please practice Leave No Trace principles and continue environmentally safe and aware practices in our own backyards.

Amphibian species around the world, including here in our own backyard, are facing tremendous pressure from human-induced actions, including climate change and the spread of chytrid fungus (which we will cover more in coming highlights). If you would like to learn more about how you can support the conservation of amphibian species, follow our highlighted observer Jonathan Kolby who is a National Geographic Explorer & Science Communicator currently working to stop the extinction of Amphibians.


ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.

Follow us on Social Media!
Instagram: @bullrunmountains
Facebook: Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve)
Our website: VOF RESERVES: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve
Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group

Anotado en 11 de marzo de 2021 a las 04:33 PM por mjwcarr mjwcarr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de marzo de 2021

Observational Highlight of the Week: Hylocichla & Seiurus

Observational Highlight #11: Seiurus aurocapilla (Ovenbird) & Hylocichla mustelina (Wood Thrush)
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve



© Janis Stone, all rights reserved (Both images used with permission)


Hello again everyone!

This week's observational highlight will be a two-for-one(!) given the missed opportunity for a weekly highlight last week. This time around, our stars will be the Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) and Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) which were both beautifully captured by Preserve friend and volunteer @janisstone ! The quality of these observations just illustrates the wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities that are available at The Preserve. Although taken a few years back, I can say with confidence that the birds have not decided to stop visiting our community natural area preserve (I was able to spot a black-and-white warbler in the South Section parking area last year!). With the spring migration approaching I hope those planning to visit The Preserve will keep their eyes and ears open to the plethora of bird species that regular our trails. Additionally, audio recordings are a viable candidate for upload to iNaturalist!

But let's dig in shall we?

Both of our highlighted feather friends are migratory birds that will soon be arriving from Central America and the Caribbean. While superficially, there are many physical similarities between the two species, they each belong to different taxonomic families. The wood thrush is, well, a member of the thrush family Turdidea, which includes the Hermit Thrush, American Robin, and Eastern Bluebird. The Ovenbird, however, is a member of the New World Warbler family Parulidae, which includes the prothonotary warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and Hooded Warbler. Now being in different families in the bird world is a pretty big difference in relation, despite how similar both organisms look compared to each other.

Unless you find yourself within eyeshot of an individual foraging on the ground for insects, you're more likely to notice them first by their impressive songs. Both species have very distinct songs which can be easy to identify once you've had your own experience with them. The wood thrush's song consists of a loud, flute-clear ee-oh-lay, while the ovenbird's consist of a rapid-fire teacher-teacher-teacher. While the spring and summertime offers a great spectacle of birdsong it can also be overwhelming to those just starting to learn to identify birdsong (I'm still working on my song identification skills myself). Just remember that with many naturalist skills, practice makes perfect and everyone makes mistakes. There is also a wonderful array of bird song quizzes and resources available online for those interesting in diving into the birding hobby. My personal favorite tool to use for double-checking my field identification is BirdNet (it's also free to use!).

I hope this three-part series highlighting bird species on the preserve will inspire you to have an open ear during your next visit. Audio and photographic observations are always encouraged while exploring the trails. Next week with start our next highlight series - Amphibians!


ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.

Follow us on Social Media!
Instagram: @bullrunmountains
Facebook: Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve)
Our website: VOF RESERVES: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve
Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group

Anotado en 03 de marzo de 2021 a las 01:14 AM por mjwcarr mjwcarr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

16 de febrero de 2021

Observational Highlight of the Week: Antrostomus vociferus

Observational Highlight #10: Antrostomus vociferus (Eastern Whip-Poor-Will)
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve



© Jacob Saucier, all rights reserved (used with permission)


Good morning everyone!

This week we will be continuing our theme of highlighting avian observations made at The Preserve. The star of this week's highlight is the Eastern Whip-Poor-Will and comes to us from Preserve volunteer and ornithologist @saucierj. Taken at the Preserve's Jackson Hollow research outpost, this individual whip-poor-will is one of several that could be heard in the isolated forest habitat. This nocturnal bird is a member of the Family Caprimulgidae, which includes several other nocturnal birds such as the chuck-will's-widow and common nighthawk.

The eastern whip-poor-will is another seasonal visitor (in a similar fashion to last week's highlighted species) but arrives from the south in late spring for the summer breeding season. The distinct song of the whip-poor-will (which you can listen to here) is probably familiar to many of those who frequently spend their summer nights along or in the eastern forests. From experience, the charismatic song of the whip-poor-will is something both nostalgic and exotic. Given their remarkable camouflage, this bird is more frequently heard than seen. The dark, nearly calico patterns on its feathers allow it to easily blend in among the branches of trees, snags, and down logs.

Interestingly, the eastern whip-poor-will is a ground-nesting bird, able to manage 1-2 broods each season. The whip-poor-will is also a bit of an amateur astronomer and lays their eggs following the lunar cycle. By planning for eggs to hatch 10 days before a full moon the feathered family has ample light to successfully capture large quantities of insects.

While getting pictures of this amazing animal can be tricky remember that audio is also a viable option for uploading to iNaturalist!


ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.

Follow us on Social Media!
Instagram: @bullrunmountains
Facebook: Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve)
Our website: VOF RESERVES: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve
Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group

Anotado en 16 de febrero de 2021 a las 03:20 PM por mjwcarr mjwcarr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de febrero de 2021

Observational Highlight of the Week: Junco hyemalis

Observational Highlight #9: Junco hyemalis (Dark-eyed Junco)
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve



© Michael J. W. Carr, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)


Hello again everybody!

I hope everyone who got snow was able to get out and enjoy it while it lasted. Speaking of snow, this week's preserve highlight is colloquially known as the snowbird, the Dark-eyed Junco. If you reviewed our iNaturalist annual report you would have noticed that birds accounted for one of our least represented "common" taxon recorded here on The Preserve. To help encourage the growth of avian iNaturalist observations the next several highlights will cover bird species observed at the Preserve. So let's jump in!

Today we will be reviewing an observation made by your's truly, @mjwcarr, at our research outpost during the first round of snowfall the other week. Many of you are probably already familiar with our highlight, the Dark-eyed Junco, either as a seasonal visitor to your backyard birdfeeder or as the last bird you see before becoming your own version of a snowbird. That namesake comes from the seasonal immigration habits of the species. Traveling hundreds, to potentially thousands of miles from their breeding grounds in the Canadian tundra.

A remarkable feature of the dark-eyed juncos is their incredible diversity across North America. While still considered the same species, the Junco hyemalis includes 15 distinct forms. These forms are regional color variants that range from our local "slate-colored" dark-eyed junco to the flamboyant "pink-sided" dark-eyed junco of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Most of these forms occur in the western United States and Canada, Mexico, and several Central American countries - so don't worry about confusing the forms in our neck of the woods!

Keep an eye out for these guys near our south section trail entrance and parking lot!


ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.

Follow us on Social Media!
Instagram: @bullrunmountains
Facebook: Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve)
Our website: VOF RESERVES: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve
Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group

Anotado en 11 de febrero de 2021 a las 11:37 PM por mjwcarr mjwcarr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de febrero de 2021

Observational Highlight of the Week: Diphasiastrum digitatum

Observational Highlight #8: Diphasiastrum digitatum (Fan Clubmoss)
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve



© Paul Z, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)


Happy snow day everyone!

This week's highlight comes from an observation made by @pz1 and was observed near our research outpost located in Jackson Hollow. This continues our look at EZ-2-ID species winter edition!

This week's highlight of the week is a curious plant native to our preserve. The species goes by many names, including running cedar, ground cedar, and crowsfoot. Commonly referred to as the fan clubmoss, this species is a member of the family Lycopodiaceae and is an ancient linage of vascular plants originating in the Devonian period some 380 million years ago. On closer examination, the species' ancient appearance is on full display with the tight, scale-like leaves resembling something like lizard skin.

This evergreen species produce clonal colonies of four-leaved, vegetative shoots that can quickly spread in disputed areas of forest. The plant can grow to about 4 inches off the ground with its strobilus, or sporangia-bearing reproductive organ, reaching several inches higher. The species was once under pressure from over-harvesting for seasonal holiday decorations but has since recovered throughout its range. The spores of the fan clubmoss was also once a primary ingredient in Lycopodium powder, a highly flammable substance used in early flash photography.

But how about identification?

I'm glad you asked! There are a number of Lycopodiaceae species to be found on the preserve, including the similar-looking Flat-branched Tree-Clubmoss. This species can be confidently identified by fan-like, lateral branches held horizontally from its central shoot, these branches are above the ground surface, and has four ranks of scaled leaves along its lateral branches.

Please be sure to continue recording your natural observations to iNaturalist and supporting this project with your membership, comments, and dissemination of this project to your friends and family! Thank you to each and every one of our visiting citizen scientists!


ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.

Follow us on Social Media!
Instagram: @bullrunmountains
Facebook: Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve)
Our website: VOF RESERVES: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve
Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group

Anotado en 01 de febrero de 2021 a las 01:50 PM por mjwcarr mjwcarr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario