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Category: nature


atelopus frog

Isn’t this a fine-looking fellow? He’s Atelopus, a newly discovered species of fluorescent psychedelic frog, found in Suriname. (Suriname, formerly Dutch Guiana, is north of Brazil on the Atlantic coast.) This is one of two dozen new species identified by researchers in that country. Caribbean Net News has the full story (but I got it via Book of Joe).

Alameda Manzanita on Sobrante Ridge

alameda manzanitaSobrante Ridge Regional Botanic Preserve, on the site of a former cattle ranch, occupies a space more or less surrounded by the suburban East Bay community of El Sobrante. I wonder how many El Sobranteans are aware that this preserve houses a beautiful rare and endangered manzanita, only found in one other location.

Bay Area biomes

Land's End, San FranciscoI’ve completed a brief survey of Bay Area plant communities over at Frisco Vista.

The Bay Area topic suits me because I’ve accumulated a bunch of photos from around the bay over the years.

Zooming in on a snowflake

I don’t have much to say about this, except it’s, well, cool.

Rampaging Sea Lions

sea lion (via www.friscovista.com)

What’s making the sea lions cranky? Frisco Vista, a new site devoted to San Francisco travel (what they’re building is so new they’re still working on the foundation) is asking that question.

More Bad Ministration

So the Bushies appointed a guy who doesn’t believe in family planning to be head of the agency in charge of family planning.

Well, what’s new, the outgoing Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (James Inhofe, OK), says we don’t have to worry about global warming, and isn’t that a relief?

Why not? Because “God’s still up there.” (And I guess Inhofe’s message is that he’s still on the side of the fat cats and big oil guys.)

Transcript and video at Think Progress, which concludes “Despite Inhofe’s repeated efforts to muddy the picture, there is no real scientific debate over whether global warming is manmade or naturally caused.”

Ecobungling, 19th century style

Indian Mongoose on Oahu

This handsome fellow is an Indian Mongoose (called manakuke in Hawaiian). Seventy-two mongooses were introduced into Hawaii in 1872 in an effort to control rats that had arrived in the islands as a side effect of the sugar cane industry. The rats, like many newcomers to the islands, found Hawaii to their liking, and they began to eat seriously into the profits of the cane magnates. So why not bring in a few mongooses, which are known to eat rats? Well, for one thing, mongooses are diurnal and rats are nocturnal. So while the occasional rat bit the dust, the mongooses didn’t really have much effect on the population as a whole.

A big problem with the introduction of rats on the island is that they eat birds’ eggs, and that has damaged the islands’ unique, diverse, and bountiful but fragile (given new forms of predation) bird population. Unfortunately, the mongooses like eggs even better than they like rats, and eggs don’t fight back. So now the birds’ eggs are literally under attack day and night.

In African and India there is a variety of predators that help keep mongooses in check, mainly raptors such as eagles as well as land predators such as jackals and cheetahs. In Hawaii there is no predator to keep the mongooses in check. A male mongoose can father offspring within four months of its birth, and females produce litters of two to five pups.

All in all a recipe for things getting out of control, and in our short time here we saw many of these critters (and a few wild pigs as well, another introduced species causing problems).

It was difficult to get a picture, because mongooses don’t like being exposed in the open. They are extremely quick (and clever), and they are usually seen scurrying from the cover of one bush to another.

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