08 de janeiro de 2021

Giving a Zoom talk for the Philadelphia Academy on iNat and Shells

In case anyone is interested, on Thursday evening, January 21st, at 7:30 PM, via a Zoom meeting, I will be giving a talk on "iNaturalist and Shells" as part of a virtual meeting of the Philadelphia Shell Club, which is virtually hosted by the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.

My talk is entitled: “iNaturalist: The easy way to record, learn, and communicate with others about the shells you find.”

To learn more about me, or iNaturalist, before the meeting, you can check out my profile page: https://www.inaturalist.org/people/susanhewitt; or my ResearchGate page: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Susan_Hewitt.

The talk will not simply be about shells, as the principles are of course the same for any group of organisms.

A link to the Zoom meeting can be found here: https://drexel.zoom.us/j/83453412766

You can also join to hear audio of the meeting by dialing: +12678310333,,83453412766#

Publicado em 08 de janeiro de 2021, 08:21 TARDE por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 24 observações | 6 comentários | Deixar um comentário

31 de dezembro de 2020

On the global leaderboards for December 2020

As was the case last year, in December 2020 my husband Ed and I went to stay in Sanibel Island, Lee County, Florida for almost three weeks. Here is the journal post about last year's trip:

https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/susanhewitt/29786-on-the-global-leaderboards-for-december-2019?

During my Sanibel trip this year, I was able to make observations of a lot of species that I had never seen (or in some cases never noticed or paid attention to) before. In fact, during the month of December I was happy to see that I recorded 92 "Newly Added" species:

https://www.inaturalist.org/stats/2020/susanhewitt

We were fortunate in that our trip overlapped for two days with a trip to Sanibel by our friends @ginsengandsoon and @maxcavitch, so we were able to go out iNatting with them twice, once to a nature preserve, and once to a good beach with lots of shells.

A substantial number of the "Newly Added" species that I found during this trip were thanks to an excellent, extremely helpful iNat meet-up outing with local (Fort Myers) botany professor @jayhorn.

I also met, and got to go out shelling with, iNatter @lukemiller17, who lives on Sanibel Island, and who works on the front desk three days a week at the wonderful Shell Museum on Sanibel. We went to Lighthouse Beach, and also to West Gulf Drive, beach access #7, which is the beach next to the cottages where Ed and I stay, and that beach was very rich in shells this year.

But I was somewhat surprised to see that this year I am once again currently on the global leaderboards (one of the top 5 observers) for the most observations in December 2020 (number 3), and also on the leaderboard for the greatest number of species observed in December 2020 (number 5). And I was even more surprised to see that I was also on the iNat global leaderboard (number 4) for the most observations overall in the year 2020.

https://www.inaturalist.org/people

2020 certainly felt like a productive year for me on iNat. And the three weeks on Sanibel felt like the best part of the year. When I went to Nevis, West Indies, back in March, the country of St Kitts & Nevis shut down suddenly, and we were forced to leave after eight days instead of the planned 28 days, plus we were not allowed to go anywhere off of the hotel grounds during those eight days, so I did not record nearly as many new organisms as I would normally have done during four weeks on that lovely island.

In late December, I had 8 days of being back again in NYC after the Sanibel trip. During that time, as was the case last year, I made a conscious effort to add more species to my December 2020 total, by observing as many species as I could here in NYC that do not occur on Sanibel.

Making those extra observations was not easy this year, as for the first six days of being back in NYC, we were in very strict traveler's quarantine for Covid, having come back from Florida to NY State. I could not set foot outside my apartment at all, except to go get a second Covid test. So for the first few days back, I had to keep my iNat streak alive by photographing wild organisms out of our back windows, and there is not too much biodiversity visible that way!

But once we got all our Covid test results and knew they were all negative, I was able to go out locally and find things to observe during the final 2. 5 days of December.

Some people seem to think that leaderboards are a bad idea, because they can (supposedly) encourage mindless competitiveness. But I think that Streaks and Leaderboards help encourage people's involvement with iNat, and help record their remarkable levels of commitment.

Note: The first 42 images here are from Sanibel, starting on December 3rd. The last ten images here, from "Goldenrod Rust" onward, are from NYC, starting on December 29th.

Publicado em 31 de dezembro de 2020, 04:44 TARDE por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 52 observações | 8 comentários | Deixar um comentário

25 de dezembro de 2020

An article of mine about iNat and Randall's Island, NYC

When I arrived back in NYC after nearly three weeks in Florida, I was delighted to see that two copies of the new issue of Senior Hiker Magazine (Issue Ten 2020) had come in the mail. Senior Hiker is a small (in terms of circulation) but very classy magazine published out of Maine. It prides itself on beautiful writing and beautiful photos.

Early this year I was asked to write a piece for the magazine about using iNaturalist, and I had decided to write about my experiences iNatting in Randall's Island Park, which is part of an island in the East River not far from where I live. Randall's Island is my favorite nature destination within the borough of Manhattan.

Writing the piece was my first paid writing gig ever. I also ended up co-writing a second complimentary piece about using iNat to track alpine plants, and I was paid for that too.

My piece is:

"An Urban iNaturalist -- Exploring the biodiversity of Randall's Island, NewYork", by Susan Hewitt, pages 52 to 57.

Page 57 mainly consists of an eight-paragraph sidebar which is all "About iNaturalist". Page 56 displays the official map of Randall's Island.

There are 12 really great photos in the article. The majority of the images were taken by three local iNatters who are also very good friends of mine. Chris Girgenti (the Natural Areas Manager of Randall's Island Park Alliance) has three landscape images, Matt Parr has five images of organisms, and Steven Bodzin has two images. of organisms. There are also two images of mine in the piece.

The second, complimentary article in the issue about using iNat, which I co-wrote, is on pages 58 to 62: "An Alpine iNaturalist -- Studying climate change through the flowering of alpine plants" by Georgia Murray with Susan Hewitt.

Publicado em 25 de dezembro de 2020, 03:44 TARDE por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 11 comentários | Deixar um comentário

10 de dezembro de 2020

Marine Mollusks of the Eastern Seaboard, dead or alive, please folks!

There is a new project on iNat called "Eastern Seaboard Mollusks". This is part of a huge new overall project that is funded by the National Science Foundation of the US Government. Here is the iNat part of it:

https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/eastern-seaboard-mollusks

If you have any interest in marine mollusks of the Eastern Seaboard, please consider joining this Project so you get updates and news.

The function of the overall project is accumulate and refine vast amounts of data about marine mollusks (shelled or shell-less, dead or alive) from the Eastern Seaboard of the United States of America. The data is coming frrom museum collections and from iNat too of course.

Please note that the phrase "Eastern Seaboard" does not just imply what we call the East Coast, but also includes all of the coast of the State of Florida.

I would request that everyone and anyone who has made iNat marine mollusk observations from anywhere in that geographical area, or who looks at observations from those areas made by other people, to please go through all the relevant observations and add the annotation "dead" or "alive". Once you have done that, those obs will be automatically be included in this vast, important, and very valuable project. But without that annotation, the obs will not be included.

And please, do this not only for your own observation, but also if you come across or notice any other observations from anyone else that are observations of marine mollusks from the Eastern Seaboard, if those observations do not have the dead or alive annotation, would you please take a moment to add that to those too?

Many malacologists will be grateful, as will fisheries specialists and many others.

Thanks,

Susan

Publicado em 10 de dezembro de 2020, 12:02 MANHÃ por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 16 observações | 6 comentários | Deixar um comentário

11 de novembro de 2020

Marine Life on Plumb Beach, Brooklyn, NYC

I was very fortunate that an iNat friend of mine was kind enough to drive myself and my husband on an iNat outing this Sunday. We stopped at three places, but our main destination was Plumb Beach, Brooklyn, off of the Belt Parkway. Plumb Beach is named after the Beach Plums which used to grow profusely there. Plumb Beach faces across the water to the eastern end of the Rockaway Peninsula.

The beach was very rich in beach drift of all kinds of marine organisms, including 19 species of marine mollusks, but also several species of crabs, as well as other invertebrates, and I even made observations of a few birds and salt-tolerant plants.

I found one shell of a Dove Snail which almost never occurs this far west on Long Island, so that was thrilling.

I also found one valve of a species of Venus Clam which supposedly does not occur at all on the East Coast. -- the Japanese Littleneck, aka the Manilla Clam. I suppose that valve was probably just a remnant of someone's seafood dinner or lunch.

Publicado em 11 de novembro de 2020, 09:17 TARDE por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 69 observações | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

Who out there would like to learn about the seashells of the northeast?

If anyone reading this lives in the Tri-State area, in or not too far from NYC, and has some interest, I would be perfectly happy to train someone so that they could learn what they need to know about shells in order to really get into the subject.

I know one local sheller on Long Island, NY, Steven Rosenthal, who is very good indeed, and extremely knowledgeable. He is not as old as I am, but he is no spring chicken. He and I were both saying that it would be great to have some younger people with a serious interest in the local shells. Both Long Island and NYC used to have their own, very active shell clubs, but not any more.

Please let me know (drop me a message) if I can help you learn about the local shells of our area, assuming you have some degree of interest.

Publicado em 11 de novembro de 2020, 08:58 TARDE por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 16 observações | 2 comentários | Deixar um comentário

16 de outubro de 2020

Marine Life on Orchard Beach, NYC

A dear old friend of mine drove me to Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park (which is in the Bronx, on Long Island Sound) yesterday afternoon for two or three hours. I spent most of the time on the beach itself, looking for marine life. I did pretty well considering. I found two seaweeds that were new to me, at least new since I have been on iNat, although I had actually seen them before in my life before I signed up with iNat.

I would like to visit this beach again after a storm that blows in from the east, when I imagine a lot more good stuff would be thrown up. I would also like to investigate further the salt marsh areas beyond the extreme north end of the beach -- there are rocks there too, and even a few small tide pools. It would also be great to walk the foot paths of Twin Islands and Hunters Island.

The beach dates from the 1930s, and it was a Robert Moses project. Millions of cubic yards of sand from Sandy Hook and the Rockaways were brought in to create it. It is an impressively huge curving beach, and the views across the Sound are lovely.

People call Orchard Beach the "Bronx Riviera", and I can certainly see why.

Here is what I found.

Chelicerates:

Atlantic Horseshoe crab

Crustaceans:

Asian Shore Crab
Northern Acorn Barnacle

Polychaete worms:

Trumpet worms, the funnel-shaped sand casings
And the "chimneys" and egg masses of a large burrowing species

Bryozoa:

Kelp Lace Bryozoan

Mollusks:

Bivalves

Atlantic Ribbed Mussel
Blue Mussel
Common Jingle
Eastern Oyster
Chestnut Astarte
Atlantic Surfclam
Atlantic Jacknife Clam
Baltic Macoma
Northern Dwarf-Tellin
Softshell Clam

Gastropods

Flat Periwinkle
Convex Slippersnail
Common Atlantic Slippersnail
Shark Eye
Spotted Moonsnail -- new to iNat
Northern Moon Snail
Atlantic Oyster Drill
Knobbed Whelk
Eastern Mudsnail
Three-lined mudsnail

Seaweeds

Brown Algae:

Rockweed
Bladder Wrack
Knotted Wrack -- new to me on iNat

Red Algae:

Red puff balls
Several other species

Green Algae:

Dead men's fingers (Codium) -- new to me on iNat
Gutweed
Broadleaf Sea Lettuce
And others, including a possible Ulvaria obscura?

I photographed a dead fish which is an Atlantic Menhaden. I also photographed Ringed-bill Gulls -- no surprise there.

My best terrestrial finds were a nice big Bess Beetle (a Horned Passalus Beetle), and a plant of Black Swallow-Wort. Both were new to me.

Publicado em 16 de outubro de 2020, 01:19 TARDE por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 42 observações | 11 comentários | Deixar um comentário

01 de outubro de 2020

Spotlight on weeds: three species in the genus Phyllanthus

I knew nothing about the family Phyllanthaceae (which was formerly a subfamily in the Euphorbiaceae), and I had never knowingly seen a plant in that family, until April 25th 2017, when I first noticed a plant which iI believe is the species Phyllanthus amarus, in Charlestown, the capital of Nevis, St Kitts and Nevis, Leeward Islands, West Indies:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/5952213

At that point in time I did not know what it was, but with major assistance from two other talented and hardworking iNatters, (thank you @nathantaylor, and thank you @adorantes) we were able to put an ID on it.

The common name of this species is "Gale of the Wind". I wonder if it got that name because, like many of the species in that genus, the flowers and fruits hang under the leaf in a way that strikes one as very peculiar the first time you see it -- maybe the "Gale" that blew was so strong that it simply blew the flowers and fruits completely round onto the underside?

Once I had seen one of these Gale of the Wind plants, I started noticing them all over the place on Nevis. Two years later in 2019 on Nevis, I photographed 28 of the plants.

Then in December 2019, my husband and I were staying on the island of Sanibel, Lee County, Florida. I photographed two Phyllanthus plants which were growing in an unkempt roadside verge near Blue Dolphin Cottages, where we stay when we are there. I still don't really have IDs on those two.

They both have flowers and fruit on long stems on top of the leaves like P. tenellus, so maybe that is what they are:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/36476887

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/36476891

Then this year, in March of 2020, during an unfortunately very abbreviated stay (thanks to a sudden pandemic shut-down of the country) at Oualie Beach Hotel on Nevis, St Kitts & Nevis, West Indies, I photographed more Phyllanthus amara around the hotel grounds while we were in voluntary quarantine there, including this plant:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/40255860

Also on the hotel grounds, on March 23, by dint of a lot of searching, I was able to find another species of Phyllanthus -- one plant of Phyllanthus tenellus, the Mascarene Island Leaf Flower:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/40599460

During August of this year, 2020, and back in New York City, in the French Garden part of the Conservatory Garden, in Central Park, New York City, I discovered that several plants of Chamberbitter, Phyllanthus urinaria, were growing as weeds among the immature Korean Chrysanthemum plants. I made 12 observations of the plants on several different days, including these observations:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/56076121

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/56551136

Then finally, on September 20th and 28th 2020, in New York City, first in Tompkins Square Park, and then at the edge of a flower bed on 59th Street near 12th Avenue, I found in each place, one plant of the Mascarene Island Leaf Flower, Phyllanthus tenellus, the same species that I had been able to find one example of on Nevis, back in March of this same year.

Tompkins Square Park:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/60249235

59th Street on the West Side:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/61159373

Daniel Atha was able to find three of the plants in that bed on 59th Street, and so he took one of them to press for the NYBG herbarium, because it is important to make a permanent record of this species which was not known before from NYC or NY State.

He got me to write a little paper about it (with him as co-author) which we have submitted already and it should be out very soon, probably in the "New York Flora Association Quarterly Newsletter, Fall 2020, Volume 31, Issue 4 pages xx - xx.".

Now I feel that I am starting to get acquainted with the interesting genus, Phyllanthus. According to the Wikipedia article there are somewhere between 750 and 1200 species worldwide in this genus, so I guess there are plenty of possibilities out there for meeting more of them!

Publicado em 01 de outubro de 2020, 07:46 TARDE por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

Spotlight on weeds: Petty Spurge, Euphorbia peplus

I was born in and grew up in Hayes, Bromley, Kent, a southeastern suburb of London, England. All through my childhood, in our backyard, Petty Spurge was a common, and aggressive, weed species. I asked my mother what it was called. My mother had grown up in a village in Devon, England, and being a country girl, she knew, and had taught me, the names of about 20 or 30 different wildflowers and weeds, but she did not know the name of this one.

As a kid I used to help in the garden, including pulling out the weeds, so I pulled these out, but I always thought that this plant was attractive and exotic-looking, with its pale green foliage and four-fold symmetry.

Here is an observation of the plant from Downe, Kent, about 5 miles from where I grew up, in a village I often visited because Charles Darwin used to live there:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/31123799

After I left home, and after I started living in the US, I had not really seen this weed again, or perhaps never noticed it, until September 2018, when to my surprise I came across it in Encinitas, Southern California, near the motel where we stay there almost every year. I discovered it was not only present, but common. I made 5 observations of the species, including this one:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/16870691

Then in the following month, October 2018, never having seen this plant in NYC before despite all my intense iNatting, I was amazed to find eight examples growing wild as weeds in a flower bed in Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan. I live on Manhattan's Upper East Side, a few miles away from Battery Park. Of course I made iNat observations of all the plants, including this one:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/17628788

In June of 2019 I went back to look for the species in Battery Park, and found several examples of it, including this one:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/28522420

In July 2019, I also found one plant in Bowling Green, which is a small and venerable park just north of Battery Park:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/28522612

In September 2019, when my husband and I went to California again, I photographed 15 examples of the plant in Encinitas, California. And November 2019 I photographed six plants in Battery Park, Manhattan again.

During 2020 I was not able to find the plant in Battery Park, and I did not come across it anywhere else in NYC, despite the fact that I look very carefully everywhere I go for interesting weeds.

However, Daniel Atha of NYBG has found Euphorbia peplus, once Bronx Park near the NY Botanical Garden in June 2019 (he collected that one):

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/26452132

And Daniel also found the plant once in Central Park, in July 2020:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/54802168

The Wikipedia article on Petty Spurge,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphorbia_peplus

When it was accessed in October 2020, informs us that:

"Euphorbia peplus (petty spurge,[1][2] radium weed,[2] cancer weed,[2] or milkweed)[2], is a species of Euphorbia, native to most of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, where it typically grows in cultivated arable land, gardens, and other disturbed land.[1][3][4]"

"Outside of its native range it is very widely naturalised and often invasive, including in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and other countries in temperate and sub-tropical regions.[1]"

Publicado em 01 de outubro de 2020, 07:08 TARDE por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 2 comentários | Deixar um comentário

08 de julho de 2020

Volunteer plants in Carl Schurz Park

Carl Schurz Park is a particularly lovely city park which is about a mile from where I live. And I spend a fair bit of time there because I serve as something like a "consulting naturalist" for the Carl Schurz Park Conservancy. During normal times I give nature walks to the gardeners and do my best to ID plant pathogens and pests that are causing concern. I also helped the Conservancy get set up on iNaturalist, and I try to record all the wild fauna and flora in the park, as well as some of the more lovely garden plants.

For my own interest, and in case it is helpful to anyone, I am gradually putting together a list of all the volunteer garden plants that I have observed within Carl Schurz Park.

These volunteer plants are garden plants of various kinds which were originally planted, but have subsequently self-seeded. They tend to multiply and spread (at least within the park) by themselves, without human assistance. As they reproduce and establish themselves naturally, these volunteers count as "wild" by iNat standards. Most of the time the gardeners pull out all the volunteers as if they were weeds, unless one or two of them happen to grow somewhere that the gardeners consider to be desirable, then they are left as part of the evolving garden plan.

Many of the Carl Schurz Park gardeners are not in town currently, and have not been around for two or three months, so this is a better time than usual to see volunteer plants, as some of these young plants are not getting pulled out as they normally would.

One reason I am creating this list is because a few days ago I found a volunteer of Oakleaf Hydrangea growing out of the retaining wall on the south side of the 79th Street Central Park Transverse (see photo below), and when I posted that observation, Daniel Atha @danielatha commented that he had never seen a spontaneous one before. I replied that I had seen (and photographed) several volunteers of that species in Carl Schurz Park, and also several volunteers in Bryant Park.

It is interesting that although the plants that I list here self-seed and create volunteers, many of these plants, most of the time, do not successfully escape cultivation completely. So although you find volunteers of these species in the park, and next to the park, you usually don't find them popping up randomly in wilder situations nearby.

So perhaps most of these species of volunteering plants need the somewhat privileged situation of a park (better soil, some degree of watering during droughts) to do well?
.

Woody plants:

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Leatherleaf Mahonia

Eastern Red Cedar

Hibiscus syriacus

Goldenrain Tree

Quercus spp

Ulmus spp

.
Soft plants:

Red Columbine

Fern-leaf Corydalis

Russian Sage

Asian Bleeding-heart

Purpletop Vervain

Woodland Tobacco

Spearmint

Japanese Painted Fern

Rattlesnake Master

Spider Flower
.
.

Publicado em 08 de julho de 2020, 11:23 MANHÃ por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 12 observações | 4 comentários | Deixar um comentário