Saturday, November 30, 2013

New Article on Sagebrush Sparrow Now Available

A new detailed article on the status and occurrence of the Sagebrush Sparrow (Artemisiospiza nevadensis) in British Columbia is now posted in the Notes and Articles section of E-Fauna BC.  Prepared by Rick Toochin, this article provides summary information on this species in the province.

Previously, we listed the Sage Sparow for BC, but recent nomenclatural changes have split that species.  Rick writes:  "[The] Sage Sparrow was split into two species from the two very distinct subspecies of Sage Sparrows found throughout their range (Retter 2013): Bell’s Sparrow and the Sagebrush Sparrow. Bell’s Sparrow is a non-migratory species found in coastal California (Byers et al. 1995, Beadle and Rising 2002)....The Sagebrush Sparrow (A. nevadensis) is found throughout the birds range with the subspecies (A. n. canescens) being confined to central California with these birds being a little bit smaller but otherwise are identical to the latter species in plumage characteristics (Byers et al. 1995, Beadle and Rising 2002)."

Read the PDF, with photos, here.  Or visit the species atlas page here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Updated Checklist of the Bivalves of BC Now Available

Thanks to the efforts of Robert Forsyth and Rick Harbo, we have recently posted an updated (2013) checklist of the bivalve molluscs of Britsh Columbia. View the checklist here.

This checklist now includes 237 bivalve species from both marine and freshwater habitats in the province.  Both English common names and scientific names are updated, and marine, freshwater and marine intertidal species are indicated in the checklist.

The authors provide interesting insight into the documentation of bivalves in BC:  "Scientific collections began with Captain Cook and his crew, who anchored in Nootka Sound in 1778. The earliest description and name of a mollusc from the northeast Pacific was the Pacific Razor, Siliqua patula (Dixon, 1789). Dixon wrote a natural history appendix to the account of his voyage to the northwest coast of North America. He described the Pacific razor clam, and mentioned other species from Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). ... The earliest checklist of marine mollusks of the Pacific coast of Canada was by Newcombe (1893), who listed 107 bivalves. Coan and Scott (1997) prepared a checklist of marine bivalves from the Arctic coast of Alaska to central Baja California, including all habitats from the intertidal to the deep sea."

Recent additions to the checklist for BC include Waldo arthuri.  Waldo arthuri is a new species of commensal clam (a galeommatid bivalve mollusk) that has been discovered off the coast of California and Vancouver Island by Paul Valentich-Scott, Diarmaid Ó Foighil, and Jingchun Li (2013). It has been found in the oral spines of the heart urchin from 80 to 444 meters depth, in muddy sediments.  In BC, Waldo arthuri is reported from Barkley Sound. 

Other new additions to the bivalve list include newly reported species of water fleas, documented by Ian Gardiner.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Western Bumble Bee Documented in BC

 Western Bumble Bee (Bombus occidentalis), photo by Jeremy Gatten

Thanks to biologist Jeremy Gatten, we now have photos of the rare Western Bumble Bee (Bombus occidentalis) on E-Fauna BC, taken at Tod Creek Flats on Vancouver Island.  This species, also known as the White-bottomed Bee, had seriously declined in western North America.  Bumble Bee expert Robbin Thorp, who identified the bee in the photo, says:  "This species declined drastically in the western portions of its range from central California to southern BC over 10 years ago. It is just now beginning to show signs of recovery within scattered areas of its most severe decline, including the nearby Seattle area."  Jeremy's photo, taken on August 17, 2013, confirms that the species is still present in BC. 

The Xerces Society provides good detail on this rare species, including the following information:  "These bees can still be found in the northern and eastern parts of their historic range, but the once common populations from southern British Columbia to central California have nearly disappeared. This bumble bee is an excellent pollinator of greenhouse tomatoes and cranberries, and has been commercially reared to pollinate these crops. In the past, it has also been an important pollinator of alfalfa, avocado, apples, cherries, blackberries, and blueberry."

View the E-Fauna BC atlas page for this species here.

Read the Xerces Society page on the Western Bumble Bee here.