Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rob Cannings: E-Fauna BC Dragonfly and Robber Fly Editor

Rob Cannings has been supporting E-Fauna BC since we began the project in 2007. He and Geoff Scudder embraced E-Fauna when they made the decision to post the draft chapters of their insect book-in-progress, The Insect Families of British Columbia, on E-Fauna.  It was a marvelous contribution, and made expert information on the insect fauna of the province widely available, from bristletails to termites. In our insect section on E-Fauna, accessed through the menu on the home page, you can read the chapters of the book which include introductions to each insect order in BC. We have presented these in sections, alphabetically by order.  You can also view family descriptions and keys to the families that Rob and Geoff have prepared.  Just follow the menu links to explore their book.  The book is a work-in-progess, though, so Rob and Geoff continue to work on write ups on orders and families found throughout the province.  

From the beginning, Rob has also helped us process insect photos for our photo galleries, identifying submissions and helping us to find experts who might be willing to help.  His new role as editor of dragonflies and robber flies really just continues this work, except Rob will now be publishing and processing photos for these two insect groups. 

Rob grew up in the Okanagan Valley beside a Penticton grassland in a family known across Canada for its contributions to natural history and conservation. Rob was Curator of Entomology at the Royal British Coumbia Museum (RBCM) in Victoria, BC, from 1980 until his retirement in 2013.  He is now Curator Emeritus there and continues his entomological research and writing.  From 1987 to 1996 he also led the museum's Natural History Section. He has been active on the Scientific Committee of the Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods), the British Columbia Invertebrate Recovery Team and the Entomological Societies of Britsh Columbia and Canada. He started the ESBC newsletter Boreus in 1981 and was editor until 1991. He is a member of the Arthropod Subcommittee of COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada).  In former lives, Rob was a biologist and nature interpreter for BC Parks and the Canadian Wildlife Service and served as a lecturer in the Zoology Department and curator of the Spencer Entomological Museum at the University of BC. His B. Sc. and M. Sc. are from the University of BC; his Ph. D. comes from the University of Guelph.

Rob studies insect systematics, especially the taxonomy, evolution and biogeography of dragonflies (Odonata) and robber flies (Diptera: Asilidae).  However, he has published on groups in all of the major orders of insects.  He has authored several books, including The Dragonflies of British Columbia (1977), Introducing the Dragonflies of British Columbia and the Yukon (2002), and The Systematics of Lasiopogon (Diptera: Asilidae) (2002).  With his brothers, Syd and Dick, he co-authored the books The Birds of the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (1987) and The World of Fresh Water (1998). 

Read more about Rob here and here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

New Checklist and Key to the Anostraca (Fairy Shrimp) of British Columbia Now Posted

An updated checklist of the Fairy Shrimp of British Columbia (Order Anostraca), prepared by Thalia Grant and Ian Gardiner, is now available on E-Faun BC.  View it here.   Eight species, in four families, are reported for the province.

A key to the Order Anostraca, prepared by Thalia Grant, is also available, and is linked to from the checklist. View it directly here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Now Posted on E-Fauna BC: An Introduction to the Fishes of British Columbia

 Ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei)

This month, E-Fauna Fish Editor Eric (Rick) Taylor has posted his new Introduction to the Fishes of British Columbia.  He says:  "The fishes of British Columbia are an extremely diverse and interesting wildlife group. With 67 native and 15 or so introduced species of freshwater fishes and 409 native species of marine fishes, British Columbia boasts a fish fauna much richer than most provinces in Canada. A simple count of named species as a measure of diversity, however, does not tell the true story of BC’s diversity of fishes. First, many species are endemic to BC; that is, they occur nowhere else in Canada. Second, BC, owing to its mountainous terrain and a mix of freshwater and marine habitats, possesses myriad genetically distinct populations within species (including several thousand distinct populations of Pacific salmon and trout). In addition, some “species complexes” comprise genetically distinct populations living together that act as distinct biological species, but have not yet been named as such (e.g., BC’s world famous “species pairs” of threespine sticklebacks)." 

Read the rest of Rick's article here

New E-Fauna Species Account Now Posted: Eubranchipus hesperius n. sp. (Western Ethologist Fairy Shrimp)

 Eubranchipus hesperius n. sp. (Western Ethologist Fairy Shrimp), photo by Ian Gardiner

A new species account for Eubranchipus hesperius n. sp. (Western Ethologist Fairy Shrimp--unofficial name), Order Anostraca, prepared by Thalia Grant, has now been posted on E-Fauna BC.  In her write up, Thalia says: 

"Eubranchipus hesperius was recently declared a new species, separate from Eubranchipus serratus Forbes 1876 (Rogers, 2014). It differs from E. serratus in the morphology of its antenna, brood pouch and abdomen, and in its geographical range; E. hesperius is found in North American transmontane and cold desert bioregions west of the Great Plains. E. serratus is now considered restricted to the Appalachian/Ozark bioregions and eastern Great Plains of the United States."

"Eubranchipus hesperius has been recorded in British Columbia, eastern Washington and Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, northwestern California, northeastern Nevada and central Arizona. In British Columbia, E. hesperius has been found at altitudes of 600 to 1700 meters around Merritt, south of Merritt on Iron Mt., Selish Mt., Gillis Mt. and Shovelnose Mt., southwest and southeast of Kamloops, and in Curzon in the southeastern part of the province (Smithsonian collections, RBCM collections, Ian Gardiner, Thalia Grant)."

Read about the Western Ethologist Fairy Shrimp (unofficial name) here.
View Ian Gardiner's fabulous photos for this species here.  
Read Thalia's species account for the Oregon Fairy Shrimp here.
View Thalia's key to the Anostraca.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Note to Registered E-Fauna Photographers

This week E-Fauna was hacked into, and there was some damage.  While we now have the site back up and running, some data was lost. The database that holds the photo details that accompany your photos was corrupted.  Our back up files were also corrupted.  The result of this is that if you submitted photos to E-Fauna between August 2014 and now, your photo details will have been wiped out. This includes the location information, date, habitat, and comments. Lats and longs will still be there, as these were unaffected.  We are asking you, if you have the time, to re-enter the details, particularly the location of your shot.  To do this, go to the 'edit my photos' link at the top of the photo upload page. That will take you to your photo file where you can re-enter the data.

Steps have already been taken to ensure that if we are hacked again, we will have back ups to replace lost data that can't be corrupted.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Oregon Fairy Shrimp (Eubranchipus oregonus): Species Account Now Posted

 Oregon Fairy Shrimp, photo by Thalia Grant

A new species account for the Oregon Fairy Shrimp (Eubranchipus oregonus), written by reseacher Thalia Grant, is now posted on E-Fauna BC. This tiny crustacean species is primarily a species of western North America (disjunct in Oklahoma), where it is reported from California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. In British Columbia, it is described by Thalia as "recorded from Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island, Texada Island, Galiano Island and on the lower mainland between the US border and Whistler, with one historical outlying record from Kamloops (RBCM collection). It is now rare on the mainland of British Columbia. The species was first described in Oregon, in 1930. It was first collected in Hope, BC, in 1918 but at the time was misidentified as Eubranchipus vernalis (Johansen, 1921; Ferguson, 1935)."  

Thalia describes the habitat of the Oregon Fairy Shrimp as follows:  "[It] occupies small, freshwater ephemeral ponds from sea level to 1500 meters elevation. It is restricted to small water bodies that are neutral to mildly acidic, low in dissolved solids and turbidity, have little or no flow, and are inundated for several months (Eng et. al, 1990). Habitat ranges from deciduous or mixed forest, to wet meadow and Typha-dominated pools, with some shade and proximity to coniferous forest being frequent habitat descriptors (Hill et. al, 1997)."

Thalia Grant is a recognized expert on the Galapagos, and has been working on Eubranchipus oregonus with John Richardson at UBC.  She has recently published a book titled Darwin in Galapagos: Footsteps to a New World (2009).  Her most recent Galapagos research has focused on the distribution and breeding behavior of the world’s rarest gull, the Lava Gull (Leucophaeus fuliginosus).

Read more about the Oregon Fairy Shrimp on our atlas page, found here.
Read more about Thalia's book, co-authored by her husband Greg Estes, here
View Thalia's photos of the Oregon Fairy Shrimp on E-Fauna BC here.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Additional Rare Bird Articles Now Posted: Red-faced Cormorant, Red-legged Kittiwake, Little Bunting

Additional rare bird articles authored by Rick Toochin, Jamie Fenneman, Louis Haviland, Peter Hamel, Margo Hearne, and Martin Williams have now been posted on E-Fauna BC. These include the following rare species:  Red-faced Cormorant, Red-legged Kittiwake, and Little Bunting.  The rare bird articles are found in our Notes and Articles section. They are comprehensive summaries of the species occurrences in BC and include detailed species descriptions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

E-Fauna BC 2014: New Bird Articles for Baikal Teal, Snowy Egret, Wood Stork and More

Several new rare bird articles are now posted on E-Fauna BC, authored by Rick Toochin, Jamie Fenneman and Don Cecile.  These include articles on Acorn Woodpecker, Baikal Teal, Costa's Hummingbird, Little Blue Heron, Wood Stork, Snowy Egret, Emperor Goose and more.  These detailed articles summarize species distribution globally and in North America, and include all known records for BC.  They include tables, graphs and photographs.

Visit our Notes and Articles section, listed in the home page menu, to call up each PDF. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Citizen Science: E-Fauna Photographer Adam Blake Confirms Breeding Eastern Bumble Bees in BC

 Mating Eastern Bumble Bees (Bombus impatiens), photo by Adam Blake

When SFU entomology graduate student Adam Blake submitted his first photo of a queen and drone bumble bee mating out at Boundary Bay, it looked like it was going to be an important image.  As he indicated in the photo details, it looked like mating Eastern Bumble Bees.  On E-Fauna BC, we had already confirmed the presence of escaped eastern bumble bees in BC as we had received several photos taken in BC. But confirmed breeding would be significant.

Robbin Thorp, author of the recently published Bumble Bees of North America, took a look at the photo and confirmed the species identification and indicated that this was, indeed, a mating pair of Bombus impatiens. Robbin says:  "Interesting photo indeed!  And frightening.  These are a mating pair of the Eastern Bumble Bee, Bombus impatiens.   [It confirms] earlier photos suggesting this eastern species, introduced for use for commercial pollination in tomato greenhouses, has escaped and is now established in southwestern BC!"

Given this, we had to ask: why is the Eastern Bumble Bees being used in greenhouses in BC?

Robbin says:  "In the 1990's we had the Western Bumble Bee, Bombus occidentalis, available for pollination in the western states and provinces. But in 1997, both commercial producing companies reported an outbreak of a pathogen, Nosema bombi, in their rearing facilities and they stopped producing colonies of the western species shortly thereafter. Now we only have one NA bumble bee available as a managed pollinator...There is interest in developing commercial production of a western species for western markets, but it looks like that is too late.  It will be interesting and disturbing to follow the invasion of this eastern species in the west, with your area as a focal point for established and potential subsequent spread.  Unfortunately bumble bees do not need passports to cross international borders and being so close to [the US] border, it would seem only a matter of time before we have B. impatiens in WA and who knows where else in western NA."

Adam now has two photos up on E-Fauna BC confirming the breeding of this species in BC. Congratulations, Adam, on submitting such significant photo records!

Mating Eastern Bumble Bees (Bombus impatiens), photo by Adam Blake

Adam is a PhD candidate in entomology at Simon Fraser University, studying with Gerhard Gries.  His "research deals with insect communication, specifically the use of polarized light as a foraging cue in herbivorous insects."  Adam moved to Burnaby from Edmonton, Alberta to pursue his PhD in the fall of 2012. Previous to that he studied at the University of Alberta where he received both a Master's and undergraduate degrees. He is an avid naturalist and photographer with an interest in insects, birds and plants.  

View the E-Fauna atlas page for the Eastern Bumble Bee here.
View a video taken by Adam of these mating Eastern Bumble Bees here
Read our previous post on Robbin's bumble bee book here
Read Adam's blog. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Eric (Rick) Taylor Takes on Fish on E-Fauna

BC is a province rich in fish, from the freshwater fish species found in our streams, lakes and other freshwater wetlands, to the marine species of the Pacific ocean, and to the species that live in both worlds.  They are a significant component of the biodiversity of British Columbia, with many considered species at risk in Canada. In order to assist us with covering fish species on E-Fauna BC, Eric Taylor has agreed to become Fish Editor.  Eric has been assisting us with identification of freshwater fish species and checklist additions for some time, and will now expand his role.

Eric is a Professor of Zoolgy at UBC, and is presently Director and Curator of Fishes, Beaty Biodiversity Museum (UBC). He is also Co-chair of the Freshwater Fishes Specialist Subcommittee of COSEWIC (the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). In his research, Eric is interested "population structure and the historical and contemporary processes that influence population structure, speciation and hybridization (both ecological and genetic mechanisms of divergence and persistance in the face of gene flow), and the implications of these processes to biodiversity conservation."

Read more about Eric here and here

Friday, July 25, 2014

Michael Hawkes, E-Flora's New Algae Editor

Mike Hawkes photographing seaweeds at Bamfield, photo by Denise Bonin

Michael Hawkes is a BC botanist with broad interests.  He has a special fondness for marine and desert ecosystems, he has been involved with the biology and horticulture of succulents since 1967 and, since 1972, his marine research has focused on the seaweeed flora of British Columbia. As part of his work on seaweeds, he has been involved in conducting intertidal and subtidal surveys along much of the BC coast, a significant endeavour.  He has spent 3 years as a Research Fellow at the University of Auckland's Leigh Marine Laboratory.

Overall, Mike is interested in the natural history, biogeography, and systematics of Pacific Northwest & New Zealand seaweed floras, the reproductive biology of red algae, and the role of marine protected areas (MPA's) in coastal zone conservation strategies.

Mike teaches several courses at UBC, including Introductory Biology: Ecology, Genetics and Evolution, Biology of Non-vascular Plants (the algal portion of the course), Plants and People, and Phytogeography

For several years now, Mike has been submitting seaweed photos to E-Flora and updating the seaweed species list for the province.  Now he's taken on the task of editor of the algae section on E-Flora.

View Mike's photo gallery on E-Flora here.
View a partial list of Mike's publications here

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Moths, moths moths: Libby Avis becomes E-Fauna's Moth Editor

 Dart Moth (Abagrotis pulchrata), photo by Rick and Libby Avis

After reviewing moth photos on E-Fauna BC for some time, as well as submitting more than a thousand photos to the moth photo gallery, Libby Avis has agreed to expand her role in E-Fauna and take on the role of moth editor.  Libby will be both reviewing and publishing photos, as well as tracking nomenclature and handling moth inquiries.

View Libby's moth photo gallery here.
Read more about Libby and Rick Avis, and their moth work, here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

E-Fauna BC: Ian Gardiner becomes editor for freshwater molluscs.

  Ubiquitous Peaclam (Cyclocalyx casertanum), photo by Ian Gardiner.  Specimen carrying young.

Ian Gardiner has been stunning us all with his photos of freshwater molluscs and crustaceans for some time now, and he has collected and reported several new species for BC.  Now he takes on the role of editor for freshwater molluscs, a group that is often overlooked.  Ian will continue to provide species checklists for groups of freshwater molluscs as well as provide short introductions to species, but now he will add photo publishing to that list. 
View Ian's photos on E-Fauna here.
View Ian's photos on E-Flora here.
Read more about Ian's work on E-Fauna here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Steven Joya: E-Flora BC's new bryophyte editor

Exciting news on E-Flora BC.  Bryologist Steve Joya has taken on the role of bryophyte editor. Steve is a bryologist from Vancouver, whose main area of interest is in British Columbia mosses. His interest in bryophytes was sparked after attending a workshop conducted by Shona Ellis and Wilf Schofield. Since earning a B.Sc. in plant biology from UBC, he has worked on various bryophyte-related projects, assisting with field surveys, identifying collections, and databasing herbarium specimens. He has also participated in several bioblitzes as a bryophyte expert.

Steve has been reviewing bryophyte photos for identification on E-Flora for several years, and it is great to have him take on this expanded role, where he will not only continue to identify bryophytes, but also make the best selections of photos as the default photos on our bryophyte atlas pages.

View Steve's bryophyte photos on E-Flora here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Three New And Updated Bird Articles Now Available on E-Fauna

Thanks to the efforts of BC birders, three new comprehensive articles on rare bird species are now available on E-Fauna BC. These cover the Yellow-green Vireo, the Western Scrub-Jay, and the Dickcissel. Excerpts of the articles are presented on our atlas pages, and full articles with photos are available in our Notes and Articles section.

More bird articles are in preparation, so check back now and then for more detailed articles.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Biodiversity and Citizen Science: Cypress Provincial Park Bioblitz 2014

This is the time of year when citizen scientists make the most of their time. If you haven't already participated in one, then why not try the Cypress Provincial Park Bioblitz--details below.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

E-Flora BC: Family Name Changes

Plant taxonomists have been making many nomenclatural changes to plant names, and this includes changes to family names.  Recently some genera have been shifted to other families.  Over the next few weeks, you will notice that these changes are being put in place on E-Flora BC. 

Some of the changes you will encounter include the placement of maples (Acer) under Sapindaceae instead of Aceraceae, onion (Allium) under Amaryllidaceae instead of Liliaceae, and camas (Camassia) under Asparagaceae, instead of Liliaceae. 

In order to ensure that you can still search by family name, even if you don't know the new family names for species, we are developing a synonym search for families much as we presently have for species.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Featured Species: Globular Peaclam

Globular Peaclam, photo by Ian Gardiner

When we think of wildlife in BC, we tend to think of the larger photogenic species such as bears, elk, fish, and turtles. Or we think of the colourful, often alien-looking, species of tidal pools and other marine habitats. The sea stars, the nudibranchs, the sea urchins, the jelly fish. Oh, and sharks and whales.  We don't always think about the really teeny species, 'invisible' species such as peaclams.

Peaclams are a group of freshwater bivalves that are found in lakes, ponds, rivers and streams throughout BC.  They are characterized by their tiny size and presence in freshwater habitats and they are usually associated with freshwater vegetation.  In BC, we have fourteen species of peaclams listed, including the Alpine Peaclam, the Pygmy Peaclam and the Globular Peaclam.

The Globular Peaclam, Cyclocalyx ventricosum (syn. (Pisidium ventricosum), is a tiny species of clam that is found throughout North America.  In Canada, it is found from Newfoundland to British Columbia, "north to Ungava and the western Arctic coast" (BCCDC 2014).  It is found in permanent (perennial) water bodies (lotic and lentic habitats) such as lakes, ponds, and rivers--it has never been found in ephemeral or temporary aquatic habitats (BCCDC 2014).

In their guide to freshwater molluscs of the Laurentian Great Lakes, Mackie et al. describe the Globular Peaclam as occurring on muddy and sandy substrates, but indicate that it shows preference for "soft sediments in quiet shallow waters" (Mackie et al. 1980).  Ecologically, this species has been found to be present in greater numbers "in the upper sediment layers closer to sites of marl deposition" (IUCN 2014).

The BC Conservation Data Centre considers this species to be "relatively uncommon" in BC (BCCDC 2014).  However, its tiny size means that, unless you are specifically looking for it, it is likely to be overlooked.   

View the E-Fauna BC photo gallery for the Globular Peaclam here.
Visit the E-Fauna BC atlas page for this species here


Mackie, Gerald L. David S. White, Thomas W. Zdeba.  1980.  A guide to freshwater mollusks of the Laurentian Great Lakes, with special emphasis on the genus Pisidium.  Environmental Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 144 pages.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Now Available: Ascomycete Fungi of North America: A Mushroom Reference Guide

E-Flora Fungi Editor, photographer and photo reviewer Michael Beug is co-author (along with Arleen Bessette and Alan E. Bassette) of the recently published Ascomycete Fungi of North America: A Mushroom Reference Guide (University of Texas Press).  According to the Press, this is the first book in over sixty years that focuses on the Ascomycetes.  Along with the Basidiomycetes, the Ascomycetes are commonly called sac fungi. They include fungi such as truffles, ergot, yeasts, powdery mildews, candida, and mammalian lung fungi. 

In describing the book, the publisher says:

"Approximately 75 percent of all fungi that have been described to date belong to the phylum Ascomycota. They are usually referred to as Ascomycetes and are commonly found and collected by mushroom enthusiasts. Ascomycetes exhibit a remarkable range of biodiversity, are beautiful and visually complex, and some, including morels and truffles, are highly prized for their edibility. Many play significant roles in plant ecology because of the mycorrhizal associations that they form. Thus it is remarkable that no book dedicated to describing and illustrating the North American Ascomycetes has been published in over sixty years."

Read Michael's introduction to the macrofungi of British Columbia on E-Flora BC here.
View Michael's fungi photos on E-Flora BC here

"Michael W. Beug is a mycologist, environmental chemist, and Professor Emeritus at Evergreen State College. He is on the editorial board of Fungi magazine, and his mushroom photographs have appeared in over thirty books and articles. He is coauthor of MatchMaker, a free online mushroom identification program covering over 4,000 taxa of fungi. He lives in Husum, Washington" (University of Texas Press 2014).

Just Published: Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide

Bumble bee identification on E-Fauna BC is handled by bumble bee expert Robbin Thorp, professor emeritus of entomology at the University of California, Davis.  Now Robbin is co-author of an exciting new bumble bee book, published in May 2014.  Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide is authored by Paul Williams, Robbin W. Thorp, Lief L. Richardson and Sheila R. Colla. It is a must have for anyone in British Columbia interested in learning about bumble bees, their identification, and photographing them in the field.

The publisher, Princeton University Press, says:

"More than ever before, there is widespread interest in studying bumble bees and the critical role they play in our ecosystems. Bumble Bees of North America is the first comprehensive guide to North American bumble bees to be published in more than a century. Richly illustrated with color photographs, diagrams, range maps, and graphs of seasonal activity patterns, this guide allows amateur and professional naturalists to identify all 46 bumble bee species found north of Mexico and to understand their ecology and changing geographic distributions."

Bumble Bees of North America includes several photos by E-Fauna photographers Heinz Baum, Curtis Bjork, Werner Eigelsreiter, Brian Klinkenberg, and Rosemary Taylor.

Friday, May 23, 2014

New 2014 Spiders of British Columbia Checklist Now Available

Western Black Widow (Lactrodectus hesperus), photo by Sean McCann

The new 2014 Checklist of the Spiders of British Columbia, prepared by Robb Bennett, David Blades, Don Buckle, Claudia Copley, Darren Copley, Charles Dondale, and Rick C. West, is now posted on E-Fauna BC.  In this update to the ongoing documentation of spider fauna of British Columbia, the authors report a total 781 species for the province, with more than 50 new species this year.  

The authors say: "We believe there are more than 1000 species of spiders (Araneae) in British Columbia. Although only 781 have been recorded so far, many regions of the province have never been sampled...The long-term goal of this project is to produce a comprehensive field guide to the spiders of British Columbia. This goal is being achieved through our documentation of the spider fauna of the province, emphasizing species that are rare or threatened, in threatened habitats, introduced or invasive, in need of taxonomic clarification (including undescribed species), endemic to BC or have much of their geographical range in BC, in poorly sampled parts of BC, and/or illuminate historical changes in the province's biogeography."

In his Introduction to the Spiders of British Columbia on E-Fauna BC, Robb Bennett says: ". . . spiders are ruthless storm troops in the matriarchal anarchy that is the arthropod world: theirs is the most diverse, female-dominated, entirely predatory order on the face of the earth. As such, spiders are key components of all ecosystems in which they live.” (Bennett 1999).  Learn more about the spiders of British Columbia and where they are found in the province by browsing the E-Fauna spider atlas pages.  

Browse the new checklist, with species annotations, here.
Read Robb Bennett's Introduction to the Spiders of British Columbia here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ask An Expert: Hybrid Introgression and BC Butterflies

Biodiversity and genetic diversity are influenced by many factors...


What is hybrid introgression and does it occur in butterflies?

Answer (by Cris Guppy)

Hybrid introgression is the introduction of genes from the gene pool of one species into that of another, when the two species interbreed and produce offspring (hybridization) that are fertile, and the hybrid offspring continue to interbreed with one of the species.  An interesting case of hybrid introgression is the Propertius Duskywing butterfly (Erynnis propertius).  The overall range is the west coast of North America from San Diego north to central Vancouver Island, and DNA testing has found that the DNA is reasonably similar over that entire range (except for some subspecies-level variation).  However, populations from southern Vancouver Island and Puget Sound have two gene structures with about a 5% difference -- which is usually a large enough difference to indicate that two species are present. One gene structure matches the rest of the Propertius Duskywing and one matches Horace's Duskywing (E. horatius) of eastern North America.  At some undetermined time in the past, the range of the two species touched in the Puget Sound area, and they hybridized without merging into one species. The  range of Horace's Duskywing then retreated to east of the Rockies, but left behind some of its genetic material in the Propertius Duskywing gene pool.  The wing patterns and genitalia structure of the Propertius Duskywing all look the same, so the past hybridization is only detectable through DNA analysis. Quite cool!

Visit the E-Fauna BC atlas pages to learn about BC butterflies.
Read the E-Fauna BC Introduction to the Butterflies by Cris Guppy. 

Cris Guppy is a wildlife biologist and butterfly researcher based in the Yukon. He is co-author (with Jon Shepard) of Butterflies of British Columbia and is the butterfly advisor and butterfly photo reviewer on E-Fauna BC.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ask An Expert: Tidal Pools


I was on the rocky shore to the west of Kits beach (down the steps at the end of Trutch Street) and I noticed that there is very little life in the tide pools other than algae and mussels. I didn't see any snails or hermit crabs at all. Is this natural for this area or have the snails, hermit crabs and other littoral zone life been killed by pollution?

Thank you,

Answer (by Tom Carefoot)

The beach in question is part of a sandstone outcropping that extends from the Alma Street area eastwards.  It is characterised by shallow depressions with loose rocks (and other "moveable objects").  There is nothing wrong with the water quality in the area, and further east the shore becomes quite rich with intertidal flora and fauna.  Still, with rocks and sediments moving in the waves, there is little chance of anything delicate surviving on the Trutch-street beach, and hermit crabs and crabs in general would also not like the shifting substratum.  As you note, shells would likely be a resource in short supply for any would-be hermit-crab colonisers.  You may have noticed at least a few winkles Littorina spp. higher up on the shore, but the larger dogwhelks Nucella lamellosa, whose shells would be of a more suitable habitable size than those of winkles, are absent from most Vancouver shores.  They used to be extremely common in the Harbour side of Stanley Park, but tributyltin present in the water likely killed them off.  You may know that this latter, a component of older anti-fouling paints, and quite effective in preventing barnacles and such from settling, is now banned from inshore waters of most countries in the world.  Its problem, discovered only in the 1980s, was that it created a condition in whelks known as imposex.  This refers to the masculinisation of females, or imposition of maleness in the females leading, within a few generations, to total sterilisation of a population.  I haven't been down to the Park to check on them for several years, so a visit to the beach near the HMCS Discovery site might be something useful to do.  The winkles mentioned above comprise two common species Littorina scutulata and L. sitkana.  These are high-intertidal dwelling herbivorous species, sometimes even supratidal, and are too small to eat (winkle-"picking" is a respectable profession on Atlantic shores and in Europe).  However, thanks probably to release by winkle-eaters who can purchase live east-coast Littorina littorea from several seafood-supply stores in Vancouver, this much larger and quite tasty species can now be found on some local Vancouver beaches.   It lives in the intertidal zone, much lower than the indigenous species just mentioned, and (should you be wondering) is unlikely to enter into direct competition with them.  Well, you probably have much more information here than you really wanted, but it's easy to ramble on about topics dealing with marine invertebrates.

If you have the inclination, you can get more information on imposex on A Snails Odyssey website.

Also, you can read more about littorines & relatives on A Snail's Odyssey. The information presented there mainly relates to information published by Dr. Chris Harley of the University of British Columbia who, along with his students, first noticed the presence of L. littorea on local beaches.

Tom Carefoot is Professor Emeritus, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia and is also the author of A Snail's Odyssey, a comprehensive, research-based site dedicated to marine invertebrates.  Tom is a frequent contributor to E-Fauna BC.  

Atlas News: Our Maps

The maps on E-Flora and E-Fauna bc will be unavailable for a few days while the software licenses are updated.  They should be available early next week.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Half a Million Visits a Year: Our Regional Atlases Reach an International Audience

The numbers are now in! Our regional atlases of BC's flora and fauna--E-Flora BC and E-Fauna BC--are now drawing more than half a million visits a year!  Most of our visitors are from Canada, and the US, but there are many other countries represented. Many visitors are accessing the home page and searching for species information from there (~300,000) but a large number go directly to a species atlas page (400,000).   Based on the comments and inquiries we receive, our users include researchers, schools/students, government, conservation groups, and the general public.

The most popular group in the atlases?  Spiders!  The interest in spiders is high and everyone wants to know about Brown Recluse spiders (not found in BC), Black Widow Spiders and the Giant House Spider.  But, based on feedback, visitors are also keen on freshwater crustaceans, big furry wildlife (bears, wolves and cougars), and marine invertebrates (shorelines and tidal pool creataures).  In the plant world, listed species and invasive species are the big attractors. The photo galleries on both sites are heavily used by visitors aiming to identify what they've found.

Our blog is drawing a lot of interest, too, with up to 3000 visitors per month.  The most popular blog posts are, of course, spiders.  Robb Bennett's insights into our BC spiders are always a hit, but Tom Carefoot's blog posts on 'things marine' attract lots of visitors too. There is also a lot of interest in Ian Gardiner's finds in freshwater lakes in BC: the fairy shrimp, brine shrimp and water fleas. 

Interesting Facts:

The highest number of visitors to our blog in one day?  3897.

Most commonly used browser?  Firefox, followed by Chrome. The use of mobile devices and associated browsers is growing and now representing 10% of our visitors consistently.

Most frequently used search word?  Spiders and Brown Recluse Spiders.

Top Ten Countries Accessing the sites, in descending order: Canada, US, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, France, Latvia, UK, Poland.

Operating systems used, in descending order: Windows (59%), Macintosh (15%), iPhone (10%), iPad (4%), iPod (1%).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

First Pages of the new Vascular Flora of British Columbia Now Available on E-Flora BC: Primulaceae and Myrsinaceae

 Hardy Cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium), photo by Hans Roemer

A new vascular flora of British Columbia is now in preparation and the first new family treatments for Primulaceae and Myrsinaceae and associated genera and species, in draft form, have been posted on the E-Flora BC atlas pages. This text replaces the previous text for these two families on E-Flora BC which was taken from the Illustrated Flora of British Columbia (1998-2004) and which is now outdated.  The new family treatments are authored by UBC taxonomist Jamie Fenneman, lead author and editor of the project. 

The new vascular flora project is a joint iniative between the Royal British Columbia Museum and the University of British Columbia Herbarium and is anticipated to take several years to reach completion. The newly posted text is the first 'pilot' step in making the new flora available digitally.  More new treatments will be posted on E-Flora BC as they become available.

In tthe new treatments, Primulaceae has been split into two families:  1) Primulaceae, which now includes the following genera: Androsace, Dodecatheon, Douglasia, Primula 2) Myrsinaceae, which includes the following genera: Anagallis, Cyclamen, Glaux, Lysimachia, Steironema, Trientalis.  
The vascular flora of BC treatments encompass nomenclatural changes (including splits), as well as species additions and deletions to the BC flora.  One interesting addition is Cyclamen hederifolium, an introduced species which has naturalized in the Victoria area.  Jamie provides the following insight into this escaped garden species: "This species blooms in the fall, with the flowers appearing before the leaves, and the leaves persist through the winter and into the following spring. Although reasonably common in the Victoria area, this popular garden species is apparently not naturalized anywhere else in North America." 

In April, Jamie will provide more insight into the new vascular flora of BC project.

Jamie Fenneman is a PhD student in botany at the University of British Columbia, and is co-coordinator of E-Flora BC and E-Fauna BC. He has contributed numerous photos to both sites as well as introductory text on taxnonomy on E-Flora and a series of bird checklists on E-Fauna BC. Read his Introduction to Taxonomy here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Citizen Science at Work: Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris) in Port Alberni, BC

Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris), photo by Rick and Libby Avis

Thanks to the photo submissions of entomologists Rick and Libby Avis to E-Fauna BC, more is now known about the range  of the Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris) in BC.  Photo records take by Libby and Rick in July 2011 document the species presence in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.  Butterfly specialist Cris Guppy says: "[the] Dun Skipper record from Port Alberni is interesting -- it is a considerable extension of the Vancouver Island range." He adds: "Of course the range of the butterfly has probably not expanded, just our knowledge of the range."

In their book The Butterflies of British Columbia, Guppy and co-author Jon Shepard say:   "The Dun Skipper is known from southern Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, and the Fraser River canyon upstream to Lillooet. Except for the Lillooet population the species has been encountered only as single individuals in mesic grassy areas, often along old railway right-of-ways.  The single Lillooet observation was at a spring surrounded by an extremely xeric area.  The spring area had enough sedge to support a population of Dun Skipper."  

The important role of citizen scientists in the collection of biodiversity data can't be overstated. Photo record contributors to E-Fauna BC and E-Flora BC have frequently added new range information about BC wild species and, in some cases, new species have been added to the flora or fauna.

Read the E-Fauna atlas page for the Dun Skipper here
View the Dun Skipper photo gallery on E-Fauna BC here
Visit Rick and Libby's photo gallery on E-Fauna here

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Michael Beug: E-Flora BC's New Fungi Photo Editor

 Fly amanita (Amanita muscaria), photo by Michael Beug

This past weekend, Michael Beug, co-author of the soon-to-be-published Ascomycete Fungi of North America and Professor Emeritus at The Evergreen State College (Washington State), took on an expanded role in E-Flora BC.  Until now, Michael was one of our fungi photo reviewers, and also prepared our introduction to macrofungi on E-Flora BC--The Macrofungi of British Columbia. Now, though, Michael has taken on the role of Fungi Photo Editor.  Michael joins mycologist Ian Gibson of Victoria in developing our macrofungi section on E-Flora BC.  While Ian develops the macrofungi species list, and provides descriptive text for each species for our atlas pages, Michael will handle all fungi photos on the atlas.

Within the first few hours of taking on his new role, Michael began work reviewing all of the photos in our fungi photo gallery, double checking identifications and choosing the best photo of a species as an illustration.  That is, good fungi shots that also show key characteristics of a species. 

Michael has an impressive resume. At The Evergreen State College in Washington he taught chemistry, mycology and organic farming for 32 years.   Retired now, he continues to lecture and hold mushroom workshops.  He is very involved with the North American Mycological Association (NAMA), where serves as Editor of the Journal McIlvainea, Chair of the Toxicology Committee, and is a member of the Education Committee.  Significantly, he is currently Vice President and has served four terms as President of The Pacific Northwest Key Council, a group focused on the taxonomy and identification of fungi.  Michael is also a co-author of MatchMaker, with Ian Gibson, Drew Parker, Danny Miller, Eli Gibson, and Bryce Kendrick. Matchmaker is a free mushroom identification tool that covers mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.  

E-Flora BC focuses on macrofungi, the mushrooms, which is a very large group in BC.  In his introduction to the macrofungi, Michael says: 

"There are over 1600 species of macrofungi recorded from British Columbia. There are hundreds of additional named species found in the Pacific Northwest but not yet recorded from B.C. that are likely to turn up when people start looking for them. In addition, there are numerous species, probably one to three thousand or more, present in B. C. but not yet named or still waiting to catch the eye of someone who will recognize the mushroom as new to science. All of this brings the probable number of mushroom species in British Columbia to somewhere on the order of 5,000 species, possibly even 10,000 species."

One paragraph in Michael's introduction to the macrofungi of BC sums up his view of fungi and fungi in BC.

"In October of 2008, Dr. Joe Ammirati asked me to see if I could find any species of Cortinarius associated with Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana). I checked the literature but found none reported. However, in the following month I found 10 to 20 new species under the Oregon White Oak of the Columbia River Gorge. I found only one species that had previously been named and it was only reported from California. One Cortinarius I found was beautiful mustard yellow, another had gorgeous lilac tones, one had a spectacular fluorescence under UV light and one turned a striking bright pink when treated with potassium hydroxide. These were all big beautiful mushrooms with striking features. How had they gone undiscovered for so long? How many more new species are under the oaks of Southwestern British Columbia? For that matter, how many new species lurk undiscovered in all of British Columbia (some of the Cortinarius species I have found in Washington have also been found near Victoria, B.C. and are now in the process of getting names) – I will bet that there are still several thousand beautiful and interesting fungi waiting somewhere to be discovered and then studied and named. It is an exciting field open to anyone with an enquiring mind. I myself started off as a toadstool kicker, generally oblivious to mushrooms. A friend gave me some morels that led first to a memorable meal and then to a lifetime of discovery."

Michael lives in a remote area of Washington State, with a view of Mount Hood, and a half a mile long driveway.  

Here is a small selection of Michael's fungi photos:

Calocera viscosa (no common name), photos by Michael Beug

 Fairy fingers (Clavaria vermicularis), photo by Michael Beug

 Shaggy mane (Coprinus comatus), photo by Michael Beug

Read Michael's article on The Macrofungi of British Columbia here.
Michael has more than 1200 photos on E-Flora BC. View his photo gallery here
Visit Matchmaker, a free identification site for the mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Citizen Science on E-Fauna BC: The Bumble Bee Project

 Bombus flavifrons, photo by Brian Klinkenberg

Citizen science is an important and growing area where we can help scientists collect information and documentation on wild species.  At E-Fauna and E-Flora BC, citizen scientists can contribute photo documentation of species occurrences in British Columbia, particularly for species where the identification can be verfied from photos.  This includes birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians , along with plants and fungi.  But it also includes less charismatic species such as insects, or marine invertebrates, and more.

One group we would like to focus on in 2014 on E-Fauna BC is bumble bees. This is a group that is relatively easy to photograph, and we have expert help in identifying species from photographs.

Bumble bees have been in trouble for several years now, and many species have declined throughout their range. In BC, we have seen these declines, and we have also seen new species appear.  Some of this has been documented by E-Fauna photographers, including documentation of the presence of the introduced Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) in BC, documentation of the continued presence of the Western Bumble Bee (Bombus occidentalis) in BC (a species that has shown dramatic declines), and documentation of the growing numbers of the Yellow-faced Bumble Bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) as it expands its range in the province.

But there is much more documentation yet to be collected for bumble bees. So far, we have photo coverage for only 20 of our 33 BC species, and we would like to include coverage for the remaining species. Are they still out there?  You can help with this. When you are out and about this summer, whether in your garden or in a natural habitat (woods, fields, wetlands), focus on photographing bumble bees and help us provide coverage for these additional species.  When you submit your photos, include location coordinates (taken from Google maps) and we will map your record on our species distribution maps.

Anyone can become a citizien scientists for this project.  All you need is a camera.  Bumble bees are easy to recognize as 'bumble bees', and we can help with species identification. Once you have taken photos, then all you need to do to participate is become an E-Fauna photographer and send us your photos.  If you aren't already registered as an E-Fauna photographer, you can register here.  We will provide you with a password so you can upload your photos to our database.

Best get ready now....the first bumble bees will appear in a few weeks in southern BC as the weather warms up.  Watch for them!

Read about the Student Science North America-wide bumble bee project here.
Read about Bumble Bee Watch here.

Thanks to bumble bee expert Robbin Thorp for supporting bumble bees on E-Fauna BC.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

New Checklist of the Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets and Katydids) Species of BC Now Available

Red-legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum femurrubrum), photo by Brian Klinkenberg

An Updated Checklist of the Orthoptera Species of British Columbia, by entomologist James Miskelly, was recently published (2012).  The checklist covers grasshoppers, crickets, cave crickets, Jerusalem crickets, katydids and locusts. In the abstract to his paper, Miskelly says:

"Since the last publication of a checklist of the Orthoptera of British Columbia, much has been learned about the group. New information has come from a variety of web-based resources as well as new collections. An updated checklist is presented, listing 104 resident species in the province. Two of these species are represented by two subspecies in BC. Eight species have been added since the last list was published, including newly discovered native species and newly established non-native species. Records of six species have been found to be based on misidentified specimens and these species have been deleted from the checklist. An additional 15 species are considered hypothetical and may one day be confirmed to occur in BC."

View the paper, published by the Entomological Society of British Columbia, here.
View the E-Fauna BC Checklist of Orthopertoid Insects (2007), by Geoff Scudder and Rob Cannings, here.
View the E-Fauna BC atlas pages for Orthopera species here.
Read the Introduction to the Orthoptera of BC, by Geoff Scudder and Rob Cannings, here.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Featured Photographer: Nigel Tate, Portrait Artist


There are nearly a thousand photographers contributing to E-Fauna and E-Flora BC. Some send beautiful illustrations of a species, some send good habitat shots and illustrative work, and some send in photographic captures of rare species or wildlife in action, including bathing black bears. One photographer, though, contributes what can only be called wildlife portraits and these are invaluable additions to E-Fauna BC.  This is the work by Nigel Tate, a BC photographer whose work on local birds (eagles, herons, loons, hawks, hummers and more) gives insight into their lives.  Whether it's fishing herons, or hungry gulls, the results of Nigel's work are captivating.   The sequence of heron photos below illustrates what we mean.


Nigel not only takes 'photos', but also uses these to produce bird art that is really stunning as the example below shows. 

View Nigel's photos on E-Fauna BC here.
View Nigel's photos on Flickr here.
View Nigel's bird art photos on Flickr here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Cranberry Species Recognized in BC

 Bog cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus), photo by David Blevins

Each year, the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre, through the work of a BC flora committee, updates the list of vascular plants recognized in the province.  There are several updates for 2013, from nomenclatural changes to species additions and deletions (BCCDC 2013 update).  One interesting addition for the province is a newly recognized species of cranberry, Vaccinium microcarpum. This change means that there are three cranberry species now recognized in the province. They are:  Vaccinium microcarpum, Vaccinium macrocarpon, and Vaccinium oxycoccos.

The recognition of Vaccinium microcarpum in BC follows from a taxonomic split, and renaming, of Oxycoccus oxycoccos into 2 species: V. oxycoccos (southern BC) and V. microcarpum (northern BC).   UBC Botanist Jamie Fenneman, who is working on the BC flora update project, says: "The former Oxycoccus oxycoccos was moved to the genus Vaccinium, then split into a northern diploid (V. microcarpum) and a tetraploid that occurs in southern BC (V. oxycoccos). There are a number of morphological features that distinguish these forms. ....The two forms meet along a line through central BC, from about the Skeena River south and east to Wells Gray. North of this line is microcarpum, south is oxycoccos. But of course there is an overlap zone, so it might be more difficult to ID confidently [the species] around that line."

View the atlas page for Vaccinium microcarpum here.
View the atlas page for Vaccinium macrocarpon here.
View the atlas page for Vaccinium oxycoccos here.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ask An Expert: Brown Widow Spider Venom

Western Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus hesperus), photo by Jeremy Gatten.

The brown widow spider bite is said to have a stronger venom than black widows. True or false?

Answer (by Robb Bennett)  

The venoms of brown widows (Latrodectus geometricus) and black widows (Latrodectus mactans and other species) are generally believed to be of similar toxicity. However, in the rare instance of a true bite from a brown widow, the effects are almost always quite minor -- some amount of pain and redness at the site of the bite.

And, just in case you were wondering --the likelihood of brown widow spiders becoming established in British Columbia (or elsewhere in Canada) is remote.  Brown widows prefer tropical and subtropical habitats and, in North America, are restricted to the southeastern and southwestern United States.

Rick Vetter of the University of California, Riverside's "Centre for Invasive Species Research" has written an excellent account on brown widows -- check it out here.

Robb Bennett, Ph.D., F.E.S.C.
Research Associate, Entomology
Royal British Columbia Museum
675 Belleville Street, Victoria BC Canada V8W 9W2 

Learn about the distribution of the Western Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus hesperus) in BC.