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.