Conservation

From The Throat Of The Kingfisher

Kingfisher

I’m back! Sorry for the absence. I’m taking my time with my illustrations these days so that means fewer posts. So…let’s begin

This illustration is inspired by the discovery of a new frog species in Southern India (in the state of Karnataka). For years the call of the Karaavali skittering frog was mistaken for the call of the White-throated Kingfisher. That was until a very clever herpetologist discovered that it was not the call of a kingfisher but in fact the call of a frog. Through audio and video documentation followed by DNA analysis the unknown frog was discovered and named. Thus the Karaavali skittering frog sprung forth from the throat of the White-throated Kingfisher (not literally of course). Alas, the frog is already threatened due to habitat loss. A cruel reality in the world of wildlife biology- discovery is followed by loss.

About This Illustration: When I read the linked article about the discovery of the Krivaavali skittering frog, this image took shape immediately. I somewhat incorporated Indian art and textile design into this illustration. It was a fun process involving watercolor, acrylic ink, India ink, and colored pencils.

You can purchase a print of this illustration through my Etsy shop, ScienceStories: https://www.etsy.com/listing/551252519/from-the-throat-of-the-kingfisher

If the plight of critters moves you, consider donating to:

Wildlife Conservation Society: https://www.wcs.org

The Nature Conservancy: https://www.nature.org

Audubon Society: http://www.audubon.org

Or other international or local conservation nonprofits. If you have the time please consider volunteering as well. I will write more about that in the future.

 

Happy Pollinator Week!

BumblebeeGarden copy

June 19th-25th 2017 is designated as Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior! So go out and hug your local pollinator…or maybe just plant some native wildflowers. And lay off those pesticides.

To find out more about Pollinator Week and activities in your area: http://pollinator.org/pollinatorweek/

https://www.fws.gov/pollinators/

Or join a Citizen Science Project: Bumble Bee Watch Butterflies and Moths of North America

A print of this illustration can be purchased through my Etsy shop, ScienceStories: https://www.etsy.com/listing/523902966/bumble-bee-garden-85×11-inch-watercolor

Shorts & Flip Flops in March

Lilacs

In some regions of the United States it felt more like April or May during the month of February (and now March). Yay! Flip flops and shorts! What could be so bad about that? For some plants and animals an early spring (or really a pattern of earlier springs due to climate change) can cause ecological mismatches. Flowers may bloom before the arrival of pollinators. Certain insects that are a key part of the diet of a migrating bird species might emerge before the arrival of those migrating birds. Different species follow different environmental queues and in a changing climate different species adapt at a different pace. So those seasonal phenomena (migration, breeding, etc…) can be out of whack due to a shift in temperature.

The study of those seasonal phenomena within the context of climate is called phenology. The USA National Phenology Network or NPN (under the United States Geological Survey) focuses entirely on this subject through monitoring and research via scientists and citizen scientists around the country. You can become an NPN citizen scientist by joining Natures Notebook. Sign up and begin recording your observations today and your data will be used by scientists and land managers to better understand and manage for the biological implications of climate change. Sit in your backyard with a notebook and a pencil, an easy way to contribute to science.

About the Illustration: Lilacs and Swallowtails-acrylic paint and rice paper. The lilac is a host plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Recently the NPN created maps of the United States that illustrate the arrival of spring across the country based on temperature data from NOAA and  extended spring indices-observations of the leafing out and blooming of lilacs and honeysuckles across the country are used as an indicator of leafing out of other plant species. Why lilacs and honeysuckles? Because they are both common flowering plants found across the country.

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright

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A bright note from the conservation world in 2016!  Wild tiger populations are on a rise for the first time in a century, an estimated 3,890 now roam the earth-up from 3,200 in 2010. India houses most of the world’s wild tigers. The country has taken tiger conservation seriously. Russia, Nepal, and Bhutan are also seeing conservation successes.

Although this is encouraging these numbers do not indicate habitat quality (i.e. habitat fragmentation) or the status of subspecies. Populations in some countries are not well accounted for at this time and in places like Indonesia habitat destruction for the palm oil industry are negatively impacting tiger populations. Poaching for the black market (mostly for Chinese traditional medicines) and habitat destruction and fragmentation are the major causes in the decline of wild tiger populations in recent years. They are still a concern but coordinated conservation efforts and enforcement are helping tigers make a come back after a path towards extinction.

For More Information:

http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/for-the-first-time-in-100-years-tiger-numbers-are-growing

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/tiger-populations-increasing/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/04/160410-tiger-numbers-rise-wwf-conservation-double-population/

About the Illustration: Watercolor ink on bristol paper. This illustration can be purchased through my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ScienceStories

 

Washed Ashore

This past weekend we visited the Denver Zoo and among the animals were 15 different sculptures of marine life made solely from plastic trash found on beaches. A lot of plastic water bottles.

The sculptures were made by the Sciart non-profit The Washed Ashore Project who’s mission is to raise awareness about marine trash and conservation through art. Their exhibits travel around the country so check out this link to find an exhibit near you: http://washedashore.org/exhibit-locations/.

It is worth a visit. Their work is both heartbreaking and beautiful.

My Illustration for Lateral Magazine

rainbowfish-2

My recent illustration for Lateral Magazine, an Australian Science magazine. It accompanies an article about the Running River Rainbowfish, threatened species, and conservation action. http://www.lateralmag.com/articles/issue-16/watered-down

Two Heads Aren’t Always Better Than One

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Reports of two-headed sharks have increased through the years. Is it due to overfishing which reduces the size of the gene pool and allows for more of these genetic mutations to occur (think inbreeding)? Or is it just easier to report these observations (through scientific papers and social media)? It is a difficult topic to research since most of these sharks never survive. But it is a critical question that needs to be answered. Is it overfishing? Increased reporting? Pollution? Or something else entirely. Global shark populations are not doing well as it is, genetic mutations could be an additional silent threat.