Archive | August 25, 2012

My local bioblitz

Sit-and-wait predators: A. Wasp mantidfly (Climaciella brunnea); B. Ambush bug (Phymata americana); C. European praying mantis (Manits religiosa).

During the last few days I was supposed to be a member of a team of photographers and scientists, whose job was to document the biodiversity of animals and plants of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. This event, organized and sponsored by the National Park Service and National Geographic Society, aims to bring together scientists, naturalists, students, and all people interested in nature, to create a snapshot of the incredible diversity of life of a single place, and further the understanding of the role of national parks and other protected areas in its preservation. I had been looking forward to my participation in this event, and meeting some of the most accomplished photographers in the country, including teams from the Meet Your Neighbours project and the International League of Conservation Photographers. Alas, a string of unforeseen events forced me to cancel my travel plans at the last minute, as I was, literally, packing my bags with the photographic equipment.

Browsers and grazers: A. Red-legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum); B. Marsh Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus curtipennis); C. Two-Striped Grasshopper (Melanoplus bivittatus); D. Short-winged Green Grasshopper (Dichromorpha viridis).

Not being able to go, but still full of desire to bioblitz something, I decide to take my insect net and a camera to my favorite place, Estabrook Woods near the town of Concord, MA, and capture a tiny snapshots of its biodiversity. A regular bioblitz usually lasts 24 hours, and involves an army of botanists, entomologists, ichthyologists, and other -ists, who employ a huge arsenal of methods to find, collect, record, and document species. I only had a couple of hours and a sweep net, but I still managed to find nearly a hundred species of invertebrates (and a few frogs and a snake.) Time and other constraints did not allow me to photograph everything that I had found, but I was still able to get shots of quite a few interesting things. My plan is to repeat this exercise in a more comprehensive fashion before the summer is over, and truly photograph every single species found in the rich ecosystem of Estabrook Woods. But for now here are just a few highlights of what I found.

Plant-sucking insects: A. Leafhopper (Agallia sp.); B. Red-banded Leafhopper (Graphocephala coccinea); C. Acanaloniid planthoper (Acanalonia conica).