Diario del proyecto Metro Phoenix EcoFlora

04 de mayo de 2021

Wildfire Awareness Month and Events

May is National Wildfire Awareness Month and together, EcoFlora and the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance (CAZCA) are working to raise awareness and provide opportunities to learn about wildfire. We have virtual events planned with local experts, a series of blog posts filled with info, and this month's EcoQuest invites you to learn about and search for invasive plant species that fuel wildfire. You can also follow along with us on social (ecofloraphx) to learn about wildfire throughout the month.


🔥 Wildfire Events 🔥

ECOQUESTIONS with KARA BARRON
May 11 | 6-7 p.m. MST
In this EcoQuestions session, we hear from Kara Barron, who will discuss how Sonoran Desert plant communities respond to wildfire, how some individual plants respond and how a future with more frequent wildfires will alter the plant community composition.
Register Here

CAZCA SPEAKER SERIES: DR. HUNTER
May 18 | 6-7 p.m. MST
Join Dr. Molly Hunter to learn about the changing role of fire in southwestern habitats. We live in such a unique place, and as fire become a more common facet of our lives it’s important we understand their role and their impact on our deserts.
Register Here

CAZCA SPEAKER SERIES: DR. WILDER
May 26 | 5:30-7 p.m. MST
Join Dr. Ben Wilder to learn about the role of invasive plants in wildfires and other facets of fire in the Sonoran Desert.
Alarmingly, fire is becoming a more frequent occurrence in the desert. In this presentation, Dr. Wilder will discuss the 2020 Bighorn Fire in the Santa Catalina Mountains outside Tucson as a case study.
Register Here

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03 de mayo de 2021

Final Observations for City Nature Challenge!

Hello Neighborhood Naturalists!

Today is the LAST DAY to make observations for the City Nature Challenge and we want to take advantage of every minute. If you have free time today during lunch, go for a walk and observe some nature or if you go out this afternoon make sure to snap some photos of interesting things and upload them. You can even take a night hike and see what you can find!

Albuquerque still has the lead over us in most observations, but not by much! Can we overtake them by midnight tonight? Every observation matters! See the competition.

As a reminder, if you took photos but haven’t had a chance to upload them to iNaturalist, you may do so up until May 9. This will be strictly on the honors system so please be honest and only upload photos from that period of time.

If you haven't joined in on the fun, there's still time! Join here.
More info about the Greater Phoenix Area CNC.

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30 de abril de 2021

May 2021 EcoQuest: Up In Flames

Join the May EcoQuest: Up In Flames.
Find and map as many wildfire fueling invasive plants as possible.

Wildfires are getting bigger, burning hotter and happening more frequently. One of the contributing factors for this is invasive plant species that provide fuel for fire. Observations from this EcoQuest can help map these invasives and contribute to the efforts of Desert Defenders.

Join the EcoQuest
Desert Invaders Guide


This month’s EcoQuest is in collaboration with Desert Defenders.


Desert Defenders is a citizen science program focused on finding, mapping and removing invasive species at local parks and preserves. The plant species they focus on are known to have a moderate to severe impact on local ecosystems and communities.
Learn more about and join Desert Defenders
Desert Defenders on iNaturalist


Stinknet near homes in a neighborhood.

To the best of current scientific understanding, natural fires have not historically been a significant part of the Sonoran Desert. Compounding factors such as climate change, invasive species, and a rise in outdoor recreation have contributed to an increase in major fires here in the Sonoran Desert. These larger, and often hotter fires that are happening closer together in time, do not play well with a desert that is not adapted for it. Recovery after fire for the Sonoran Desert is estimated at 65+ years, and iconic species like the saguaro may not return to the burned area. Sonoran Desert that has been severely impacted by fire has the potential to shift to a very different landscape than what we know now, especially with repeated incidence of fire.

Some fires may have naturally occurred in the past, but the spacing of plants in the desert had prevented wildfire from spreading and having an extensive impact. Invasive plants are capable of rapid reproduction and displacement of native plants through competition for space and resources. They are most often introduced to the landscape and do not have the natural constraints of where they naturally grow to keep their populations in check. These plants are a main source of fuel for wildfires. They dominate the desert landscape and are filling in the open space that historically existed between desert plants. Now, when a fire starts in the Sonoran Desert, instead of burning a small patch of vegetation and then burning out, the fire can “run” because all of these plant patches are interwoven in a fabric of invasive species and increased annual vegetation growth. These plants can also alter the fire regime, the pattern of fires over time, by increasing fire frequency and intensity. Some of these plant species also benefit from fire and can move in quickly after a fire has occurred.
These plants are also fueling fires in urban areas. In 2020, there were numerous wildfires close to homes and neighborhoods, even in densely populated urban areas. Homes and structures were lost. Stinknet (Oncosiphon piluliferum) can be found growing very close to homes and even along the sidewalk at Tempe Town Lake. Salt cedar (Tamarix spp.) was a major fuel for the Avondale Fire, which burned nearly 1,000 acres. Invasive species pose a risk not only to wild places, but also the places where we live.


Fountain Grass in the Superstition Wilderness.


Observing and mapping these fire fueling invasive species can help us locate populations, raise awareness, make management plans and contribute to the efforts of Desert Defenders.


Stinknet at Tempe Town Lake.

WHAT TO OBSERVE:

In order to best plan for and manage these invasive plants, we need to know where they are. If there are a lot of plants in one area, you can observe each plant individually or observe one and accompany it with a “note” estimating how many are in the area. Also include an image showing the overall site. Individual observations are preferred, but we understand that can be a daunting task! One observation is better than no observation. Be sure to take multiple photos of the plants, including leaves, flowers, stems, and the overall plant itself.

Species to observe:
Fountain grass (Cenchrus setaceus)
Saharan mustard (Brassica tournefortii)
Tamarisks (Tamarix spp.)
Stinknet (Oncosiphon pilulifer)
Buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris)
Common Mediterranean grass (Schismus barbatus)
Red brome (Bromus rubens)
London Rocket (Sisymbrium irio)
Common sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)
Malta star thistle (Centaurea melitensis)

Desert Invaders Guide



Sources and more information:
Kara Barron (pg. 20), Gila Watershed Partnership
CAZCA and Desert Defenders
Arizona Native Plant Society
PNAS
American Institute of Biological Sciences
National Geographic





EcoQuests are month-long challenges that are part of the larger Metro Phoenix EcoFlora project.
You can learn more and join the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora here:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/metro-phoenix-ecoflora

Sign up for the newsletter at ecofloraphx@dbg.org.
Let's be social @ecofloraphx

PLEASE observe COVID-19 guidelines/recommendations.
This a great opportunity to get outdoors close to home as we all navigate the complications of COVID-19. However, it is imperative that you follow the guidelines/recommendations of your local governments and institutions (wear a mask, practice physical distancing and wash your hands). Do what’s best for you and your community.

Arizona Office of Tourism: Responsible Recreation in AZ
https://tourism.az.gov/responsible-recreation-across-arizona

Please do not observe indoor houseplants or pets.
For your own safety and the protection of plants and wildlife, do not trespass when making observations. Please follow all posted rules and guidelines in parks/preserves and do not enter private property.
Do not remove or move natural materials (plants, animals, rocks).
Respect wildlife (do not touch, feed, or disturb animals and keep a safe distance).

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29 de abril de 2021

The CNC Starts Tomorrow!

Can you believe it? The City Nature Challenge starts tomorrow! Here are some helpful tips for making observations and ways to stay safe while out and about. For more information and resources, check out the Greater Phoenix CNC website.

Join the City Nature Challenge

Ways to Observe
Go birdwatching! Arizona is known for a diverse group of birds that migrate from the South you’re sure to enjoy documenting and observing birds for the City Nature Challenge.

Set up a bird feeder outside your house and observe the species that visit. You can also set up a hummingbird feeder to attract a greater diversity of birds.

Do you have little ones and don’t want to take them out too far? No problem, just observe in your backyard! You can set up a hula hoop in your backyard but if you don’t have a hula hoop you can use any object like a jump rope or chalk to outline an area to focus on. Have them watch the area for a few minutes and discuss what they see. You can allow them to take photos with your phone or a digital camera and upload to the iNaturalist.

Temperatures are warming up and if you don’t want to be out in the heat you can observe at night by watching your porch light. Take photos of moths, geckos and other nocturnal critters that might come and visit.

Have a bioblitz with friends and set out to observe everything in a particular area.
You can also visit your local neighborhood park and see what bugs, flowers and trees live there!

For more ideas check out this document on finding nature in and around your home.

Observe Safely
Be Prepared
Have water, sunscreen, a hat, snacks, first aid kit and appropriate clothing and footwear
At night, have a light source and wear bright colored clothing with reflective elements if possible
Be sure that your phone or camera is fully charged
Be Alert
Use extra caution when observing near roadways
Be attentive to where feet and hands are being placed
Consider observing with a companion
Be Considerate
Try to not take away from others’ experience
Be mindful of blocking pathways or creating noise in quiet areas
Respect wildlife (do not touch, feed, or disturb animals and keep a safe distance)
If you can cover up the animal with your thumb, it’s likely a good distance.

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16 de abril de 2021

EcoQuestions with Dr. Tania Hernandez

Did you miss EcoQuestions with Dr. Tania Hernandez last night? Not to worry! The recording is up on our YouTube channel. Check it out and learn about cactus biodiversity, evolution and adaptation. 🌵See the recording.




Dr. Tania Hernandez
New World Succulents Cactus Scientist
The work in my lab is motivated by an interest to understand how and when the succulent syndrome appeared and how succulent lineages diversified. Besides being beautiful, succulent plants exhibit an interesting array of evolutionary modifications that occurred at all organismal levels (morphological, anatomical, physiological, genetic, etc.). We still do not fully understand the adaptive significance of those modifications in the context of the particular abiotic, or non-living, conditions under which different succulent lineages evolved around the globe.
Read more about Tania’s research here.


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13 de abril de 2021

2021 City Nature Challenge

Have you heard? April 30 through May 3, the Greater Phoenix Area will participate in the 2021 City Nature Challenge. This is a global effort to observe and document as much urban biodiversity as possible while engaging in community science. Using iNaturalist, anyone can get involved and share observations, anywhere from neighborhoods to local parks. Over 300 cities around the globe participate in this event and every year it gets bigger. This is the first year the Greater Phoenix Area will be part of the international challenge and it is co-organized by the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora, City of Chandler-Community Services and Educating Children Outdoors. We also have many great collaborators joining in on the fun. This is an important event for our state and will highlight the amazing biodiversity we have in the Sonoran Desert. Let's show the world that our desert is not a barren wasteland!

If you are not able to get out and make observations, you're outside of the Greater Phoenix Area, or you enjoy the challenge of identifying species more, you can help identify observations on iNaturalist from May 4-9.

Our neighbors in Greater Tucson and Albuquerque are also participating and we will be in a friendly competition together. Winner gets bragging rights! We are super supportive of one another, after all we are both interested in the same goals.

Results of the challenge will be announced on May 10!
There will be prizes given for the most observations made, most species observed and for the top identifier in our area!

Happenings will be added throughout the month of April, so be sure to check the website for the latest updates on webinars, events and trainings. Visit our website.
Click here to join the challenge.
Interested in collaborating with us? Please email greaterphxcnc@googlegroups.com.

While practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and following recommended safety guidelines, the 2021 City Nature Challenge is a great way to spend time and destress while learning about urban biodiversity. Learn more at citynaturechallenge.org/

Ingresado el 13 de abril de 2021 por jenydavis jenydavis | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de abril de 2021

April 2021 Events

Hello Neighborhood Naturalists,
Happy Citizen Science Month, National Native Pant Month, International Plant Appreciation Day, Earth Day and more! Please see below for April events. We're especially excited for the City Nature Challenge (CNC)! Join one of the events below to learn more, check out our official website and join the project. Happenings will be added throughout the month of April, so be sure to keep checking the CNC website and our social channels @ ecofloraphx for the latest updates on webinars, events and trainings.


April 30 through May 3, the Greater Phoenix Area will participate in the 2021 City Nature Challenge. This is a global effort to observe and document as much urban biodiversity as possible while engaging in community science using iNaturalist. This is the first year the Greater Phoenix Area will participate in the challenge and is co-organized by the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora Project, Educating Children Outdoors (ECO) and City of Chandler Community Services. CNC was created by the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The event started as a friendly competition between two cities but quickly grew into an international event with over 200 countries participating in the most recent 2020 challenge.
Even if you are unable to get out to make observations, or if you are outside the Greater Phoenix Area, you can still participate May 4 - May 9 by helping us identify the observations made during the challenge.
There will be prizes given for the most observations made, most species observed and for the top identifier. Results will be announced May 10!


APRIL EVENTS

SCIENCE CAFÉ with CHANDLER PUBLIC LIBRARY
Wednesday, Apr. 14 | 6:30-7:30 p.m. MST
The Metro Phoenix EcoFlora will be presenting for Chandler Library and the Chandler Environmental Education Center on how to be a citizen scientist and why data collected by the community is important. Learn how you can be a citizen scientist in the upcoming City Nature Challenge, where you can help collect information on the nature around us.
Register Here

ECOQUESTIONS with DR. TANIA HERNANDEZ
Thursday, Apr. 15 | 6-7 p.m. MST
In this EcoQuestions session hear from New World succulents cactus scientist, Dr. Tania Hernandez. Tania will discuss the origin, evolution and diversification of succulent lineages, with a particular focus on cactus (Family Cactaceae) and how we can learn more about biodiversity by comparing urban and wild populations.
Register Here

AZNPS PHOENIX CHAPTER MEETING
Sunday, Apr. 18 | 3-4:30 p.m. MST
Join the Phoenix Chapter of the Arizona Native Plant Society and the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora for the April chapter meeting and learn more about the ins and outs of the City Nature Challenge.
Register Here

iNATURALIST TRAININGS
Tuesday, Apr. 20 | 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Tempe Town Lake
Saturday, Apr. 24 | 9-10 a.m. at Gilbert Riparian Preserve
These trainings explore the basics of iNaturalist. We will guide you through getting started with the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora project and making observations, helping you make the most of the iNaturalist app and website. These trainings will also prepare you for the 2021 City Nature Challenge.
These events are limited to 10 attendees each on a first-come-first-served basis. Proper face masks will be required and worn, and we will practice social distancing.
Register Here for Tempe Town Lake
Register Here for Gilbert Riparian Preserve

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06 de abril de 2021

Neighborhood Naturalist Bird Walk

Join the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora for a bird walk with the City of Chandler Environmental Education Center!

NEIGHBORHOOD NATURALIST BIRD WALK
Saturday, Feb. 10 | 9-10 a.m. MST
Veterans Oasis Park
4050 East Chandler Heights Road
Chandler, AZ 85249

Wildlife photographer Cindy Marple with Desert Rivers Audubon Society shares birding basics, as well as tips and tricks to help you make great observations. Please meet in the lobby of the Environmental Education Center.

This event is limited to 10 attendees on a first-come-first-served basis. Proper face masks will be required and worn, and we will practice social distancing.
Register Here

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01 de abril de 2021

April 2021 EcoQuest: Lookin' Sharp

Join the April EcoQuest: Lookin’ Sharp.
Find and map as many cactus (Family Cactaceae) as possible.

Which plants are associated with the desert more than cactus? These prickly icons can be found all over metro Phoenix, from parks to street medians. Observations from this EcoQuest can help provide an initial view into species distribution and occurrence, which can help inform an urban population genetic study and provide insight into cactus biodiversity.

Join the EcoQuest
Guide to Cactus of Metro Phoenix


This month’s EcoQuest is in collaboration with the Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society (CACSS) and research scientist Tania Hernandez at Desert Botanical Garden.


The Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society aims to teach others how to grow and study cacti, other succulents and associated xerophytes, promote interest in these plants and support conservation programs that protect them and their habitats. The Society holds public meetings for study and to provide the opportunity to exhibit plants.
Learn more about CACSS.


Tania Hernandez
New World Succulents Cactus Scientist
The work in my lab is motivated by an interest to understand how and when the succulent syndrome appeared and how succulent lineages diversified. Besides being beautiful, succulent plants exhibit an interesting array of evolutionary modifications that occurred at all organismal levels (morphological, anatomical, physiological, genetic, etc.). We still do not fully understand the adaptive significance of those modifications in the context of the particular abiotic, or non-living, conditions under which different succulent lineages evolved around the globe.
Read more about Tania’s research here.


Cactus have become increasingly popular, with their likeness found on anything from home goods and clothing to cell phone cases and toys. Demand for the plants themselves has also risen, with millions of plants sold every year. In 2019, Saguaro National Park saw over 1 million visitors for the first time in its history. How much do you know about these prickly wonders?

What makes a cactus a cactus? Almost all cactus are succulents, but not all succulents are cactus. Succulents are generally plants that have adapted to store water in thick, fleshy leaves or stems. Agaves, aloes and some euphorbias are a few examples of succulents that are often mistaken for cactus. The stem is the part that stores water in most cactus and they have very few, if any, leaves. Instead, most have spines, which are highly modified leaves. Spines originate from a structure that distinguishes the cactus family: areoles. Areoles are circular or oval-shaped and look like discs covered in small hair or spines. Another way to know you are looking at a cactus is by its flower. Cactus flowers have numerous tepals, stamens, and stigma lobes. Many cactus bloom around April, so be sure and take the time to see if you can identify these flower parts while making observations.



Tepal: a term for when petals cannot be easily distinguished between a petal or sepal
Stamen: the reproductive organ of a flower that produces pollen
Stigma lobe: the reproductive part of a flower that receives pollen on top of the style

In the same way that biodiversity supports healthy ecosystems, genetic diversity supports healthy populations. By having different genetic makeups, species are better suited to adapt and resist risks from pests, disease, stress and environmental conditions. Undesirable genetic traits can also be reduced over time. With so many cactus being grown, bought and sold, traded and planted, we want to know more about populations and their genetic diversity. This EcoQuest can help us decide which species of cactus are most numerous in urban areas and which species to possibly study. Questions we may be able to investigate include where cactus are being sourced, are most cactus in urban areas clones (and therefore do not support genetic diversity), and how do urban population genetics differ from wild populations? The results from this EcoQuest can provide information and data for a future urban population genetics study.

Because of their popularity, cactus have become a prime target for poachers with demand being driven by enthusiasts around the world. Below are some tips from @ ethicalcactus on Instagram for making educated cactus purchases.


To learn more about species that are considered “at risk,” visit the IUCN Red List or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) website.

You can also read more about cactus poaching and the illegal plant trade in this article from The Guardian, featuring Desert Botanical Garden’s own Steve Blackwell.


Just for fun: Love urban cactus? Check out this Central Phoenix cactus map and other works by local artist Steady Hand Maps. Their amazing hand-illustrated cactus cards and map show where different types of cactus can be found in Central Phoenix, and how they can transform urban and residential cityscapes. The cards also have blank spaces to fill in your own observations!



Observing cactus species in metro Phoenix can help us understand more about populations and provide information and data for a future urban population genetics study.

WHAT TO OBSERVE:
Any and all cactus in metro Phoenix. Be sure to take multiple photos and include as many details as possible for an observation because this helps with identification. This includes a photo of the overall cactus, paddles or stems, closeups of spines and areoles, and flowers if there are any.

Cactus can be very difficult to identify, especially because of hybridization, and at times can only be distinguished genetically. Don’t be discouraged if you cannot identify to a species level.

We’ve also created a guide with cactus that have been observed on iNaturalist in Metro Phoenix: Guide to Cactus of Metro Phoenix


HOW TO REMOVE SPINES:

Take extra caution when observing cactus! Be sure to watch your step and pay attention to where you put your hands and feet. When making observations up close, be mindful of longer spines and wear eye protection and gloves if necessary.

If you do find yourself in a prickly situation:
First, don’t grab the spines!
If the stem of the cactus is still attached, try to cut it loose with snips or scissors, leaving about a half inch of spine. Next, deal with the spines. Use tweezers or pliers to try and work or pull spines out. If pieces of spine stay behind in your skin, try a warm soak with Epsom salt to relieve pain and try to draw the spine out. For tiny, hair-like spines like glochids, try running them under warm water and carefully scrape across your skin with something that has a hard and sharp edge. Applying duct tape or letting glue dry on your skin, then removing can also be effective. If you notice any swelling or redness for more than a week or so after, it could be worth a trip to the doctor to make sure the site isn’t infected.

Read more from Raul Puente-Martinez from Desert Botanical Garden in this article.


Sources and more information:
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum:
https://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_cactus_.php
The Plant List
http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Cactaceae/
How to Remove Cactus Spines
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/how-to-remove-cactus-spines-including-ones-stuck-in-your-throat?utm_source=pocket-newtab
Tucson.com
https://tucson.com/news/local/record-crowds-swept-through-tucsons-saguaro-national-park-in-2019/article_6a5a5487-dec6-5792-8686-1cc20cf06ba7.html#:~:text=Saguaro%20National%20Park%20saw%20its,by%20the%20National%20Park%20Service.





EcoQuests are month-long challenges that are part of the larger Metro Phoenix EcoFlora project.
You can learn more and join the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora here:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/metro-phoenix-ecoflora

Sign up for the newsletter at ecofloraphx@dbg.org.
Let's be social @ecofloraphx

PLEASE observe COVID-19 guidelines/recommendations.
This a great opportunity to get outdoors close to home as we all navigate the complications of COVID-19. However, it is imperative that you follow the guidelines/recommendations of your local governments and institutions (wear a mask, practice physical distancing and wash your hands). Do what’s best for you and your community.

Arizona Office of Tourism: Responsible Recreation in AZ
https://tourism.az.gov/responsible-recreation-across-arizona

Please do not observe indoor houseplants or pets.
For your own safety and the protection of plants and wildlife, do not trespass when making observations. Please follow all posted rules and guidelines in parks/preserves and do not enter private property.
Do not remove or move natural materials (plants, animals, rocks).
Respect wildlife (do not touch, feed, or disturb animals and keep a safe distance)

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15 de marzo de 2021

Merit System

We are excited to announce the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora now has a merit system! Earn rewards for your observations, including stickers, buttons, tee shirts, books, Desert Botanical Garden tickets and more. Virtual badges are also awarded so you can show off your observation accomplishments. To claim merits, fill out the merit system form, we will verify and send out your goods!

Observations that count toward merits are those that have been made within the project boundary since the start of the project on Feb. 6, 2020. Merits will begin being awarded at the level you have achieved as of March 1, 2021. Open to project members only, while supplies last.

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Vida Silvestre es una entidad asociada a la Organización Mundial de Conservación