04 de diciembre de 2023

November 2023 Photo-observation of the Month


A Long-eared Owl showcases its namesake ear tufts while taking a mid-day snooze in a Windsor County backyard. ©
@smccaull

Congratulations to @smccaull for winning the November 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Her photos of a remarkable chance encounter with one of Vermont’s most secretive owls received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

On a sunny fall morning in the Connecticut River valley, VCE friend and board member Stephanie McCaull stepped outside to a din of cawing American Crows. Knowing this cacophony could be in response to a local owl or other predator drawing the ire of these crafty corvids, she searched around her front yard until she spotted a well-camouflaged owl with protruding feathery ‘ears.’ Smaller and slimmer than the more common Great Horned Owl, and with a different patterning of coloration on the breast and face, the Long-eared Owl is one of Vermont’s most secretive and sought-after owl species. Avid birders will spend hours at night listening with hands cupped to their ears for the soft, low hoots of Long-eared Owls in their preferred habitat — dense thickets of cedar and other coniferous trees adjacent to open areas for hunting rodents — but every so often one of these reclusive owls will roost out in the open, providing a treat for lucky birders. To learn more about these charismatic, reclusive owls, head over to Vermont eBird where this article on the thrills of searching for Long-eared Owls in Vermont also provides a plethora of natural history information.


With 3,068 observations submitted by 501 observers in November, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Publicado el 04 de diciembre de 2023 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de noviembre de 2023

Second Vermont Butterfly Atlas Newsletter

The final 2023 Butterfly Atlas newsletter is out and chocked full of information.

-Highlights from the First Season
-From Botany to Butterfly: A Community Science Success Story
-Vermont Butterfly Species Conservation Ranks Updated
-Species Spotlight: Two-spotted Skipper
-Log Your Volunteer Hours for Conservation Funding
-Butterfly Videos and Books for Winter Learning and Enjoyment

Check it out at https://val.vtecostudies.org/projects/vermont-butterfly-atlas/newsletters/

Publicado el 18 de noviembre de 2023 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de noviembre de 2023

October 2023 Photo-observation of the Month


Often celebrated for its ethereal voice and its special place as Vermont's state bird, the Hermit Thrush showcases a stunning palette of neutral tones when viewed up close. ©
@ckhunt

Congratulations to @ckhunt for winning the October 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His head-on portrait of a handsome Hermit Thrush received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

Unlike the other thrush species that migrate through or raise young in Vermont, the Hermit Thrush holds a special place in the state not just as the State Bird but also as the only thrush in its genus that can be found here even in the depths of winter. Thanks to the mountains of community science data that birders across the state provide through Vermont eBird, we can visualize with bar charts and graphs like this one when different species are most likely to be encountered. While most Hermit Thrushes head to more southern locales during the winter, a few hardy individuals stick around in slightly warmer or lower-elevation sites in Vermont. If you're thinking of joining your local Christmas Bird Count this year, consider seeking out areas with some open water and late-season fruiting plants that could provide safe-haven for one of these tough thrushes. Until their flute-like songs ring through the forest once more, Vermont birders can keep an ear out for the distinctive "chup" calls of Hermit Thrushes in the hopes of an up-close encounter like the one featured here.


With 12,220 observations submitted by 1,180 observers in October, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Publicado el 09 de noviembre de 2023 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de octubre de 2023

September 2023 Photo-observation of the Month


Not the usual avian inhabitant one would expect to find in a nest box, this Gray Treefrog seems to have found a cozy shelter to hide out and survey the area. ©
@godricvt

Congratulations to @godricvt for winning the September 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His photo of an unexpected bird house occupant received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

That makes back-to-back wins of the Photo-observation of the Month for the wonderful Gray Treefrog! In contrast to last month’s froglet, here we have an adult Gray Treefrog capitalizing on the end of the breeding season for Vermont’s birds by taking up residency in a nest box. Gray Treefrogs are highly arboreal, so while it may be surprising to see a frog perched in a bird house like this, if any species were to find their way to this cozy abode, it’d be a Gray Treefrog. A mostly nocturnal species, Gray Treefrogs tend to stay out of sight for most of the day before ramping up their vocalizations and activity around dusk. With cooler temperatures on the way, Gray Treefrogs are beginning to seek out secluded spots to shelter away for the winter and brumate (an amphibian version of hibernation). Using chemicals produced in their liver with antifreezing properties, these tough frogs are capable of freezing solid while their cells remain intact, ready for the spring thaw. This particular Gray Treefrog shouldn’t bet on being the sole occupant of this nest box for long, as plenty of Vermont’s overwintering bird species that would take advantage of a cozy place to spend a cold winter night would also enjoy a surprise frozen frog snack. While this Gray Treefrog seeks out a tree crevice or a sheltered spot under some leaf litter to spend the winter, you can learn more about this species in Vermont on the Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlas site.


With 20,422 observations submitted by 1,701 observers in September, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Publicado el 05 de octubre de 2023 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de octubre de 2023

UPDATED! Choosing Licensing that Allows Scientists to use Your Observations

Most of us who add observations to iNaturalist do so in the hopes of contributing valuable information to biodiversity research and conservation. Research grade data is made accessible to the Vermont Atlas of Life scientists through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), an international, inter-governmental organization that compiles and distributes biodiversity information from around the world.

However, what many don’t realize is that iNaturalist has different copyright licensing options available that get applied to observations, photos, and sound recordings. These licensing options generally fall under two broad categories: “all rights reserved” copyright and creative commons. “All rights reserved” copyright is what most people are familiar with - it restricts you from freely copying and using someone else’s work without permission. Creative commons (CC), a form of copyright that allows the creator (licensor) to give permission for others to use their work in certain ways without asking permission. This allows others to use creative products while ensuring that the licensor gets credited for their work.

iNaturalist only includes your Creative Commons-licensed content in regularly-updated archives produced for select partner organizations, such as the Vermont Atlas of Life and GBIF. Only observations with No Copyright (CC0), Attribution (CC BY), and Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) are shared.

There are six different CC licenses available, each with slightly different conditions. The licensing that you choose to apply to your observations, photos, and sound recordings affect whether or not VAL, GBIF, and others can use your shared iNaturalist products. Below I will walk you through how to find your personal copyright settings, what they mean, and how they affect the feature they’re applied to.

Finding your iNaturalist copyright settings

Before I explain what the different license options are on iNaturalist, it’s important to know where to find them. To access your copyright settings, go to your profile dropdown menu on the top-right corner and click on “Account Settings”. This will take you to a page that says “Settings” with a menu under it on the left column. Select "Content and Display" from the menu. Scroll to the bottom of that page to the section called "Licensing". You will see three different categories: observation, photo, and sound. They each contain the same list of possible licenses. Take a moment to look at your current settings and know that we will return here in a couple paragraphs.

What they mean

CC0 - No Copyright - You waive your rights to these observations, photos, or sounds. Anyone can use them without crediting you. Others can create new material based on your work.

CC-BY - Attribution - Anyone can use your observations, photos, or sounds as long as they credit you. Others can create new material based on your work.

CC-BY-NC - Attribution-NonCommercial - Anyone can use your observation, photo, or sound, and create new material based on it, however they can’t make a profit off of the new material.

CC-BY-SA - Attribution-ShareAlike - Anyone can use your observations, photos, or sounds, however any new creations based on your work needs to be credited the same as the original.

CC-BY-ND - Attribution-NoDerivs - Anyone can use your observations, photos, and sounds, however they can’t alter your work to create new materials.

CC-BY-NC-SA - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike - Anyone can use your work, so long as they don’t profit off it and use identical credits for new creations.

CC-BY-NC-ND - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs - Anyone can use your work, however they can’t profit off it or change it.

Things to consider when selecting a license

Observations: Not all research grade observations end up in GBIF and this is often due to licensing. GBIF can’t use observations licensed as CC-BY-SA or CC-BY-ND due to the way that the data gets processed. Any observations licensed in these ways (even high-quality research grade observations) are excluded from GBIF’s database, rendering them useless to the scientific community. If you want your observations to serve as data points to researchers, you need to choose either CC0, CC-BY, or CC-BY-NC.

Photos: Photos are more flexible when it comes to licensing. They aren’t subject to the same restrictions as observations, meaning that a photo licensed as CC-BY-SA or CC-BY-ND can still end up in GBIF, so long as the observation is licensed correctly. Also, as long as your photo receives some kind of CC designation, others can use it within the parameters of that license.

Sounds: Sound recordings follow the same rules as photos. Any research grade sound recording with a CC license is shared to GBIF and can be used by others following the license.

Here's an example of an observation that is shared with GBIF: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/163713992. Scroll to the bottom of the observation page. On the right hand column you will find a section called "Copyright Info and More". On this one it shows that the observation is shared with "no rights reserved", which is CC0. Scroll a bit further down and you can see it is research grade and it is shared with GBIF. Click on the GBIF icon and it will take you to the record at GBIF.

Want to learn about CC licensing? You can check out their website for more in-depth descriptions of the six different licenses.

Changing your license settings

If after reading through all of this you want to change your observation, photo, or sound licensing, here’s how to do it. If you left your settings page, return to it following the steps described in the first section. Once at the licensing section, select the new license you want to use. Under each category (observation, photo, sound), there is a box that when checked will apply these changes to all existing observations. This allows for easy updating. If you only want your licensing changes to affect observations going forward (none that are already uploaded), then leave that box unchecked.

  1. Go to Account Settings by clicking down arrow by your icon and then select account settings. Account Settings
  2. On Account Settings, go to Content & Display on the left side menu. Scroll down to Licensing. Account Settings page
  3. Select the license you want to apply to all your material for observations, images, and sound recordings. Check off the box under each that says - update existing ___ with new license choice. Then, MAKE SURE TO HIT THE SAVE SETTINGS BUTTON on the bottom right. Account Settings page - Licensing section
Publicado el 03 de octubre de 2023 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 5 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de septiembre de 2023

August 2023 Photo-observation of the Month


A freshly metamorphosed Gray Treefrog shows off its beautiful green coloration and sticky toe-pads. ©
@erint

Congratulations to @erint for winning the August 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Her adorable photo of a young Gray Treefrog (or perhaps Treefroglet?) received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

Late summer is the best time of year in Vermont to be on the lookout for teeny-tiny recently metamorphosed Gray Treefrogs and Spring Peepers. Once they’ve shed their tadpole tail and sprouted legs, these froglets will emerge from the ponds and wetlands they grew up in to explore the surrounding landscape. If you’re out for a walk by your local pond or wetland, keep an eye out for these minuscule amphibians clinging to vegetation with their sticky toe pads. Those who have been lucky enough to see an adult Gray Treefrog will notice that this recently metamorphosed individual does not yet have the gray, warty skin of an adult; in this early stage of development a Gray Treefrog’s skin is mostly smooth and emerald green. In a few weeks though, this little frog will fully grow into its Latin name of Hyla versicolor, becoming a warty, lichen-patterned adult Gray Treefrog with the ability to shift its coloration from whitish to gray to green and black. To learn more about freshly-metamorphosed frogs and see more photos, check out the Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlases latest Herp Update.


With 30,481 observations submitted by 2,162 observers in August, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Publicado el 06 de septiembre de 2023 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de agosto de 2023

Bumblebee Photographed in Backyard is a New Species for Vermont

It took a photo, a drawing, a naturalist’s boundless curiosity, and bee experts from across the nation for Vermont to claim a new bumblebee species for the state last week.

In 2008, artist and naturalist Susan Sawyer snapped a beautiful photo of a bumblebee in her yard. “I took this and many other photos of bees in my yard over the years,” said Susan. “In 2016, when I needed to draw a bumblebee, I used this one to work from.” She showed it to VCE staff at the time, and we knew it was a cuckoo bumblebee, but we weren’t sure which species. Then, we forgot about it. “The VCE team had ideas about what it was, but I don’t think they were 100% certain, with only this one photo; so, the drawing’s title was just Bombus sp., a Cuckoo Bumblebee,” she said.

A few weeks ago, Spencer Hardy, VAL wild bee expert, joined Susan and staff from Four Winds Nature Institute to teach them about native bees. She remembered the bee in question and showed him the drawing. He knew immediately it was a cuckoo bumblebee and might be an interesting record. Spencer asked her to post the original photo to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist so he could easily share it with other experts to get their opinion too.

Right away, Zach Portman, a bee taxonomist at the University of Minnesota, made the identification—Indiscriminate Cuckoo Bumblebee (Bombus insularis). Bumblebee expert Leif Richardson from the Xerces Society took a close look and agreed. World expert John Ascher, an Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore and Research Associate at Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and the American Museum of Natural History, concurred.

The Indiscriminate Bumblebee is native to western mountains and northern areas of North America. It belongs to the subgenus Psithyrus, the cuckoo bumblebees, which are social parasites of other bumblebees. The queens enter the nest of a host species, kill the resident queen, and then live and lay eggs in the nest. The host workers are forced by aggression and pheromones to rear the offspring.

This species has declined in some areas and disappeared from a few parts of its historical range. NatureServe ranks the Indiscriminate Bumblebee as globally vulnerable (G3), with Maine ranking it critically imperiled (S1) and New York calling it possibly extirpated (SH). Some of its host species have faced significant declines as well. Potential threats include habitat loss, pesticides, pathogens from domesticated bees, competition from introduced bees, and climate change.

Want to help VAL track bumblebees and other pollinators? Join the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist, snap images of the bees in your neighborhood, and add your sightings to the project. Susan’s finding shows how much you can discover in your own yard, local parks, and nearby greenspaces!

Publicado el 23 de agosto de 2023 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de agosto de 2023

Join the 7th Annual Vermont Monarch Blitz (July 28 - August 13)

The annual Vermont Monarch Monitoring Blitz is back for a 7th edition! From July 28 to August 13, 2023, join the blitz to help us get a snapshot of Monarch populations in Vermont before migration.

Mission Monarch is a community science program to gather data on Monarch and Milkweed distribution and abundance each year during the breeding season. Participants find milkweed, look for Monarchs (eggs, larvae, and adults) and share their observations with us on the Mission Monarch website. It allows us to get an annual snapshot of how Monarchs are faring in Vermont and beyond.

Participation is simple! Just complete one or more missions during the Blitz between July 28 through August 13 and add your observations to Mission Monarch. Conducting a mission is easy and fun! From backyards to mountain meadows, all you need is a place where milkweed is growing. 

What is a mission?
Conducting a mission and participating in Mission Monarch is simple and fun! To conduct a mission, just follow the following steps:

  1. Find milkweed - Go outside and look for milkweed. It can be wild as well as cultivated milkweed. To learn how to recognize milkweed and know where to find it, click here.
  2. Search for monarchs - Carefully examine milkweed plants, looking for monarch eggs and caterpillars. They can be on or under leaves, in flowers or on fruits. It is important to look everywhere! Note the number milkweed stems you examined. It can be just one stem or a hundred; it’s up to you! Count the number of eggs, caterpillars, chrysalis and adults you find. Even if you find none, please report it.
  3. Write down your observations - Count and write down the number milkweed stems you examine. You may count only one stem or a hundred; it’s up to you! Write down the number of caterpillars you find. If several species of milkweed are growing at the location of your survey, count the stems and associated caterpillars separately. Even if you find no monarchs, please reporting it.
  4. Back home, go to Mission Monarch and submit your data.

Join and learn more about the mission at the Vermont Atlas of Life website.

Publicado el 07 de agosto de 2023 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de agosto de 2023

July 2023 Photo-observation of the Month


The 2nd Maria Miner Bee ever documented in Vermont visits one of its floral favorites, the blooms of the Interior Sandbar Willow. ©
@beeboy

Congratulations to @beeboy for winning the July 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His exciting record of a rare bee species received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

Not only does this iNaturalist observation showcase a stunning specialist bee on its favorite pollen-provider, it also marks an exciting second record of this species that has recently been discovered in Vermont. As the coordinator of the Vermont Wild Bee Survey, Spencer has searched the state far and wide for bees just like this individual. Specialist bees, like the Maria Miner Bee, are picky when it comes to which pollen they will provide for their offspring. Some of these pollen-specialists prefer the pollen of plants that are rare or unevenly distributed across the state. If a plant is rare you can expect any species that depend on that plant to be even rarer, which is what brought Spencer to a grove of Interior Sandbar Willow trees on the shores of Lake Champlain. The jury’s still out on whether this species is truly rare or simply overlooked, and iNaturalist records such as this one can help fill in our knowledge of pollinators like the Maria Miner Bee in Vermont. Want to help the Vermont Center for Ecostudies track down rare bees? Check out our Most Wanted list and the list of specialist bees by host plant offered on the Vermont Wild Bee Survey website.


With 34,697 observations submitted by 2,210 observers in July, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Publicado el 04 de agosto de 2023 por nsharp nsharp | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de julio de 2023

Join Vermont Moth Blitz Week 2023 (July 22-30)

Explore Vermont's astounding moth diversity! By participating in our annual Moth Blitz, you will help the Vermont Moth Atlas develop a better understanding of the moths that call the Green Mountain State home. Over 2,200 moth species have been documented in Vermont with new species being found all the time. Who knows, maybe you will find one! We encourage everyone, from experts to amateur enthusiasts, to find, photograph, and share their moth discoveries with the Vermont Moth Blitz during National Moth Week (July 22-30). Can we beat last years' tally? The Vermont Moth Atlas is a project of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies Vermont Atlas of Life.

Join the project now at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/vermont-moth-blitz-2023. We already have over 300 species and more than 1,000 observations added to the blitz!

Publicado el 25 de julio de 2023 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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