Journal archives for November 2022

November 01, 2022

Tell us your favorites!

Hi everyone,

we are putting together a slideshow to feature some of the best pictures and most unique finds from our BioBlitz last week on the monitors around Rankin. You can help by letting us know which observations you would like to see featured!

As you browse through the project pool, you can click on the observations you like and add a star to mark your favorites. If you want to see what has been submitted for a particular group of organisms or from a particular user, you can narrow that down using the Filters. If you have a favorite species, you can type that into the Species window and see our observations for it. You can also use this method to find e.g. everything in a particular family or order. If you can't find any of the features I'm talking about, you may have to log in on the website - I'm not sure if and how they show up on the various phone apps.

For those really interested in the details of what we've found, I've printed out a couple of copies of a preliminary species list and put that with the poster in Rankin. Feel free to pick one up! This is still work in progress so we'll be posting an updated list again some time next week.

Thanks again everyone for the strong support and participation in the BioBlitz!

Posted on November 01, 2022 12:14 PM by annkatrinrose annkatrinrose | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 08, 2022

Appalachian snakeroot identification resources

Not too long ago (earlier this year?), iNaturalist started recognizing Appalachian snakeroot (Ageratina roanensis) as a species rather than a variety of A. altissima. Prior to this, many of these plants were identified to Research Grade under A. altissima with only few being narrowed down to variety. I know I have contributed to this as I rarely ID to variety or subspecies, and as far as I can tell nobody has revisited these observations yet to see if they need updating. Since there aren't enough observations identified to A. roanensis yet (77) to qualify for inclusion in the Computer Vision training set, iNat CV consistently suggests A. altissima for all of them, further adding to the pool of potentially misidentified plants. The purpose of this post is to summarize a couple of resources that might help with sorting them out.

Distribution and Habitat:
A. roanensis appears to be a Southern Appalachian endemic found in the mountainous areas of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, and primarily at elevations above ~4,000 ft. Its typical habitat is moist to mesic northern hardwood forests and spruce-fir forests.

Distinguishing Characters:

  • Leaves: The leaf blades tend to be more deltoid (triangular) in shape compared to more ovate in A. altissima, and the leaf base is said to be generally subcordate or truncate vs. generally broadly cuneate. However, I see a lot of overlap and I'm not confident I could tell them apart for sure just based on leaf shape.
  • Inflorescences: These are said to be arranged in more dense corymbs in A. roanensis vs. more open corymbs in A. altissima. A. roanensis has more florets per head (18-34) compared to A. altissima (9-20). This can be hard to see on the typical iNat photographs - I find it easiest to count if the individual flowers haven't opened up yet. Again, there appears to be quite a bit of overlap with Weakley suggesting A. r. can go as low as 15 florets and A. a. can show up to 25 florets. Another difference is the length of the phyllaries with 5-7 mm in A. roanensis vs. 3-5 mm in A. altissima.

If anyone knows of other features that can be used to distinguish them, and in particular how to tell them apart on the typical iNat-quality photographs, please feel free to add those tips in the comments below!


Posted on November 08, 2022 12:49 PM by annkatrinrose annkatrinrose | 6 comments | Leave a comment

November 12, 2022

Congratulations to our winners!

Hi everyone! Thanks for making our first ever AppState BioBlitz such a fun experience and resounding success!

Our challengers at UNC Greensboro have conceded to our win, haha! Thanks for the challenge, UNCG! We're definitely up for a rematch next year. :-)

Thanks also to those who stopped by for our little awards ceremony in the Rankin lobby yesterday. For those who missed it, here are the winners. It really came down to a tight battle between two dedicated students, one from Biology and one from Geography and Planning:

  • @leighalobelia took home the prizes for most species observed overall, as well as Master Botanist and Master Mycologist for observing the most plant species and fungal species, respectively.
  • @rivermont scored the prizes for best photography, as well as Master Entomologist and Master Ornithologist for observing the most insect species and bird species, respectively.

This adorable chipmunk observed by rivermont was selected to adorn our AppState BioBlitz 2022 buttons. (If you couldn't make it to the celebration yesterday and want a button to pin on your jacket, contact Marta.)

A couple of honorable mentions go to:

  • @tsn for providing over 1,500 identifications on our observations during our BioBlitz week. Wow, thank you so much for your help! I would also like to thank everyone else who participated (intentionally or unwittingly) by providing identifications and quality control for our observations.
  • Our runner-ups for most species who didn't win a prize but still each made over 100 qualifying observations during the BioBlitz week: @brynnaselah, @dendro-julia, @hannah_lilly, @emma_nicholson, @seanavery1, and @brookesbees. Great engagement from everyone!
  • All instructors who announced the challenge in their classes, went on field trips, or provided extra credit or other encouragement for students to participate. Special thanks to our emeritus faculty who decided to emerge from retirement to contribute!
  • Also a big shout-out to our participants from Lees-McRae College and Watauga High School! If you ever need help with a BioBlitz challenge, let us know!

We really had a blast with this and definitely want to do it again. If you have feedback what went well and what didn't and how to improve it for the future, please let us know.

Annkatrin and Marta

Posted on November 12, 2022 11:48 PM by annkatrinrose annkatrinrose | 0 comments | Leave a comment