Metro Phoenix EcoFlora's Journal

June 14, 2021

Events This Week

Don't forget! These events are happening this week!

ECOQUESTIONS with JESS WHITE
Monday, June 14 | 3-4 p.m. MST
In this EcoQuestions session, we hear from Jess White. Jess is a wildlife biologist working on military lands to protect the endangered Sonoran Pronghorn. While she doesn't currently get to work with them for her job, she is deeply passionate about bats! She has experience in mist-netting with AZ Game and Fish and one of her greatest excitements is the day when in-person events resume and she can talk about them with anyone that has ears, including the bats themselves.
Register Here

VISIT THE PHOENIX BAT CAVE
Wednesday, June 16 | 7:15 p.m. MST
Did you know there's a bat cave right in metro Phoenix? Okay, it's more of a tunnel, but there are bats! Join your fellow Neighborhood Naturalists for a fun evening of bat viewing.
Register Here

Posted on June 14, 2021 17:24 by jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 04, 2021

June EcoQuest Update

Hello Neighborhood Naturalists,

It's been brought to our attention that the June EcoQuest is counting ALL observations, not just those made at night. Unfortunately, there isn't an easy way for us to only allow only observations made at night through iNaturalist. A traditional project would be a good option, but would make it more difficult to add observations for those who don't know how, and each observation would have to be added instead of being counted automatically. We decided to keep this one open as a collection project and sort through the observations at the end of the month.

One way to make this easier for us is to add the word "night" in the notes section of your observations for the June EcoQuest. This will help us sort through the observations and quickly find the ones made of nocturnal pollinators and the plants they visit.

Thank you!

Posted on June 04, 2021 21:03 by jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 03, 2021

June Events

Hello Neighborhood Naturalists,
We hope the Wildfire Awareness Month campaign last month with CAZCA has you feeling more informed about and prepared for wildfire. In case you missed it, check out the wildfire awareness blog. For June, in coordination with National Pollinator Month and Pollinator Week (June 21-27), we're taking a look at nocturnal pollinators here in the Sonoran Desert. In addition to this month's EcoQuest, we encourage you to join the Pollinator Week BioBlitz. Pollinator Week is an annual event celebrated internationally in support of pollinator health. This citizen science project is hosted by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign's (NAPPC) Urban Pollinator Taskforce.


JUNE EVENTS

ECOQUESTIONS with JESS WHITE
Monday, June 14 | 3-4 p.m. MST
In this EcoQuestions session, we hear from Jess White. Jess is a wildlife biologist working on military lands to protect the endangered Sonoran Pronghorn. While she doesn't currently get to work with them for her job, she is deeply passionate about bats! She has experience in mist-netting with AZ Game and Fish and one of her greatest excitements is the day when in-person events resume and she can talk about them with anyone that has ears, including the bats themselves.
Register Here

VISIT THE PHOENIX BAT CAVE
Wednesday, June 16 | 7:15 p.m. MST
Did you know there's a bat cave right in metro Phoenix? Okay, it's more of a tunnel, but there are bats! Join your fellow Neighborhood Naturalists for a fun evening of bat viewing.
Register Here

ECOQUESTIONS with DR. KATY PRUDIC
Wednesday, June 23 | 6-7 p.m. MST
Dr. Kathleen ‘Katy’ Prudic, Assistant Professor of Citizen and Data Science at the University of Arizona, is an entomologist interested in discovering how ecological and evolutionary interactions promote biodiversity and how they can inform conservation decision making. Dr. Prudic will discuss the wonderful world of nocturnal pollinators and her upcoming project focused on moths.
Register Here

MOTH LIGHTING
Tuesday, June 29 | 8-9 p.m. MST
Moth lighting is a way to attract moths with a light source so we can observe and study them. Join fellow Neighborhood Naturalists for an evening of getting up close and personal with nocturnal pollinators!
Register Here

Posted on June 03, 2021 18:32 by jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 01, 2021

June 2021 EcoQuest: The Night Shift

Join the June EcoQuest: The Night Shift
Find and map nocturnal pollinators and the plants they visit.

PLEASE NOTE: You must JOIN this EcoQuest to have your observations counted.
Join the EcoQuest


Honey bees and birds are recognized and appreciated for pollination during the day, but who works the night shift? Observations from this EcoQuest can contribute data and information for nocturnal pollinator relationships and ecosystem services in metro Phoenix.


Photo by Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International.

Many people are familiar with honey bees, birds and other species that are daytime pollinators, but which ones are busy working at night? Nocturnal pollinators are understudied, especially when compared to diurnal ones. These night workers and the plants they pollinate are often coadapted to one another, with unique relationships and features. The plants often have flowers that open at night or in the evening, with strong fragrance and lots of nectar, and are mostly white or light colored. The scent and nectar lure pollinators in and light colors make flowers easier to find in moonlight. Datura (Datura spp.), evening primrose (Oenothera spp.), coyote tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata), saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), organ pipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi), cardón (Pachycereus pringlei), night-blooming cereus (Peniocereus greggii), yuccas (Yucca spp.) and agaves (Agave spp.) are a few examples of plants that you can find nocturnal visitors hanging around.

In addition to being understudied themselves, we don't really know the scale at which these species contribute to pollination as an ecosystem service, for crops or wild plants. A few examples of nocturnal pollinator relationships in the Sonoran Desert include bats (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuen and Choeronycteris mexicana)visiting saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea) and agaves (Agave spp.), yucca moths (Prodoxidae Family) visiting yuccas (Yucca spp.), and hawk moths (Sphingidae Family) visiting datura (Datura wrightii) and coyote tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata). Moths and bats often get a bad rap, with moths seen as destroyers of clothing and crops, and bats as scary disease carrying rodents. While bats can carry pathogens that cause disease, the risk of infection from a bat is extremely low, and bats don't go out of their way to attack humans. Even bites from vampire bats (subfamily Desmodontinae) are rare. Bats specifically are responsible for pollinating many of the food crops we eat, including figs, dates, mangoes, peaches and bananas. Some studies have estimated that by eating insects, bats provide a pest control service for US agriculture estimated to be worth over $3.7 billion per year, and possibly as much as $53 billion (USGS). Long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris spp.) also play a major role in tequila production, being primary pollinators of agave (Agave spp.). While some moth larvae do eat clothing, moths actually make a considerable contribution as pollinators, including food crops. Pollination by moths is more common here in the Sonoran Desert, thanks to favorable environmental conditions. A recent study from University College London shows that moths are likely greater contributors to pollination than previously thought and for a greater diversity of plants, including those less visited by bees.

Moths and bats are some of the more well-studied nocturnal pollinators, but many different species are active at night, including beetles and flies. Did you know there are even nocturnal bees? As we learn more about nocturnal pollinators, we're increasingly finding that they play a larger role in pollination services than previously thought. We're more familiar with the decline in daytime pollinators, especially native bees, but what could be happening to nocturnal pollinators we hardly know much about? Over half of bat species are already listed as threatened or endangered, and we're learning that plants lit with artificial light at night have less nighttime visitors. Could we be losing nocturnal pollinators before we even have a chance to understand them? When we think about pollinators, it's important to remember the ones working the night shift are worthy of conservation consideration too.


Photo by Sara Wright.


Observations from this EcoQuest can contribute data and information for nocturnal pollinator relationships and ecosystem services in metro Phoenix. We can learn more about which species are visiting which plants and how they contribute to pollination. Observing nocturnal pollinators at work can also increase appreciation and understanding of them.

Did you know you can post visual or sound recordings as observations?


Bat echolocation recording by @sonoranaturalist.


HOW TO OBSERVE:
Guide to moth lighting.
Check out Echo Meter for recording and identifying bats.
One of the easiest ways to observe at night is to find night blooming plants near you (you can use iNaturalist), get a chair and a light source (like a flashlight or lantern) and sit, watch and observe. You can also make observations around light sources where you live, like porch, patio or street lights.

WHAT TO OBSERVE:

If you catch a pollinator in action, be sure to upload an observation for the pollinator AND the plant. You can use the same image, but make two observations.
Butterfly and Moth Guide
Bat Guide

Plants (Kingdom Plantae)
Bats (Order Chiroptera)
Butterflies and Moths (Order Lepidoptera)
Beetles (Order Coleoptera)
Flies (Order Diptera)
Thrips (Order Thysanoptera)
Ants, Bees, Wasps, and Sawflies (Order Hymenoptera)


Sources and more information:
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Callum J. Macgregor and Alison S. Scott-Brown: Nocturnal pollination: an overlooked ecosystem service vulnerable to environmental change.
Xerces Society
US Department of Agriculture
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Dr. Kim Pegram, Program Director of Pollinator Conservation and Research at Desert Botanical Garden
Natalie Melkonoff, Plant and Insect Ecology Program Coordinator at Desert Botanical Garden





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).

Posted on June 01, 2021 18:48 by jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 28, 2021

Making Great Observations

Here's a helpful guide for making great observations in iNaturalist. Observations made following these guidelines are easier to identify and more likely to be promoted to research grade. The main things to remember are to take clear photos that are in focus and well lit. Take multiple photos if possible, especially for plants (leaves, flowers, stems, etc.). Also, remember to post multiple photos of the same organism to one observation.

Check it out! Click to see the guide in English or español.


Posted on May 28, 2021 23:15 by jenydavis jenydavis | 2 comments | Leave a comment

May 25, 2021

June Newsletter

Are you getting the Metro Phoenix Field Guide?

Sign up for our monthly project newsletter to stay in the loop about all things EcoFlora. The June newsletter will be sent next week!
Sign up here.

If you aren't already, you can also follow us on social at ecofloraphx.


Posted on May 25, 2021 20:43 by jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 13, 2021

EcoQuestions with Kara Barron

Hi Neighborhood Naturalists,

If you missed EcoQuestions with Kara Barron, it is now up on our YouTube channel! See the Recording.

Kara discussed how plant communities respond to wildfire, as well as how some individual plants respond and how a future with more frequent wildfires will alter the plant community composition.

Kara is the Science and Outreach Manager at the Gila Watershed Partnership in Safford, AZ. As part of her position, she manages the seed collection program that supports restoration projects along the Upper Gila River. She graduated from ASU in 2018 with a master’s degree in Plant Biology and Conservation where she studied the impact of wildfire and restoration on plant community composition of the Arizona Upland subdivision of the Sonoran Desert.

Posted on May 13, 2021 20:42 by jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Merit System Reminder

With the City Nature Challenge, many of you climbed up in the number of observations you've made. We wanted to take a minute to remind you about the EcoFlora 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, then we will verify and send out your goods!

Not sure what to do with your virtual merit badges? You can post them to social or keep them in an iNaturalist journal post. Check out an example here.

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.

Posted on May 13, 2021 19:07 by jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 04, 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

Posted on May 04, 2021 20:10 by jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 03, 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.

Posted on May 03, 2021 20:15 by jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comments | Leave a comment