|2014-11-30 ||Megan Loftie-Eaton |
|SCALY SUNDAY! |
Happy SCALY SUNDAY!! Most people fear snakes, but it is important to remember that snakes are a key component of natural ecosystems. Common in many types of habitat, they affect the "balance of nature" as both predators and prey. From an ecological point of view, snakes help to control rodent populations. Snakes and their eggs are in turn eaten by fish, amphibians, other snakes, birds and predatory mammals. Snakes are an important part of the food web. We must help to protect them rather than harm them. The best policy when it comes to snakes is to just leave them alone and in peace. They are not out to get you!
“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
The species in the spotlight today is the Mole Snake (Pseudaspis cana) - this beautiful snake has a widespread distribution throughout southern Africa and occurs in nearly every habitat, although its preferred habitat is grassland. The photo shown here, taken in Limpopo Province, is from the ReptileMAP database (view here: http://vmus.adu.org.za/?vm=ReptileMAP-3414 ). Mole Snakes prey on golden moles (hence the name), rats, mice and gerbils. For this reason, they are considered useful for the natural control of problem rodents. Juveniles, however, are largely restricted to preying on lizards.
Mole Snakes are uniform brown, grey or black in colour (juveniles have zigzag or mottled markings) and they have round pupils. They can grow to an average length of 1.4 m but may reach 2 m in length, particularly in the Cape. The Mole Snake gives birth to live young, between 25 and 50 young, in late summer. This species of snake is are non-venomous and not dangerous to man but they can inflict a painful bite, so it's best to just leave them be.
|2014-10-31 ||Megan Loftie-Eaton |
|FROG FRIDAY is here! |
Hooray! It's Friday! And that means it's time for FROG FRIDAY :) -- this awesome frog is a Yellow-spotted Tree Frog (Leptopelis flavomaculatus), this frog is quite widespread, ranging across the lowlands of eastern and southern Africa, from Mozambique north of the Save River and eastern Zimbabwe, north through Malawi and southern and eastern Tanzania, as far as the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest in coastal Kenya. It also occurs on the island of Zanzibar (Tanzania).
It lives in lowland and montane evergreen forest and especially in dry forest, in both pristine and secondary habitats, often along streams. Males call from leaves of branches, often at 3-4 m above the ground, and also from the mouth of burrows in the ground. It does not survive in open habitats outside forest, but it does occur in small forest remnants. If it is similar to most other members of its genus, it generally lays its eggs in a nest near water, into which the larvae emerge and develop. An egg mass has been observed in the root mass of floating vegetation in a permanent forest pond.
Reference: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2013. Leptopelis flavomaculatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. .
|2014-10-30 ||Les Underhill |
|Six million records in the SABAP2 database |
Six million records in the SABAP2 database. Team SABAP2, you have got from five million to six million in two days less than a year. The previous millions have all taken about 13 months (apart from the first, which took two years!).
We are steadily building not only the start-of-the-21st-century distribution maps, but we are also getting enough data on an annual basis to start thinking about mapping changes in bird distribution continuously. No one, nowhere, has come close to achieving this!
Well done, Team SABAP2. Seven million, here we come.
|2014-10-26 ||Les Underhill |
|SABAP2 at 70% in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland |
70% of the 17633 pentads in the original SABAP2 area of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland have been visited at least once. When we started the project on 1 July 2007 this level of coverage seemed an unimaginable pipedream. This is the day for a resounding celebration for the Citizen Scientists who have participated in the project. Well done, Team SABAP2. You are building the maps of current distribution for all our bird species. You are participating in the most important bird conservation project in the region. Without these maps, and the ability to compare them with the maps produced by the first bird atlas project, bird conservation would be based on guesswork.
|2014-10-10 ||Les Underhill |
|Awesome new Virtual Museum feature: how to find the gaps in coverage |
This news item explains how to find the gaps in coverage in ADU Virtual Museum projects. On the Virtual Museum website, first choose (from the left hand side menu) the project you are interested in finding the gaps for. Then, from this menu, choose "Maps" and click on the tab "Gap Analysis" and then on "Request summary." A map like the one on the left appears. The grid generates the Quarter Degree Grid Cells. Those with data are coloured. Those without data are blank. Click on the grid cell you are interested in. A Google map like the one on the right appears. This grid cell is 2824DA and covers part of Kimberley, and a section of the Vaal River. It is the basic road map that appears first; I clicked "Satellite" at the top right corner to get this view.
If a grid cell has records, then a species list for the Quarter Degree Grid Cell appears under the map.
This is the Gap Analysis for LacewingMAP. It is little short of astonishing that this new section of the Virtual Museum already has records for 47 Quarter Degree Grid Cells, 2.3% of the region.
This is Version 1 of the ADU Virtual Museum Gap Analysis. It will be extended to cover Africa, and be extended to be able to find the gaps for specific time periods, for example, gaps since 2000.