Oscar Chang and I encountered this bright yellow spongy mass on a mossy rotten log on the south (left looking downstream) bank of Fox Creek, about 50 m up from the confluence with South Fork, in early June 2013, when we were helping Hiromi Uno install her mayfly-trout experiment. The vivid slime mold color got our attention! Slime molds, considered protists like ameoba even though they are societies rather than single celled organisms, deserve our attention. Some very clever Japanese scientists have made them seek food through mazes, and found out that foraging slime molds could eventually optimize traffic patterns through some major cities of the world—check out slime mold foraging here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/brainless-slime-molds.
July 2014 was perhaps the most intense yellow jacket season we’ve ever experienced at Angelo. On July 17, 2014, Casey Huckins and Mary Power spotted a “yellow jacket” in a funnel web’s spider web on the road cut banks along the east side of Wilderness Lodge Road, between Skunk Creek and Elder Creek.
On closer inspection, the insect turned out to be a beetle–it had hard wing covers (elytra). This mimic looked and moved very much like a yellow jacket, close enough to fool us, almost. The closest match I (Mary) could find was Typocerus zebra, Zebra longhorn beetle, Cerambycidae, subfamily Lepturinae. I’m not sure whether they’re native here or not; the species in the photos occur in Tennessee and Texas. Joyce Gross was interested in whether this genus is expanding into
northwestern California, or has been introduced. Next time you see a solitary yellow jacket, look for the split of the elytra down the back. If anyone knows more about this beetle, we’d be interested. If you see a bunch of yellow jackets, though, run! (or rather, walk away, quickly) as you may have disturbed a nest. Always smart to carry benadryl tablets (sold at Geigers in Laytonville), and an Epipen if you think you may be allergic~mep
The February 2015 issue of BioScience reviews our Field Stations report:
Angelo is featured on the upcoming Morrison Planetarium show “Habitat Earth” at the California Academy of Sciences, opening to the public on January 16 2015. The theme developed by writer Ryan Wyatt is one of networks, from the transportation trade networks routing ships through San Francisco Bay, to the food web networks that feed the life beneathe the waves and link it, via nutrients and salmon, to river food webs, and in turn to the “wood wide web” (in David Read’s wonderful phrase) of roots and mycorrhizae underlying the forests that cool the rivers and influence their life-supporting hydrological cycles. The hydrologic cycle, following drops of water from fractured rocks up through trees to the atmosphere is interwoven in his story. Bill Dietrich, Todd Dawson, Mary Power, Collin Bode, and Peter Steel all helped Director Tom Kennedy, Ryan Wyatt, and film makers Jeroen Lapre, Mike Schmitt, and Matt Blackwell during their Angelo visits. We greatly enjoyed their visits and our interactions.
Thanks to Inez Fung for sending these links for those of us wanting updates on the longer-term, larger scale forecasts for precipitation and temperature over the coming year…
The near-term outlook is here – you can click on the one-month or 3-month outlook for temperature and precip. In any case the drought continues
Sea surface temperature in the equatorial pacific and El Nino outlook is here. The bottom of the page has a lengthy discussion.
Hiromi Uno was chosen as the AAAS, Pacific Division’s Alan E. Leviton Student Research Awardee for 2014. She received a $750 grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science Pacific Division and free registration for two of their annual meetings, for her work reporting on migratory mayflies and their importance in linking tributary, mainstem, and ocean food webs. Her work was presented in a Symposium organized by Prof. Kurt Anderson on Conservation and Ecology in River Networks, at AAAS meetings in Riverside CA, June 2014.