top of page
The Wonders of Plant Galls: Biology, Identification, and Discovery
with Michael Hawk and Dr. Merav Vonshak, part of the CNPS Yerba Buena speaker series Galls are intriguing plant structures induced by insects (usually), creating a sheltered home for the larval stages of the inducing organism. They have diverse and sometimes incredible shapes and colors, and their natural history is equally fascinating, with complex life cycles, tiny opportunistic parasitoids, and more! Michael Hawk (Nature's Archive podcast and Jumpstart Nature) and Dr. Merav Vonshak (BioBlitz Club) will talk about gall biology, common host plants and gall inducers. They discuss how you can find and identify galls, with numerous examples including gall look-alikes.
Newt Patrol presentation ICOET
A presentation for the 2021 ICOET conference. Abstract: Since 2017 a group of citizen scientists has been monitoring roadkill mortality of two species of pacific newts: California Newt (Taricha torosa) and Rough-skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa) along a road near Lexington Reservoir, Los Gatos CA. The newts migrate from the hills to the reservoir and the creeks nearby in order to reproduce. They start migrating after the first substantial rains, and head back early spring (November-May). Many of them get hit by the busy traffic on the road surrounding the reservoir. For the past three seasons we have been surveying a 4.2 miles section of the road, recording an average of about 5,000 dead newts per year. This is one of the highest rates of herpetofauna mortality on roads ever reported globally. We record each newt using a smartphone, and share our observations on iNaturalist (https://tinyurl.com/6csrsbf4). We also record other species, with over 800 individuals of 100 species documented so far. Newt roadkill counts were affected by rainfall and frost. Although newts prefer to migrate on rainy nights, once they start migrating, they continue even during a long dry spell. In addition to our monitoring program, this year we also studied the impact of weather conditions on the persistence of dead newts on the road, in order to estimate how many newts are being missed by our teams. We are highly concerned about the survival of the two newt populations. 5,000 dead newts a year are not sustainable. With climate change, fewer breeding ponds will be available for the newts to reproduce in. Plans to develop further recreational activities along this road will attract even more traffic into the area. So far, different attempts by local environmental advocates have failed to engaged the different agencies in finding and funding solutions. We will discuss possible solutions.
Plant Galls for the Curious Naturalist
Galls are intriguing plant structures induced by insects (usually), creating a sheltered home for the larval stages of the inducing organism. They have diverse and sometimes incredible shapes and colors, and their natural history is equally fascinating, with complex life cycles, tiny parasites, and more! This event is scheduled in the middle of Gall Week 2022 - a global event aiming to document gall diversity worldwide. During the webinar, Michael Hawk (Nature's Archive podcast and Jumpstart Nature) and Dr. Merav Vonshak (BioBlitz Club) talked about gall biology, common host plants and gall inducers. They discussed how you can find and identify galls, with numerous examples including gall look-alikes. This webinar is intended for beginners looking to better understand and learn how to find galls, as well as gall enthusiasts who are already exposed to the diverse world of galls, and would like to learn more. Even though the webinar includes many West Coast species, principles and approaches apply to most locations! Keep CoyoteCreek Beautiful hosted a webinar featuring Merav Vonshak with BioBlitz Club and Michael Hawk with Jumpstart Nature. Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful: keepcoyotecreekbeautiful.org BioBlitz Club: BioBlitz.club Jumpstart Nature: https://jumpstartnature.com Nature's Archive: podcast.naturesarchive.com Recorded September 7, 2022 === Resources Relevant Nature's Archive Podcast Episodes * Podcast interview with Merav Vonshak, covering BioBlitzes and a bit of galls: https://podcast.naturesarchive.com/2020/10/28/merav/ * Podcast interview with Merav Vonshak talking about Gall Week 2021 Podcast: https://podcast.naturesarchive.com/2021/09/29/gallweek2021/ * Podcast interview with Adam Kranz of Gallformers.org: https://podcast.naturesarchive.com/2021/09/14/galls/ BioBlitz.club BioBlitz.club resources * Gall pamphlets, upcoming events == More resources The Russo Western USA Gall Book: https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691205762/plant-galls-of-the-western-united-states A really fun 3 minute "Deep Look" video on galls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOgP5NzcTuA USA/Canada gall research and identification. gallformers.org Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates: A Guide to North American Species, Eiseman & Charney, 2010 https://www.powells.com/book/tracks-sign-of-insects-other-invertebrates-a-guide-to-north-american-species-9780811736244?partnerid=32527 Another great book, with some galls, and plenty of other things California Indians and Their Environment by Kent Lightfoot and Otis Parrish, UC Press c. 2009 https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520256903/california-indians-and-their-environment Photographer Joyce Gross, UC Berkeley, https://joycegross.com/index.php, many gall photos https://joycegross.com/galls_ca_oak.php == iNaturalist Gall Projects: * Gall Week 2022 iNaturalist Project: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/gall-week-2022 * Galls of California iNaturalist project https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/galls-of-california * Galls of North America iNaturalist project https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/galls-of-north-america NOTE: Don’t forget to document and note the host plant, even if you can’t identify it. The Iron Gall Ink Website Make your own gall ink irongallink.org
Bay Area Urban Ants
Merav Vonshak, Ph.D. leads us in an online workshop about San Francisco Bay Area ants. Dr. Vonshak covers the common ants in and around homes, neighborhoods, and open spaces, and what are the important characteristics to look for when trying to identify them. You will get instructions on how to make your own simple ant baits and where to place them in your yard, so that you could take better photos of your ant neighbors. Part of the session will be devoted to sharing these photos and helping with IDs. We will discuss ways in which you can get involved and learn more about ants and other insects in the Bay Area. [Co-hosted by Bioblitz.Club: www.bioblitz.club]
Birdy Hour Talk: Citizen Science in the Bay Area by Merav Vonshak
What is citizen science or community science, and why is it so great? Dr. Merav Vonshak addresses these questions and discusses opportunities to get involved in contributing to science. Many birders are familiar with eBird and other websites where they can share bird observations and contribute to global databases, but there is much more out there -- from other databases where you can upload observations of any living thing, such as iNaturalist, to great local projects. Some of these projects are still going on during shelter-in-place and can provide an enjoyable activity for families and individuals. Dr. Merav Vonshak founded BioBlitz.club, a home for citizen science events in the South Bay where people can learn about future activities and download free material, such as bird and flower guides. She leads hikes, workshops, and BioBlitz events in the South Bay, where people can learn about their local environment while documenting its diversity. Visit https://www.bioblitz.club to learn more. To download a list of resources mentioned in this talk, visit https://www.sfbbo.org/birdy. Connect with us: Website: https://www.sfbbo.org Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/birdsSF/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/sfbbo/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sfbbo/ The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory is a nonprofit in Milpitas, CA, with the mission to conserve birds and their habitats through science and outreach. Thanks to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District for funding this program.
KCCB Session #7 Where Coyote Creek Meets Ogier Ponds with Saved By Nature, Bioblitz.club & SCCP
Hummingbird hawk-moths can be found at Ogier Ponds. Off the beaten road on the eastern side of Coyote Valley sits a series of ponds that are home to coots, bobcat, dragonflies, fish, frogs, turtles, macroinvertebrates and so much more. Fed by Coyote Creek which originates in the Diablo Range within the boundaries of Henry Coe State Park. Now important ecologically and for recreation the area also acts as natural infrastructure protecting San Josean’s from potential flooding. Join Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, Naturalist Richard Tejeda and Entomologist Merav Vonshak from the Bioblitz.club as we take you on a livestream walk of Ogier Ponds. This event is sponsored by Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful a community partnership with Saved By Nature, Bioblitz.club and Virtual Photo Walks to bring you virtual natu