Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Natural History with toddler

Lately after I pick up my daughter from daycare, we come home and we go sit on the bench in the backyard. I call this the "Banana/Natural history time" and typically involves her eating a banana, while we both unwind from our day activities. This is becoming fast my favorite time of the day. As mentioned in a famous book series "The world is quiet here" during that time.

The above-mentioned toddler during snack time

Right behind the bench, there is a little patch (maybe 1x2 square meters) of native plants. Inspired by David Haskell's book (The Forest Unseen) we have been doing daily natural history observations during the "banana time".

We have been watching ants digging new tunnels, blue-eyed grass flowering, azalea's dropping their flowers and creating pulp-like substrate and bryophytes producing their sporophytes. Now, I do realize that my 21 month daughter cannot assimilate most of that, but you got to start them early, right?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Biology related music

We all get feedback from students and frankly this two way communication is one of the best perks in the job. During the Spring semester, I was talking about conifers in my Principles of Biology II class. Specifically, I was taking about the bristlecone pines (Pinus aristata) found in the western USA and how some of those have been around for several thousand years.

One of my students later emailed me saying that my lecture reminded her of the song "Bristlecone" by the "The New Empires".  It is a lovely song and you can listen to it here

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Do xanthopygine rove beetles eat fruit?

It's been a long time since the last post, but I was out for good reasons: end of the semester craziness, grading a mountain of exams, working for a three letter (scientific) government agency and on top of all  these a sick child. Now I need to start the paper writing machine for the summer.

I have been uploading several video clips of rove beetles on figshare and you can see many of those here Almost all of those are from my graduate school days and were shot on Barro Colorado Island in Panama, either in 2000 or 2001. I used some of the data to write a paper on Nordus fungicola natural history (a link to the paper is here).

Here is a clip of another Xanthopygine rove beetle (Xenopygus analis) munching on rotten Gustavia superba fruits. Almost all xanthopygine rove beetles are considered to be carnivorous, but I guess there are always exceptions out there.


Here is a more typical example of feeding behavior,  a male Nordus fungicola stealing a prey item from an ant (no idea what this is) and then proceeding to chew (technically speaking, this is extra oral digestion) the fly larva.