Moseying: Outdoor Recreation Activities
Bring a picnic and learn about horny toads, butterflies, and other pollinators this Saturday
August 6, 2008
On August 9th learn about some of West Texas favorite creatures! Arrive at the Sibley Nature Center (1307 E. Wadley) at 10.30 a.m. Saturday and tour the building. At 11 a.m. author Joyce Gibson Roach will give a speech about horny toads and be selling her childrens book about horny toads. This is a great gift, so get a head start on your Christmas shopping! Other members of the Horned Lizard Conservation Society (HCLS) will be on hand, who will be traveling to Stan Smiths Barr Ranch Retreat south of Odessa to look for the Round-tailed Horned Lizard later on Saturday and then on Sunday.
The HLCSs website states, Horned Lizards are wonderful, unique lizards that share our lives and heritage. Many of us played with them growing up because we could actually catch them - but we also let them go back to their home in the soil and sand. Our lives and childhood are indebted to these lizards for allowing us to share with nature and learn from it. We hope they'll persist with us beyond the next millenium.
Horned lizards attempt to avoid predators by using various tactics, some of which are quite unique. Their most unusual tactic is the ability to squirt a stream of blood from the corner of their eyes. This stream may be directed with limited accuracy at the predator's eyes and mouth.
Another behavior horned lizards exhibit is the ability to inflate their bodies until they look like spiny balloons. However, they most effectively avoid predators by simply holding still. Horned lizards' color patterns closely match the soil on which they live and they can eliminate their shadows by flattening against the ground. If forced to move, a horned lizard runs only a short distance, stopping unexpectedly. The horned lizard lies flat, blending into its surroundings, and the predator is left chasing nothing.
Members of the Llano Estacado Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists are cooperating with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)and scientists from TCU in a horny toad DNA project after a recent training by Vicki Sybert, the naturalist interpreter for the Panhandle Region for TPWD. Lee Ann Linam, also of TPWD will also be in attendance, and if more people would like to be trained in the DNA project there might be time. Forms for you to participate in The Horned Lizard Monitoring Project will also be available.
After Ms. Roachs talk, eat a picnic on the grounds of the Sibley Nature Center (or inside), and then at 1.30 p.m. attend Dr. Cathy Hoyts talk (she is the Executive Director of the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute CDRI) about the importance of butterflies and other pollinators, including hummingbirds.
Dr. Hoyt writes, Have you ever stood beside a bush and noticed how many different kinds of bees, wasps, beetles, butterflies, moths, and flies visited the flowers? Perhaps you saw hummingbirds fly into a bright red flower or observed bats pollinating an agave at dusk. These pollinators are fascinating, and were trying to learn more! Honeybees are leaving their hives and never returning. Native pollinators such as bats, hummingbirds, and solitary bees are disappearing. Why? Scientists are racing against the clock to find out. But the disappearance of pollinators isnt just an exercise for scientists.
What's the Buzz? is a two-year CDRI project currently underway, directed by Cynthia McAlister, and is designed to raise awareness of the importance of vertebrate and invertebrate pollinators and to promote an interest and concern for pollinators in the Chihuahuan Desert region. Visit www.cdri.org to learn more.
This education and research project is sponsored in part by a prestigious Museums of America grant from the Institute of Museum & Library Services and is the result of a collaboration of many partners, including Sul Ross State University, Alpine, TX; Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth, TX; and Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, Fort Worth, TX.
The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Pollinators Project is a national coalition that seeks to increase access to information about the biology, ecology, conservation status, and threats to native pollinators, pollinator-dependent species, and pollinator habitats in the United States and abroad. The (NBII) is a broad, collaborative program to provide increased access to data and information on the nation's biological resources. The NBII links diverse, high-quality biological databases, information products, and analytical tools maintained by NBII partners and other contributors in government agencies, academic institutions, non-government organizations, and private industry. Without the assistance of native pollinators, most plants cannot reproduce. Declines in the health and population of native pollinators could pose a substantial threat to biodiversity, global agricultural economics and food supplies, and to human health. Several native North American pollinator species are already federally listed as endangered.
Data and information on pollinators is sparse and where it does exist, it is often difficult to access, but with hundreds of coalition members, great strides are being made.
Volunteers and the staff of the Sibley Nature Center have also been recording pollinators at various plants. Visit our website and go to the animal behavior section, and scroll down to the Pollinators of the Lote Bush photoessay. We are always looking for more photographers to help us out. Sibley staffer Michael Nickell has begun an insect collection for the Sibley Nature Center this summer with the aid of the attendees at Sibleys Bug Camp series.
The 55 year old local group known as the Midland Naturalists have been participating in butterfly counts for over 20 years and have vastly increased the knowledge of West Texas butterflies and their contributions can be found on the North American Butterfly Associations website. They are now also gathering information on local dragonflies and damselfies, and their information has been posted on Odonata Centrals website.
The participation in naturalist activities by interested amateurs is known as citizen science. Amateurs have discovered and recorded much of what is known about the species of animals that do not directly affect humankinds crops, structures, or bodies. Getting out and exploring with a purpose and a goal to contribute to science is not only an important activity, but it is also loads of fun! Come join us!