Archive | Uncategorized RSS for this section

Thank you / Merci

A thank you from the Canadian Museum of Nature

California State Collection of Arthropods of CDFA’s Plant Pest Diagnostics Center

California agriculture feeds the world. Entomologists with the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Plant Pest Diagnostics Center are tasked with protecting the state’s food supply against native and foreign pest insects. This includes hunting for insects at home and abroad that pose potential environmental threats and identifying specimens submitted by various agents and the general public across the state. These specimens make up the California State Collection of Arthropods (CSCA) and are available for future studies.


Asilid, north coast of California. Photo by Dr. Stephen D. Gaimari


The CSCA is also part of the CalBug consortium – a collaboration of California’s eight largest arthropod collections – which provides a broader view in time and space than any single institution alone. California has the greatest biodiversity of all states in the US, but at the same time it is not very well known compared to the eastern states. It is important to know what species are native to California, to better understand and detect the invasive species. By analyzing changing distributions of insects over time with respect to land use (agriculture, urbanization, water ways, etc.) and our changing climate, we can better predict and prevent pest outbreaks, know where and when to look for new invaders, and encourage beneficial insects to aid in pollination, pest control, and nutrient cycling.

Our latest expedition series, “California Food and Agriculture”, includes species from several insect families that are important to agriculture and forestry. The often colorful Tephritidae or “fruit flies” include some of the most important agricultural pest species, as well as a diverse set of native Californian species that do not pose pest problems, but are a crucial part in the complex web of life. Bombyliidae (bee flies) are important pollinators, while Asilidae (robber flies) are predators as adults and in the larval stage on other insects. Buprestidae (metallic wood-boring beetles or round-headed borers) typically infest dead or dying trees and accelerate the recycling of nutrition in the ecosystem. California has great diversity of native species, although some non-native pests in this family attack and kill live trees. Understanding and documenting the native fauna is critical to help combat pest species. By helping us capture data in our newest CalBug expedition, you will be helping to protect California’s Food and Agriculture as well as California’s extraordinary biodiversity!

Please take a few moments to try out the expeditions today.

— Steve Gaimari & Martin Hauser, CDFA

A Lotta Catocala: Underwing Moths

We are (re)launching a series of Expeditions called A Lotta Catocala: Underwing Moths! In this new expedition you will see multiple species of Catocala, mostly from the United States.

Picture1During the day, Catocala moths rest on tree trunks or dark, sheltered locations such as tree cavities, on the root masses of overturned trees, or in caves. They rest with their gaudy underwings covered by gray forewings, providing camouflage against the substrate. If approached too closely, the unseen moth, sometimes explodes from its resting site in a flurry of striking colors as the hindwings flash into view. At night, Catocala become active and seek out mates and sugar, feeding from flowers, tree sap or rotting fruit. One of the targeted methods of collecting Catocala is baiting or sugaring with rotting or fermenting fruits. To concoct a bait for Catocala, the two required ingredients are sugar and alcohol. The most basic of these recipes rely simply on white or brown sugar mixed with beer or wine. This bait can be enhanced with rotting fruit (bananas, apples, mangoes, peaches, pineapple, watermelon, berries, etc.) or yeast.

It is important to remember that you will be looking at two images (for most of the specimens), dorsal and ventral. There sometimes is critical information on the back of labels. So be sure to check both images! While checking both images, look at the amazing shapes and bright coloration of the moth. Thank you so much for your help!

— Laurel Kaminsky, Digitization Coordinator, McGuire Center for Lepidoptera & Diversity

Expedition Arctic Botany joins Notes from Nature! / Expédition de botanique dans l’Arctique se joint à Notes from Nature !

The Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) safeguards one of Canada’s largest natural history collections. The botanical collection alone, known as the National Herbarium, numbers over one million specimens, including the world’s best representation of samples from the Canadian Arctic.

Game-changing support from the Sitka Foundation recently permitted the CMN to image Arctic specimens of plants and lichens: one critical step toward the goal of fully digitizing all its botanical collections.

In December 2019, the CMN Botany team launched its very first, fully bilingual (English/French) project on Zooniverse – Expedition Arctic Botany. So far, amazing citizen scientists like you have transcribed three important pieces of information (collector(s), collection number, and collection date) for 16,380 Arctic specimens.

Today we are pleased to announce that Expedition Arctic Botany – newly part of the Notes from Nature family – is back with two new workflows focusing on locality and habitat data for Arctic Lichens!

What is a lichen, you ask? Each lichen species represents a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and an alga or cyanobacterium. They are found in almost all terrestrial habitats around the world – including city streets and other extreme environments like the high Arctic. Lichens provide food and shelter to animals, control erosion, and are even used in medicines and dyes!

Talk boards for Expedition Arctic Botany differ a bit from those in most other Notes for Nature projects, and not only because they were developed before joining the Notes for Nature team. They also support questions and discussions in both the official languages of Canada. However, they still provide the same great support for your work, including answers to your questions and a vibrant transcriber community.

Hope to see you there!

Le Musée canadien de la nature (MCN) conserve l’une des plus grandes collections d’histoire naturelle du Canada. À elle seule, la collection botanique, connue sous le nom d’Herbier national, compte plus d’un million de spécimens, y compris la meilleure représentation au monde d’échantillons provenant de l’Arctique canadien.

Le soutien déterminant de la Fondation Sitka a récemment permis au MCN de photographier des spécimens de plantes et de lichens de l’Arctique, une étape cruciale vers l’objectif de numérisation complète de toutes ses collections botaniques.

En décembre 2019, l’équipe de botanique du MCN a lancé son tout premier projet entièrement bilingue (anglais/français) sur Zooniverse — Expédition de botanique dans l’Arctique (pour changer la langue, veuillez voir le menu en haut, à droite). Jusqu’à maintenant, d’incroyables citoyens scientifiques comme vous ont transcrit trois éléments d’information importants (herborisateurs, numéro de collection et date de collecte) pour 16 380 spécimens de l’Arctique.

Aujourd’hui, nous sommes heureux d’annoncer que Expédition de botanique dans l’Arctique — nouveau membre de la famille Notes from Nature — est de retour avec deux nouveaux flux de travaux axés sur les données sur la localisation et l’habitat des lichens arctiques !

Chaque espèce de lichen représente une relation symbiotique entre un champignon et une algue ou une cyanobactérie. On les trouve dans presque tous les habitats terrestres du monde, y compris dans les rues des villes et dans d’autres environnements extrêmes comme l’Extrême-Arctique. Les lichens fournissent nourriture et abri aux animaux, contrôlent l’érosion et sont même utilisés dans les médicaments et les teintures !

Les forums de discussion pour Expédition de botanique dans l’Arctique diffèrent un peu de ceux de la plupart des autres projets Notes from Nature, et pas seulement parce qu’ils ont été élaborés avant de se joindre à l’équipe Notes from Nature. Ils répondent également aux questions et aux discussions dans les deux langues officielles du Canada. Toutefois, ils continuent d’appuyer votre travail de la même façon, y compris en répondant à vos questions et en formant une communauté de transcripteurs dynamique.

C’est un rendez-vous !

Streak and a “fun” new expedition

Notes from Nature has seen a lot of activity since before WeDigBio Lite. In fact, we have had 11 straight days with over 5,000 transcriptions. That is an incredible amount of activity! Thanks to all the have contributed.

We have a “fun” new activity, assuming you like cooties that is. It’s called Countin’ Cooties and you can find it in the Terrestrial Parasite Trackers Project.

“Cooties” is a slang term for lice. This series of expeditions is focused on counting the cooties from wildlife. These parasitic insects infest mammals and birds around the world. Cooties are contagious, they spread by contact between hosts. We are all very aware of how contact between hosts leads to the transmission of parasites and pathogens right now. There are over 6,000 known species of lice, and 100s of unknown species and we are trying to figure out how many specimens of each species (known and unknown) are in our collection. Thank all of you that have been working on this project, for your persistent effort to spread the data collecting effort – this is definitely the best way to spread “cooties”!

— The Notes from Nature Team

Wow! You really did ‘hop to it’!

We completed our Gaudy Grasshopper expedition today! That’s 332 specimens in less than a week! Wow!

We’re making quick work of our 2nd expedition as well, the Short-horned Grasshoppers. Already at 75% complete! If you haven’t checked out this expedition and want to get in on it before its finished, it is part of the MI-Bug project here.

There has also been a lot of very helpful feedback on the project so far. Thank you for this and please keep letting us know what you think and how we can improve.

Thank you all and great job everyone!!

— Erika Tucker, UMMZ Insect Collection Manager & Assistant Research Scientist

Earth Day and WeDigBio Lite Appreciation


Happy Earth Day everyone! We hope you are well, and staying safe.

We are so very thankful and in awe of your contributions the last several days. WeDigBio Lite was a huge success! We logged over 30,000 transcriptions, hosted two well attended science talks, and met some new friends on Talk and social media. On top of that we continue to see lots of great activity on the site (> 5,000 transcriptions yesterday!). We want to express our appreciation to everyone who contributed.

On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day we want to honor the wonderful NfN community for partnering with us to conserve and make available knowledge about the natural world. The NfN project gives you the opportunity to make a scientifically important contribution towards that goal every single day.

Every transcription that is completed brings us closer to filling gaps in our knowledge of global biodiversity and our natural heritage.

Happy Earth Day to all.

– The Notes from Nature Team

WeDigBio Lite Day 4 Summary

Amazing! Notes from Nature received 9,815 classifications on day 4. This is our second biggest day ever. That brings the total to 30,640 for the event.

There are still many great expeditions to work on! Three are currently above 85% and could use some effort to help bring them to completion. Those are Field & Forest Plants Of Virginia II, Spring Trilliums, Lilies, And Irises – Spring Refresher and Calbug Leaf-Cutter Bees 17.

Thanks to all for making this another huge success.

— The Notes from Nature Team

WeDigBio Lite Day 3 Summary

Wow, another amazing day. Notes from Nature received 8,169 transcriptions on day 2. That is over 20,000 transcriptions in the last three days and we will have one more day to go for WeDigBio Lite.

We still have lot of great content for day 4. Many thanks to all that have participated!

— The Notes from Nature Team

Your Help Matters

We wanted to share this very important discovery that happen recently on Notes from Nature.

Your Help Matters: A Threatened Plant Discovery

A few quotes from the article:

Notes from Nature volunteers may not have known it at the time, but while they transcribed the label of this small and unassuming plant specimen, they were documenting a novel occurrence of a rare, threatened species.


By transcribing information from specimen labels, citizen scientists helped us rediscover this historical occurrence of the rare Phacelia mustelina. These data are critical for assessing the conservation status of this species; if we know where this plant grew historically, we can better know where it might likely still exist. Once we know where and how abundantly this species exists, we can determine whether it needs protection and how to effectively do so. If you ever wonder whether your help matters, remember the weasel phacelia. Bringing “dark data” to light can us help protect biodiversity on Earth.

%d bloggers like this: