WeDigFLPlants’ Cotton Relatives in the Florida Panhandle

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Chances are you are wearing the subject of this new expedition. Parts of the Florida Panhandle appear to have received overnight snowfall at this time of year as the bright white fibers erupt from the fruits in the cotton fields (photo). Upland Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) is native to South Florida but planted widely throughout the southern tier of US states, from California to southern Virginia. Cotton is a member of the family Malvaceae, and one can find 73 other native and naturalized species from the family with Upland Cotton in Florida. These include the charismatic Rosemallows (Hibiscus). This expedition combines specimens from the herbaria at the University of West Florida and Florida State University. We make the assumption that most of the specimens in these collections will be from the Florida panhandle, given the location of the campuses, but you are likely to see some things from the peninsula as well.  For more info on WeDigFLPlants, visit https://biospex.org/project/wedigflplants. Thank you for participating!
Austin Mast
Director, Florida State University’s Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium
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Wetland Specialist Plants of Virginia

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Introducing a new ecologically-themed expedition from Plants of Virginia: Wetland Specialist Plants of Virginia! These species share an absolute intolerance for dry, upland conditions and, unless one is a fan of muddy hikes or kayaking, they are not easily encountered. Species restricted to these wetland communities – which range from shaded ravines and forested seeps, to sunny bogs and ponds, to coastal salt-marshes – comprise a flora that is worth getting to know, if only for the critical ecosystem services that they provide. In this edition, over 400 species of wetland-restricted lycopods, quillworts, ferns and flowering plants are assembled for your viewing, no hip-waders required.

— Andrea Weeks

Director Ted R. Bradley Herbarium,George Mason University

Appreciation for the continued effort

We have continued to see some great activity on Notes from Nature the past few weeks, so we wanted to give some general appreciation. We are now over 400,000 transcriptions from over 4,000 volunteers for Notes from Nature 2.0!

Since the beginning of November four more expeditions have been finished.  These included Orange Sulfur butterflies, herbarium specimens from Kentucky, microbe mutualists from Virginia and plants from northeastern U.S. forests. In addition, we have several expeditions that are over 90% complete. In particular it would be great to complete Mississippi Coastal Plant diversity which is now 93% complete. This one has been going for a while, so if everyone who reads this post could contribute a few transcriptions it could be done in no time.

All the best from the NfN Team.

Talking about Talk

We are excited to see all the effort on Notes From Nature in terms of transcription effort, but one thing we’ve mentioned less is just how active everyone has been on Talk.  But the numbers are insane, in the good way.  Today was a record breaking day (we are currently at 203 talk items as of 5pm), and to just get a sense of activity change, below is the talk items per day chart for the past few months (from June 23-November 1).

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To what do we attribute all the talking, especially the big change in the last few weeks?  We aren’t sure, but whatever it is, its great to see.  We love the talking, and we appreciate all your help and willingness to share thoughts, concerns and expertise on the talk channels.

 

Too many eyes and legs!

We have a new expedition up on SPIDERS just in time for Halloween.  Spiders often get a bad rap. They are seen as scary and creepy, especially around Halloween when people decorate their houses and shrubs with fake webs and giant black widows. But spend a few minutes watching them and you will realize spiders are some of the most fascinating and talented animals in your neighborhood. The most conspicuous spiders are the orb weavers that spin webs of concentric circles, like in Charlotte’s Web – though don’t expect to see any advertisements written in these webs. Many of these spiders eat their webs each day, recycling the materials, and rebuild them for the next night’s catch, which they skillfully wrap in silk to snack on later.

Araneus sp _ SD Zoopicture credit San Diego Zoo

Many spider species do not build webs at all. Jumping spiders and wolf spiders are active, visual predators with two, large, forward-facing eyes, to go with their lateral eyes. They capture their prey by pouncing on them. Jumping spiders in particular are very inquisitive and often will investigate objects you set in front of them. Many are brightly colored and have very elaborate courtship displays in which they wave their front legs and thump their abdomens (try a search for “peacock spiders”).

Phidippus sp_Susan Kennedypicture credit Susan Kennedy

Spiders also are unfairly accused of bites and crawling into people’s mouths at night. It is not clear where these urban myths came from, but there is no evidence that spiders infiltrate us while we slumber. As far as bites, it is extremely rare that someone actually finds the suspected spider on, or anywhere near them after a bite. Unless a spider feels trapped with no recourse, it very rarely bites. Even when left with the choice of fighting back or losing a leg, many will choose to lose a leg and run away on seven.

So why the bad rap? Probably because we walk into their sticky webs and find them lurking in the corners of our buildings. And also because they look so incredibly different from us with too many legs and too many eyes.

Finally, thanks for your help with our newest CalBug expedition, although maybe in this case we should call it SpiderCal or ArachniCal for this one instead?

Peter Oboyski, with slight embellishment by Rob Guralnick

Another fantastic WeDigBio

Many, many thanks to all that participated in WeDigBio 2017. We had a variety of very successful onsite events as well as lots of volunteers contributing remotely.

NfN had over 20 expeditions active during the event with a total of over 19,000 transcriptions completed over the four-day event! This included two record setting days, one with over 8,000 transcriptions in a single day.

We hope that many of you will come back to NfN again. There are still several great expeditions running that could use your help.

As a reminder, there is lots of information always available on our Statistics page if you want to explore around. You can also review some of the conversations and observations that went on by searching for #WeDigBio

— The Notes from Nature team

Another fantastic day (WeDigBio day 3)

It was another fantastic day at Notes from Nature. We accumulated 2,729 transcriptions. With one more day left we are over 15,000 transcriptions for the event so far.

There are currently 3 expeditions that are over 90% complete. If you are contributing remotely today please feel free to help bring these to completion.

— The NfN Team

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