Diario del proyecto Mission Trails Regional Park Biodiversity

10 de julio de 2024

July 26: Free Moth Week Event at the San Diego NAT!

July 26! Discover the magic of the night with a free one-of-a-kind pop-up Mothing experience in honor of Moth Week 2024! Join the San Diego Natural History Museum’s Entomology Department and photographer-naturalist Hector Valtierra (@biohexx1) from 8-10PM for an enchanting evening under the stars! Gather at the Fig Tree Lawn, north of the building, to participate in “light-sheeting” for moths, view exquisite specimens from our collection, and take a peek into the world of nighttime pollinators. Tag a moth enthusiast in the comment!

Publicado el julio 10, 2024 02:25 MAÑANA por patsimpson2000 patsimpson2000 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

27 de mayo de 2024


The City Nature Challenge (CNC) is a worldwide bioblitz event held on iNaturalist. This friendly global competition aims to offer scientists a yearly snapshot of all species to be found in a given area. For this, they rely on people like you and I (mere peasants) to do the grunt work and gather the data. Every year, the bioblitz starts on the last Friday of April and stretches out to the following Monday at midnight. During the four-day event, iNatters (previously mentioned mere peasants) frantically (or not) collect observations of all living things around the county. From coast to cactus, with a plethora of distinct habitats, San Diego is one of the most biodiverse counties in the US and offers a great playground for the CNC.
This year again, MTRP proved to be a treasure trove for finding many of the nearly 3,000 species reported in the county during the event. In fact the park housed nearly a quarter of all species found! Well done! Plants took the lead with 325 species, followed by arthropods (insects and arachnids) at 252 species. Birds came in first with 69 species found.
Here are some highlights of smaller critters and let’s see how much you remember about these little friends!
- @sclerobunus photographed one of the most beautiful Harvestmen species in the county: Ortholasma coronadense (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/211056639). Its ornate exoskeleton makes it look ready for battle, in a very fashionable way. Think Game of Thrones costume! Remember Harvestmen? Are they spiders? NO! Let’s do a quick review: Both spiders and harvestman are Arachnids (remember: Arachnids, unlike insects, have eight legs and no wings), but despite appearances, they are quite different. Perhaps one of the best way to tell them apart is that a spider’s abdomen and head (or cephalothorax) are clearly two different body parts. Harvestmen have both body parts as well, but they appear as one unit, one solid block!
How many pairs of eyes does a spider have? I know you know the answer: four! Harvestmen however are just like you and I, they have one pair of eyes. Some of you are thinking, “it doesn’t matter, just like spiders they are venomous and even more dangerous!”. That is a classic urban legend. Unlike spiders, Opiliones do not have venom glands and their jaws are usually too small to cause humans much harm.
That means Harvestmen and spiders don’t have the same eating habits. Opiliones are omnivorous, consuming plant material, insects, other arachnids and even slugs or snails. Just like Grandpa Bob who is waiting for his new set of teeth, spiders are on a liquid diet. They must inject digestive enzymes to liquify their prey before eating (fortunately, Grandpa Bob just uses the blender). The harvestmen, like the rest of us, eat solid food.
- Talking about armor, and this time it’s not a costume but a genuine protection system, @fillsteak found a Diabolical Ironclad Beetle (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/212944803) near Mission Dam.
Review: Imagine yourself laying down in the middle of the road (don’t do that) and a car comes by and rolls right over you. If you don’t die, you will at the very least sustain considerable injuries. Fast forward a few months, you are suing the driver, but the defense attorney brings in an unusual expert witness: A Diabolical Ironclad Beetle. This witness, if he could speak English, would proceed in explaining that the unfortunate accident was no fault of the driver and instead the injuries were simply a result of a faulty biological design on the part of the victim. “I can get stepped on and ran over by a car and be just fine” he would boast. This expert witness, a 2-centimeter long beetle in the Zopheridae family, looks like he is sporting a medieval-like exoskeleton with a slitted walnut-shell-looking surface.
In recent years, experts have “cracked” open the mystery of the beetle’s secret armor and it’s all in the design. After many analysis, 3-D printed models and computer simulations, they found that the exoskeleton’s incredible resistance to impact is a direct result of an interlocking puzzle-like structure paired with impact-absorbing proteins. Considering the amount of pressure the beetle can withstand (about 39,000 times its own body weight), it is no wonder that engineers are looking to imitate and recreate the Diabolical Ironclad Beetle’s blueprint. Read more in this article (https://engineering.uci.edu/news/2020/10/uci-materials-scientists-discover-design-secrets-nearly-indestructible-insect).
- I was very surprised to see that the Phoenix Jumping Spider (Phidippus phoenix) was the 9th most observed arthropod in the park during the bioblitz, with 40 observations! Upon further inspection, it turns out that @ptwnhustle made 35 of these observations along a single stretch of trail. That is not something many users take the time to do very often, but it really give us a lot of information about the abundance of this particular species on that trail. Here is one of the observations they made of this super cute “jumper”: (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/216388460). How much do you remember about the Jumping Spiders?
Review: Jumping spiders are fascinating creatures and are pretty darn cute! Maybe it is easier to relate to them because two of their eight eyes are considerably bigger and located on the front of the face. This gives them a more ‘human’ look. They are also small in size and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Jumping spiders are amazing athletes able to propel themselves up to 50 times their own length. To achieve this without many muscles at all, the jumpers use controlled blood flow. A sudden rush of blood to the legs will cause them to extend in a burst. The ability to jump is what helps them be proficient hunters. Jumping spiders do not build webs to catch their prey, they actively stalk them and ambush them using a variety of intricate tactics. Even though jumpers don’t build webs, they can and do produce silk. In fact, before they jump, they usually anchor a string at the original spot and if they miss their target, they can simply use the lifeline to come back to safety. They also build silk shelters for themselves where they can hide away from predators and rest. Want to see a jumping spider in action? I highly recommend this BBC Earth video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDtlvZGmHYk) which follows an incredible hunter named Portia in her quest to her next meal. To see the fun mating dance some males perform to woo the ladies, check out this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGZwZlcCnDE) filmed in a lab at the University of Pittsburg.
And if you are brave enough, next time you encounter a jumping spider in your house or yard, try holding a small mirror in front of them. They will often interact with the reflection (true and tried by yours truly :).
- @jilllingnell caught a glimpse of a California Bee Assassin (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/210529893) on the North Fortuna Mountain Summit Trail. It’s all in the name! If you ever thought of bugs as cute creatures that sip flower nectar and fly carelessly in the wind, the Assassin Bug will change that perception. Bugs in the family Reduviidae (Assassin Bugs) are ambush predators. While often found on beautiful blooms, they are not there to enjoy the colorful scenery and sweet fragrance.
The assassin bug is waiting for other insects to visit and when the opportunity presents itself, it will pounce on an innocent bystander: a bee, a fly, a caterpillar, etc… The assassin holds onto its victim tightly and stabs it with its long straw-like beak (the rostrum). Just a few seconds after receiving an injection of toxic saliva, the target is paralyzed. The venom will soon start to liquify the prey’s insides and the bug “milkshake” is ready to be enjoyed. Bon appétit!
Like all true bugs, reduviidae have incomplete metamorphosis. It means that after the eggs hatch, the ‘kids’ will go through several nymphal stages (often 5) called instars. Between each instar, the bug will shed its exoskeleton to make room for a larger one, allowing for growth. At each instar, the bug may look slightly different and will finally molt one last time to reveal the adult form. Our observation from the City Nature Challenge is a beautiful adult.
Assassin bugs are incredible allies in the garden and can help control many pests. They are not aggressive toward people, but can bite if threatened or handled carelessly. Their venom is no threat to humans, however certain species (Kissing Bugs, subfamily Triatominae) can carry diseases so if bitten it is best to seek proper medical advice.

Publicado el mayo 27, 2024 09:52 TARDE por patsimpson2000 patsimpson2000 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de noviembre de 2023

Taking iNaturalist to the Next Level at MTRP--Panel Discussion Thursday November 30

Want to delve deeper into iNaturalist? Patricia Simpson, Mark James, and Millie Basden will be giving a presentation at the MTRP Visitor Center on Thursday, November 30, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets. Proceeds benefit the MTRP Foundation.

Hope to see you there!

Publicado el noviembre 20, 2023 11:56 TARDE por milliebasden milliebasden | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de junio de 2022

Help ID "unknown" observations in San Diego County

Are you bored? no photos to post? your iNat notification queue is empty?
Fear not, there always something you can do!
San Diego County has a lot of "unknown" observations and the number is going up. This happens when someone adds an observation without an identification (usually a new user or the occasional mis-hap).

How can you help?

-Click on the "Explore tab"
-Enter "San Diego County" in the location field
-Click on filters and in the "Categories", select the bottom right symbol. It looks like a dotted leaf with a question mark in the center. Finish by clicking "Update Search".

Congratulations! You are now looking at nearly 2,000 unknown observations from San Diego County. Click on the observations and add an ID. For any organism, you don't need to spend an enormous amount of time trying to figure out what it is. Just enter a broad ID such as Vascular Plants or Fungus, including Lichens or Winged and Once-winged Insects. Of course if you can refine the ID, please do so!
This simple action will get the observation out of "unknown" status and a future identifier who focuses on plants or insects will be able to see that observation in their search.

You may run into photos of pets or house/yard plants. That's ok. Just enter an ID (refined or broad) and make sure you scroll down and under "organism is wild", select the box for "no". This will kick the observation into a "casual" grade, which scientists can disregard for their research projects. For certain animal like dogs, cats, cows, the observation might automatically go into "casual" grade. In this case, you don't have to worry about selecting the the "organism is wild" box.

You may run into photos that are so blurry you can't tell at all what it is, or a photo of a road or an object or a kid making funny faces. For these simply enter "human" and the observation will automatically be assigned a "casual" grade. Think of it as human error :)
Here is a good example of someone using iNat as a Nextdoor platform to ask what this construction is all about: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110463132

You may run into observations that are simply "State of matter Life". These are observations that might not be able to be IDed based on current photos. This happens when the observer has applied an ID such as "bees", but an identifier missed the bee and IDed the plant it was on instead. The only thing in common between these two is "Life". This also happens a lot with plant diseases because it can be hard to determine if ailments are due to a fungal infection, a viral infection or or even a pest affliction. In this case, just leave the observation as is, unless you have the answer as to what it is that's causing the damage.

You may run into someone who has several photos, but they are of different organisms. In this case, add a comment to the observation such as :

--Great photos, but we can't ID them until they are separated. One species per observation. Here is how to fix it: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/how-to-fix-your-observation-with-photos-of-multiple-species/15096
Hopefully the person will fix the observation(s).

I usually don't spend a lot of time doing this, just 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there. But if many of us do this, we can clean up the San Diego data set :) ... and in the process I'm sure you'll run into observations made at MTRP! In fact here is a list for the park:

Publicado el junio 4, 2022 10:44 TARDE por patsimpson2000 patsimpson2000 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de mayo de 2022

Field Class June 11 with Jon Rebman

Now's your chance to learn firsthand how to make the best plant observations on iNaturalist and to have your questions answered by one of San Diego County's local botanical experts! Join San Diego Natural History Museum Curator of Botany and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Jon Rebman on Saturday, June 11, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Mission Trails Regional Park for a class on perfecting your iNaturalist plant observations. Jon will share tips and tricks for how to make plant observations that are valuable to science beginning with a lecture at 9 a.m. in the Visitor Center classrooms. Following the classroom presentation, participants will divide into groups to spend time in the field in MTRP practicing their skills.

This training is geared towards participants who have experience with iNaturalist, are interested in learning more about the plants and botanical diversity in San Diego County, as well as identification resources. There is no charge for the class but seating is limited. To register, send an email with the name of the registrant to iNatPlants@yahoo.com. Registrations will be accepted until all seats are filled. You will receive a confirmation reply.

This presentation is brought to you by the San Diego Natural History Museum with funding from the National Geographic Society.

Publicado el mayo 25, 2022 03:06 MAÑANA por patsimpson2000 patsimpson2000 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de mayo de 2022

Congratulations to Patricia Simpson!

The creator of the Mission Trails Regional Park Biodiversity Project on iNat, Patricia Simpson, was the winner of the City Nature Challenge 2022: San Diego County! And she didn't just squeak by, she had the most observations and the most species by wide margins. The observation period of the 2022 CNC started at midnight on April 29. By 12:01 a.m., Patricia already had made 2 observations--of moths! Her pace did not slow. After a full day, Patricia photographed her last observation of the day, another moth, at 11:58 p.m. Throughout the CNC period, Patricia was out documenting nature all day and part of the nights, ending up with 1,084 observations of 559 species. Her last observation during the CNC was of a California Poppy in Mission Trails Regional Park. Well done, @patsimpson2000 !

Publicado el mayo 11, 2022 03:57 TARDE por milliebasden milliebasden | 10 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de mayo de 2021

Save the date: May 26th, 7PM

Another chance to hear Dr. James Hung in a great virtual lecture at the San Diego NAT:
Fantastic Bees and How to Save Them
Register here:

Publicado el mayo 11, 2021 10:00 TARDE por patsimpson2000 patsimpson2000 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

12 de abril de 2021


Dr. King-Lou James Hung will be giving a lecture through Cabrillo National Monument. 6:30pm.
RSVP at this link: https://cnmf.org/events/
And Cabrillo National Monument is bringing the focus on our little friends this year with the POLLINATORPALOOZA, a bioblitz aiming to identify plants and pollinators from March to September 2021!
So come visit the park and start "the hunt" with your cameras! The park will feature one observation every week on its social media platforms. It could be yours!
Bioblitz info here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/2021-pollinatorpalooza-at-cabrillo-national-monument

Publicado el abril 12, 2021 08:36 TARDE por patsimpson2000 patsimpson2000 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

22 de marzo de 2021

April 12, 6:30pm

Dr. King-Lou James Hung will be giving a virtual talk through Cabrillo National Monument:
“Diversity, natural history, and conservation of San Diego’s native bees”
Reserve your spot at this link: https://cnmf.org/events/

Publicado el marzo 22, 2021 05:21 TARDE por patsimpson2000 patsimpson2000 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de noviembre de 2020

New project alert! Terrestrial Arthropods of San Diego County.

Hi everyone,
If you are interested in our little friends, check out this new project: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/terrestrial-arthropods-of-san-diego-county
TERRESTRIAL ARTHROPODS of San Diego County is an umbrella project that aims to track different groups of insects and arachnids that call San Diego their home. From there, please feel free to visit the other projects to explore all the species that live within the county.
Please join any or all the projects to receive journal update.
If you are interested in helping with the curation of any of these different projects, please send me a private message (@patsimpson2000).

Publicado el noviembre 11, 2020 05:09 TARDE por patsimpson2000 patsimpson2000 | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario