The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) have initiated actions for the release of two Mexican wolves in Arizona to replace wolves illegally shot, as directed by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission in 2012 and to increase the genetic diversity of the wild population. Continue reading →
The second edition of my “Arizona Wildlife Notebook” will be off to the printer (CreateSpace) as soon as I finish the cover. This edition has introductions and checklists for 12 groups of Arizona animal species: Amphibians, ants, bats, birds, butterflies and moths, dragonflies and damselflies, fish, grasshoppers, lizards, mammals, snakes, and turtles. Groups in bold type are new to the Notebook. The introduction to each group covers the group’s conservation issues and provides references for printed and online field guides. The checklist for each group includes scientific and common names and conservation status. I alphabetized each checklist by scientific name, and I included an index for all the common names. Continue reading →
Like other predatory birds, this young Cooper’s Hawk, resting near my bird feed station, let me get quite close before leaving to let the Mourning Dove and White-crowned Sparrow flocks return. Continue reading →
Any type of construction destroys vegetation and disturbs the surrounding area. Roads and transmission corridors do even more.
New Pipeline in Central Arizona. Native chaparral removed, heavily grazed, constant traffic.
Throughout human history roads and trails have been the principal routes for long-distance weed dispersal (Cousens and Mortimer 1995). During the past century, power lines and pipelines have spread across the land. Their construction removes vascular plants (Vasek et al. 1975a, 1975b), BSCs (Belnap 2001), and AMFs, and prepares the soil for colonizing weeds. New lines often do not follow existing roads and corridors. Instead, they take direct routes that allow weeds to disperse to areas they would not reach using their own dispersal mechanisms (e.g., Tyser and Worley 1992, Wein et al. 1992, Zink et al. 1995).
Weeds spread with surprising speed along roads and transmission corridors (Macfarlane 1997, Trombulak and Frissell 2000, Pauchard and Alaback 2004, Brisson et al. 2009, Mortensen et al. 2009). The primary dispersal vectors are wind, inspection vehicles, livestock grazing, and recreation vehicles. Continue reading →
Outdoor recreation does far more than simply transport invasive plants. It disturbs soils and vegetation and takes the lives of animals. Leopold commented on the most violent type of recreation:
“The disquieting thing is the trophy hunter who never grows up. … To enjoy he must invade, possess, appropriate. Hence the wilderness that he cannot personally see has no value to him. Hence the universal assumption that an unused hinterland is rendering no service to society” (Leopold 1949: 176). Continue reading →
I have completed the second edition of the Arizona Wildlife Notebook! The new Notebook has four more species groups than the first edition, and it has an expanded index. The most important change is in the conservation status for each species. This time, I standardized the information so that future changes will be easier to track. Continue reading →
Arizona Damselfly and Dragonfly (Odonata) Conservation
These are my favorite predators. They have been around since before the dinosaurs, much longer than any mammal predator that ever existed. They’ve survived for such a long time because once evolution achieved their form and behavior, it hasn’t been able to find anything better–for over three hundred million years. Continue reading →
Snakes form an important element in the flow of energy through Earth’s web of life. Normally, they help control rodent and amphibian populations while serving as food for larger carnivores. Things aren’t normal anymore. Rodent, snake, and carnivore populations are declining and becoming separated by the assault from human activities ranging from habitat destruction for roads and buildings, to direct predation by domestic cats and dogs. Thus, human activities are severing local and global connections within the web. The total effect is difficult to predict. Continue reading →
Butterflies and moths are pollinators and they are food for other species. I know of no harm they cause to human interests. Nevertheless, many die from insecticide poisoning and others decline due to human removal of caterpillar host plants. The conservation status of these familiar animals is mostly unknown.
Butterflies and moths are not thought of as social insects, but they do interact beyond their feeding and mating behavior. I have watched two Monarch butterflies perched side by side patiently taking turns at a nectar source, and many of us have seen two or more individuals swirling around with members of their own and other species. Continue reading →
I always feel closer to mammals than other species groups. The Rock Squirrel (Spermophilus variegatus) in the photograph is a member of the local colony that lives in the retreating face of eroding lake sediments back of my house. Though they live in burrows and harvest seeds and fallen fruit, these squirrels are great climbers. I often see them in the tops of the pear trees picking fresh fruit and the tops of willow trees eating tender buds. They routinely gather fallen seeds beneath the bird feeders, and it is there that some become nervously tolerant of my presence.
The least skittish of my other neighbors include the raccoons who love to slip in the cat door and eat cat food, the skunks who stroll by brushing my leg in the dark, and the coyotes and deer who often stand and return my stare. Continue reading →