(by Paul Souders)
Polarwolf oder Weisswolf (Canis lupus arctos) - Arctic Wolf (by Mladen Janjetovic)
"Sharpshooter" Leafhoppers (genus Graphocephala)
This genus contains a number of red-and-green or blue-striped species of leafhopper. These small insects typically measure around 1/4 to 1/2 an inch (1/2 to 1 cm), but their brilliant colors can be quite eye-catching.
This one, the Red-banded (or sometimes Candy-striped) Leafhopper, G. coccinea, ranges from Canada to Panama and can be found in habitats from meadow to forest. Relatively common, it can be encountered from spring through fall in the north, and year-round in warmer parts of its range, such as the gulf states.
Leafhoppers feed on plant sap, piercing the stem of herbaceous plants with their tube-like proboscis. As their common name implies, they are excellent jumpers, leaping dozens of body-lengths using their long, modified hind legs. The bristles on the hind legs are used to spread a secretion across their body that acts as a waterproofing and carries pheromones.
photo by Kurt Komoda on Flickr
(via: Peterson Field Guides)
A Scientist’s Search for the Elusive Lizard in Texas
Cross an elusive lizard, a determined zoologist and a historic Air Force base and what do you get?
Several years ago, Nature Conservancy vertebrate zoologist Mike Duran was concerned. In his seven years of conservation work, he’d never once seen a spot-tailed earless lizard (Holbrookia lacerata).
The northern subspecies, or H.l. lacerata, historically occurs above the Balcones Escarpment, the fault line that separates the Edwards Plateau from the Tamaulipan Thornscrub ecoregion of southern Texas. The southern subspecies, or H.l. subcaudalis, has dwelled traditionally below that fault line. But in modern times, finding either type of the lizard—which measures four-and-a-half to six inches long and has no external ear openings—has proven difficult, if not impossible…
(read more: The Nature Conservancy)
photo: Mike Duran
The Population Decline and Extinction of Darwin’s Frogs
Darwin’s Frogs are two species of frogs of the family Rhinodermatidae: Rhinoderma darwinii (also called the Southern Darwin’s frog) and Rhinoderma rufum (also known as Chile Darwin’s frog or Northern Darwin’s frog); the first native to Chile and Argentina and the second endemic to central Chile. Both frogs are named after Charles Darwin who had previously discovered it in Chile during his world voyage on the HMS Beagle.
A peculiarity of these frogs is that species are mouth-brooding and tadpoles develop inside the male vocal sac.
Rhinoderma darwinii is classified since 2004 as “Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List and Rhinoderma rufum is listed as “Critically Endangered" since 2010. The main threats to these species are drought, pine forestry and clear-cutting of forest for R. darwinii, and he destruction of the native vegetation for R. rufum.
However, a study published in June 2013, developed by researchers at the University Andres Bello (Chile), University College London, Zoological Society of London and the University of Chile, which included extensive surveys carried out throughout the historical ranges of both species from 2008 to 2012, provide evidence that R. rufum is extinct and indicate that R. darwinii has declined to a much greater degree than previously recognized.
According with this study, the last sighting of R. rufum based on museum archives and the scientific literature, was in 1980. Although Rhinoderma darwini can still be found across a large part of its historical range, remaining populations are small and severely fragmented. Conservation efforts for this frog should be stepped up and the species re-classified as Endangered.
In addition, a later study (November, 2013) indicates that the amphibian disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is also a factor in the decline of populations of Rhinoderma species.
Photos: Top - Specimen of Rhinoderma darwinii photographed by Eric LoPresti / Bottom: Distribution Maps of Rhinoderma spp. by Soto-Azat C, Valenzuela-Sánchez A, Collen B, Rowcliffe JM, Veloso A, (2013).
Jambu Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus jambu) males, SE Asia
Lampyris noctiluca is a firefly species from Europe (Coleoptera/Lampyridae). These beetles use their bioluminescence to attract mates. The adult females are mostly famed for their glow, although all stages of their life cycle are capable of glowing.
An Eastern Hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos) flattens itself and hisses loudly, in a defensive display, Southern Georgia, USA. If this doesn’t work, the snake may also “play dead”; flipping over, letting its tongue hang out, releasing a death like odor from the cloaca.
(photo: Bladerunner8u | Wikimedia commons)