It’s hard to imagine how something like coffee coming from Argentina could have any other effects on California, other than on the delicious flavors of coffee at places like Starbucks. But our love of coffee (as well as trade) can impact our wildlife on the local level! In fact we have quite a few hitchhikers that have altered local ecosystems. True it’s rare for you to see some large exotic animal. . . and more often it is those smaller animals (the animals we almost don’t notice) that make an incredible impact on our environment!
Insects are the largest and most biodiverse group of animals/species in our world today! But don’t freak out, having lots of insects doesn’t mean they will all be swarming into your house or biting you. . . In fact insects play a key role in pollination (we probably wouldn’t have fruit), decomposition, and being a food source (among many other things).
Ants are really interesting insects because they can carry incredibly heavy loads for long distances and are very “team” or “family” oriented. In California, we are losing the native ants! These less aggressive harvester ants have been completely displaced by larger more aggressive ants (invasive species which were brought in on coffee beans) aka hitchhiking ants. Continue Reading →
Recently, there have been many news stories popping up about wildfires and with the California drought still being an issue we wanted to take this opportunity to focus in on ways you can practically be aware of wildfires and areas that could be prone to wildfires near you! In fact over the past year (2015) 58,916 human-caused fires (also known as preventable fires) burned over 2,000,000 acres of land! That is a lot of acreage that is impacted, animals that have lost their homes, and people who have been displaced by the damage. . . But we can reduce this number by listening to our favorite bear! Continue Reading →
With the Pokemon-Go Craze going on right now, many people are getting outside and walking around who would rarely spend extended time out of doors! While this is exciting for many, there can also be some misconceptions about what kinds of animals are outdoors and even how to engage in nature. And this phenomenon isn’t just limited to the Pokemon-Goers but do we really look up and engage in nature in a positive way?
From my own personal experience I would have to say somedays yes and somedays no! Why is that? Just the other day I went to the park after work to try to relax and be in nature (because I love nature). But for some reason I was uneasy and I had my own personal apprehension about wearing my work clothes. I found myself worrying about getting them dirty and instead of wanting to enjoy and engage in nature I was not wanting to go off the path or even sit in the grass! I eventually convinced myself that it would be good for me and after walking through the meadow for a bit I noticed birds. Lots of swallows swooping and flying everywhere! Continue Reading →
Last week we talked about the invasive pond turtle: the red-eared slider turtle, which is species introduced to our local ponds and streams by people dumping pets. This week we will be focusing on the Western Pond Turtle! Our very own local turtle, which inhabits the rivers and ponds of the West Coast of the United States. This little turtle (about 6-8 inches and 1-2.4 lbs) is currently considered threatened on the Endangered Species List.
One reason for this is because the red-eared slider is literally displacing them (red-eared sliders are bigger and more territorial so they can bully the smaller Western Pond Turtles out of the way). Western Pond Turtles are also dependent on the natural ponds, streams, and rivers. . . which aren’t that common anymore especially not after the drought in California. Basically, these turtles have a lot going against them from being illegally harvested as a food source to motor vehicles to the predatory bullfrog and even urbanization.