Category: environmental science


So it hailed in Texas today [link]

Above photos are not mine, I took them from the thread linked above. My area (Austin) only got the standard size hail, but San Antonio got hail up to 3 inches in diameter, which is large enough to crack a car’s windshield.

We had a thunderstorm (complete with tornado warning!) last weekend, too. And on Wednesday, we broke the high temperature record across the state. Del Rio reached into the mid-100F range. Austin was mid-90’s. What climate change?

April 13, 2019

A Rare Bald Eagle Trio—Two Dads and a Mom—Capt…

A Rare Bald Eagle Trio—Two Dads and a Mom—Captivates Webcam Fans:


In a tall tree situated on the Mississippi River in Fulton, Illinois, three eagles, a female and two males, are looking after three downy eaglets.


April 12, 2019

If it’s in a postable format, I’d …

If it’s in a postable format, I’d love to see your list of species you’ve seen in your yard!

I keep track of my species on iNaturalist, so my species count is available for anybody to look at! And when I say “list,” I mean, photographs. Because I’m a scientist, and if it’s not verifiable, it doesn’t count 😉 The links below are organized by species, if you want to see my specific observations and photographs, click the little links for “# observations” above the organism’s name and it will take you to them.

The full, unfiltered “list” only shows the top 600 before it stops loading (by design), but here it is [link]

A tiny bit of background: This list covers 0.10 acres in east Travis County, Texas (my address says I’m in Austin, but I’m not, it’s a lie). My neighborhood is a housing development surrounded by agricultural land, and my house (and the development) was built starting around 15 years ago. My back yard is backed by a row of hackberry trees, and I have neighbors on either side. I bought this house in June 2016 and have been neglecting the back yard ever since, besides occasionally planting a few trees/bushes/bird feeders. I need to post some pictures of the yard over time because it’s starting to look like a legitimate forest. If I ever need to sell this place, oh boy.

The Spider Haven Species List – Numbers By Kingdom

Protozoans [link] 1 species (so far just Dog Vomit Slime Mold, but I have two other unidentified slime molds that don’t go into the numbers yet!)
Bacteria [link] 1 species (a plant disease–I need to get a microbio setup started for cultures bwahaha)
Fungi [link] 8 species (I’ve been slacking, I know I have more in my fridge ALONE right now)
Plants [link] 70 species (there’s more, I have photos from September 2018 I haven’t uploaded yet… ugh)
Animals [link] *cough* over 900 species… uh, I’ll need to break that down a bit…

Animals in my yard

Vertebrates [link] 72 species (birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians)
Annelids [link] 1 species (earthworms creep me out, sorry)
Mollusks [link] 10 species (missing my tiny little slugs!)
Flatworms [link] 2 species
Horsehair Worm [link] 1 species
Arthropods [link] 828 species. Okay….


Crustaceans [link] 2 species (pillbugs!)
Myriapoda [link] 3 species
Arachnids [link] 75 species
Insects [link] 747 species. *SIGH*


Springtails [link]1 species (not easy to find!!!
Silverfishes [link]1 species
Cockroaches and Termites [link] 11 species
Butterflies and Moths [link] 279 species
Beetles [link]148 species
Earwigs [link] 2 species
Flies [link] 58 species
Webspinners [link] 1 species
Mayflies [link] 3 species
True Bugs & Allies [link] 124 species
Ants, Bees, Wasps, & Sawflies [link] 63 species
Mantids [link] 1 species, but I saw a mating pair and the male was missing a head [link]
Scorpionflies, Hangingflies, etc [link] 1 species 
Alderflies, Dobsonflies, Fishflies [link] 1 species
Antlions, Lacewings, Owlflies, Mantidflies [link] 4 species
Dragonflies and Damselflies [link] 23 species
Grasshoppers, Katydids, Crickets [link] 20 species
Stick insects [link] 3 species (but I think it should be 2, need to double check)
Stoneflies [link] 1 species
Barklice, booklice, and parasitic lice [link] 1 species
Thrips [link] 2 species
Caddisflies [link] 1 species (note: these are near-impossible to ID so I don’t really spend too much time on them)

They key take-aways appear to be: MÖTH, beetles, & true bugs. Not too much of a surprise, given I do a LOT of my snooping around the yard at night, and with my UV patio light on. Best $14 I ever spent! (I got it on sale, looks like it’s $20 now) [link]

Note: These species counts were accurate on the date I posted this list, April 12, 2019 at 12:47 am. The links will continue to work (oh please), but the numbers will change! They may go up as I add observations, or down as I my current observations are reclassified (happens ALL the time!).

April 12, 2019

I,,, misread nepenthens for isoetes on the las…

I,,, misread nepenthens for isoetes on the last post somehow and i felt,,,, f,,,fear,,,,

fun fact there’s literally no books out there showcasing all the species of isoetes in the world like u might find for other plants. if u want to know that information u gotta go digging through 89 levels of deep academia and only then may you possibly stumble upon a hit list of names. 

when i was researching for my term paper on them last semester i tried to build a distribution map of all the species, but the only book i could find was a weird old cloth-bound codex (literally a codex) that i had to specially request from my uni’s library storage building. after i got it i realized that 1. it…really was just deadass a list of names and ranges, 2. it was nowhere close to the exact ranges and just gave vague outdated country information with weirdly ambiguous sources, and 3. it was nowhere close to all the species known to us. the actual age of the book was hard to pin down; i want to say that it was 1970s, but it felt…….older somehow. it had quite The Energy and i quickly returned it 

im sure that if u were to dig through some databases, you’d be able to find a more comprehensive list– i accidentally stumbled on a comprehensive checklist of all the hornworts in the world published by phytokeys, for instance, and hornworts are kind of in the same category of ‘weird niche nonvascular plants one might glimpse for 3 seconds while hiking like bigfoot amongst the trees’– but man, why cant we just have a nice comprehensive coffee table isoetes book? 

this is off topic now but i keep reading these researchers in both isoetes and hornwort papers talking about how one of the biggest challenges to new research is that nobody knows jack shit about them, and i cant help but think like….comprehensive, readable knowledge of these plants is near impossible to find? like, most of the modern papers i was reading for isoetes kept shying away from discussing the fucked up anatomy of those plants to the point where the only book i was able to find that laid it all out for the reader in a semi-understandable format was a book from the late 1960s buried in the fern section of our library? all the illustrations in it were hand drawn? i still havent been able to find a good photo of some of these structures? i got a couple high resolution scans of some of the samples from my uni’s herbarium to publish on this blog, and had people literally come thank me because pics of specimens cut open to show the actual anatomy are hard as shit to find? like? 

this turned into a little bit of a rant but come on lads!!! to get to know these plants u gotta go through like 93 levels of academia and know like 6 people!!! it’s no wonder why nobody knows them well!!!