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    • December 4, 2019

    Days are getting shorter, temperatures are getting cooler, and rain is starting to fall. These changes are welcomed by many species that thrive in this wetter, chillier weather. We encourage all of you to get outside, enjoy this changing weather, and see these great plants and animals for yourself! Here are our favorite photos submitted through the online field survey form during November:

    Frontal closeup of Del Norte salamander

    Plethodon elongatus – Del Norte salamander
    Submitted by Mark Raggon of the United States Forest Service

    Mark snapped a close-up of this juvenile Del Norte salamander, a California Species of Special Concern, near the California Oregon border in Del Norte county. This species inhabits the very northwestern portion of the state in Del Norte, Siskiyou, Humboldt, and Trinity counties. Del Norte salamanders are lungless salamanders, so they breathe through their skin and tissues surrounding their mouths! Because of this unique way of respiration, they must live in wet terrestrial environments and remain mostly inactive during hotter months. Little activity combined with short limbs make for a fairly sedentary lifestyle. Studies have shown that the Del Norte salamander stays within a 7.5 square meter area within a year. This is only about a 24-foot square! Populations of this species are sensitive, yet stable even though logging is a cause of habitat loss and disturbance. Thank you, Mark, for the great picture of this neat species!

    subalpine fir

    Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa – subalpine fir
    Submitted by Dana York

    This evergreen tree was found by Dana while hiking along a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail in Siskiyou County. It is listed as a 2B.3 (Rare or Endangered in California but common elsewhere; not very threatened in California) in the California Rare Plant Ranking system. In California, Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa is restricted to meadows and subalpine coniferous forests in Siskiyou County. Like many firs, A. lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa creates cones that are wind pollinated, often in early summer. Once fully mature these cones begin to fall apart releasing winged seeds dispersing with help from the wind. Thank you, Dana, for sharing this amazing find from your hike!

    Categories: Contributor Spotlight
    • October 31, 2019

    A porcupine with long quills on the forest floor - © Laura Cockiell, all rights reserved

    Erethizon dorsatum – North American porcupine

    Submitted by Laura Cockrell, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

    This special critter was observed sporting an eccentric hair style during a deer spotlighting survey in Glenn county. Porcupines are typically found in coniferous forests, creating dens out of roots, branches, rocks, or logs. They are nocturnal which is why spotlight surveys are a common detection method of this species. Their quills, which is their most distinguishable characteristic, can grow up to a foot long! They use these quills for self-defense by shaking and rattling them. If this noise isn’t effective, porcupines are known to charge backwards into predators. Ouch!

    North American porcupines populations appear to be declining, possibly due to habitat loss, depredation, rodenticide, and low reproductive potential. Some perceive the porcupine as a nuisance to timber lands, but recent studies have found that their eating habits actually benefit ecosystem structure. Little is known about the distribution of this elusive species (they are known to rest up in trees – you may have to look up to find one!), so be sure to submit your sightings to us if you ever come across a porcupine! Currently, the database has 519 porcupine occurrences, mainly in northern California and throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains. Thank you, Laura, for snapping a shot of this unique species!

    Braunton's milk-vetch - © Zachary Abbyey, all rights reserved

    Astragalus brauntonii – Braunton's milk-vetch

    Submitted by Zachary Abbey, Padre Associates, Inc.

    This fuzzy perennial was found in riparian scrub in Ventura County. It is listed as a 1B.1 (rare or endangered in California and elsewhere, seriously endangered in California) in the California Rare Plant Ranking system. Astragalus brauntonii is endemic to California and occurs in chaparral, coastal scrub, and valley and foothill grasslands along the south west coastal region. When in bloom, during the months of January to August, it has spike-like inflorescences, each with 30 to 60 lilac colored flowers. Thank you, Zachary, for the hard work you do and the amazing photos you send our way!

    Do you have some great photos of rare plants or wildlife detections? Submit them along with your findings through our Online Field Survey Form and see if your photos get showcased!

    Categories: Contributor Spotlight
    • October 10, 2019

    Fall is officially here! The California heat is dying down and the fall transition is starting, which means many native species are preparing for the winter months to come. This transition period can create photo and observation opportunities that aren’t available year-round. Here are our favorite photos from September!

    Smith's blue butterfly on seaside buckwheat - © Patrick Scott, all rights reserved

    Euphilotes enoptes smithi – Smith’s blue butterfly

    Submitted by Patrick Scott – California Department of Transportation

    This male Smith’s blue butterfly was spotted posing on some seaside buckwheat on the coast of Monterey County. Smith’s blue butterflies start to emerge in the late summer and early fall to mate specifically on two buckwheat species, seaside buckwheat and seacliff buckwheat. They carry out their entire lives within a couple hundred yards of these buckwheat species! This butterfly has been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act since 1976. A large reason for their decline is habitat loss due to development, invasive plants, and livestock grazing. We always enjoy seeing endangered species such as the Smith’s blue butterfly fighting against all odds and reproducing in their native habitats. Thank you, Patrick, for this beautiful photo!

    White bear poppy - © Kristin Forgrave , all rights reserved

    Arctomecon merriamii – white bear poppy

    Submited by Kristin Forgrave

    This delightful perennial was found along the Tetracoccus Ridge in Death Valley National Park. It is listed as a 2B.2 (rare or endangered in California, common elsewhere) in the California Rare Plant Ranking system. Arctomecon merriamii can also be found in Nevada where it is considered vulnerable. In California, it is commonly found in rocky areas of chenopod scrub, or Mojavean desert scrub. Having missed the April to May flowering period, it is no surprise we see the fruiting bodies on this individual. Thank you, Kristin, for the hard work you do and the amazing photos you provide!

    Do you have some great photos of rare plants or wildlife detections? Submit them along with your findings through our Online Field Survey Form and see if your photos get showcased!

    Categories: Contributor Spotlight