- What organisms did you see in your two locations? Some of the animal species you may see in urban environments are various types of birds (small song birds, hawks, vultures, geese, herons), bats, butterflies, insects (bees, dragonflies, ants), amphibians (frogs, salamanders), fish, reptiles (turtles, lizards), and small mammals (squirrels, chipmunks, field mice, opossums, armadillos, raccoons).
- What were the weather conditions each day? What sounds did you hear? Try to record and data with your phone (sounds or pictures) if possible. If not, be able to describe these observations.
- Why is it important to observe two locations at the same time of day? How might weather impact animal behavior?
- Research your area and list at least three different organisms that are either native or have colonized your area. Select one and discuss the following: what do they eat? How do they interact with other species in the area, including humans?
Student1 (jessica):Good afternoon class. For this post, I chose two places where I go every day. The first one is the area where my children elementary school is located.
We live in the suburbs of Alexandria/Kingstowne, and during our daily commute it is easy to see different organisms but the same ones every day. I can see hawks standing on top of power poles and high trees, geese flying over, a variety of small birds, and squirrels. Also, domesticated animals like cats and dogs. The weather conditions have changed over the past days from upper 60 degrees Fahrenheit to snowy and rainy. Only the small birds did not go out on rainy and snowy conditions.
The second location is our backyard. Squirrels, rabbits, blue jays, cardinals, red foxes, two different brown looking small birds and deer can easily be being seen every day. During summer months, we had close encounters with snakes, lizards, and lots of insects. I have yet to see an armadillo around our backyard or neighborhood. These past two days I saw red cardinals, blue jays and a fox walking out of the bushes and tree lines behind our backyard. I see foxes early in the morning and around evening time. These organisms were out early in the morning. The fox was out by six-thirty in the morning and the birds all day long. Birds hid in the shrubs and trees, while the fox run into the back as I was opening the back door to record him.
Research your area and list at least three different organisms that are either native or have colonized your area. Select one and discuss the following: what do they eat? How do they interact with other species in the area, including humans?
Per the Landscope of Virginia the commonwealth supports a rich diversity of animals — some 737 species of vertebrates had been identified as occurring in the state. While there is no accurate count of invertebrates, one conservative estimate places the number at 30,000 terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates’ species. I selected the following three organisms. The Appalachian monkeyface pearly mussel, Eastern box turtle, and the Mole salamander. I will discuss the Mole Salamander. This species in particular colonized the area and it is an endemic affecting the United States. The mole salamander feeds of ants, insects, slugs, and spiders. Mole Salamander is found near rivers and ponds. Due to this little is known about their social behavior.
Bruce McNitt/Panoramic Images (Virginia). (n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2017, from http://www.landscope.org/virginia/plants-animals/a…
Student 2 (matthew):Well lets get started with my urban ecology run. The two places that I chose to observe were the space outside of my barracks, which consisted of mostly concrete slabs,patio , and trees. I chose to observe this location during the daytime. My next area that I observed was an empty field location inside of my base.
I’ll talk about the barracks location first, well its very dry and cool about in the low 70’s. Its a little more moist here due to the presence of irrigation systems for the landscaping, which there is not much of but we do have one tall tree in the middle of of the complex. It’s pretty sterile here with the exception of these annoying small black birds. Not sure what they are but they like to perch inside of the tree for shade during the day. We also have an abundance of common insect species. I found numerous colonies of these black ants I’m thinking that they are some kind of sugar ant. The ants love to use the concrete sections to build there colony, I’m guessing it has some property the ants find desirable, maybe protects them from predators. i’m not surprised to not find much more a few house roaches scurrying here or there but the pest control teams keep a tight reign on the animal population in the area.
The next area that i observed was an open training area field on my base. Now of course this location was much more interesting. First of all I found a much larger variety of wildlife in this location. i observed this location around dusk the sun was starting to lower on the horizon. The area is very sandy mostly sand with a clay bottom under the layer of sand. There are huge mounds of sand that have vegetation growing atop them, this is the only real source of vegetation in the area. The sand is reddish brown to almost white in the more flat sections. The first animal that I located was of course the Imported Red Fire Ant. This creature is found everywhere in the training locations. the workers are scurrying around looking for food along there paths, the occasional warrior and standing out among the rest. The ant trails climb up the nearest sand dune to the colony. The ants love to hangout inside the vegetation they find lots of food there mostly other insects. The ants are more active during this time since it’s not so hot outside, I would say in the high 60’s. I continue to walk in the field and the next animal that I run across is some kind of jackrabbit. It runs away very fast into another sand dune vegetation area. I can see that it was inside of some kind of burrow before it ran away from me. This happens a lot they spook so easily but i understand just about everything preys on them. I really don’t see much else on the ground but in the sky there is some kind of hawk soaring high in the sky by its self. I see that it is circling the area, I really think they are the top predators in the area. Being so high and with the land so flat it makes it easy to spot prey and Texas can be very windy at times due to the flat terrain. this makes for great thermals to glide on so i imagine that they save a ton of energy.
It’s great to really contrast between a heavily built up area and one that is not so touched by human hands. You really start to see the habitat destruction first hand and how different animals need to adapt because of it. I did some research on urban animals found in El Paso and I came up with this list. The first is the Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura). Next I found the American Robin (Turdus migratorius). Lastly the Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii), This is what I had origninally called a jackrabbit.
Well after deciding which animal to talk about more I decided to do the desert Cottontail. Named for its puffy white tail, the desert cottontail is most active at night. However, it can also be seen in the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun is not quite as fierce.(Urban. p 1) The cottontail is coprophagic, which means that it eats its own feces to get extra nutrients.(Urban. p 1) The rabbit is mostly eaten by just about any large animal or reptile in the area to include coyotes,birds of prey, and rattlesnakes. Its kind of crazy, this animal is really just a walking juicy piece of meat to everything. The Desert Cottontail feeds on mostly grasses and any small vegetation that it can find.
National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior(2009)Urban Wildlife of El Paso. https://www.nps.gov/cham/learn/nature/upload/urban…
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