Endangered Harlequins Analysis

Thursday, April 21, 2022 12:38:45 PM

Endangered Harlequins Analysis



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This insect, also known as the Ceylon Rose, is native to a restricted area of Sri Lanka. CITES listed it as "critically endangered" at the request of the Sri Lankan government due to the continuing loss of the animal's habitat. This is a common refrain when it comes to endangered animals, especially insect: loss of habitat caused by man-made intrusions leads to the animal having nowhere to live, and nothing to eat.

The result can be the loss of the entire species if steps aren't taken to preserve at least some of the original habitat. The Ceylon Rose is a beautiful swallowtail butterfly. There are many kinds of swallowtail butterflies throughout the world, and most of them are common, or at least not on endangered lists. One of the more familiar swallowtails in North America is Pterourus glaucus, the tiger swallowtail. It's a big, beautiful species with black tiger stripes on its deep yellow wings. It's well-established and common over most of its range. There are several other swallowtail species in the US. This butterfly is generally limited to lowland rain forests in the vicinity of Kithulgala, Sinharaja, Kanneliya and the Rathnapura District of Sri Lanka. It also occurs in the Sinharaja Biosphere Reserve, and in that area is protected from habitat destruction.

Still, collecting specimens of the Ceylon Rose is a crime in Sri Lanka, and because of the insect's CITES listing, it is considered a federal crime in the US even though the butterfly occurs nowhere near the continent! Ironically, listing an animal as protected by CITES draws the attention of people who deal in the sale of dead specimens of rare insects. There are some who object to the listing of the Ceylon Rose and other insects for this very reason. Within its restricted distribution, P. It visits flowers in light gaps and at the forest edge, as well as along roads. Like other tropical butterflies, when not on the wing it is resting among foliage deep in the forest, where it can be nearly impossible to find. The caterpillar of the Ceylon Rose is a beautiful purple-black with fleshy crimson processes on its back.

It cannot sting but may be protected by poisonous compounds in its foodplants, which are in the Aristolochia genus and are known to contain toxic alkaloids. There are many other swallowtail species that feed on this group of vines, and they have similar bright colors and a slow flapping flight -- all signs that a butterfly does't have too much to worry about from predators, who likely recognize the insect as distasteful. The genus Agrias includes many species, many of them relatively common. Agrias amydon is fairly typical of this group in that the nominate species has been broken up into many subspecies, many of them named for the area in which they occur. In the case of Agrias amydon boliviensis , it's the version found in Bolivia that has been deemed rare enough to qualify for CITES protection.

This subspecies of A. So what exactly IS a subspecies? It's actually a very good question. Technically, it means two animals that are closely related, and could interbreed if they weren't separated by geography. But looked at another way, in many cases the concept of "subspecies" may be thought of as science's attempt to take a snapshot of the ongoing process of speciation -- that is, a moment in the process of evolution as one species becomes two and so on. Looking at this brilliant and showy butterfly, it may seem strange to think that it could be an example of camouflage. But entomologists including Philip J. DeVries who literally wrote the book on Costa Rican butterflies , have pointed out that the bright reds and blues of similar butterflies vanish when the insect lands and folds its wings, leaving only the convoluted pattern of the underside.

The sudden change can make it appear as off the insect has simply vanished into the forest. The design of the underside actually blends in quite well with the surrounding complexities of leaf, branch and vine, and that makes the butterfly hard to see. The "flash and hide" mechanism is similar to a group of North American moths known collectively as the "underwings" genus Catocala. These moths reverse the under-upperside of the Agrias butterfly, but the effect is the same -- they hide bright banded hind wings under bark-colored uppers. Resting on a tree they're nearly invisible, but when disturbed they fly and the bright colors are revealed.

Then the insect abruptly lands and covers those showy hind wings. The effect is startling; it's really as if the insect has suddenly vanished into thin air. Morpho butterflies are known world-wide for their spectacular reflective blue wings and their great size. To see one flapping through the rainforest is a profound moment. They include some of the largest and most visible of all insects, and in some ways have come to symbolize the rainforest itself: exotic, unattainable, wild, and beautiful.

It's sometimes hard to remember, when you happen to see one with its characteristic bouncing flight, reflecting the blue of the sky with electric brilliance, that the colors are, like any other wild animal's, part of a survival tactic shaped by eons of natural selection. But that's the beauty and profundity of science: when you seek your explanations in the natural world based on observations and testable ideas, reasons and processes open up their deeply complex and deeply moving secrets.

Like the Agrias species above, Morphos use their colors to confuse predators. The bright blue is hidden when they land, and underneath as you can see in the video below they are perfectly camouflaged with dark browns, and also protected by the appearance of threatening eyespots. It's a shame, but Morphos are often targeted by collectors who happily buy and sell the dead specimens. For many, their interest is not scientific but purely aesthetic, and often the specimens they buy have no scientific labels attached that would tell where and when the animal was collected, which would lend it at least a little scientific value.

Collecting insects as part of a scientific study, and keeping careful records that will be of use to researchers studying the insects down the road, is a vital and time-honored activity. But even this research is coming under fire from well-meaning but misguided lovers of wildlife. Killing a small number of individual insects as part of study has little to no impact on populations, even when it comes to rare species. Destruction of their habitat, however, can and has caused entire species to become extinct see the Xerxes blue in the western US, for example. This amazing insect, also know as the Bhutan Glory, is a member of the swallowtail family. Those beautiful hindwing tails are typical of many members of the group, although the Bhutan Glory is considerably more exotic-looking than most swallowtails.

It's thought that the bright, flapping hind wings draw the attention of predators, leading them to strike at the tails. The butterfly can survive quite well without the ends of its wings -- if the predator grabbed the insect by the head or body, the outcome would be quite different. The Bhutan Glory isn't too hard to find in its habitat -- it's just that the habitat it lives in is hard to access. The government wants to protect this insect partly for fear that it will become victimized by collectors trying to profit from its beauty.

That may be true -- but collecting has never been definitively shown to have caused the extinction of a butterfly and there was a study that attempted to do just that, and failed. This is a really cool little video of a Bhutan Glory nectaring in its native habitat. It includes a bit of local flavor, too -- I like the way it gives you an idea of what it's like to travel to southeast Asia and then just come across one of the world's most beautiful and unattainable butterflies fluttering around a patch of flowers.

Prepona praeneste ssp. Like many rare or endangered butterflies, this animal is a subspecies of a kind of butterfly that isn't particularly rare, or has enough other variants as to make it fairly well-known. Prepona praeneste is the nominate, or main species, and buckleyana is the subspecies. Scientific names are nearly always in Latin; insects often have a common name as well as a Latin scientific name.

Here, roughly, is how it works:. Prepona is a genus name, a little like person's last name, and the species name, praeneste , can be thought of as a first name. So there are several kinds of butterflies with the genus last name Prepona, but only one kind has the specific first name praeneste. Now it gets a little tricky. Several genuses can be gathered together in one tribe or subfamily; in the case of this butterfly, the subfamily is Charaxinae, and there are several genuses in it, including Prepona. These are often brightly colored and stout-bodied. Stepping back to another level, the subfamily Charaxinae belongs, along with many other subfamilies, in the family Nymphalidae. The Nymphalidae are a major group of butterflies, and include many subfamilies and many, many different species.

So while Prepona praeneste ssp. For example, the common Monarch is often placed in the family Nymphalidae -- see how different they are? Basically like distant cousins. But still related to each other! The birdwing butterflies genus Ornithoptera , meaning, literally, "bird wing" , are a distinct group of swallowtails family Papilionidae that occur exclusively in New Guinea, Australia, and the surrounding region. They are famous worldwide for their stunning colors and large size, and many of the dozens of subspecies are rabidly sought after by collectors. In their natural habitat, the Ornithopterans fly powerfully through rainforest and secondary growth habitat, seeking mates and food plants on which to lay their eggs.

Like other swallowtails, the plant their caterpillars eat contains toxins, and therefore it's thought that the caterpillars as well as the adults are protected from predators. It's clear from the form of the caterpillar and pupa of these huge butterflies above that they belong with the swallowtails. Both are nearly identical to many of the species that occur in North America, such as the pipeline swallowtail Battus philenor.

Like that species, the bird wings feed vines in or near the Aristolochia genus. The fact that related species are spread throughout the world is a rich source of research for scientists who study the distribution of animals. Papilio chikae is also known as the Luzon Peacock Swallowtail. It's a large insect, with lovely iridescent lunules around the margin of each hind wing. It flies in restricted areas of the Philippines, where it frequents mountain peaks and ridges around Baguio City and the Bontoc area. There are two forms—a spring form and a summer form—and both are highly sought after by butterfly collectors around the world. There are other species that look very much like P. For this reason, CITES has listed the butterfly as critically endangered and anyone possessing the insect is at risk of being prosecuted, and even serving jail time.

The understandable urge to protect that which is beautiful, rare, and vulnerable has led to very restrictive laws on collecting some species. This may seem to be common sense, but unfortunately, in some cases, the outcome is a damper on any form of work with rare insects, including legitimate scientific research that would necessitate killing or removing individuals from they habitat. In addition, the question of whether collectors could do anywhere near as much damage as habitat loss remains a good one.

You can take some individuals out of a population, but take away food and shelter and you may destroy the entire population. Adding to the rarity of the Luzon Peacock Swallowtail is the fact that they are limited by food plant and other preferences to a very band of altitude in the mountainous areas in the Cordillera Central mountain range of Luzon, Philippines. There they are believed to occur in a montane cloud forest characterized by evergreen plant species and a perpetually moist climate.

Not only is the butterfly endangered, but this entire ecosystem is threatened by development and climate change. It's possible that the biggest threat to the Luzon Peacock is not people with nets but instead people with cars -- the exhaust from millions of vehicles could be the death of fragile areas like the Phillippine Cordillera Central. The lack of information on its biology hampers suggestions on effective conservation plans. This great insect is the largest swallowtail butterfly in the Western Hemipshere, and one of the largest butterflies in the world. Its enormous, strong wings would just about cover a dessert plate.

The Homerus Swallowtail, named for Homer Simpson, is It was named instead for the Greek poet Homer, and such an epic insect does indeed deserve such an epic namesake. To catch or otherwise remove a specimen of Papilio homerus from its jungle home without a permit for scientific study is to risk heavy fines and possibly a stretch in a Jamaican jail, not to mention making you a pretty dishonorable human being.

This Conservation Assessment and Strategy addresses the status and conservation of harlequin ducks in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The Conservation Assessment summarizes available information on the ecology and population status of the harlequin duck in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, and identifies potential threats to the species' viability in this region. The Conservation Strategy identifies management actions and information needed in order to maintain viable populations and protect and maintain critical habitats to ensure that listing is not warranted, in accordance with the Endangered Species Act ESA of , as amended.

The Conservation Assessment is based on inventory, monitoring, and research data collected in the U. Rocky Mountains since Approximately pairs of harlequin ducks are estimated to breed in 57 breeding or probable breeding occurrences in the U. Rocky Mountains. A breeding occurrence is considered a single "breeding area", but may contain portions of several streams not separated by more than 10 km of unsuitable habitat, or 20 km of unoccupied, suitable habitat. Data gathered from marked individuals indicates a high degree of fidelity to these breeding occurrences.

The harlequin duck breeding occurrences identified in the U. Rocky Mountains are comprised of reaches on streams. Rocky Mountains occur on federal lands, primarily managed by the U. Forest Service and National Park Service. Not all Rocky Mountain breeding occurrences have been located. Additional characteristics that may increase likelihood of use by harlequin ducks include: proximity to occupied habitat, overhanging bank vegetation, woody debris, loafing sites, absence of human activity, and inaccessibility.

Potential threats to harlequin ducks in the U. Rocky Mountains include activities that affect riparian habitats, water yield, water quality, and increase disturbance during the breeding season. Habitat conditions in migratory and coastal areas are also critical to conservation of harlequin ducks. Harlequin ducks breeding in the Rocky Mountains have been located off the coasts of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Harvest in coastal areas, while apparently low, could also potentially affect harlequin ducks in the Rocky Mountains.

The Conservation Strategy emphasizes and adaptive approach for maintaining riparian and instream harlequin duck habitat. Guidelines are designed to maintain habitat quality by avoiding degradation form timber harvest, road construction and maintenance, mining, livestock grazing, water developments, and recreation. Guidelines include establishing stream buffers, maintaining instream flows and water quality, and reducing or not increasing human disturbance. Inventory and monitoring protocols are included for assessing the U. Rocky Mountain harlequin duck population size and trend and for individual project inventory and monitoring. Finally, areas where additional information is needed regarding basic ecology and management and methods to increase knowledge of management personnel and the public about harlequin duck and their conservation are identified.

Rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals of Idaho in English and held by 12 WorldCat member libraries worldwide. New distribution or breeding records were established for at least 6 species. Yellow warblers were found in riparian areas and shrubby draws below ft elev. Black-capped chickadees were found in riparian and mixed tall shrub vegetation at all elevations ave. River otters and suitable otter denning and foraging habitat were observed along the Snake and Salmon rivers. Another 5 special status species potentially occur not documented. Ecosystem-based wildlife management issues are identified. A monitoring plant is presented for assessing effects of mitigation activities. Idaho bird distribution : mapping by latilong by Daniel A Stephens Book 2 editions published in in English and held by 8 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

Idaho's nongame landbirds : making room by Sharon A Ritter Book 1 edition published in in English and held by 5 WorldCat member libraries worldwide. Field investigations of selected sensitive plant species on the Clearwater National Forest by Steven L Caicco Book 2 editions published between and in English and held by 2 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

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