Rare Crested Caracara Visits Vermont - Again!
March 06, 2020
On March 23, 2018 Mark Bessette surprised the Vermont iNaturalist community. Mark had snapped some photographs of an unusual-looking bird that he dubbed, “Elvis, the juvenile bald eagle.” The bird appeared to have a black wig that reminded Mark of the “King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley. The iNaturalist community was quick to weigh in on the real identity of this bird. To seasoned birders, it easily stood out as a misplaced Crested Caracara.
Read more about these two records on the VCE Blog » »
iNaturalists Discover More New Moths for Vermont
October 03, 2019
The Vermont Atlas of Life, with the aid of many volunteers across Vermont, has been mapping moth distribution and phenology one photo-observation at a time. Since 2013, over 1,475 biologists and naturalists have contributed more than 51,000 moth photo-observations to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Together, we've discovered over 100 new species for Vermont, and just recently, iNaturalists have done it again when two species new to Vermont were discovered and one species that was only known from a historical record was rediscovered.
Read the VCE Blog post to learn more »
Fly Species New for Vermont Discovered by iNaturalist
October 01, 2019
You don't have to go far to help the Vermont Atlas of Life discover species new to Vermont. You just have to be observant. On August 12th Roy Pilcher, citizen scientist extraordinaire and recipient of the Julie Nicholson Citizen Science Award in 2009, found one in his car!
Roy was visiting the Helen W. Buckner Memorial Natural Area when he noticed that a large fly had flown through his open car window. Luckly, Roy is friends with Dr. Jeff Freeman, Professor Emeritus at Castleton University. Jeff has devoted much of his research into horse and deer flies and his extensive collections are housed at the University of Vermont Natural History Museum, Rutgers University, Natural History Museum in Philadelphia and other museums. Curious as to its identity, Roy captured the fly and delivered it to Jeff for an identification. The fly was Tabanus limbatinevris, a new species for Vermont!
Lacking a common name, Tabanus limbatinevris was first described in 1847, but remained unrecognized until 1983 because it was confused with other similar horse flies. Its range was thought to be from Michigan and Ontario east to New Hampshire, and south to Georgia and Texas, but it had never been found in Vermont before Roy's fortunate discovery.
Roy, a dedicated user of the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist added his observation and Jeff's identification to the project. The specimen will join others in the UVM Natural History Museum collection. There are now 14 species of horseflies known from Vermont.
View the record on iNaturalist »
The Climbing Fern is Back in Vermont
August 06, 2019
Last observed in Vermont in 1997, the climbing fern has been spotted again growing in the Northeast Kingdom, according to Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s botanist Bob Popp. Considered extirpated in the state, the climbing fern (Lygodium palmatum), was confirmed by botanist Art Gilman along a VELCO-owned powerline. Powerlines in Vermont can be hotspots for rare, threatened, and endangered plants, and VELCO is working with botanists to conserve the fern. Climbing fern typically grows a few feet tall in open boggy areas and is the only species of fern found in the Northeast that is a vine. Though the species is considered apparently secure globally, climbing fern is uncommon in states where it occurs, from Florida to New Hampshire, with only 48 known populations in New England. It is rare in northern New England and while this patch may have been there all along, it is possible that it is moving north in response to climate change. The climbing fern was one of several historically documented species that were rediscovered in Vermont this year. “We have been finding larger numbers of long-missing plant species in the last few years,” said Popp. “This is largely due to the work of an increased number of volunteers and professional botanists who are allowing us to search more areas of Vermont than in the past.”
New Damselfly Discovered in Vermont
October 22, 2016
It was a routine warm September day in the field for naturalist Joshua Lincoln. Wandering along the Waterbury Reservoir shoreline, his net was swiping at mostly Darners – recording Lance-tipped, Lake, and Shadow darners with his camera before releasing them. He stalked a pair of Orange Bluet damselflies to photograph. Thirty minutes later, he captured several closeup images of a blue damselfly perched on vegetation, a group that is notoriously hard to identify.
Read the story on the VCE blog »
A New Dragonfly and a New Damselfly Added to Vermont Faunal List
October 01, 2014
The summer of 2014 was a season of discovery for Vermont Odonata. Laura Gaudette posted a photograph of a Banded Pennant (Celithemis fasciata) on iNaturalist Vermont. Mike Blust was reviewing records on the site and immediately posted a note saying, “Congratulations Laura!!!!! You just got yourself a state record! Another southern species moving north.” Just 9 days later Laura joined Mike in an expedition to the under-surveyed Orange County, Vermont. They discovered a new damselfly for Vermont on the Ompompanoosuc River in Thetford, a River Bluet (Enallagma anna), and posted it to iNaturalist Vermont. It was quickly verified by another expert thanks to Mike’s close-up images of the important parts. Without Mike’s expertise, this damselfly may have gone completely unnoticed.
Read more on the VCE blog »
New to Science: Quillwort Discovered in Vermont
February 03, 2014
Green Mountain Quillwort (Isoetes viridimontana) was discovered in 2010 by Michael Rosenthal, an amateur botanist from Vermont and recently described as a new species.As reported in American Fern Journal, the Green Mountain quillwort is special for a number of reasons. Perhaps most interesting to local botanists is the fact it is currently known from only one location in the world, which makes it a high priority for conservation efforts. Surveys to locate additional populations will be important, but the aquatic habit and difficulty of identifying quillworts (which are primarily identified by the size and ornamentation of minute spores that require at least 40× magnification for viewing) will hinder field surveys. The Green Mountain quillwort is also special in that it is a diploid species: it has only two sets of chromosomes, while many northeastern quillworts have multiple sets of chromosomes. This suggests that the Green Mountain quillwort may have had a role in forming other species through hybridization, providing insights into the evolution of this group of plants.
Read the journal paper »
New to Science: Three Springtails Discovered in Vermont
June 01, 2013
In 2011 Felipe N. Soto-Adames and colleagues described three new species of springtails, all discovered in Vermont. Subisotoma joycei and Scutisotoma champi were collected in sandy beaches along Lake Champlain, and Ballistura rossi was found only in a constructed wetland built and managed by the University of Vermont. Subsequently, S. joycei was moved to a new genus, Bellisotoma (Soto-Adames, Giordano & Christiansen 2013). The new genus was dedicated to Ross and Joyce Bell, in celebration of their contributions to the study of the entomological fauna of Vermont.
Read the journal paper »
New to Science: Ground Beetle Discovered in Bridgewater, Vermont
October 01, 2008
David Maddison looked at the morphological, cytogenetic, and molecular variation within the Bembidion chalceum and B. honestum group and found that the concepts of these two consisted of a complex of at least seven species. The new Bembidion chalceum subgroup consists of B. chalceum, B. rothfelsi, B. bellorum, B. antiquum, and B. louisiella. The B. honestum subgroup consists of B. honestum, B. arenobilis, B. integrum and B. rufotinctum. B. rothfelsi type locality is along the Ottauquechee River in Bridgewater, Vermont.
Read the journal paper »