Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Zac - Shore Acres Botanical Garden

Weekends are frequently a good time for hard-working interns to get into the field and experience some of Oregon's natural beauty.  This past weekend we went for a short hike along the Oregon coastline to the Shore Acres Botanical Garden.  The image below shows a taste of the dramatic coastal scenery.

Oregon Coastline
The title of this post is slightly ironic in that I did not actually take any pictures inside the botanical gardens. I found that the diversity of flora and fauna on our hike to the garden far surpassed that found within. The sun was in and out through the light cloud cover during our hike, but there was enough of it to encourage a healthy abundance of bumblebees.  See below is a common species of bumblebee (Bombus sitkensis) perched atop a "coastal sneeze-weed" (Helenium bolanderi).

Sitka Bumblebee - Bombus sitkensis
Another relatively common wildflower (albeit invasive, and slightly more prickly) were the thistles. The bush seen below had attracted a host of hoverflies.  These harmless insects look similar to a wasp or a bee but they are actually flies - closely related to mosquitos or the common housefly. The coloring on these insects is a classic example of Batesian mimicry - when a harmless animal mimics the coloration and/or behavior of a poisonous one.
Hoverfly - F. Syrphidae

Yellow-bellied Racer - Coluber constrictor mormon
Another big hit on the trail was a snake (everybody loves snakes). I am a big fan of the insect world (as you may have already guessed) and can only tentatively identify this as a yellow-bellied racer. It is relatively common in the pacific northwest and fits all of the criteria - but the scale pattern on the head seems to be a little bit off from most of the pictures that I have seen.  Hmmm...
Seen below is a wasp moth nestled into the coastal undergrowth. The only thing that I was not able to capture in this picture is the bright iridescent blue coating on the body of these distinctive moths.

Virginia Ctenucha - Ctenucha virginica
Seen below is a common wasp (yellow-jacket) likewise enjoying the summer sun.

Common Wasp - Vespula vulgaris

I still had some time left of on my beautiful Sunday afternoon to capture an image of the nemertean seen below. As you may remember from previous blog posts, the Maslakova lab (my place of work) is largely consumed with characterizing the phylogeny and development of the Phylum Nemertea.  Not surprisingly, there are hundreds of nemertean worms being kept in the lab sea table and the species seen below (Micrura verrilli) is by far one of the most striking.  It also happens to be a very close relative to the species that I am studying - Micrura alaskensis.

Nemertean Worm - Micrura verrilli

More adventure blogs to come soon! If I ever find some time to get out of the lab before dark ;)

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