Thursday, June 27, 2013

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake along the Bear Lake trail
Along the Bear Lake trailhead is Emerald Lake. Resting at 3075 m (10,090 ft) is a lake carved by Tyndall Glacier between Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain. A glacier is an area with more snow accumulation than loss each year. The old snow becomes dense, hard ice under the weight of new snow. As with all glaciers within Rocky Mountain National Park, Tyndall is a cirque glacier. These are usually remnants of larger valley glaciers, but are small and occupy bowl-shaped basins at the head of a mountain valley.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail to Bear Lake
Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses over 1075 km² (415 mi²). The highest point within the park is Longs Peak at 4,346 m (14,259 ft). A variety of wildlife from marmots to pika, and everything in between, can be found within the area.

Previous Posts: [1][2][3]

I recently got back from another visit to the park and am still settling in. Thursday will be a better day of posting, and the goal is for next week to be hummingbird week!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bold Jumping Spider

Bold Jumping Spider, Phidippus audax
Jumping Spiders, sometimes called salties, belong to the family Salticidae. With large anterior median eyes, the spiders have excellent color vision, especially in the green and ultraviolet range, and a high degree of resolution. The typical arrangement of the eyes also suggest telephoto vision. Of the eye arrangement, only the principle eyes contain a movable retina. This is important in allowing the spiders to distinguish between potential prey and potential mates for at least a distance of ten body lengths.

The bold jumping spider occurs throughout much of North America from Canada to Mexico, east to Florida. The iridescent green chelicerae and spotted abdomen help distinguish this species. As with many salties, this species is an active hunter feeding on a variety of insects and other spiders. They are common with breeding occurring into late spring, and eggs being laid over the summer. Juveniles will seek out refuge when temperatures drop and go dormant for the winter.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rio Grande Chirping Frog

Rio Grande Chirping Frog, Eleutherodactylus cystignathoides
The Rio Grande Chirping Frog is a small, but loud, frog that only requires moist soil for growth. As they metamorphose in the egg, they are well-suited to urban environments and artificial watering. Although native to extreme south Texas, they have been introduced via the plant nursery trade as far north as the Red River, and as far east as Mississippi.

While I have already written a decent post on these guys, I only recently managed a semi-good photograph. This guy almost became another animal's food so he was moved to safety. Unfortunately, he didn't stick around after release for a better photo/camera!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Crab Spider

Crab spiders of the family Thomisidae do not build webs for capture, but are cryptically colored, waiting predators. Their well-developed first and second legs allow for easier ambush, and their color variation allows them to blend with their surroundings. A few species can even change colors to match the flower and seasonal differences. Often, these spiders are found among leaf litter or within flowers, reached through a series of draglines and ballooning events.

The sixth largest spider family, the most commonly seen of Thomisidae are of the flower-inhabiting genera Misumena, Misumenoides, and Misumenops. These flower spiders are often as brightly colored as the flowers they are lured to. Those within other genera of the family of Thomisidae are often more subdued in coloration due to their habitat preference such as bark or leaf litter. Common prey for these spiders include mosquitoes, bees, moths, flies, and other insects, as well as nectar from the flower.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Yucca Moth

Yucca Moth, Tegeticula sp.
In finding a model for obligate mutualism and coevoluting species interactions, the yucca and yucca moth are a prime example. Over forty million years of a mutualistic partnership has led to an existence where each depends completely on the other for survival. The short-lived adult moth of the Tegeticula species does not have a tongue, but rather tentacles around its mouth. The female uses this feature for the purpose of collecting pollen and pollinating a different plant altogether. The plant she chooses depends on whether or not it is suitable for her offspring. By purposely cross pollinating the yucca, she ensures the flower will produce enough seeds and fruit for her larvae to feast upon once hatched. These larvae will form a cocoon underground, waiting to emerge the following spring with the blooming of the yucca.