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This blog is predominately about camera trapping in California. We camera trap to save our souls and to teach primary school students about biology and conservation. We will also touch on other camera trapping news and musings, sets from afar, mediocre herpetology, sucky birding, and other natural history discussions.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Happy DNA Day

Today is DNA day. The anniversary of the publishing of the structure of DNA by Watson & Crick (& Wilkins & Franklin).

I celebrated by giving a guest lecture (the professor was out at a study section) in the upper division Genetics BIOL105 course here at UCSC. Enrollment is about 300 students, but being an 8AM class there was probably around 100 students who actually showed up. 100 was certainly less intimidating than 300 for my first large lecture ever. We covered some good ole' classical genetics: linkage, map units and three-point crosses.

Followed that up at the bench with some genomic DNA isolations. So yeah, not too many a day goes by that I am not celebrating DNA by working with it. The joys of working on a thesis whose main topic is DNA Structure and Organization.

Its before noon still, so the shot of rye to the godfathers (and very important godmother) of the field will have to wait a bit ... but not too long.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


A constant back-and-forth that at least occurs in my head, is whether to use a homebrew hacked camera, or one of the newer Bushnell Trophys.

The homebrew provides pretty decent color images 24 hours a day. The newer Bushies, while not always in color, have options for video and the added element of SOUND. These choices of course allow for a greater opportunity to capture behavior.

Here are a few images from Oakland's Knowland Park, where a choice for full color created questions, rather than providing additional information.

Would love to hear some crazy Raccoon sounds here. And who is #2 looking back at? What pace were they moving up the slope?

Yawn? Bark? Audition for Game of Thrones dragon role?

With a kiss. Party Opossum. Just because.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

SC Mt. Herping

A few weeks back a handful of us went out for a little spring herping in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We had a productive day even if we struck out once again on L. zonata. I am bordering on Adam Dunn territory for this species. On the day we got 9 species of herps. Not pictured in this blog post are: Arboreal Salamander, Slender Salamander, Alligator Lizard (Likely Southern), Western Fence Lizard, and Ensatina. To make up for it I included photos of two non-herps.

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Neonate Western Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus

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Uroctonus mordax, I believe. Two different subspecies have been described in the area.

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The prize of the day. A very small Pacific Giant Salamander, Dicaptodon tenebrosus

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Young Western Skink, Plestiodon skiltonianus

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Adult Western skink with an almost thrown tail (not because of anything we did. We found it that way)

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A missed focus shot of a juvenile Santa Cruz Black Salamander, Aneides niger. There is little to no yellow in the armpits which distinguish it from the juvenile Arboreal Salamander which we also saw. I really should have taken a picture of one for comparison.

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Banana Slug AKA Dicamptodon dinner

And a few additional images of two of the individuals above.

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All in all a good day.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

Camera Trapping Komodo Dragons

Quick post today to a paper in PLoS ONE describing the comparative use of camera traps and physical traps to get population densities of Komodo Dragons on their native islands. It works! Their temperature differential is different enough from the environment to trigger the PIR sensors on the cameras.

Its Open Access (yah!) so go read the paper.

Can Camera Traps Monitor Komodo Dragons a Large Ectothermic Predator?

  • Achmad Ariefiandy,
  • Deni Purwandana,
  • Aganto Seno,
  • Claudio Ciofi,
  • Tim S. Jessop