Monday, January 30, 2012

Woo Hoo! New toys on the way

My BlackBerry crackled at just the wrong moment last week, causing me to misunderstand a Not instead of the Very Important, and miss a teleconference.  I told said boss the speakers were too noisy.  Get an iPhone, he offered.  And a new printer with a fax (so I don't get customers to send my things to him instead) and a scanner.  Welcome to this century!  So if you tell me the best apps, I'll appreciate the advice.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fish Barcode Of Life
Please visit the FDA Fish Site for just a minute.  There is a Barcode of Life effort underway to post a little bit of the DNA sequence for EVERY organism on the planet.  Considering we have not identified them all yet, this is pretty ambitious.  A global offshoot, known as  FishBOL, collects the Fish sequences. I am working with Jon, and he does the work for this site.  Someone sends them a frozen fish, and it gets Authenticated by an ichthycologist.  Jon photographs the right side of the fish with a color bar.  Then he removes some tissue from the underside of the fish, where it would not show in the photo.  Then the fish heads for the Smithsonian, where it is stored with a code (Vouchered).
So, what happens if you have several individuals of the same species of fish and you find out the DNA sequence is pretty different even though the fish looks the same to the expert?  Some times it gets reclassified as a new species.  That is why it is so important to keep the fish in the museum.   You can get it out of storage, check it all out, and reclassify it.  Pretty cool, huh?
There is also an effort underway to do the same process with zoo animals and bush meat confiscated by customs.  You want to volunteer to authenticate, photograph and voucher a tiger?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Illumination in the Flatwoods

My dear friend lent me this book Saturday, Illumination in the Flatwoods by Joe Hutto Illumination in the Flatwoods A season with the wild turkey  It is the story of a naturalist who spent a summer with a flock of wild turkeys.  He lives in the flats of northern Florida, and I have spent time roaming those forests during the years my Grandmother lived in Tallahassee when I would go walking.  I have a flock of male turkeys who drink from my birdbath and often shelter in the shade under my little tree.  So when I got home and opened this book, I stayed glued to it until I finished it later that evening.  I have observed many of the behaviours Hutto describes, but his beautiful descriptions put this all in a new light.  If you are even a casual birder from your window, this is a riveting, fascinating book.