The Monthly Species – September

For this month’s ever so slightly late species I’m going to indulge myself by presenting to my favourite rodent! It’s the largest rodent species in the world and just so happens to be the cutest! It is of course the Capybara!

Group of Capybara on a river bank in Pantanal Brazil

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Caviidae
Genus: Hydrochoerus
Species: H. hydrochaeris

Size: Capybaras are big rodents! They can grow up to 134cm in length and stand up to 62cm. Their average weight is 48.9 kg.

Diet: They are an omnivorous species that will feed predominantly on grasses, fruits and tree bark. They are selective feeders which means that they will feed on the leaves of one species disregarding other species surrounding it. Their teeth never stop growing to account for all the eating that they do!

Life Expectancy: Individuals kept in captivity have a life expectancy of 8-10 years. However, most individuals that live in the wild will only live for four years as they are the favourite food source of many top predators including jaguars and pumas.


Reproduction: 
Capybaras can live alone but will often live in a group of 10-20 individuals. Their gestational period is between 130 and 150 days and they have a litter of around 4 babies!

Conservation: 

San Diego Zoo put it perfectly by saying “The capybara is not currently classified as an endangered species, although it is threatened by deforestation, habitat destruction, and illegal poaching. It was in trouble not too long ago, though, due to hunting. Local people have used this animal as a food source for centuries and have been seen wearing capybara teeth as ornaments.

Now, capybaras are being farmed for their meat as part of a mammal management plan in Venezuela and Colombia. This helps to protect the capybaras left in the wild and their wild habitat, which, in turn, helps all of the plants and animals that call that habitat home.”

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:

They are fantastic swimmers! They have webbed feet, making them great swimmers, and their eyes, ears and nostrils are located at the top of their heads, enabling them to keep most of their bodies below water like hippos. Capybaras can also press their ears against their heads to keep water out, and they can completely submerge themselves for up to five minutes, allowing them to hide from predators.

A bird perches on a capybara's head.

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The Monthly Species – August

So it is time for another species to get into the spotlight! This particular species we’re discussing today has the longest migration of its kind. It is also rather beautiful in my opinion! Today the species in the spotlight is the Globe Skimmer Dragonfly!

Pantala Flavescens - Wandering Glider

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Infraorder: Anisoptera
Family: Libellulidae
Genus: Pantala
Species: P. flavescens

 

Size: This dragonfly is about 4.5cm in length and has a wingspan of 7.2cm and 8.4cm.

Diet: As with all dragonflies the globe skimmer is predatory and has a diet of all aquatic invertebrates and their larvae.

Life Expectancy: Their life expectancy isn’t actually known because of their vast migration (more on that later).


Reproduction: 
There isn’t much courtship with this species. But when mating does occur each clutch can contain between 500 to 2000 eggs. The eggs are laid in waters and the larval stage lasts between 38 to 65 days.

Conservation: It is currently listed in the IUCN red list as the least concern. However, the globe skimmer is a key species that supports the population of many migratory birds!

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species: This dragonfly has the longest migration of any insect, it travels with the monsoon season from India to Southern and the East of Africa. That comes to around 14,000 kilometers! It is also known to be the highest flying insect having been seen at 6,200m above sea level in the Himalayas.

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The Monthly Species: July

Hello everyone I know its not exactly near the end of the month yet but I will be taking next week away from all things internet so it’s time for the species of this month! It’s something that has been keeping me going this month and one little specimen of this species sits on my desk every single day it is of course!

Arabica Coffee

Image result for arabica coffee plant

Scientific Classification:

Scientific Name : Coffea arabica

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Subfamily: Ixoroideae
Tribe: Coffeeae
Genus: Coffea

Size: Wild plants can grow between 9 and 12 metres tall with open branching systems. In coffee plantations the growth is often more formalized.

Habitat: This species is endemic to the Yemen and Ethiopia. However now there are coffee plantations in Africa, Latin America, South east Asia and China.

Use’s: This wonderful plant accounts for 70% of the world’s coffee production! The coffee we know and love comes from roasting the seeds which are found in coffee berries. The berries are often picked by hand to make sure they’re ripe enough or the plants are shaken so that only ripe berries fall off and on to mats that are placed at the base of the bush.

Conservation: Coffee plantations have been the reason why forest habitats have been destroyed reducing habitats for many species. However, climate change affecting rising temperatures, longer droughts and excessive rainfall has affected the sustainability of coffee plantations.

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:

Coffee was the first food to ever be freeze dried!

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The Monthly Species: June

Hello friends! So it is the end of June, once again I’m astounded that we are now half way through the year. But! Today we are talking about a mushroom. Fungi aren’t my favourite topic of conversation but I couldn’t resist because this one is so so cool. It’s sometimes referred to as Lion’s mane or bear’s head tooth fungus. It is Hericium americanum! 

Image result

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Russulales
Family: Hericiaceae
Genus: Hericium
Species: H. americanum

Size: The fruiting body (the fleshy bit) can grow from about 15-30cm big. That in the range of mushrooms is big!

Diet: It lives off of decaying broad-leaved trees. It is thought that this may be init ally a parasitic fungus.

Distribution: It is found as the name might suggest in america. Specifically in North East america.
Hericium americanum, picture by Josh DotyReproduction: Fungus reproduce with spores which can be many different colours. This fungus has a white spore print.

Conservation: These fungi are quite common in the states however they are a prized find. They are an edible fungi and can be quite expensive because of how big they are!

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:

The shape of the fruiting body is simply stunning. The ice crystal shapes when combined with many fruiting bodies can look like a frozen waterfall!

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The Monthly Species: May

It’s the end of May already! This months species has been in the news for reintroduction in Denmark. This is of course the grey wolf.

Canis lupis

VHawAWe

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: C. lupus

Size:

Grey wolves can measure up to 160cm in length and 85cm from shoulder height, however these sizes vary globally.

Diet:

As wolves are known globally diets do vary dependent on which continent they are found. That being said wolves generally feed on herbivorous mammals for example deer, goats and even bison. Wolves have been known to supplement this diet with berries and vegetable matter. This can include things like blueberries and melons but again varies on the location.

Life Expectancy:

Generally 7-8 years in the wild but wolves have been known to live up to 12 years or longer in remote locations and in protected areas.


Reproduction:

Breeding season occurs once a year late January through March. Pups are born blind and defenseless and there can be between 4 and 7 pups per litter. The pack cares for the pups until they fully mature at about 10 months of age when they can hunt on their own. Once grown, young wolves may disperse. Dispersing wolves have been known to travel 50 to 500 miles.

Conservation: 

Wolf populations worldwide decreased in the 19th century mainly through hunting. The populations are threatened from habitat loss and continued conflict with humans. On the other side populations have began to increase through an increase in protected areas and wolf populations have began to grow in places which were recently extinct from wolves.

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:

Wolves have unique howls, like fingerprints, that scientists (and other pack members) can use to tell them apart.

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The Monthly Species: April

Hello and welcome to Day 24 of BEDA, the end is in sight! Today I’m bringing you one of my favorite plants in the whole world. Fun fact when I go to Kew I always make a trip to the carnivorous plants room because they are just that cool! It is of course the Venus Fly Trap.

Dionaea muscipula

Venus_Flytrap_showing_trigger_hairs

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Droseraceae
Genus: Dionaea
Species: D. muscipula

Size: Plants are built with a rosette of four to seven leaves. Each stem reaches a maximum size of about three to ten centimeters. The longer leaves with robust traps are usually formed after flowering. Flytraps that have more than seven leaves are colonies formed by rosettes that have divided beneath the ground.

Habitat: Bogs and wet savannah, or areas are nutrient poor. Its actually only native to North and South Carolina in the US. However it has been transplanted to several locations across the world.

Conservation: The species are currently classed as vulnerable in the IUCN red list. In North Carolina there is a law stating that the removal of naturally growing venus fly traps are is a felony.

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:

The coolest thing about venus fly traps is of course there carnivorous capabilities. The venus fly trap is adapted to living in poor nutrient soils because it gains nutrients from the insects. The leaves have very sensitive adapted trigger hairs that when they feel pressure the movement is activated. This then closes the two leaves together and the poor insect is trapped. Digestive enzymes are then released which then turns the insect into a kind of mush and the plant can then obtain the nutrients. It’s a bit gory but I find it so cool! I’m sure that says alot about me in some way!

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The Monthly Species: March

March has come and gone and here’s this months species. They are my favourite species from this particular group so I had to include them this year. Its the Sumatran orangutan!

Sumatran Orangutan

Scientific Classification:

Scientific Name : Pongo abelii

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Family: Hominidae

Genus: Pongo

Size: 

Male orangutans grow to about 1.4m and weigh around 90kg. The females are smaller.

Diet:

Orangutans have a diet consisting of five categories:

  • Fruits
  • Insects
  • Leaf material
  • Bark
  • Other miscellaneous items

They find water from natural bowls created in the trees but have also been known to drink the water from the hair on their arms when rainfall is heavy.

Life Expectancy:

Orangutan species can live for decades. The oldest known orangutan lived until the age of 55.
Reproduction:

Male orangutans live mostly alone and female orangutans live with their offspring although it is suggested that sumatran orangutans have stronger ties than bornean orangutans.

Conservation:

There current population is about 7,300 individuals and they are considered to be critically endangered.  This is because of deforestation and also illegal animal trade. They are an endemic species coming only from Sumatra. There are 9 populations unfortunately only 7 are deemed viable for a gain in the population.

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:

You’ll rarely find sumatran orangutans on the ground. Female orangutans exclusively travel through the trees and the males rarely come too travel on the ground.

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The Monthly Species: February

Another month has flown by, as they always do! I’m really excited for spring to finally roll around. So to celebrate that my species of the month is actually a genus! Commonly known as the snowdrop! This genus actually has 20 species and have been cultivated to produce giant snowdrops and even yellow ones! The traditional snowdrop as we know it has the scientific name of Galanthus nivalis.

Galanthus nivalis.jpg

Scientific Classification:

Genus: Galanthus

Size: 7-15cm tall. Natural snowdrops only have one flowerhead growing on one stem.

Habitat: Woodland areas and damp areas

Conservation: 

Some species of snowdrop are under threat in there natural habitats due to habitat destruction, illegal collecting and climate change. Some species have regulation in their trade under CITES.

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:

The snowdrop is often considered to be a wildflower in the UK but they weren’t recorded as growing wild until the 1770s and the snowdrop plant may be said to look like three drops of milk hanging from a stem. This accounts for the Latin name Galanthus which means “milk-white flowers”.

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The Monthly Species: January

Hello! Welcome to this brand new series! Its the Monthly Species. That’s right every month I’ll be giving you a profile for a new species! Alternating predominantly between the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom! This month it’s….

Southern Royal Albatross

375px-diomedea_epomophora_-_se_tasmania

Scientific Classification:

Scientific Name : Diomedea epomophora

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Procellariiformes

Family: Diomedeidae

Genus: Diomedea

Size: Albatross are huge. Gigantic in fact! They have an average length of 112 cm and an average weight of 8.5 kg. Males are slightly heavier than females. There wingspan is around 3 metres! Thats around 10ft.

Diet: Just like many sea dwelling birds, these birds have a diet based around squid, fish and other crustaceans. They eat within a 1250km radius of their breeding site.

Life Expectancy: They can live into their 40s!

royal-albatross3-223Reproduction: Pairs of albatross nest on grasslands and then both parents will incubate the egg. They breed in New Zealand and raise a chick every other year. The chick hatches in February to March and will then take flight for the first time in October to early December. The fledgling process is helped by the strong winds New Zealand experiences at that time.

Conservation: Currently these birds are classed as vulnerable according to the IUCN red list. This is because the population is still recovering after it was predated on heavily by humans in the 1930s. Other threats to these birds include farming on breeding grounds and animals like pigs and cats taking their eggs. Another threat to the albatross is being caught as bycatch in fisheries which could amount to the death of thousands of birds every year. However the population is currently stable and there are efforts to protect their breeding grounds.

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species: The albatross are migratory birds and some have been reported to cover 190,000km a year! One migration of a bird was calculated to cover 13,000km in just two weeks!

I guess to summarise these birds are big and beautiful. They deserve protecting and are an important part of terrestrial and marine ecology. Thats why they had to be the species of the month!

southenroyal_tcm9-198821

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