Biodiversity Status Of Species Spotted Tussock Moth

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The name “tussock moth” comes from the tuffs of hair on the caterpillar. It is commonly found across Canada, the western parts of the United States, south in Appalachians to South Carolina and Kentucky. The moth flies from May to July; the larvae remain from July to September, having one generation per year. The larvae feed on the leaves of poplar and willow, but also feed on alder, basswood, birch, maple and oak (iNaturalist. Currently, Spotted Tussock Moths are not considered an endangered species, in fact only two moths are officially listed on the threatened and endangered list in the USA and none are listed in Canada (Red List of Butterflies and Moths, n.d.).

Tussock Moths have been known to cause allergic reactions in humans if handled. The white barbs are known to cause physical irritation or stings and may also contain allergenic proteins such as thaumotopoein (DuGar et al, 2014). Common Buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica is a small shrub or tree native to Eurasia. In the 1880’s it was introduced to North America as an ornamental shrub that was used mainly for fencerows and windbreaks in agricultural fields. It has spread aggressively through Southern Ontario as well as other Provence’s. This species thrives in many soil and light conditions allowing it to invade numerous habitats. Buckthorn can spread widely with the help of birds and animals that eat its fruit, carry the seeds long distances and deposit them in their droppings.

Buckthorn is known to invade roadsides, riverbanks, mature forests, farm fields and hydro corridors. Outside its native range, common buckthorn is found in Canada as far west as Saskatchewan and as far east as Nova Scotia. It also grows throughout the northeastern and north central United States. Buckthorn is a threat to native plants, by forming dense thickets that crowd and shade out other plants. It produces large numbers of seeds that germinate quickly and prevent the natural growth of native trees and shrubs. Buckthorn is an invasive species that can effect other plants and is listed as a noxious weed under Ontario’s Weed Control Act. The following are examples of how Buckthorn is invasive. It can alter nitrogen levels in the soil, creating better conditions for its own growth and discouraging the growth of native species. Buckthorn can host oat rust, a fungus that causes leaf and crown rust and affects the yield and quality of oats. You can play a part in preventing further spread of Buckthorn in Southern Ontario.

Firstly by learning how to identify common buckthorn, glossy buckthorn and other invasive plants. If any invasive species are found on your properly, you may follow the guide to Best Management Practices for Invasive Common Buckthorn by using effective and environmentally safe control practices for this species. Dispose of invasive plants in the garbage, do not put them in the compost or discard them in natural areas as discarded flowers may produce seeds. If you find common buckthorn or other invasive species in the wild, you are to contact the Invading Species Hotline or visit EDDMapS Ontario to report a sighting. Gassy Webcap Mushroom Cortinarius is the largest genus of mushrooms in the world, containing a large number of species, estimatedto be well over a thousand (Kuo, 2011). The mushroom found in Kerncliff Park, Burlington Ontario seems to be of the Cortinarius genus, specifically the Cortinarius traganus or Gassy Webcap Mushroom.

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The mushroom is first pale azure violet to pale lilac in color, later fading to tan brown or rusty brown. Gassy webcap mushrooms have a strong, bitter taste, especially when young and is considered inedible. ( The slightest disturbance can modify the fungi’s relationship with its habitat, leading to its destruction in some case with habitat loss is the main threat for some mushroom species. However, forest mushrooms like Gassy Webcaps are less endangered, thanks to more sustainable forestry practices implemented (Hundreds of mushroom species face extinction, 2007). Loss of natural habitats, harvesting of wild mushrooms at an unsustainable rate, and the introduction of non-native strains into cultivated areas are all increasing problems. The role of taxonomy in species conservation the industry so the destinies of the wild and cultivated forms are closely interrelated.

Naturalist Community Throughout the project the iNaturalist proved to be a friendly community that offered that kindly shared their knowledge with others. The community was able to help me confirm 4 species as well as corrected 3 identifications. The members I was fortunate to interact with were always helpful and never critical if the wrong species was identified. While exploring other individuals’ observations the iNaturalist website, I noticed how supportive the community was. People would leave encouraging comments on other observations providing compliments and encouraging words. Without the iNaturalist community and the iNaturalist Seekers app I would not have been able to confidently identify 90% of my findings. The tools iNaturalist provided allowed me to explore other people’s observations and compare my own to make the most educated guess as to what species I had located.

Overall, the iNaturalist is a passion community that has the common goal of the preservation of all wildlife. Reflection Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the iNaturalist assignment for exploring species in the GTA. I was surprised how many different species and findings there are so close to home. It was very interesting viewing the map and seeing all the spotting’s of a specific species. I enjoyed exploring the local parks to see what unique species I could spot, something I would never have done on my own time. While exploring, using the iNaturalist application help me to identify the species accurately and quickly, also providing information. The biggest challenge for this project was looking for species that were a little rarer.

Finding species that are considered threatened/endangered also posed a problem. Many of the species I was able to find were more common and plentiful. Hopefully my findings will help to fill in the gaps and preserve the many species in Ontario. Two of my findings; Spotted Tussock Moth and Hickory Tussock Moth were added to another project, Moths of Ontario. Overall, this project was an educational, hands on assignment that challenge me to explore local areas. I would not alter this project however, it would be fun if a challenge was added of some sort. For example, if you could get a bonus mark for locating a specific species selected by the teacher.

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