150/150: Home is where the heart is for the Barred Owl

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Animalia: Chordata: Aves: Strigiformes: Strigidae: Strix: Strix varia Barton, 1799

The Barred Owl is a member of the family Strigidae, the true owls, which it shares with almost all other extant owl species. It is also called the Hoot Owl due to its characteristic mating call. Like most owls, Barred Owls are silent when hunting and possess wing adaptions that enhance their ability to sneak up on prey. The Barred Owl mostly preys on small mammals and has occasionally been known to wade into water to fish for food within wetland habitats. Continue reading “150/150: Home is where the heart is for the Barred Owl”

149/150: Not your typical song scales

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Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Hemiptera: Sternorrhynncha: Coccoidea: Diaspididae: Quadraspidiotus: Quadraspidiotus perniciosus (Comstock, 1881)

Scale bugs are some pesky critters. Belonging to the order Hemiptera, they have a defining beak like characteristic used to suck out the contents of its prey. The females are typically immobile and have a waxy scale like surface whereas the males have one set of functioning forewings and suppressed hindwings. Continue reading “149/150: Not your typical song scales”

148/150: Learn more about this Canadian rarity

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Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Lepidoptera: Geometridae: Larentiinae: Xanthorhoini: Xanthorhoe clarkeata (Douglas Ferguson, 1987)

The Xanthorhoe clarkeata are a newly discovered species of geometrid moth as of 1987. They live primarily on the Haida Gwaii Islands of British Columbia. This species is likely endemic to only these islands, making it a rare and unique species to Canada. Much like most geometrid moths, the females of X. clarkeata are totally wingless! The odd traits don’t end there, the unusual larval form of geometrid moths are known as inchworms. They gain their name from their interesting looping movement pattern thanks to a complete lack of legs in their middle section. Since the caterpillars only have two pairs of rear legs and three pairs of front legs, they anchor their rear legs, extend, and pull their body forward with their front legs giving the appearance of “inching” forward or “measuring” the earth as they walk. The movement of the caterpillars also gives way to their Greek family name: “Geometridae” or “earth measurer”. There are 2,188 geometrid moths with barcodes on BOLD. #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

Specimen CNCLEP00034073 – Graham Island, British Columbia – 27-Jul-1981. Photo Credit: Jeremy deWaard, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
Specimen CCDB-20269-B09 – Graham Island, British Columbia – 27-Jul-1985. Photo Credit: CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: LNAUS1730-13

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Xanthorhoe clarkeata

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:AAH9158

147/150: Nutty Facts about the Peanut Worm!

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Animalia: Sipuncula: Phascolosomatidea: Phascolosomatida: Phascolosomatidae: Phascolosoma agassizii (Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, 1827)

Peanut worms, also known as Sipunculids are marine worms in that typically dwell in shallow waters. Sipuncula means “little tube” or “siphon” in Latin and refers to the introvert of peanut worms, a long sensitive tube ringed with tentacles which they can extend to collect food. Continue reading “147/150: Nutty Facts about the Peanut Worm!”

146/150: Engelmann’s Quillwort is under threat! Only 2000 left in Canada

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Plantae: Lycopodiophyta: Isoetopsida: Isoetales: Isoetaceae: Isoetes: Isoetes engelmannii (A.Braun.)

The Engelmann’s Quillwort (Isoetes engelmannii), also known as Appalachian Quillwort, is an aquatic plant found along shallow ponds, temporary shallow pools, roadside ditches and marshes. It is small fern that is 20-40 cm in height but can grow up to 90 cm. It has long, thin, hollow green leaves. It is uncommon but widespread throughout eastern North America. In Canada, it is native but only found in two locations in Ontario restricted to two rivers. For this reason, it is considered endangered in Canada. Habitat destruction, recreational activities, and pollution contribute to the threat to its population. #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

Specimen CCDB-23395-A02 – Ontario, Canada – 13-Sep-1989. Photo Credit: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Engelmann’s quillwort at the edge of a shallow pond. Photo Credit: W. Carl Taylor, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. 1995. Northeast wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. Northeast National Technical Center, Chester.
Engelmann’s quillwort found in a river valley. Photo Credit: Alan Cressler goo.gl/t34fqJ

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: VASCB002-15

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Engelmann's Quillwort

145/150: Coneheads. (No, I’m not talking about the nineties movie)

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Animalia: Arthropoda: Protura: Eosentomata:  Eosentomidae Berlese, 1909

Look closely, you don’t want to miss them! These proturans are less than 2 mm in length and lack wings, antennae, eyes and pigment; producing an almost see through body. Although they lack some arguably important body parts, they make up for it in other unique ways. They are quadrupeds because their front legs, which are segmented into 5 parts, lost the ability to support their weight and adapted to function as antennae. Furthermore, their bodies are covered in sensory hairs that aid in types of temperature, chemical, humidity and vibrational sensing. Coneheads exhibit anamorphosis, the number of abdominal segments increases with subsequent molts until they reach the adult’s full twelve. Although hard to spot, coneheads can be incredibly numerous in places with moss, leaf litter, decaying wood and temperate forest soils. Their diets are somewhat of a mystery much like the rest of their ecology but have been observed feeding on a mycorrhiza, a fungus that lives on plant roots and fungal hyphae, and in terms of economic importance they are part of the community of decomposers that aid in breaking down and recycling organic nutrients. Overall, there’s more than what meets the eye with these tiny creatures! #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

Specimen BIOUG26318-D08 – Long Point Prpvincial Park, Ontario – 14-July-2015 – Berlese Funnel
A Conehead on what may be soil or decaying wood. Photo Credit: Andy Murray goo.gl/ic3Zcn
A Conehead possibly feeding on a fungus. Photo Credit Andy Murray goo.gl/3V5A25

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: SWJNH052-15

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Protura

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:ACY5591

144/150: Rotifers – a phylum on their own

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Animalia: Rotifera: Monogononta: Ploima: Synchaetidae Hudson & Gosse, 1886

Rotifers are microscopic aquatic animals that can be found in a quite diverse range of habitats. Common habitats include both lentic (still water) and lotic (flowing water) waters, and both fresh and salt waters. They are very small (only 0.1-0.5 mm long) soft-bodied invertebrates with hard jaws that are surrounded by a crown of cilia, called a corona, that they move in a circular motion to displace water around their mouth and capture particles to eat. They are known to consume very small food particles which includes dead or decomposing organic materials and phytoplankton. Rotifers are parthenogenetic in reproduction, in which the species consists of mostly females that asexually produce their daughters from unfertilized eggs. Some species produce two kinds of eggs that develop by parthenogenesis: one kind forms females and the other develops degenerate males that cannot even feed themselves! Males are typically only produced when conditions are harsh and a new batch of genes added to the gene pool could be beneficial to the population. Way to go ladies! #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

A micrograph of a rotifer. Photo Credit: Wiedehopf20 goo.gl/adNNGe
Rotifer with its corona extended – a crown of cilia that draws a vortex of water into the mouth, which the rotifer sifts for food. Photo Credit: Don Loarie goo.gl/VRKBcw
A species of rotifer, Keratella cochlearis, taken under microscope. Photo Credit: Treinisch goo.gl/77vtcm

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: CAISN128-12

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Rotifer

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:ACL8152

143/150: Monarchs aren’t the only ones that need milkweed

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Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Hemiptera: Lygaeidae: Oncopeltus: Oncopeltus fasciatus: (Dallas, 1852)

Large milkweed bugs are a member of the family Lygaeidae, otherwise known as seed bugs. They get their name from their association with the milkweed plant. They lay their eggs in milkweed pod crevasses and the seeds provide a food and defense source for them. Through eating the seeds, milkweed bugs sequester toxins, which act as a chemical defense against predators. Just like monarch butterflies that also eat milkweed, the large milkweed bug bears the daunting colours of black and orange. This colouration acts as a warning signal for predators to say: “I’m not going to be as tasty as you think.” One interesting misidentification that is commonly made is between these and Box Elder bugs. Despite being the same colour scheme and being roughly the same size, you can tell by the patterns of red on their black wings (seen in the photo below). Those black and orange bugs you seen in the news as pests in large numbers are probably box elder bugs, and not large milkweed bugs. #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

The Large Milkweed bug – Specimen CNC#HEM400640 – Perth, Ontario – 13-Sep-2008
The Large Milkweed Bug is depicted on the left, and the Box Elder bug on the right. Photo Credit: Katja Schulz goo.gl/R9BPFH & Judy Gallagher goo.gl/nS59Zp
A Large Milkweed Bug on a leaf. Photo Credit: Ryan Hodnett goo.gl/81NCCK

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: CRHIA649-16

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Milkweed bug

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:AAG8878

142/150: A small creature with a long history

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Animalia: Arthropoda: Ostracoda: Podocopida: Cyprididae: Cypridopsinae: Cypridopsis vidua (O. F. Müller, 1776)

The Ostracods are an ancient crustacean that has been around for over 50 million years! Of the nearly 70,000 species described, only 13,000 are alive today, all others being discovered as fossils. Many ostracods have found use in the field of biostratigraphy – a technique used to estimate the relative age of rock based on the type of fossils it contains.

Ostracods vary in size from 0.2 mm – 30 mm and are protected by a chitinous shell that resembles that of a mussel. While mostly found in marine water, more and more are being discovered in fresh water environments – around 2000 species in 2008 alone. The largest family of non-marine ostracods is the Cyprididae. Members of this family, such as Cypridopsis vidua have drought resistant eggs, as well as the ability to reproduce both sexually and asexually.

Some ostracods are bioluminescent. This property was useful to the Japanese army during World War II as they could be collected in jars and used as lights. The light produced was bright enough that they could to do things such as read maps while still being dark enough that their position would remain uncompromised. #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

Specimen 11AlgonqNJ0059 – Coon Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada – 26-Jun-2011 Photo Credit: CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
Scanning electron image of Cypridopsis vidua. Photo Credit: Paulo Corgosinho goo.gl/UaC8LN
Dorsal view of Cypridopsis vidua. Photo Credit: Markus Lindholm, Anders Hobæk/Norsk institutt for vassforsking goo.gl/iUCNP8
Fossil of a large ostracod from the Silurian Soeginina Beds of Saaremaa Island, Estonia. Photo Credit: Mark A. Wilson goo.gl/1VCJnA

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: COAPP059-12

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Ostracod

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:AAH0892

141/150: Oh, Oh, Oh, Sweet Serviceberry of Mine!

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Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Rosales: Rosaceae: Amelanchier: Amelanchier alnifolia (Thomas Nuttall)

The Amelanchier alnifolia or commonly known as the Saskatoon serviceberry is found widely across the Americas. Its name is derived from the Cree word “misaskwatomina” meaning “fruit of the tree with many branches”. This hardy plant requires little attention with plenty of sunlight and mulch, similar to your old pet rock that you forgot about. In autumn, the colours of the leaves turn a radiant reddish-purple and yellowish-gold. Additionally, the Saskatoon serviceberry is a food of the past! Travelers and early settlers ate its berries as a sweet alternative to their everyday meals. Humans are not the only ones to value its gifts, some pest species such as aphids and thrips feed on the serviceberry as well. This species is represented with 18 records on BOLD. #Biodiversity150 #Canada150

Specimen ERM457 – Vancouver Island, British Columbia – 6-Jun-2011. Photo Credit: UBC Herbarium
The flower of Saskatoon serviceberry. Photo Credit: Hansen’s Northwest Native Plant Database goo.gl/b3V9Gw

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: BBYUK1576-12

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Saskatoon serviceberry