? Happy Earth Day, Maui! ?

We are less than a week away from the City Nature Challenge and Earth Day is a great excuse (Like you needed one?) to add an observation to iNaturalist. Its easy to forget that iNat is indeed a citizen Science project and your observations provide actual data that can contribute to preventing the spread of invasive species here in Hawaii and help resource managers understand the distribution of rare and endangered species to better manage their recovery.

Also, now it a great time to help spread the word about Maui’s participation in the City Nature Challenge. Encourage your friends to participate in the Maui Event : https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2019-maui 

MNNH joins Coral.org for a Restoration Event at Kā’anapali on Maui?

We will again be joining the Coral Reef Alliance to plant native plants to reduce erosion and sediment reaching our coral reefs. We’ll also:
– Help protect West Maui Reefs and learn about ridge to reef restoration and ahupua’a management
– Learn about native plants and watershed restoration
– Get some amazing views of Kā’anapali, Lahaina and Lāna’i

If you are interested in joining us, check out the details here. https://www.meetup.com/Maui-Nui-Natural-History/events/260508766/

Seek : A Free, Kid-friendly app That Uses Computer Vision to ID What you are Seeing

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could point your phone at a plant or animal and it could tell you what you are looking at? Well, now, you can. Seek uses a computer vision algorithm, along with the species list for your area based on iNaturalist platform observations to give you its best guess as to what you are looking at. Considering that professional taxonomists can have a hard time (or even simply cannot) identify many organism from an image, what this app can do is pretty impressive. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices and gives you a live camera view along with IDs. This is an upgrade over the iNaturalist app model that requires you to take a photo first and then wait for an ID.

The Seek app by iNaturalist correctly identifies a gecko on Maui.
A screen capture of Seek identifying one of Maui’s species.

Unlike the iNaturalist app, is not intended for children under 13 because of concerns over the need to provide location along with observations, the Seek app does not share location information. The end result is a kid-friendly field guide on a device that gives real-time feedback on what you are seeing. What a great way to get kids engaged in seeking out (and identifying) biodiversity.

Read more about Seek on the iNaturalist blog, along with some videos of the app in action: https://www.inaturalist.org/blog/23075-real-time-computer-vision-predictions-in-seek-by-inaturalist-version-2-0

Join us on Maui for the 2019 City Nature Challenge

City Nature Challenge 2019 Maui

We are again organizing the City Nature Challenge on Maui, this time for April 2019.   The event participants will use the iNaturalist app or desktop program to record observations of plants and wildlife anywhere on Maui and help crowd source identifications for those observations. The event will start 12:01 AM (local time)  on Friday April 26 and go until 11:59 PM on Monday April 29. After the observation portion of the event, we’ll encourage participants to help identify unknowns or to improve or verify observations made by other participants.  To count as a contribution, three people need to agree on an identification – the minimum required for a ‘verified/research grade’ observation on iNaturalist.  If you’ve never tried a community science project before, this is a great chance to try it out! Look for events posted here and on our meetup page.

Guided Walks at Kealia Pond NWR

It is migratory bird season at the pond and that means it is the best time for seeing a diversity of birds at the refuge. The walks start at the visitors’ center that is next to Mokulele Highway every Tuesday  at 9 AM until March of 2019. Bad weather (is there such a thing on Maui??) and pond water levels may cause cancellation. You can call (808)875-1582 to confirm.

Viewing birds out by the ponds. Note the shoes and hats!

These walks are led by experienced refuge staff. You’ll learn how to identify the refuges’ resident and migratory birds and about their life history.  It can get hot and sunny out there so remember your water, sun protection. Close toed shoes are recommended as are binoculars or a camera with a telephoto lens.

Protip: If it has rained in the area recently, expect the trails around the pond to be super muddy. There is a shoe scraper at the shelter by at the end of the paved road, but you will not get all the mud off. Bring a bucket or bag for your shoes and clean shoes to change into after the walk.

One Health Day is November 3

One Health Day

It might seem odd to write about a health event on a natural history site, but with over 50 percent of human diseases are “zoonotic” they can spread between animals and people. Malaria, dengue, and many other mosquito-born diseases can be spread or controlled depending on human environmental responses. Recognizing that humans are part of nature and the natural history of our islands is one point this site hopes to highlight.

On Maui (and greater Hawai’i) you may have heard about the concern about the spread of “Rat Lungworm Disease” – a really unpleasant, brain-eating disease that is hosted by several mollusk species and should end up in a rat as a final host. In the cases where a human gets exposed, severe illness and even death are possible outcomes.  We hope to target both rats and mollusk host species in the upcoming City Nature Challenge, hopefully understanding the natural history of the hosts on our islands while illuminating where the disease might spread more easily.  

If understanding the relationship between animals, humans and environment is up your alley, then the One Health Initiative is something to learn more about. Check out the One Health Day page  for more details about the event and the initiative in general. 

iNaturalist Project Feature: Pollinators in Paradise

If you are using the iNaturalist app, one easy way to do community science (citizen science) is to contribute to ongoing research efforts.  The Pollinators in Paradise iNat project is one that you can contribute to understanding Hawaii’s pollinator community. It is focused focused on bees, wasps and sawflies and hopes to spread awareness of Hawaii’s endangered pollinator species. Follow this link to join the project.

Seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees are currently listed as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. The listing below provides links to  the USFWS ECOS system that provides summary data on these bees. Five of the seven are reported from Maui county and two are know only from Maui County. The last listing for Hylaeus mana provides a good overview/description of the group that is lacking for the other species. Here is a nice article from the Maui News that gives a nice big-picture overview.

Anthricinan yellow-faced bee (Hylaeus anthracinus)(Maui)

Assimulans yellow-faced bee (Hylaeus assimulans) (only Maui)

Easy yellow-faced bee (Hylaeus facilis)(Maui)

Hilaris yellow-faced bee (Hylaeus hilaris) (only Maui)

Hawaiian yellow-faced bee (Hylaeus kuakea)(only Honolulu)

Hawaiian yellow-faced bee (Hylaeus longiceps)(Maui)

Hawaiian yellow-faced bee (Hylaeus mana)(only Honolulu)

Let’s stop the Little Fire Ant

Introduced species sometimes integrate into the fabric of their new home in a way that doesn’t really seem to cause problems for the original residents. Other introduced species – invasive species – do and the Little Fire Ant (aka the Electric Ant) is one of the latter. They are called fire ants because they sting – people, pets, wildlife – they’ve even been reported to have affected hatchling sea turtles! Add to that the fact that their stings are industrial grade – hence the name fire ant – and they’ve even caused pets and livestock to go blind after repeated stings to the eye.

Targeted efforts to eradicate the LFA are ongoing and you can help monitor for the ants. Report them and you’ll get help getting them out of your yard, garden or neighborhood. Check out http://stoptheant.org/ for a pile of resources including a short ~ 30-minute documentary, details about how to monitor for the ant with peanut butter and a chopstick, and if you are a teacher, how to work spreading the word about the LFA with lesson plans all set up for you.

Here is a three-minute lesson on how to test for the Little Fire Ant:

Help MISC Control Invasive Species During the 2018 City Nature Challenge

The Maui Invasive Species Committee is joining up with the CNC:Maui this year and we’ll be looking to target species of concern during the event to help MISC’s effort in controlling invasive species on Maui We’ll feature these species in follow up posts, but keep on the look out – and report – any sightings of MISC’s most wanted: the Little Fire Ant, Rapid Ohia Death and the Coqui Frog. You can report sightings of these most wanted and other new and unusuals with the new Hawaii-wide reporting website (and mobile app) 643-pest.org.643-pest logo

You can learn more about other MISC targets species on their website >> here.