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In the Light of Evolution: Volume II—Biodiversity and Extinction
(Vincent, personal communication, 2007). One of our local insect photographers, Ron Hemberger, recently documented the first California record of a stripe-eyed hoverfly (Eristalinus taeniops), originally from Africa but previously recorded from Florida (Hemberger, 2006).
The new arrivals in Southern California also include well-documented pest species including Mediterranean fruit fly, Mexican fruit fly, oriental fruit fly, Japanese beetle, gypsy moth, ash whitefly, Eugenia psyllid, eucalyptus borer, Mexican scorpion, “killer bees,” and red imported fire ant, the latter being one of the “100 of the Worst” listed on the Global Invasive Species Database.
Black skimmers were seen at Upper Newport Bay first in 1987, then built up their population during successive seasons, reaching a total of over 500 in the late 1990s. They are now a regular and spectacular sight in the bay.
Another new arrival, first seen in coastal Orange County during the last five years, is the bobcat (Flynn, 2006). Its small population is being monitored extensively by the U.S. Geological Survey, using motion-sensing cameras, radiotelemetry, and recording GPS collars attached to the cats. But visual sightings and photographs from the public have also made an important contribution to our knowledge of the distribution and movements of these animals, especially in and near urban areas. These sightings and photographs are being used to monitor tagged animals, to match pelt patterns to identify individual bobcats, and the public has also been engaged in collecting information on road kills and their locations. This helps the professionals to learn more about the genetic structure of the bobcat populations and to start to better understand the impacts of habitat fragmentation and land-use changes on the populations. Knowing the locations of the road kills (16 in the San Joaquin Hills, Orange County, from September 2005 through April 2007) also helps to identify hotspots where animals are particularly vulnerable so that recommendations can be made for improved connectivity (Lyren et al., 2006).
Although designed primarily for K-12 students, Journey North (http://www.learner.org/jnorth/) is another Internet-based data collection project, focused on migratory species in North America. Students and the public participate in tracking the migration patterns of monarch butterflies, robins, hummingbirds, whooping cranes, gray whales, bald eagles, and birds and mammals. Sightings are automatically added to databases, which can be observed as animated maps on line. For whooping cranes, students can watch chicks grow and then learn migration as humans lead the way using ultra-light airplanes in Operation Migration (http://www.operationmigration.org/).