Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fritillary life cycle evolved around its host the Violet

Chanced upon a post at Beautiful Wildlife Garden about the violet being the host of the Fritillary. Having heard this before, I knew enough to let violets grow in the gardens just in case a fritillary was about laying eggs. But all the talk recently concerning native plants and native insects going around the blogs and forums have had an effect. Just what is the life cycle of a Fritillary and what besides the fact that the violet is a host plant should I know in order to keep from sabatoging efforts in the wildlife garden?

Well first of all there are many Fritillary and many violets.
Caterpillars in the field and garden Allen, Brock, Glassberg

A fritillary female lays eggs in late summer but not on the host plant. Instead she lays the eggs into the duff individually and up to about a 1000 of them. The eggs hatch in fall then spend the winter as first instar not needing to eat (not growing) just hunkering down into a safe hiding spot amid the debris. Come the sunshine of longer days and warmer temperatures of spring and our little guy or girl starts looking for food. Once finding a violet it eats quickly then hides in the plant debris or under a leaf until it eats again. Growing quickly and traveling from violet to violet hopefully the caterpillar finds enough food and lives until the time to pupate in early spring. This is also done in the decaying organic materials creating a duff on the surface of the soil, well hidden from predators and most people.
After emerging the fritillary has no need of the violet as many nectar souces will do for the summer until egg laying time rolls around in a few weeks.

So question answered. Leave the violets grow in an undisturb state. Don't do so much clean up or raking in fall. If you do prescribed burns manage carefully or you will burn off the wintering instars.

Do a little reading yourself just google Fritillary life cycle or read from the links below.

Regal Fritillary northern edu


Regal fact sheet



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Biodiversity, what is it and why is it important?

All the plants ,animals,microorganisms,the genetic variations within each species and the ecosystems where each is found and functions is called biodiversity. A compound of the words biological + diversity, defined not just as a giant list but also a data base of community and function that acts together to create the world around us.

How much can be lost before function falters?
Do our gardens make a difference?
Honestly, I don't know but I'm growing some native plants, reading what I can and hanging out with people that are trying to make a difference.

Here is a bit of what is available online.

Genetic diversity helps organisms cope with current environmental variability.
Organisms exist in environments that vary in time and over space. Such variation is often described in terms of the natural or historic range of variability (NRV, HRV) in environmental conditions such as weather, disturbance events, resource availability, population sizes of competitors, etc. (White and Walker 1997

A diverse array of genotypes appears to be especially important in disease resistance (Schoen and Brown 1993; McArdle 1996). Genetically uniform populations (such as highly inbred crops) are famously vulnerable to diseases and pathogens, which can (and do) decimate populations in which all individuals are equally vulnerable. Such uniformity also predisposes a population to transmit disease from one individual to another: instead of having isolated diseased individuals, nearly every individual may be exposed to disease by direct contact or proximity. More diverse populations are more likely to include individuals resistant to specific diseases; moreover, infected individuals occur at lower density, and thus diseases or pathogens may move more slowly through the population.

NPS gov pubs restoration genetics 1

There are genetic differences among individuals within most (but not all) populations of plants and animals. There are also differences among populations across the range of each species. In this section we review some basic patterns of how genetic diversity of species is distributed, or partitioned

Each species distributes its genetic diversity (one measure of which is the total of all alleles at all loci) in a pattern reflecting both its biology and its history (Wright 1965; Nei 1975). For example, nearby populations of plants that are pollinated by bees may share many alleles because genes (packaged in pollen grains) can flow easily between sites. Such species may have fewer unique alleles in each population, so populations tend to be genetically similar. By contrast, there may be less gene flow among populations of species that are pollinated by ground-dwelling flightless beetles, or whose heavy fruits fall to the ground in the vicinity of the parent tree. Gene flow can also be obstructed by physical barriers (i.e., topography or habitat that a pollinator, disperser, or migrating individual cannot cross), as well as by disturbance (Levin 1981; Slatkin 1987).

NPS gov pubs 2

Yale Lecture Video By Stephen C Stearns

UPRM edu biology

Stanford edu biodiversity

Biodiversity, what it is and why it is important is explored in this
'Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy' definition.
I liked the concept of biological diversity being seen not just as a list of living organisims but
but also including ecosystem processes that maintain,support and repair damage .
A holistic view that tries to understand how each part works with other parts to create and continue ecosystem services to the whole.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Native insects native plants

This morning I read a couple of entries to a blog that brought home, once again, the importance of growing native plants in our gardens. While each years weather patterns may vary greatly there is much more likelyhood of the survival of early emerging insects if a community of native plants are available to be affected by the same weather pattern and emerge early as well.

As for the predator insects, they play an important part in a biologically diverse habitat.

Biodiversity in our garden as well as in the greater ecosystem provides the backup system for life itself.

Please read and see if you agree.

Pollinators: My bees and climate change

Pollinators: Death among the flowers