Mixing it up

For my blog this month, I’ve opted to draw instead of write. Doing field work and working with data is awesome, but I find myself wanting to engage with my surroundings and cohabitants in different ways. So here are some pen drawings I made of three species I’ve been working closely with these past few months, along with some natural history notes.

California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii)

  • Conservation status: federally threatened.
  • Morphology: rough skin; reddish brown color; reddish coloring on underside of legs and belly; black spots and blotches on back and legs; dark mask on face and light-colored stripe above jaw extending to shoulder; folds running down side of back; partially webbed toes; 5-12 cm long.
  • Ecology: solitary when not breeding; adults largely nocturnal, juveniles active day and night; predated by birds, raccoons, snakes, bullfrogs; prey on insects and invertebrates; breed from November to April; typical life expectancy of 2-5 years but can live up to 10.
  • Habitat: slow-moving or standing deep ponds, pools, and streams; tall vegetation such as grasses, cattails, and shrubs; wet meadows, damp grasses.
  • Range: endemic to California and Baja, Mexico.

Western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata)

  • Conservation status: not federally listed in the United States; species of special concern in California.
  • Morphology: dark brown or olive color; can have darker reticulations and streaking; plastron yellowish, sometimes with dark blotches in center of scutes; carapace smooth, 11-21 cm long, low and broad; throat light or pale yellow in males.
  • Ecology: omnivorous (insects, invertebrates, warrior, algae, cattail roots, etc.) hatchling gender ratios determined by incubation temperatures (50:50 at 84.9 ºF), 5-13 eggs per clutch; most nests within 300 ft of water; predated by raccoons, otters, ospreys, coyotes.
  • Habitat: marshes, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes; riparian habitats; favor habitats with emergent logs and boulders for basking.
  • Range: endemic to the western coast of the United States and Mexico (western Washington to northern Baja California.

Small-fruited bulrush

  • Conservation status: not threatened.
  • Morphology: erect stems can exceed 1 m; inflorescence clustered spikelets on long, thin branches; sheathing leaves along stems and at base of plant.
  • Ecology: perennial herb (sedge family); shade tolerant; rhizomatic.
  • Habitat: grows in many types of moist and wet habitat.
  • Range: native to North America, found throughout northern and western regions and in Baja California.
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