Monday, May 26, 2008

Annual (11th) Hastings Butterfly Count, Saturday- June 7.
Hastings will host several experts on butterflies who will once again meet at the Hastings entry gate. If you are interested in a day with butterflies, meet at the Hastings gate, mile 26, Carmel Valley Road at 9:30 am. The group will be lead by Dr. Jerry Powell, UC Berkeley, who discovered the brown apple moth in California. Jerry is an expert on moths, but of course, this also means he knows the butterflies. There will be two groups probably- one to Chew's Ridge and one on Hastings. Wear sturdy hiking boots and bring a back pack with water and lunch. You can do either a morning hike or morning and afternoon hike. The experts will catch the butterflies or just tell you the names (as many times as you need) so this is an opportunity to learn about 20 common butterflies of Carmel Valley. Up to 37 species have been seen on some counts. 

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lions and Tigers and SPIDERS!, Oh My. 
New researchers at Hastings include Emily MacLeod and Maria Modanu from the University of Toronto. They are here to study the Black Widow Spider. After several night searches, they found a decent population in the grassland around the lower barn. On Thursday, May 22, Emily told us the story of her research. Yes, female black widows do eat the males after breeding with them. Studying such a animal leads to all kinds of fun puns and comparisons, and Emily had a good time talking with the current Hastings resident biologists. We try to have someone give a talk every Thursday while we have tea and cake, or cookies, or something. Another new Hastings resident is Catherine Dale. And to keep us all in line, we have Torrey, our token Hastings resident 2 yr. old. Woo hoo!

From left; Eric, Julie, Torrey Walters, Andrea Gear, Rada Petric, Maria Modanu, Jessie Briggs, Catherine Dale, Ian Taff, Emily MacLeod, Caitlin Stern, Walt Koenig. Lower: Joseph Cheshier, John Waller. Not photographed were Mark or Barbara Stromberg, and Jaime del Valle.

Emily MacLeod explains the details of breeding in Black Widow Spiders to the Hastings residents during the regular Thursday seminar.

Friday, May 02, 2008

New Tardigrade List Available
Probably one of the very few places in the world where we know our water bears, Dr. Carl Johansson has provided a list of species of tardigrades at Hastings. Read more about it here
Deer Mouse Research Program Grows

Matt MacManes, UCB graduate student with Eileen Lacey, arrived over the last two weeks to begin field work to examine the relationship between MHC and social behavior. MHC means "Major Histocompatibility Loci". In the vertebrate lineage of animals, the MHC genes provide the information for making antibodies to foreign organisms that may attempt to invade the animal. MHC is also responsible for labelling the cells of an animal for self-recognition, so an animal won't be attacked by its own immune system. Hastings is home to populations of several species of deer mice (Peromyscus sp.). Some are monogamous , some are polygynous and other promiscuous . The social behavior (mating systems) of these deer mice has been worked out previously by other researchers here at Hastings and elsewhere. Based on this work, Matt is building a collection of tissues from mice to compare the MHC genes in each species. Matina Kalcounis is making some of her tissue samples available to Mat, and Mat is trapping mice elsewhere in CA and in a variety of Hastings habitats. For more on this, here is Matt's blog. From left to right, Rada Petric, Matt, Jessica Briggs. 
Mechanical Magicians

Earl Rider (right) and his sidekick (Master Apprentice) George Morris spent a few days at Hastings this week. Earl is an master at keeping the older (1980's) military excess Chevy trucks running. Earl and George also volunteer for the UC Sedgwick Reserve and the UC Santa Cruz Island Reserve. Our utility truck needed a lot of repairs: we bought parts and they knew how to get it running again. For a few hundred dollars, we now have a heavy duty diesel work truck mostly used by the woodpecker group. This week they fixed most of the electrical ammenities destroyed by the mice when they chew through wires (headlights, wipers, heater blower, turn signals, etc.). We really appreciate their help.  We look forward to seeing them again. Thank you, Earl and George!