|A five minute walk from the conference center.|
|The stories I told through data and photos.|
- Many cactuses have a large and extravagant cephalium which – according to Root Gorelick – has no function and could well be maladaptive. Of course, I would then tell my impressionable kids that, no, Darwin was not wrong, instead Root must be, but that, yes, biologists still have no clear explanation of what benefit the cephalium brings.
- Jumping spiders, those charismatic midgets with forward facing eyes that leap on their prey, have crazy mating colors and displays. I will also tell my kids how Wayne Maddison, when he was a kid in Ontario, discovered that two species found on sand dunes have incredibly different strategies for building their “nests.” Wayne told the audience that he feared that he would go to his grave before he published this observation and so I here pledge that, should this be so, my kids (one of whom loves spiders) will take up the study and published it (without mentioning Wayne of course).
- Feather mites are tiny (often microscopic) mites that cling to the feathers of birds. Heather Proctor explained how these mites show an incredible diversity of forms - even on the same birds – and have a number of crazy features. Males apparently grapple with each other for access to females by trying to throw each other off the feather – just like tiny sumo wrestlers on a tight-rope. And some groups show handed-ness, with the individuals on one wing of the bird showing a different body coiling pattern than individuals on the other wing of the bird.
- Like a number of other insects, male Mormon crickets give nuptial gifts to females – in this case, little “cheese balls” that the female munches on while the male mates with them. Cheese balls appear to be quite costly for the males to produce and they are an important part of the diet for females. This leads to so-called “sex role reversal,” where males become the limiting sex during mating and females compete intensely for males. When asked during the question period whether he had ever tasted these cheese balls, Darryl Gwynne admitted proudly that he had and that they weren’t actually that bad.
- Hump-winged grig males, like Mormon crickets, provide a nuptial gift for females but not a yummy cheese ball. Rather, they offer up their wings for the females to munch on while mating. Kevin Judge showed an amazing video of grigs mating, with the female on the back of the male munching vigorously away at the male’s wings (and seemingly trying to get at other male parts too), while the male simultaneously tried to keep her wandering mouth under control with his legs while crimping her abdomen with a structure that looked like a small staple remover (and at least once it removed part of the female’s abdomen).
|The omnipresent chipmunk|
|A robber fly (thanks for the ID Bob).|
|Common Flicker - the red-shafted flavor.|
|The ever-cute California Quail|
|A Wilson's Phalarope takes flight.|