Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Watercolours from the Bio-blitz at Grand Lake Meadows, New Brunswick - Sold

28 June finds me painting the Succineid snails that we collected from a patch of Agelica and grass beside Highway 105 in the Grand Lake Meadows Protected Natural Area, New Brunswick. This was on 25 June as we left the Bio-blitz, heading for Ayers Lake.

We stopped the van a little east of the Sunbury County line so that we could be sure that we were in one of the the narrow slices of land that make up the Grand Lake Meadows Protected Natural Area along Highway 105. I walked across the road to investigate a lush patch of Angelica. There they were, about twenty little amber snails less than two centimetres long, crawling on the leaves and stems, and also on blades of grass, in the shade of the Angelica in the mid-afternoon of a very hot day.

These jewel-like land snails are very difficult to identify. We used to think that we could tell the species apart, but now that we know how many taxonomic problems have been found among them, including hybridization, without dissection I can't even tell which genus they belong to - Oxyloma, Succinea, and Novasuccinea are all Succineids, and so my idenentification of these lovely creatures stops here for now at the Family level. Real malacologists are encouraged to offer opinions here in "Comments"

On the other hand, Beetle species are regarded as having been stable since the Pliocene, and their crusty exterior is completely made up of identifying marks. This Ground Beetle is Oodes fluvialis (LeConte), collected on June 16 at Cow Point by Reggie Webster, the beetle specialist at the Bio-blitz. It is the first record for New Brunswick. The species has been known from Southern Ontario and parts of the eastern US. Reggie was ecstatic about the numbers of beetles that had been driven by the recent flooding out of their lowland homes onto higher ground. Ground Beetles are carnivorous, many of them eating snails.

Both of these paintings are now in the collection of the New Brunswick Museum, as well as the specimens.

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