Friday, June 10, 2016

flask's nature scavenger hunt 2016

hey, everybody! last year's venture vermont challenge had on it an item for which i had to make a nature scavenger hunt and get my friends to do it. it's not on the list this year, but one of my friends was excited to play and others of my friends are at least WILLING to play, so we're having another.

it don't cost you nothin' and there will be prizes for the winners, so if you like that sort of thing, please play.

the list looks very daunting (i'm told) but it is extremely flexible to people living in different biomes. if, for instance you don't live in an area with a lot of kinds of ferns but you have tons of lizards, you are in luck.

if you are playing, you don't have to get all the things in the categories, or even attempt all of the categories.

yes, there's a lot of emphasis on leaf morpholgy this year. wow. those are a lot of terms. the good news is that if you want to call it "egg-shaped" instead of "ovoid" i'm cool with that. the point is let's all go out there and look at some leaves and their wild diversity of structures!

my prereader had some questions, which i am passing on to you in case you have the same ones.

Q: so if I identify 10 pieces of limestone, that counts?
A: no. they don't use the word "species" for rocks as far as i can tell, but they should be different kinds of rocks.

Q: How closely do I have to ID the fungi? If I know it's amanita, do I have to know it's Amanita muscaria?
A: discretion of judge. if you need a microscope to make a positive ID, pretty close is good enough. so  something like "Amanita, probably A. muscaria" is just fine.

Q: Also, for the record, there's not any kind of botanical distinction between shrubs and trees.
A: yes, but some things are clearly not trees and yet not so much wildflowers, so consider it an extra ten points you can get.

Q: Do you have a preferred place for habitat descriptions?
A: i looked up every state of a person i anticipate might be playing and there is no uniform habitat classification, but every state has some sort of classification so i decided any established system is good enough for my purposes.

and you have the whole summer to do it. if you have children, you may wish to do a family entry.

so here it is:

downloadable copy

flask’s nature scavenger hunt 2016

Please provide photographic evidence and necessary text explanations that you have found as many of the following as you like. There are a lot of categories, intended to make the list flexible for people in different biomes.

Things you can identify specifically (e.g., spotted towhee, balsam fir, limestone):
  • Rocks (one point each kind, maximum ten kinds)
  • Grasses (one point each species, maximum ten)
  • Ferns (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Fungi (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Lichen (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Shrubs (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Trees (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Wildflowers/herbs (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Mammals (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Birds (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Insects (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Reptiles or Amphibians (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Fish (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Aquatic plants (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Non-insect Arthropods (one point each, maximum ten)
  • Non-insect, Non-arthropod Invertebrates (one point each, maximum ten)

At least TWO contrasting terrestrial or aquatic habitats (e.g., Palmetto Prairie, Eastern Boreal Floodplain, Temperate Hemlock Forest) (two points each, maximum ten)

BONUS: provide short documentation of classification system used and justification of your identification for an additional eight points each.

  • Animal scats (please identify species) (two points each, maximum ten)
BONUS: make observations about the animal’s health, habitat or diet based on the content. (eight points each)
  • Owl pellet (five points, plus fifteen if you dissect it and identify content)
  • Any wild growing edible plant (two points each, maximum ten)
  • Eggs (please identify species. five points each, maximum ten)
  • Any natural feature mentioned in a work of fiction that you have read (please identify the work and quote the passage) (five points each, maximum ten)
  • Any geographical feature formed by erosion and/or sedimentation (five points each, maximum ten)

LEAVES!! (pay attention to the scoring in this section: photos in this section will be scored with multipliers. Your photo of a plant’s leaves is worth however many leaf classification terms it illustrates. If you can identify the plant in the photo with its species name, your score doubles. For scoring purposes, each term can only be used once, although words like “palmate” may be used in as many categories as it occurs. (e.g., palmate leaf shape is counted separate from palmate venation)

Leaves can be classified on the basis of petiole, arrangement, lamina, venation, and location. An ABBREVIATED LIST of examples will be used on this sheet, but you are welcome to use a more complex or complete listing if you want to go whole hog.  Wikipedia is a good starting point if you like:

  • Leaves needle-like or scale-like
  • Broad leaves
  • Sessile / petiolate / grasping
  • Leaf shape:  elliptic, ovate, oblong, palmate, cordate
  • Leaf margin: entire, dentate, serrate, incised
  • Leaf division: single, compound pinnate, compound palmate, decompound, bipinnate
  • Leaf surface: rugose, hairy, glabrous, spiny
  • Leaf apex: acute, obtuse, truncate
  • Leaf base: rounded, cordate, sagittate
  • Leaf arrangement: alternate, opposite, whorl
  • Leaf venation: reticulate, parallel, pinnate, unicostate
  • Leaf location: basal, cauline, ramal

You are not required to find every item (or even most of the items) in order to participate. Team entries are permitted. Take your time, do as much or little as you want, and by all means look stuff up. Prizes will be given for most points and any other categories flask deems necessary. Houseplants and housepets are not eligible to be identified for this challenge, no matter how exotic your household is. Submission deadline is 1 September 2016, and i’m assuming that if you have a copy of this list, you know how to send me your entry. Yes, you may make an album on googleplus or flickr or what-have-you, but if i have to log onto facebook, no dice.

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