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2014-11-30 Megan Loftie-Eaton 
SCALY SUNDAY!

Happy SCALY SUNDAY!! Most people fear snakes, but it is important to remember that snakes are a key component of natural ecosystems. Common in many types of habitat, they affect the "balance of nature" as both predators and prey. From an ecological point of view, snakes help to control rodent populations. Snakes and their eggs are in turn eaten by fish, amphibians, other snakes, birds and predatory mammals. Snakes are an important part of the food web. We must help to protect them rather than harm them. The best policy when it comes to snakes is to just leave them alone and in peace. They are not out to get you!

“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”

The species in the spotlight today is the Mole Snake (Pseudaspis cana) - this beautiful snake has a widespread distribution throughout southern Africa and occurs in nearly every habitat, although its preferred habitat is grassland. The photo shown here, taken in Limpopo Province, is from the ReptileMAP database (view here: http://vmus.adu.org.za/?vm=ReptileMAP-3414 ). Mole Snakes prey on golden moles (hence the name), rats, mice and gerbils. For this reason, they are considered useful for the natural control of problem rodents. Juveniles, however, are largely restricted to preying on lizards.

Mole Snakes are uniform brown, grey or black in colour (juveniles have zigzag or mottled markings) and they have round pupils. They can grow to an average length of 1.4 m but may reach 2 m in length, particularly in the Cape. The Mole Snake gives birth to live young, between 25 and 50 young, in late summer. This species of snake is are non-venomous and not dangerous to man but they can inflict a painful bite, so it's best to just leave them be.

 
2014-10-10 Les Underhill 
Awesome new Virtual Museum feature: how to find the gaps in coverage

VM Gap Analysis

This news item explains how to find the gaps in coverage in ADU Virtual Museum projects. On the Virtual Museum website, first choose (from the left hand side menu) the project you are interested in finding the gaps for. Then, from this menu, choose "Maps" and click on the tab "Gap Analysis" and then on "Request summary." A map like the one on the left appears. The grid generates the Quarter Degree Grid Cells. Those with data are coloured. Those without data are blank. Click on the grid cell you are interested in. A Google map like the one on the right appears. This grid cell is 2824DA and covers part of Kimberley, and a section of the Vaal River. It is the basic road map that appears first; I clicked "Satellite" at the top right corner to get this view.

If a grid cell has records, then a species list for the Quarter Degree Grid Cell appears under the map.

This is the Gap Analysis for LacewingMAP. It is little short of astonishing that this new section of the Virtual Museum already has records for 47 Quarter Degree Grid Cells, 2.3% of the region.

This is Version 1 of the ADU Virtual Museum Gap Analysis. It will be extended to cover Africa, and be extended to be able to find the gaps for specific time periods, for example, gaps since 2000.

 
2014-09-17 Les Underhill 
ADU page in African Birdlife, September–October 2014

ADU page in African Birdlife, September-October 2014

This topic was chosen because Citizen Science Week is from 20–28 September. We would be delighted if atlasers atlased irresponsibly.

This page is from the September-October issue of African Birdlife, the magazine of BirdLife South Africa. The pdf of this page is available here.

 

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