The House Finch was originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds (“Hollywood finches”). They quickly started breeding and spread across almost all of the eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years. The total House Finch population across North America is staggering. Scientists estimate between 267 million and 1.4 billion individuals. (Cornell)
A non-flowering "fossil" tree species with no living close relatives. Originally a widespread genus, the present remaining species was confined to a small area of present day China by about 2 million years ago. The only known relic wild populations are two in the Tianmushan reserve in Zhejiang province. Today the species is found as an ornamental with its famous fan-shaped leaves in Asia, North America and Europe. Only in Asia has it achieved some naturalization. The species is very resilient and some trees even survived in the wake of the atomic blast in Hiroshima. The species has edible and medicinal properties.
Sargassumfish - this species of frogfish, the only one with worldwide distribution, spends its life floating along in the currents clinging to seaweed, debris, empty coconuts, or anything else it might find. They have special pectoral fins so they can cling on to seaweed and crawl over it, even out of the water for a bit to escape potential underwater predators. On Oct 26th, we found 5 of these little frogfish washed up in the sargassum on the beach in front of our resort. We transferred them to containers filled with saltwater and sargassum, swam them out to deeper water, and released them into large rafts of sargassum to continue their lives as drifters.
For the developers at New York start-up Networked Organisms, smartphones are the butterfly nets of the 21st Century. Their tool, Project Noah, lets people upload photos of plants and wildlife around them, creating a map of the natural world and contributing to scientific research in the process.
Bespectacled scientists of yore would carry around hefty field guides, made up of hundreds of pages of text and photos. But these days, smartphone owners have a lighter option: an app called Project Noah, which aims to help people identify plants and animals as well as collect data from "citizen scientists" about where certain species are located.
Project Noah enables us to be part of a more focused online community where we can learn more about wildlife around us and contribute to scientific research. It pulls participants into deeper, more meaningful engagement by enabling people to go on “missions” to collectively map changes based on sightings.
A modern invention that may also hold the key to saving species in the future. Project Noah is a global study that encourages nature lovers to document the wildlife they encounter, using a purpose built phone app and web community. In addition to the virtual "collection" of species, Project Noah encourages citizen science by linking up with existing surveys including the International Spider Survey and the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.