Tag Archives: tanya lama

Las Monarcas llegan para el Día de los Muertos

¡Estamos a principios de noviembre, y las mariposas monarca finalmente están a fines de su migración! Tras sobrevivir la amenaza de depredadores, parásitos, tormentas y un vuelo de 3.000 millas, las monarcas están listos para descansar en las montañas Transvolcánicas de México.

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Un mapa de migración del monarca.

Durante el invierno, las monarcas se agrupan, aferrándose con fuerza uno al otro en los bosques de oyamel para mantener el calor y mantener las reservas de grasa que han acumulado en el otoño. En breves ocasiones, se aventuran en busca de agua, sin alejarse de la protección del oyamel maduro. Estos diminutos, cada vez más escasos rodales de árboles proporcionan un microclima con temperatura, humedad, y elevación ideal para esta especie.

Las poblaciones de la mariposa monarca son monitoreados durante los meses del invierno, debido a que su distribución es tan grande durante las temporadas de migración y cría. Las poblaciones a finales del verano son mucho más grandes, pero la mayoría de las monarcas no sobreviven la migración y, por lo tanto, no contribuyen a la siguiente generación. NatureServe y la Sociedad Xerces estiman que las monarcas ocuparon aproximadamente 1.65 acres de bosques en 12 sitios el invierno pasado, la populación invernante más pequeña que se ha registrado nunca. Esta es una disminución sustantiva de la parada de 50 acres utilizado por las monarcas a finales de los 1990. Factores que influyen a la disminución son muchas. La ocurrencia de fenómenos meteorológicos episódicos y la pérdida de hábitat de reproducción en verano contribuyen a la disminución, además,  la tala ilegal y las especies invasoras fragmentan y ponen en peligro la integridad de los bosques de oyamel que usan las monarcas.

Monarchs feeding on nectar.

Los monarcas se alimentan de néctar.

Si este fascinante viaje y relato de supervivencia no fuera lo suficientemente interesante, la llegada de las monarcas coincide con un acontecimiento importante de la cultura mexicana. El 31 de octubre marca el comienzo del Día de los Muertos, una época en que familiares se reúnen para celebrar y recordar a los antepasados. Las monarcas que llegan a sus territorios invernantes en México son, en realidad, los “bis nietos” de las monarcas que comenzaron el ciclo de la migración en marzo del año anterior. A diferencia de las previas generaciones que solo permanecen vivos por corto tiempo, la generación de monarcas migratorias vivirán más de nueve meses, y pasaran el invierno en México.

Day of the Dead artwork by Ryan Connors.

“El regreso de la monarca.” by Ryan Conners

El Día de los Muertos coincide con los días santos cristianos, All Hallows Eve, Día de Todos los Santos y Todas las Almas que se celebran 31 de octubre al 2 de noviembre. Como las tradiciones católicas y culturas indígenas mezclaron, las monarcas han llegado a representar las almas de los seres queridos que regresan a visitar cada año.

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Studying black bears in the wild

Today we’re hearing from Anthony Ortiz and Tanya Lama, of the University of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Conservation and Pathways Biological interns with the Division of Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration, about their recent experience studying black bears in the wild. 

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One of the authors of this blog, Tanya Lama, with a female black bear cub. Credit: USFWS

 

In late March, staff from the Northeast Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) were generously invited by Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) to tag along on a black bear den visit. For many folks, even those with 25+ years of federal service, it was a first!

We gathered mid-morning to caravan together to the undisclosed location of the bear den – information which was picked up by MassWildlife via a GPS telemetry collar attached to the mother bear. GPS tracking has long been a part of black bear research and conservation in Massachusetts. Each collar is capable of recording the location of a bear over the course of two years. This highly valuable data helps biologists determine where bears spend their time foraging, rearing young, and hibernating.

Anthony Ortiz holds another black bear cub. They were only a couple of weeks old! Credit: USFWS

Anthony Ortiz holds another black bear cub. They were only a couple of weeks old! Credit: USFWS

Upon arrival at the site, we waited in our vehicles while a small team of highly experienced biologists and game wardens approached the den. The mother bear was safely and temporarily sedated from within the den, and mother and cubs were carefully removed to collect biological data on sex, weight, age and health. At this time, our group was called in and escorted about 500 yards to the den site.

The bear den, nestled in a landowner’s backyard woods, lay under the tangled root mass of a large multiflora rose. Hidden from view, the space within the den was ample and insulated by heavy snow cover. Each bear was weighed and sexed – three female cubs, each weighing in at about five pounds in comparison to their 178 pound mother! The cubs were estimated at about six weeks old, and until then had never left the den.  Exposed to the crisp air and bright sunshine, the cubs held tightly to our bodies and tucked their faces into our warm jackets while they awaited their return to the den.

Black bear research and the associated den visits are part of the longest standing Wildlife Restoration projects supported by the Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration. Federal funds, administered through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Grant Program have enabled States to carry out black bear conservation work since the mid 1980’s. Black bear projects in the region include studies of wind turbine effects in Vermont, stable- isotope diet analysis in Massachusetts, and spatial ecology throughout the region.

The objectives of these studies have generally examined habitat use, home range, survival of adults and cubs, sources and rates of mortality, important landscape corridors and genetic profiles of bear populations.  Maine, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts have the longest running bear monitoring projects in place, tracking bear movements via radio collars for the past 30 years. Information collected during den visits is used to write statewide management plans for bears and to adjust hunting season regulations.  Black bears are classified most often as a big game animal in the Northeast Region, but sometimes as a furbearer elsewhere.

There are regulated hunting seasons in the fall, and most states have over 15 regulations in place for bear hunters.  Black bears are sought for their meat, for their pelts, as rugs, taxidermy mounts, claw and bone jewelry, and the fat is used in cooking and in water proofing leather. The sale of bear meat is prohibited under most state laws – a reminder that we value our wildlife intrinsically and not for profit.

As students of wildlife conservation and part of the WSFR team – it was a pleasure to witness some of our federally funded conservation work on the ground. Many thanks to the MassWildlife biologists and environmental police officers for sharing their knowledge and experience with us!

Credit: USFWS

Credit: USFWS