Archive for June, 2009


15 June 2009

Hescheleria by Zach Miller.

Granted, this is a cop-out.  I’m in the airport, on my way to meet Hescheleria and friends.  Hard to believe it has been over a year (well over in fact) that Zach sent me this drawing for use in my now infamously nonexistent post on thalattosaurs.  Perhaps by the time I get back I will finally have something interesting to say about these, the enigmaticist of hellasaurs–you know, anything could happen.

In the meanwhile, go check out the latest edition of the Boneyard over at Zach’s blog.  See you in a few weeks!

Looking For Shit on Google Earth

3 June 2009

Naturally, shortly after reading about Fretwell and Trathan’s success locating emperor penguin breeding colonies by searching satellite imagery for Antarctic skid marks, I fired up Google Earth to have a shot at shite-site sighting myself.  Generally, Google Earth’s coverage of Antarctica is fairly low res, understandably.  So I was actually slightly surprised that plugging in the coordinates provided by Fretwell and Trathan yielded astonishingly good results.

Picture 6

Picture 7

Picture 8

Picture 9

Amazingly, a few of these are even among the newly discovered sites noted in the new study.

In fact, one wonders if there might yet be undiscovered colonies waiting to be found by intrepid Google Earth explorers, as has already been done with Roman villas, impact craters, and Cannabis plantations &c.

Next up: Google Earth, guano mining and seal hunting.

Crap of the Penguins

2 June 2009
Dan Colen Bird Shit 2007

Dan Colen "Bird Shit" 2007

Honestly, I suppose the whole “of the week” thread is getting stale, microecos has never been been big on consistency.  But this is clearly the best research paper that will be published this week:

Penguins from space: faecal stains reveal the location of emperor penguin colonies
Peter T. Fretwell and Philip N. Trathan

Methods Using Landsat ETM satellite images downloaded from the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica (LIMA), we detect faecal staining of ice by emperor penguins associated with their colony locations. Emperor penguins breed on sea ice, and their colonies exist in situ between May and December each year. Faecal staining at these colony locations shows on Landsat imagery as brown patches, the only staining of this colour on sea ice. This staining can therefore be used as an analogue for colony locations. The whole continental coastline has been analysed, and each possible signal has been identified visually and checked by spectral analysis. In areas where LIMA data are unsuitable, freely available Landsat imagery has been supplemented.

Results We have identified colony locations of emperor penguins at a total of 38 sites. Of these, 10 are new locations, and six previously known colony locations have been repositioned (by over 10 km) due to poor geographical information in old records. Six colony locations, all from old or unconfirmed records, were not found or have disappeared.

Main conclusions We present a new pan-Antarctic species distribution of emperor penguins mapped from space. In one synoptic survey we locate extant emperor penguin colonies, a species previously poorly mapped due to its unique breeding habits, and provide a vital geographical resource for future studies of an iconic species believed to be vulnerable to future climate change.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2009.00467.x

Satellites, penguin shit and important conservation biology data.  It does not get better than this folks.