Upcoming Botany Group Meeting November 2018

Upcoming Botany group Meeting

First of all, our next Gathering will be on Monday November. The forecast at this point seems to call for showers.  However, we will have a walk around our woods first to see the latest crop of fungi.  This year has been good for a whole lot of species that did not even make an appearance in the past two years.  We can talk about Mushroom Identification and then for lunch there will be mushroom soup -with amongst other ingredients Russula xerampelina, which were abundant a couple of weeks ago and easy to identify (for once) using the characteristic features listed in  Siegal & Schwarz, Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast (which includes many species that are to be found all the way up to our coast).

Russula xerampelina: key characteristics
·         cap colour variable, mostly purple to reddish brown
·         gills creamy when young, yellowish to ochre with age
·         stipe creamy, often blushed with pink tones
·         stipe staining slowly yellow then brown when scratched or even handled
·         stipe has firm exterior and pithy core
·         taste mild  ( many russulas are very bitter – test on the tip of your tongue)
·         odour slightly fishy or like shrimp ( more obvious in older specimens)

The attached photo should illustrate the stipe staining slowly yellow when scratched.  When cooked the red of the cap turned the whole flesh pink ( another reason for the common name shrimp russula?)

It would be appreciated if you let me know that you are coming, to give me a rough idea of numbers for soup , coffee and tea.

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Guest Speaker: Scott Wallace, Sun. Oct. 21, 2018

CVN invites the public to learn about

Comox Valley Nature is pleased to host a public lecture. Join Dr. Scott Wallace for an illustrated talk entitled: “Can the Species at Risk Act Recover Southern Resident Killer Whales?” The lecture is on Sunday Oct. 21, 2018 and will start after introductions at 7pm in the Rotary Room of the Filberg Seniors Centre 411 Anderton Ave, Courtenay.

The Southern Residents are a distinct population of killer whales who frequently use the Salish Sea during the summer months. They have been legally protected under the provision of the Species at Risk Act for nearly 15 years. During this time the population has suffered from increased threats of prey reduction, contaminants and disturbance. The population is now at its historically lowest number and has not had a successful birth in over three years. This talk will discuss the biological, political, and legal challenges of protecting this unique population.

Dr. Scott Wallace is a marine ecologist employed by the David Suzuki Foundation as a Senior Research Scientist. Scott is an educator, author, activist, naturalist and scientist whose career has focused on marine conservation. His work at the David Suzuki Foundation is centered on species at risk, healthy oceans, citizen science and sustainable fisheries. He has taught several university and college level courses focused on the marine and coastal ecology of British Columbia. Scott sits on several fishery advisory boards. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia.

This is an excellent opportunity for the public to learn more about Southern Resident Killer Whales.


Comox Valley Nature is a non-profit society affiliated with BC Nature, consisting only of unpaid volunteers. CVN fulfills its educational mandate by hosting monthly lectures, organizing free weekly guided hikes for members, and a free monthly walk open to the public.  Comox Valley Nature also supports specialized groups (Birding, Botany, Garry Oak Restoration, Wetland Restoration, Photography and Young Naturalists Club) which have separate monthly activities.  Membership in BC Nature and Comox Valley Nature is $30 per adult and $40 for a family.

Founded in 1966, it is one of the oldest environmental societies on the North Island.  Meetings and lectures of the Comox Valley Naturalists Society are held on the third Sunday of most months at the Florence Filberg Centre, 411 Anderton Ave., Courtenay.  Meetings and guided walks are open to the public, including children and youth.  Lecture is free, though a $4 contribution from non-members is appreciated. New memberships are always welcomed.

Anyone interested in this lecture or participating in CVNS activities can also contact us at the website www.comoxvalleynaturalist.bc.ca

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Upcoming Walks: October 2018 – February 2019

Variances only  announced by Loys Maingon

Questions:  tsolumresearch@gmail.com

CVN Walks October 2018 -February 2019 .PDF
CVN WALKS:  October 2018 to February 2019
All walks minimum 2 hrs
Carpooling at either Old Downtown Courtenay Thrifty’s or Country Market north of Courtenay
Day, date and Month Carpooling place and time Destination Difficulty
Sunday October 7 Thrifty’s  8:30am Nile Creek (PUBLIC) easy hike
Sunday October 14 Country Market  8:30am Elk River Trail easy hike
Saturday October 20 Country Market  8:30am Ripple Rock easy hike
Sunday October 28 Coal hills Special EVENT  VIRM (October 27 and 28)
Sunday November 4 Trailhead Nymph Falls (PUBLIC) level walk
Sunday November 11 Thrifty’s  8:30am Comox Lake Reserve hike
Saturday November 17 Thrifty’s  8:30am Ships Point / Mud Bay level walk
Sunday November 25 Trailhead (Bates Rd) Seal Bay Park Marine side stair walk
Sunday  December 2 Country Market  8:30am Pub to Pub/Oyster River level walk
Sunday December 9 Trailhead (Tsolum River Road) Tsolum Spirit Park level walk
Saturday December 15 Trailhead Kye Bay Beach level with cobbles
Sunday January 6 Country Market  8:30am Pub to Pub/Oyster River (PUBLIC) level walk
Sunday January 13 Trailhead (Powerhouse Rd.) Puntledge  Park/ Ruth Masters Level walk
Saturday January 19 Trailhead DND Entrance.) Goose Spit level with cobbles
Sunday January 27 Condensory Bridge Condensory Bridge to Air Park level walk
Sunday February 3 Trailhead (Bates Rd.) Seal Bay, Melda’s Marsh level walk
Participants are expected to wear good hiking shooes and rainproofs and to assume their own safety.
Walks are for CVN members. Only walks Marked “PUBLIC” are open to the general public.


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Shoreline Outing Summary: Cape Lazo, Intertidal Food Webs, September 20th, 2018

Hey Everyone,
Just before the weather turned ugly, we made is out to the shoreline below the cliffs at Cape Lazo. We were trying to make sense of some of the feeding relationships along the shoreline. As we get more experience and exposure, we’ll be able to figure out more of these complex intertidal food webs, where everything seems to eat everything. I’ll break down the experience into (1) Observations (2) Follow-up points and (3) Links for further consideration.

(1) Observations
We noted the primary producers in various states of life and decay. Living seaweeds, algal crusts and phytoplankton (seen under the microscope in water samples taken from Cape Lazo) are the photosynthetic organisms that pull carbon (and nitrogen, phosphorous et al.) out of the water to create the organic matter that ultimately fuel the rest of the ecosystem. Their productivity is governed by nutrient availability, sunlight and how clear the water is- low light penetration is a limiting factor, particularly for the seaweeds.
We saw a number of organisms who feed directly on the seaweeds and algae– small limpets (Lottia sp.), snails (periwinkles– Littorina sp.) and shore crabs (Hemigrapsus sp.). We looked at the modified legs of the shorecrab, whose diet consists mostly of diatoms, green algae (eg. Ulva) and red algae. A potpourri of indiscriminate filter feeders/suspension feeders (mussels, oysters, bryozoans, sponges) consume the phytoplankton, zooplankton (including larvae) and detritus that happens to go there way as water is passes through.
Higher up the shoreline, we saw a melange of decaying/fermenting seaweeds. There are organisms that feed quite specifically on this decaying layer. We say Sand fleas and an indeterminate annelid worm. These organisms are in turn fed on by other invertebrates (eg. the fast moving wolf-spiders common on the shoreline) as well as larger birds. Many of you have seen the gulls poking at the sand above the high-tide line. They are foraging for sand fleas, among others.
Further down the shore, we saw swathes of small acorn barnacles completely shattered and removed from their rocky substrate. After some speculation, we noted a star-shaped pattern to this activity matching the shape of the purple sea star. This unsuspecting predator pulls apart the plates and valves of its prey and then inserts its stomach to digest the contents held within. By this means, it preys on barnacles, mussels, snails, chitons, limpets and even urchins. While we didn’t witness it on Thursday, we did trade horror stories about watching large gulls consume whole sea stars.
We saw a variety of other feeding relationships– the circular borings of the molluscan radula into shells- likely the work of a gastropod. We tried to figure out what some of the gulls, harlequin ducks, cormorants and scoters were eating, as all were numerous. Unclear for now.
(2) Follow up points
We tried three methods for observing feeding relationships
-direct observation (works well for small creatures who don’t feed exposed)
-spotting interactions with binoculars then visiting the scene of the crime (will work with birds with a little patience)
-fecal analysis. The scat, frass, pellets and plops of the intertidal can usually be matched to the organism that left them. Some organisms (herons, crabs, minks, otters) leave very clear records of their diet in their scat. Others (gulls), not so much.
A fourth means is to actually take a live or recently dead sample and look at the gut contents. This may be ethically uncomfortable for some.
(3) Links for Further Consideration
Shirley brought a hard copy of Kozloff’s Marine Invertebrates of the Pacific Northwest. This is the most comprehensive key to shoreline (and all other marine) life in our region. The paperback version can be had for about $50, but the keys themselves are all available online, courtesy of Dave Cowles.
FEEDING RELATIONSHIPS: Shoreline Group Member David I. passed along a link to a very comprehensive, evidence-based site from Thomas Carefoot, an emeritus professor of biology from UBC. A Snail’s Odyssey looks at the major invertebrate groups of the shoreline and breaks down their feeding, reproduction, predators, physiology, locomotion and more based on study data that he has been curating for decades. Most of the data and syntheses are very local.
Another email incoming about our next outing.
See you soon,
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