EAA 1418 meets every third Saturday at Noon in the pilots lounge at Rohnerville Airport, Fortuna, California.  Lunch and a beverage are provided for a suggested $5.00 donation to the chapter.  Anyone interested in aviation is welcome to attend.


Humboldt County, California Aviation Webcams

North Coast Aviators, EAA 1418, installs and maintains webcams at our local airports. These cameras show real-time weather conditions and have proved invaluable to aviators, local government agencies, and area residents.

All NorthCoastAviation.com webcams, AWOS, and more 

 Rohnerville Airport

Eureka/Arcata Airport

 Murray Field

Kneeland Airport

 Garberville Airport

Shelter Cove

See NorthCoastAviation.com for all the aviation cams, weather and local links, local highway cams and technical information about this program.


Affiliated with Lost Coast Aviators is the
AVI8CANDO Youth Aviation Program
Rohnerville Airport, CA


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« More Federal Money for a Few California Airports | Main | Int Ball »
Saturday
Jul292017

Humboldt Flyer

From National Geographic, a shortened article by Virginia Morell.  Full article here.

A new species of flying squirrel has been found in the Pacific Northwest. It’s been dubbed Humboldt’s flying squirrel, in honor of the great naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.

The discovery means that three—not two—species of the furred gliders live in North America, and it changes our understanding of how these squirrels evolved and spread across the continent, scientists report today in the Journal of Mammalogy.

“I’ve been scratching my head over these squirrels since 1992,” says Brian Arbogast, a mammalogist at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, and the study’s lead author. “There was just something weird about those from the West Coast.” Actually, all flying squirrels are a little bit weird. For starters, they don’t fly but glide, using a parachute-like membrane on both sides of their body that stretches from wrist to ankle. When they leap at a target tree, they spread their body into a square and cover as much 150 feet in a single glide with great accuracy.

They use their broad, fluffy tails for steering and braking, slowing down before hitting a target tree. To escape predators, they usually sail through the forest at night, foraging for berries, nuts, fungi, and birds’ eggs. During the day they sleep in old tree holes they line with lichens and moss. Tiny, nocturnal, and to our ears almost silent, they’re the secretive souls of our forests—animals of no commercial value, and perhaps for that reason treasured by those fortunate enough to spot them.

And while Arbogast and his colleagues have been some of those lucky folks, they didn’t discover the new squirrel while working in the wild but through a genetic study, combined with analysis of the gliders’ history and mapping of their shifting ranges as glaciers and forests expanded and contracted.

Biologists used to classify the flying squirrels of California and the coastal Pacific Northwest with northern flying squirrels. But Arbogast, who has studied the ecology and genetics of the two species, began to wonder about those West Coast gliders as he handled museum specimens collected since the early 1900s. They were typically—and puzzlingly—smaller and darker than the northern flying squirrels. Often such differences aren’t enough to identify a new species. 

A shock came as the scientists analyzed the DNA from tissue and skeletal samples they snipped or scraped from western flying squirrel museum specimens. They also examined DNA from fresher samples provided by trappers, who often find gliders in traps set out for martens. The scientists’ analysis of the DNA from 185 individuals across North America confirmed Arbogast’s view of the West Coast squirrels. They were different and weird enough to be classified as a new species: G. oregonensis—Humboldt’s flying squirrel. “They’re what we call a “cryptic species,” one that’s hidden in plain view because they look so much like another species—you’d never guess they were different,” he says. But Arbogast’s discovery is more than that, says Peter Weigl, a vertebrate ecologist and emeritus professor at Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “He has their genetics, but he’s also shown how their geography, climate, and vegetation changed over time. It’s the full story.”

So if you have the good fortune one night to spot a palm-size, dark squirrel, as opposed to a slightly larger and grayer squirrel, gliding through the mossy woods of an Oregon coastal forest, you can boast, “I’ve seen it: Humboldt’s flying squirrel.” North America’s newest mammal.

 

 

 

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