What's In My Backyard?
Updated: May 22, 2020
Here at Research on the Road, we would love to find and see every species on the planet! It's ambitious, and with an estimated 1-2 million animal species alone, probably an impossible dream. We can only travel so much and even the best eye can miss the amazing creatures that are so well hidden in their home environment. We definitely can't be everywhere at once. That's why we need your help! Have you seen an interesting creature in your backyard?
Will you share it with us?
Did you stumble upon an animal that you can't identify?
Can we try to help?
You can send us picture or description through our Facebook page Or you can send us an email at email@example.com You can even send us a message in the Contact tab in the upper right of this page.
Tell us your name, where you found the critter, and a description/picture or use the Nature Field Guide on our Citizen Science page
We received these turtle pictures from Danielle T. in South Carolina.
Our diagnosis: Red Eared Slider
And this lovely lizard? Our diagnosis: Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)
What's interesting with these two species is that only one of them is native to Danielle's home state of South Carolina.
The slider turtle is considered an invasive species, which refers to any species of animals, plants, and pathogens whose introduction causes economic or environmental harm. Often (but not always) humans are responsible for introducing species by keeping them as pets or just allowing them to hitchhike unnoticed when traveling.
Invasive species are a huge problem on islands, because they are capable of decimating native species in their small, isolated habitats. It is possible for an invasive species to cause the extinction of native plants and animals, but more often their impact is that of reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering habitats.
This green anole is one of the species impacted by invasive species. In much of their range, brown anoles out-compete native lizard species for food and territory, and have even been known to eat smaller species. Native to Cuba and the Bahamas, they were brought to Florida as unintended shipping cargo more than a century ago, and have been making their way west towards Texas and hare steadily progressing north. Problem is, it can be kind of difficult to tell the two apart. This guy is definitely brown in color, but his species is called a green anole!
Red-eared sliders are often released by pet owners, and can be found in lakes and streams all over the world. They are native to North America, but are found far from their native range. Not only are they invasive here in South Carolina, but you can find populations as distant as Australia, Europe, South Africa, the Caribbean Islands, the Middle East, and Asia!
Invasive species can be an issue when they harm agriculture or commercially important plants, animals, and fish. The question is- are the plant and animals that we raise and farm invasive species?
This is something of a grey area, and it depends on the perspective of the person evaluating the environment.
Cows have taken over where bison used to roam on the American plains, but do we think of cows as invasive?
Tropical rainforests are often destroyed so that certain profitable crop species can be grown there. This destroys the habitat of thousands of native plants and animals, but we do not think of coffee, sugar, or palm oil as coming from an invasive species that greatly reduces native biodiversity.
Mangrove swamps, which are important areas that act as a nursery for many young fish in tropical regions, is often replaced with shrimp farms for people to eat. Even if the shrimp are native, does their man-made population increase and destruction of the habitat make them invasive?
Question to consider: Are humans invasive?