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Wildlife Photographed in their Natural Habitats Featuring Images of Birds, Marine Mammals, Reptiles, Insects and Spiders

The wildlife webpages feature wild animals from the several classes including Aves (birds), Mammalia (mammals), Insecta (insects), Arachnida (spiders) and Reptilia (reptiles) that I photographed in their natural habitat.

The animals were free and unrestrained in their natural or adopted habitat. I exclude animals, which have a dependency on man for food, such as zoos. Captive animals and plants in botanic or formal gardens feature in my travel section.

Birds (Aves)Birds

I've grouped birds (Aves) into habitat types where I photographed them. Each habitat comprises a set of webpages with image collections arranged by ecozone/country and taxonomic rank.

I use a simplistic title for habitat type and where applicable I expand the name in the sub-webpage to cover the habitats where the birds were photographed. For example, I use garden to cover to urban, rural, parks, nature reserves, etc.

Forest and garden habitat is arranged in two collections. The first features New World birds that includes hummingbirds, oscine and suboscine passerines together with several families of non-passerines. The second showcases Australasian and Indomalaya ecozone birds that include Australasian oscine passerines and non-passerines, Old World oscine passerines and suboscines together with New Zealand wrens.

Forest and water habitat feature images of kingfishers, their allies and birds of prey that inhabit forest or woodland often near water and those that inhabit more open areas or at the forest edge.

Marine and costal habitat featuring birds on the shore, coast or pelagic waters featuring albatrosses, shearwaters, penguins and auks.

Wetland and coastal habitat arranged in two collections, the first showcase herons, bitterns, egrets, ibises, storks and pelicans while the second features waders, gulls, terns, waterfowl, rails and coots.

Marine MammalsMarine mammals

Maine mammals (Mammalia) in pelagic and coastal habitat highlighting feature whales, seals, sea lions and dolphins.

Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) coming ashore early morning, centre Anse Bazarca beach, Seychelles, 2011Reptiles

Apart from a few targeted reptile (Reptilia) species such as nesting turtles most other reptile species I photograph on an opportunity basis while photographing birds or on scenic walks. I've arranged the image collections by taxonomic order rather than habitat and showcase turtles, saltwater crocodiles, lizards, skinks and snakes.

Insects (Insecta) and Spiders(Arachnida)(Insects) and (Spiders)

As with reptiles I photograph most insects (Insecta) and spiders (Arachnida)on an opportunity basis, there are some exceptions such as butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. I've arranged image collections by taxonomic class and order rather than habitat and include butterflies, moths, dragonflies, damselflies and spiders.

Introduction to Taxonomic Classification

Carl Linnaeus devised a formal system for naming, ranking and classifying organisms in the mid seventeen-hundreds, although modified is still in use today. Over the years, scientific understanding of animal evolution and the study of animal DNA has resulted in significant changes and sometimes-conflicting taxonomic ranking.

Taxonomic classification is Kingdom, Phylum (division traditionally was used in botany), Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. My wildlife pages are grouped at class level with associated subpages generally arranged by habitat where I photographed them with the order, family, genus and species for each gallery and image identified. Some animals are cosmopolitans found in a variety of environments, while others are only found in certain ecozones or even smaller environmental zones so some collections may be based on distribution.

Visual Identification of Animals

Visual identification can be straight forward if I know or have a good idea of an animal's genus but can be challenging if I don't. In both cases, it a matter of researching using both online resources and printed material, Bibliography refers.

There are many online resources with images of animal that can be used for comparison; the two most useful are the Encyclopaedia of Life (EOL, (Ref 1) and iNaturalist (iNat, Ref 11). These websites have searchable databases that produce good results from searches using high and low level data.

Most online resources and printed material have omissions, especially with less well documented wildlife such as invertebrates. In these cases, I use additional online resources that are specific to a country or region; where necessary I reference these on applicable webpages.

Aves Taxonomic Classification

In the 1970's, DNA-DNA hybridisation studies conducted by Sibley-Ahlquist proposed significant change to bird taxonomy. However, these changes have not gained universal acceptance by all authorities resulting in ranking inconsistencies. As ornithologists continue to propose changes the different authorities update their checklists but inconsistencies remain. Although I start researching using the most authoritative resources I place images of species I photographed in orders and families that best suit my habitat based image collections and galleries whether it be the traditional or the new taxonomic approached.

Specific online resources I use for taxonomic Aves class follow:

(1) BirdLife International (Ref 2), the official IUCN Red List Authority for birds:

(a) Is my primary online resource for identifying a birds common and scientific family, genus and species name. The website has a searchable species database, which contains data and information such as threat, distribution, population and habitat.

(b) The organisation maintains its own taxonomic checklist covering 36 orders, precedence is Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993) unless species have been treated by additional sources such as extinct species and regional endemic species. The non-passerines section of the checklist is published in book form – HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World Volume 1 (Ref 98), the checklist is incorporated into the Handbook of the Birds of the World.

(c) The BirdLife International website links to:

(i) HBW Alive the online version of Handbook of the Birds of the World (Ref Ref 2.1), which features bird illustrations and descriptive notes including information on voice, habitat, food and breeding.

(ii) IBC (The Internet Bird Collection) (Ref 2.2), an embedded on-line resource with media (video, photo and sound) for each species.

(2) IUCN Red List (Ref 3), the website has full taxonomy information and conservation status for the species in the 36 orders that it recognises. The site links/references the Catalogue of Life, which provides an online database of the world's known species of animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms.

(3) IOC World Bird List (Ref 4):

(a) An open resource that has full taxonomic data on 40 orders that it recognises. I use this website to supplement the information in given in Ref 2 especially when a bird is not in the BirdLife International/IUCN databases. The IOC World Bird List complements three other primary world bird lists that differ slightly in their primary goals and taxonomic philosophy:

(i) The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World (Ref 9)

(ii) Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World 4th edition, HBW Alive/Birdlife International (Ref 2.1).

(b) The resource references:

(i) Taxonomy in Flux Checklist (Ref 5), which addresses changes under the new approach to bird taxonomy, it lists 46 orders.

(ii) Avibase – the world bird database (Ref 6). This resource provides an extensive database and information system about all birds of the world allowing species data searches and checklist production. The latter is a particularly useful feature as a species checklist can be produced for a country or region based on one of the major checklists, such as Sibley and Monroe or local checklists, such as Oriental Bird Club in Singapore. Selecting a species from the checklist allows access to store species data.

(iii) Tree of Life web project.

(4) The major bird checklists (CL) including comparison CLs I reference as downloaded Excel spread sheets are:

(a) BirdLife International Checklist* (Ref 2) {V9, 2016}

(b) Taxonomy in Flux Checklist (Ref 5) {V3.06}

(c) The Sibley/Monroe World List of Bird Names# (Ref 8) and (Ref 99)

(d) IOC World Bird List* including several comparative CLs (Ref 4) (V6.4}

(e) Clements*, eBirds* and an integrated Checklist (Ref 9) {V2016}

* CLs include order, family, genus and species.

# Order of birds is excluded from spread sheet (Ref 8) but is included in printed version (Ref 99).

Mammalia Taxonomic Classification

The class of Mammalia (mammals) are classified in the kingdom of Animalia (animals), Chordata (animals with a backbone) phylum.

The classic reference work on mammal species taxonomic classification is Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors) 2005 book: Mammal Species of the World, A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), published by Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore is the classic reference work on mammal species taxonomic classification. Two online searchable databases of mammalian taxonomy are based on the reference work:

(a) Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's Mammal Species of the World (MSW) database (Ref 13).

(b) Bucknell University’s Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition (MSW3) database (Ref 14).

As with birds, mammal classification also subject to change as new information and evidence about a species becomes available to systematists. The Animal Diversity Web (Ref 15) is another powerful online database of animal natural history, distribution, classification and conservation information (University of Michigan) that keep track of these changes. Reference hyperlinks open in a new window.

Identification and Taxonomic Classification of Other Animals

For initial visual identification of other animal classes, where the common or scientific name in unknown, iNaturalist (iNat, Ref 11) can be extremely useful allowing a search of the database by scientific order name or common order name. For example, entering moths as a simple search will yield photos of all the species that are in the database. Once the scientific name is known visual identification can be checked using the Encyclopaedia of Life (EOL, Ref 1) where images are tagged as trusted or unreviewed. Images submitted via iNat are reviewed by the research community and only when two or three reviewers agree they are tagged as trusted.

The Union for Conservation of Nature Red List (IUCN, Ref 3) and Catalogue of Life (COL, Ref 12) websites can be used for verification of conservation status and classification.

Reptilia

The class of Reptilia (reptiles) are in the kingdom of Animalia (animals), the phylum Chordata (animals with a backbone).

For classification and visual confirmation, the Reptile Database (Ref 16) and iNaturalist (iNat, Ref 11) are extremely useful as the database search facilities accept both common and scientific names. The IUCN Red List (Ref 3) database search determines conservation status and if not listed it may point to a Catalogue of Life (COL, Ref 12) entry.

Insecta and Arachnida

The class of Insecta (insects) and Arachnida (spiders) belong to the phylum Arthropoda (arthropods) which are invertebrate animals in the kingdom of Animalia.

Once the common or scientific name of a species is known, the most useful resource for initial classification of insects including butterflies, moths and other arthropods, such as spiders, is the online searchable database Insect Images (Ref 17).

The World Spider Catalog is a fully searchable online database covering spider taxonomy, (Ref 18).

As with all life forms insect classification is subject to controversy, review and revision.

Conservation Status

When I photograph wildlife, I try to determine its conservation status and include a note in the appropriate image galleries supporting narrative when it is a threatened species (Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable). I don’t include notes on conservation status of species that are low risk IE Least Concern. For species where adequate data is available for the categorisation process the IUCN red list categories are:

(a) Extinct [EX] and Extinct in the Wild [EW];

(b) Threatened species: Critically Endangered [CR], Endangered [EN], Vulnerable [VU];

(c) Lower risk species: Near Threatened [NT] and Least Concern [LC].

(d) Where adequate data in not available, the category is Data Deficient [DD].

(e) Some species are categorised Not Evaluated [NC].

For conservation status, I use data from the IUCN (Ref 3), International Union for Conservation of Nature Website’s Red List. When the conservation status of a species or subspecies is not included in the IUCN Red List I research local sources and include that information if available.

Ecozones

The eight ecozones as defined in Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World: A New Map of Life on Earth (Ref 71) follow:

(a) Australasia: Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand (South of Wallace Line).

(b) Nearctic: North America.

(c) Neotropic: South America, Central America, Caribbean.

(d) Palearctic: Eurasia (Europe and North Asia), North Africa.

(e) Afrotropic: Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, southern Arabia Peninsular.

(f) Indomalaya: Indian subcontinent, SE Asia, southern China, Indonesia.

(g) Oceania: Polynesia, Micronesia, Fiji.

(h) Antarctic.

Distribution of bird species range from small local populations such as the Pink Pigeon on Mauritius to cosmopolitan distributed species such as crows. Ecozones are useful way of defining bird distribution.






Ecozone Map by carol (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Abbreviations

CL:    Checklist

COL:  Catalogue of Life

DNA:  DeoxyriboNucleic Acid

EOL:  Encyclopaedia of Life

HBW: Handbook of the Birds of the World

IBA:   Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas

IBC:   The Internet Bird Collection

iNat:  iNaturalist

IOC:   International Community of Ornithologists

IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature

MSW:  Mammal Species of the World

Abbreviations: Conservation Status

CR:  Critically Endangered

DD:  Data Deficient

EN:  Endangered

EW: Extinct in the Wild

EX:  Extinct

LC:  Least Concern

NE:  Not Evaluated

NT:  Threatened

VU:  Vulnerable


Page Contents

Birds

Mammals, Reptiles, Insects and Spiders

Introduction to Taxonomic Classification

Visual Identification of Animals

Aves Taxonomic Classification

Mammals Taxonomic Classification

Identification and Taxonomic Classification of Other Animals

Conservation Status

Ecozones