Misunderstood Mesos: Arctic Fox (Vulpes lagopus)

Misunderstood Mesos: Arctic Fox (Vulpes lagopus)

Built to survive in some of the harshest conditions on Earth, Arctic foxes play an important mesocarnivore role in ecosystems of the far North.  Living in lands that remain below freezing for most of the year is a huge challenge for such a small mammal, but these highly adapted and cunning foxes find a way to flourish on the dark, frozen landscape.  Their bright white fur may provide their most recognizable trait, but the density and layering of the fur, not the color, is their primary adaptation to battle the brutal cold.  

Misunderstood Mesos: Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana)

Misunderstood Mesos: Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana)

Typically portrayed in popular culture as being ugly, opossums have several physical traits that make them unlike any other North American mammal.  First, they are the only marsupial inhabiting the United States and Canada.  Their indicative coloration of white heads with pink noses and gray bodies makes them easily identified, however, their most remarkable anatomy is their long, naked, prehensile tail.  Although their unusual tail sometimes gets them misidentified as huge rats, opossums are not related to rodents and use their muscular tail to grip branches when climbing trees.  

Misunderstood Mesos: Fishers

Misunderstood Mesos: Fishers

The fisher is one of the most reclusive and therefore misunderstood mammals in North America.  Sometimes known as a fisher cat, this large weasel is neither a cat nor does it eat fish, hence both titles are misnomers.  The name is believed to have originated by European settlers who called the animal “fitch,” a common name for the European polecat. 

Misunderstood Mesos: The Striped Skunk

Misunderstood Mesos: The Striped Skunk

It is built for a life foraging at the ground surface, with short, powerful legs and a stocky body.  The head and body measure 13-18 inches, with the notorious tail adding another 7-10 inches.  It’s weight varies greatly with average adults between 5-10 pounds, but some as heavy as fourteen pounds!

It is the Striped Skunk aka a Misunderstood Mesos.

How do dogs help with Eurasian oystercatcher conservation? 

How do dogs help with Eurasian oystercatcher conservation? 

Coastal wetlands are important habitats for many bird species.  Additionally, these marshes filter sediment from waterways and absorb floodwaters, both of which are major benefits to humans living near the coast.  Unfortunately, industrial and residential development threatens coastal wetlands around the world.  Rising seas caused by climate warming add yet another stress upon these important ecosystems.