Falkland Islands Wolf — Tim Gallagher, 1876, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)
I recently traveled to the Falkland Islands. One of the animals that is now missing from the islands is the Falkland Islands wolf, or “warrah”—the only native land mammal on the Falklands, which became extinct in 1876. Charles Darwin saw them during his visits there in 1832 and 1833. It really looked more like a large fox or dog than a wolf, but its closest living relative is the maned wolf of South America, from which it split more than six million years ago. It was a mystery for many years how the animal got to the Falklands, but scientists now speculate that it made its way there about 16,000 years ago when sea levels were lower, the islands were larger, and there might have been an ice corridor for them to cross. Unfortunately for the warrah, it was incredibly unafraid of humans. “These wolves are well known [for their] tameness and curiosity, which the sailors, who ran into the water to avoid them, mistook for fierceness,” wrote Darwin. He correctly predicted its demise: “In all probability [it] will be classed with the dodo, as an animal which has perished from the face of the earth.” He also noted that the wolves “from the western island were smaller and of a redder colour than those from the eastern”—which no doubt contributed to his later speculations on how island species, isolated from their ancestral species, evolve differing characteristics.

Falkland Islands Wolf — Tim Gallagher, 1876, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

I recently traveled to the Falkland Islands. One of the animals that is now missing from the islands is the Falkland Islands wolf, or “warrah”—the only native land mammal on the Falklands, which became extinct in 1876. Charles Darwin saw them during his visits there in 1832 and 1833. It really looked more like a large fox or dog than a wolf, but its closest living relative is the maned wolf of South America, from which it split more than six million years ago. It was a mystery for many years how the animal got to the Falklands, but scientists now speculate that it made its way there about 16,000 years ago when sea levels were lower, the islands were larger, and there might have been an ice corridor for them to cross. Unfortunately for the warrah, it was incredibly unafraid of humans. “These wolves are well known [for their] tameness and curiosity, which the sailors, who ran into the water to avoid them, mistook for fierceness,” wrote Darwin. He correctly predicted its demise: “In all probability [it] will be classed with the dodo, as an animal which has perished from the face of the earth.” He also noted that the wolves “from the western island were smaller and of a redder colour than those from the eastern”—which no doubt contributed to his later speculations on how island species, isolated from their ancestral species, evolve differing characteristics.

Loss of Urban Tree Cover — Andreas Jonathan, 2002, Roselle, NJ, USA

When we first moved to my current home I was very young, and I was afraid of the trees, I’d mostly lived in urban environments. The dense interconnecting branches that weaved through and around the neighborhood like a nest were so different, but I grew to love them. Each year they take away more and more. Even though each summer is hotter than the last, there is no shade. We hear less bird calls. Now they largest mass of trees in my area is the golf course. Which is being torn down to build a new housing development.

Fireflies — Matt Groff, 2000, Indiana, USA

I remember the fireflies coming out around dusk during the summer. I would be outside playing catch with my dad or playing with the neighbor’s dog and would start to notice the intermittent flashes of their lights. Maybe I’m spending time in more populated areas, but I haven’t seen fireflies as often or in the numbers that I used to.

Fireflies — Winifred Webb, 1963, Fairfield County, CT, USA

After dark, summertime in New Canaan CT, there were abundant fireflies in the early-mid 1960s - magical to a child

Ceanothus (California Lilac) — Winifred Webb, 1994, Malibu, CA, USA

The early 1990s the ceanothus (california lilac) was super abundant on our hillsides in Malibu. Following a fire, the government spent countless dollars of time, energy and fossil fuels dropping invasive grass seed from helicopters above, that has since crowded out the lovely ceanothus.

Eastern Elliptio Mussel — Molly Hale, 1990, Westport, NY, USA

Freshwater mussels such as the eastern elliptio used to be common in Lake Champlain. These mussels, around 3 or 4 inches long, would attach to rocks scattered in the sandy bay next to our camp. In 1993 the 3/4 inch long non-native zebra mussels invaded Lake Champlain and within a few years coated like barnacles every hard surface underwater, including the shells of native mussels. The zebra mussels killed the larger native mussels by attaching to their shells and preventing them from opening to feed. Now the rocks are coated with the razor sharp zebra mussels and the native mussels are nowhere to be found.

Glow worms — Rachel Tomlinson, 1982, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK

Walking up the track behind my house on a warm summer’s night I remember seeing the green lights of glow worms in the tall grass.

The missing whip-o-will bird — Virginia Patenaude, 1950, Park Hill Road, Northampton, MA, USA

When I was a child I remember the evening sound of the Wip-o-will in the cedar tree beneath my bedroom window an intermittent bird song in the 1950’s. It seems the environment changed when farmland changed hands and more homes were built in the country here in Northampton, Mass.

Whip-poor-will (bird) — Katharine Price Nelson, 1968, St. John’s creek, Lusby MD

My sister and I used to sleep on the screened-in front porch of a cottage in Lusby, MD on Saint John’s creek. We were serenaded at bedtime by the call of the “whip-poor-will.” It was wonderful and magical.

Monarch Butterfly — Carol Duke, 2013, Williamsburg, MA, USA
For over thirty years I have experienced awe and joy in raising monarch butterflies. Each summer and fall there would be dozens of monarchs floating about our gardens along with numerous females fastening eggs to milkweed plants scattered about the gardens and fields. I would harvest numerous egg-speckled plants growing in the paths and raise the caterpillars in my studio. I had grown to fondly anticipate having the animated caterpillars as part of my life each summer and observing their struggles in becoming the butterfly they were nurturing within their black, white and yellow bodies. Witnessing a caterpillar’s efforts in preparing for the unveiling of its chrysalis and then waiting with the jewel-like pupa until the butterfly formed and pushed out into the world, had been one of the greatest joys of my life. Added to that joy was seeing the thrill in my son’s eyes as he watched this metamorphosis with me and later sharing this small wonder of nature with other adults and children alike. I saw with gladness how neighbors began to care for their land differently knowing that such tiny treasures were hidden within their fields. During the summer of 2013, only two monarch butterflies made it to our gardens and they came so late the milkweed had nearly gone to seed. I did not find one egg the entire summer. Now, we know due to habitat loss and climate change the monarch migration is threatened.

Monarch Butterfly — Carol Duke, 2013, Williamsburg, MA, USA

For over thirty years I have experienced awe and joy in raising monarch butterflies. Each summer and fall there would be dozens of monarchs floating about our gardens along with numerous females fastening eggs to milkweed plants scattered about the gardens and fields. I would harvest numerous egg-speckled plants growing in the paths and raise the caterpillars in my studio. I had grown to fondly anticipate having the animated caterpillars as part of my life each summer and observing their struggles in becoming the butterfly they were nurturing within their black, white and yellow bodies. Witnessing a caterpillar’s efforts in preparing for the unveiling of its chrysalis and then waiting with the jewel-like pupa until the butterfly formed and pushed out into the world, had been one of the greatest joys of my life. Added to that joy was seeing the thrill in my son’s eyes as he watched this metamorphosis with me and later sharing this small wonder of nature with other adults and children alike. I saw with gladness how neighbors began to care for their land differently knowing that such tiny treasures were hidden within their fields. During the summer of 2013, only two monarch butterflies made it to our gardens and they came so late the milkweed had nearly gone to seed. I did not find one egg the entire summer. Now, we know due to habitat loss and climate change the monarch migration is threatened.