This is an ecology website first and foremost; its organization is designed emphasize connections of organisms and habitats. It provides taxonomic classifications of many common species of animals and plants, but also seeks to portray their relationships in terms of the times, places, and particular environments in which they appeared. Most pages are organized 1) chronologically, 2) by taxonomic classification, and 3) natural area where they were seen. The one exception is the Virtual Wildflower Garden, on which wildflower photos are organized by time of year (expressed by month-day pairs) within color categories.
1. The little pictures, with or without the blue frames, on this site are thumbnails, i.e., if you click on any of them, you will see a much bigger version of that picture. Exception to this rule: On the home page, clicking on a thumbnail will send you to another page (try it!).
2. On the home page there are links to subject (type of animal, wildflowers) pages. Each thumbnail picture gives an example of an animal or wildflower species found on that page, but also will send you to the relevant page.
3. On the other hand, if you have an idea of what kind of organism you saw, you can use the many pull-down menus or (on the home page) thumbnails to go right to the relevant page. Each of the pictures on the home page will send you to another page if you click on it.
4. There is a lot of material on each subject page (for example, "Beetles"), organized by animals' scientifically determined similarity (taxonomic classification), which is ideal for browsing when you're looking for an animal's name.
5. If you're looking for a word but don't know which page it's found on, enter it in the search box at the top right part of the page, which will bring up a page of links to the pages on which they are found.
6. If you want to identify a wildflower and you know the petal color and time of year of sighting, go to the Virtual Wildflower Garden page to get the wildflower's common name. Then go to the wildflower taxonomy page to get the Latin name.
7. To search for an item on this page on a desktop computer, enter CTRL+F. On an iPhone, follow these directions: https://www.wirefly.com/guides/how-to-search-for-text-on-webpage-iphone-ctrl-f
This site was designed to enable users with very little knowledge of zoology or botany to figure out the genus and species of an animal or plant without clicking hundreds of links or learning mountains of jargon. Sometimes, of course, that can't be done using a website alone: for example, you have to dissect some animals to determine their species definitively. But the species can be identified from a photo in many cases, and the genus or family in many more.
Still in all, nobody's perfect, at least outside their area of expertise. Even academics have very narrow areas of concentration. It's up to you, the user, to validate what you've learned. That means confirming the correctness of the knowledge you've been offered by looking it up in authoritative sources. That can mean .edu or .gov websites, peer-reviewed journal articles, or a variety of other sources with good word-of-mouth reputations. I have my own favorites on the Acknowledgements and References Page. In any case, you'll have to make some judgment calls on the way.
But why not go to the authoritative sources right away? Because they typically have at least one of two problems: 1) they require the user to have a great deal of subject knowledge already or 2) they are very narrow in focus. Finding your way to an authoritative source that can answer your particular question can be difficult and time-consuming in itself. This website is designed to help you take that first step. If it leads you astray, please contact us and explain what needs to be fixed.
NOTE: This site is a tribute to the successful work of conservationists throughout North Carolina, including those operating state parks, maintaining university-owned gardens and those involved in nature conservancy efforts. They have ensured an abundance of wildlife even in at least one fairly large city (Durham, NC) and have made it possible for natural habitats housing animals of even relatively rare species to be found within the limits of that city and in neighboring areas.
Disclaimer: This website is the product of an independent naturalist, with the occasional volunteered help of several professional field biologists and others with demonstrated expertise in the field. Although I welcome such help when it is volunteered, I have relied mainly on reference books and visits to other websites. This site lists my sources of information, both on relevant pages and on the Acknowledgements and References Page. I take full responsibility for any errors and make no guarantees of correctness of information. I invite all visitors to my website to inform me of any presented facts needing correction; I make changes requested by authorities in relevant fields according to my best understanding of what they wish. I cannot, however, take responsibility for making changes that have not been requested. Taxonomic classifications presented are not meant to represent all known classifications, or to imply that all possible classifications have been done. This website is in a constant process of evolution and represents an ongoing learning process. Its content is still expanding and its structure is undergoing changes. Anthropomorphic interpretations of animal behavior are made mostly about birds and are meant strictly for the amusement of the site visitor.
© 2007-2021 Dorothy E. Pugh