Talk:Raccoon/GA1

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GA Review[edit]

I'll be reviewing this article beginning in the next few hours and probably will be finished within 24 hours. The opener and range map look great, but I haven't had a chance to look much more thoroughly than that yet. DJLayton4 (talk) 01:44, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Notes for lead through taxonomy[edit]

I've begun copyediting (I've noticed a few Denglish errors ^-^) and so far have gotten through the taxonomy section. Here are some areas that perhaps need fixing: DJLayton4 (talk) 07:05, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Thanks very much for your edits. I have asked for a copyedit by a native speaker once, but that was not successful. I have tried my best to write good English, but to grasp the subtleties of "brilliant prose" is another thing. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 07:31, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Your English is better than many native speakers, don't get me wrong. It's only that I've taught English in Germany and can recognise certain mistakes as distinctly German-to-English ones that others would probably fail to notice or only find subtely odd. On the whole it's very well written (infinitely better than I could write in German!). DJLayton4 (talk) 18:21, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • From the lead: "Often, related females share a common area and unrelated males live together in small groups up to four animals to sustain their position during the mating season." I don't understand what is meant by the bold text. Could you clarify?
  • This formulation looks much better. DJLayton4 (talk) 18:21, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Does the evolution subsection belong in a section devoted to taxonomy? Perhaps the section should be renamed "systematics" to avoid this issue, but if it's common practice in other animal articles I suppose that the current layout is fine.
  • Yes, it is common practise. See the featured articles bobcat and elk for example. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 07:31, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Strange to me, but I'll accept ^-^ DJLayton4 (talk) 18:21, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Just as a note, FAC would probably require that the "other 19 subspecies" be treated a little more thoroughly, but for GAC its fine as is.
  • I think giving details about different coat color would be quite boring, so I will have to think about how this could be done. (But maybe not until a FA nomination.) --Novil Ariandis (talk) 07:31, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Don't worry about it now, but boring is probably less important than relative completeness. DJLayton4 (talk) 18:21, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Notes for description[edit]

I'll begin reviewing the rest now and I'll post comments on a section by section basis. DJLayton4 (talk) 18:21, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

  • In the "Physical characteristics" subsection's second paragraph you write: "It is assumed that the noticeable face coloring and the alternating light and dark rings on the tail help raccoons to quickly recognize the mimic and posture of conspecifics. - What is meant by "mimic" in this sentence? I would also suggest replacing "conspecifics", which sounds quite awkward and is jargon, with "members of their species" or something similar.
  • I meant something like "facial expression". Mimic is obviously a false friend of the German word "Mimik". "Artgenosse" is a widely used term in German for "other members of the own species", so I thought the direct translation "conspecific" would be a good choice and used it often. According to you I was wrong. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 21:09, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • As far as my experience goes, "conspecific" is most often used as an adjective and not a noun, but according to the dictionary "conspecific" can indeed be used as you have used it. I suppose it's fine to leave it then, but it is still a bit awkward and jargony for me as I don't ever recall encountering it. DJLayton4 (talk) 01:26, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Some jargon should probably be explained throughout the section, such as plantigrade, vibrissae, accomodation and tapetum lucidum. Although these are wikilinked and rather specific, I find it very helpful to uninitiated readers to include a short definition, or at least an idea as to what the word means. I find it extremely irritating having to click on a wikilink every minute when I am reading about a subject that I am new to, so I think this would be a good service to the readers of this article. When I write descriptions of plants, which is very jargon rich, I use the scientific word followed by a parenthetical phrase. For example, "the leaf blades are ovate (i.e. egg-shaped) in outline" or " the leaf blades have oblique, or uneven, bases". This way you can have the specificity of scientific terms and accesibility for lay readers. Of course it's more difficult for complex words...
  • I know many articles fail to explain jargon, but I think that is a serious problem and should not be emulated. I think explaining any word when it can be done in a sentence or less will increase the readability of the article significantly. DJLayton4 (talk) 01:26, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
  • "Urine, feces, and gland secretions, usually distributed with their anal glands, are used for marking" - Is there more specificity about what they are marking? Territory, breeding grounds, etc.? Or are all of these excretions and secretions used generally?
  • Good questions, I have to check my books to be able to answer them. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 21:09, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • "In 1908, the ethologist H. B. Davis compared their learning speed with those of Rhesus Macaques after they had opened 11 of 13 complex locks in less than 10 tries." We need the results of this study. How did racoons compare?
  • Are these words missing: H. B. Davis compared their learning speed to be equal with that of Rhesus Macaques? If this is not the problem, I do not really understand it. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 21:09, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Those words were indeed missing ^-^. And the word "compared" can't exactly be used like that. You would have to say "H.B. Davis compared the learning speeds of the raccoon and the Rhesus Macque and found them to be roughly equal" or something along those lines. DJLayton4 (talk) 01:26, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
  • The intelligence section should go into a bit more depth if possible. Could you give some more details on those 4 memory studies you mention?
  • Uhm, I would love to go more into detail about the intelligence of raccoons, but there is really not much more to tell. I could give an example for the task of one of the memory studies, but all in all it was very much like: "Interesting, raccoons remember this task to get some food after x months." With x increasing with every study. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 21:09, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Details of the memory study would be quite informative I think. It would be nice to have some of them included if it's not a great inconvenience. DJLayton4 (talk) 01:26, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Notes for behavior[edit]

  • The three class society should be explained. Why did Hohmann choose to call it this? DJLayton4 (talk) 19:44, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • He called it like this because there are three quite different social systems (not truly the right word) in contrast to loners like tigers and pack animals like wolves (yeah, yeah, there are always exceptions... ;-)): "female fussion-fission society", "male social groups" and "mothers and her kits". But "three class society" maybe indicates too much "bottom to top" and not "side by side" and the whole citation should be removed. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 21:09, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I think it would be fine to leave if it is simply made more clear that the three class society relates to the previous terms discussed. As it is it'a out of context and difficult to interpret. If we added something like, "These three different social organisations led whatever-his-name-is to describe their society as a three class society", then this would fix the issue. DJLayton4 (talk) 01:34, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
  • In "Dousing": "Raccoons sample food and other objects with their front paws to get a picture of it and to remove unwanted parts. In addition, it increases the tactile sensibility of their paws when the callus is softened underwater. Captive raccoons sometimes carry their food to a watering hole to “wash”, or douse, it before eating it; a behavior not observed in the wild" - The bold sentence does not flow with the preceding or following sentence. It is out of place and should be reworded and/or moved elsewhere. I can't think of how to fix it myself. DJLayton4 (talk) 20:15, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I think it should stay in this place, but I will try to reword it for a better logical connection to the preceding and following sentence. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 21:09, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm still confused as to how the sentence relates. It seems to suggests that they would douse in the wild in order to use this extra sensibility to their advantage, and this implication seems at odds with what follows. Does this make sense? DJLayton4 (talk) 01:34, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Although the sense of touch in their paws is even better underwater for the reason mentioned, wild raccoons do not bring their food to a watering place. Only captive raccoons do that. I think that the text in the article says exactly this. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 09:22, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
  • The statement that raccoons in the wild have not been observed to douse their food prior to eating is simply not true. For several years I nightly sat by a stream and fed up to 70 raccoons in a local wooded area. Many of these raccoons would take food such as bread or other baked goods from my hand or from a food bag. The very first thing they would do is go to the stream and douse the food, then eat it. One female who used to come with four cubs would take several pieces of bread at a time, dump them all in the water and eat them. She would then return quickly for another handful of food which she immediately doused once again in the stream a few yards away. I have likewise raised raccoons in captivity. These animals more often than not would also douse their food before eating. They also enjoyed finding objects in my pockets, eg, coins, keys, pens, etc, all of which they would immediately dunk in their water troughs. Dousing by captive raccoons is surely an established fact; similar dousing by wild raccoons is behaviour I have witnessed on a regular basis. Clearly, dousing is not limited to animals in human care. Given raccoons will douse both food and non-food items would also seem to indicate that they simply enjoy the enhanced tactile pleasure afforded by wetting the objects, whatever they may be. ConcernedMage (talk) 12:54, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Reply regarding both "Description" and "Behavior": I have tried to improve all open issues except for the jargon which I have still to look at. However, I have added the additional information about marking at the end of the chapter "Social behavior", since it does not belong into the chapter about "Physical characteristics". It was sometimes quite hard to get the facts right and I have to have a second look at the formulations later. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 13:22, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Notes for reproduction and life expectancy[edit]

  • Both of these sections look fine.DJLayton4 (talk) 21:47, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Notes for habitat[edit]

  • You mention quarries as a primary sleeping location- are you sure about this? Quarries are man-made sites for mining stone. Are you sure you don't mean a rocky slope or something like that? DJLayton4 (talk) 21:47, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Rock crevice seems to be the best term (used by Zeveloff and not too far away from the direct translation of the word Steinbruch used by Hohmann). I rewrote some other parts of this passage, too. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 11:12, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
  • "In a study in the German low mountain range Solling, more than 60% of all sleeping places were used only once, but those used at least 10 times accounted for about 70% of all overday stays." : this sentence is unclear to me. What is an "overday stay"? DJLayton4 (talk) 21:47, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
  • An overday stay is supposed to be the opposite of an overnight stay. I exchanged it with a simple uses. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 11:12, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
  • "Since amphibians, crustaceans and other animals found at the shore of lakes and rivers are an important part of their diet, humid deciduous or mixed forests sustain the highest population densities.": here the conclusion does not follow from the premise. Presumabely this would mean that areas near rivers and lakes would sustain high population densities, not forests, which is stated more or less in the following sentence. I went ahead and changed this, but you may want to have a look to make sure that it still makes sense. DJLayton4 (talk) 21:47, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Note to self: Look at this later! --Novil Ariandis (talk) 08:23, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Notes for distribution in North America[edit]

  • I removed the bolded text from the following sentence: "The estimated number of raccoons in North America in the late 1980s was 15 to 20 times higher than in the 1930s when raccoons were comparatively rare; a population explosion which started with their 1943 breeding season." Not only is a semicolon inappropriate there (semicolons join independent clauses; the bolded text is a dependent clause), linking a single breeding season to the start of a population explosion should be explained due to the high degree of specificity. DJLayton4 (talk) 22:14, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
  • There is not much information about this fact in Raccoons: A Natural History. It says: "They began to prosper following their 1943 breeding season, apparently across the continent. A rapid population surge continued throughout the 1940s, [...] The reasons for both their decline and subsequent increase are not well understood, [...]" He then writes about the four causes I mention after that. If more data is needed why the year is nailed to 1943 by Zeveloff, I probably have to write him an e-mail and ask him to publish the information anywhere on his website, so that it can be used as a source. Surely not the best source since it won't be reviewed, but it should at least be acceptable since he is definetly an expert. I could also change the part to "a population explosion starting in the 1940s." --Novil Ariandis (talk) 22:31, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Hmm. You're certainly right about the information being from a reliable source. The information is fine if it is reworded, and I like your formulation above. Let's go with that. DJLayton4 (talk) 00:13, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Notes for distribution outside North America[edit]

  • I'm a bit concerned that the last paragraph of "Distribution in Germany" may not express a neutral point of view. The general concensus is that introduced animals, especially large ones relatively high on the food chain, are detrimental to native flora and/or fauna. However, your treatment gives one sentence to this view, followed by three sentences in opposition. Would you say that you have represented the two viewpoints in such a way that you are not giving undue weight to one? A quick google search yielded this pdf that discusses their effects on ground-dwelling bird populations and other groups.DJLayton4 (talk) 01:56, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
  • This "general concensus" is not shared by German scientists like Prof. Josef Reichholf, chairman of the "Zoologische Staatssammlung München" ("Zoological State Collection Munich"), who opposes the view of a static nature and calls it xenophobia. Ulf Hohmann (a hunter) says that the raccoon is a “scapegoat” for many hunters and Michler (also a hunter) says that the claim that raccoons are responsible for the decline of the numbers of ground-nesting birds is "pure speculation" that "lacks any reliability". These are quite strong words for scientists, so undue weight should be not an issue after the changes made today. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 08:40, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
  • The edits are a bit more carefully worded. I have one more concern with this sentence: "Hohmann points out that extensive hunting can not be justified by the absence of natural predators, because predation is also not a significant cause of death in North America." "Points out" is a bit of weasel word and should be changed to "believes" or "thinks", since it is clearly one man's opinion on the morality of killing off an introduced species and not the presentation of fact.
  • Changed to "holds". If you don't like that word, change it to "believes". --Novil Ariandis (talk) 08:22, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I noticed that when I changed "carnivorans" to "carnivores" you changed it back. "Carnivoran" is an adjective in all dictionaries I have access to, but I noticed the Wikipedia article on the carnivores (as I would call them) uses "carnivorans" as well. At any rate, when the word is first used it should be explained or linked if it isn't already (I didn't check). DJLayton4 (talk) 22:17, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Notes on urban raccoons[edit]

Notes on diseases[edit]

  • "It may occur conjoined with a following infection with the encephalitis virus, causing together the same symptoms like rabies". As far as I have known, encephalitis is a symptom of several viral and bacterial infections, not a virus in its own right. Could you check if the source was perhaps more specific? DJLayton4 (talk) 22:17, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Changed, thanks for the information. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 08:22, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
  • "When cleaning latrines, a breathing protection should be worn to not ingest larvae of the Baylisascaris procyonis roundworm, which seldom causes a severe illness in humans." This needs a bit more context. I can imagine why raccoon roundworm larvae would be in a latrine, but it should be stated explicitly. DJLayton4 (talk) 22:17, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Added the missing bit of information. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 08:22, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Notes on conflicts[edit]

  • I changed "absolute rejection" in the first sentence, which was rather unclear, to "outrage at their prescence". I hope this is more or less what you had intended. DJLayton4 (talk) 22:47, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
  • "Some wildlife experts and most public authorities caution against feeding wild animals, because they might get increasingly obtrusive and dependant on humans as food source. Other experts challenge such arguments and give advice for feeding wildlife in their books." Is this information general or specific to particular animals? I notice that one of the sources is about wild foxes and as such may not be directly applicable to this article. DJLayton4 (talk) 22:47, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
  • This two sentences are not specific to the raccoon, but to feeding wildlife in general, in my opinion an important aspect. To say something like "caution against feeding raccoons, ..." would be wrong since this could be interpreted in a way that feeding foxes or wolves might be okay in their eyes. --Novil Ariandis (talk) 08:22, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
  • "When a mother uses the chimney or attic as a nesting place it is easiest to wait until she and her kits will leave when they are about eight weeks old." Why is this easiest? This information is uniteresting without further details, and Wikipedia is not a guidebook. DJLayton4 (talk) 22:47, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I disagree. I think it is quite interesting to know that they will leave after some weeks, so that simply waiting is a decent option to deal with the problem. This sentence also just states a fact from the given source and is not written in a how-to-style. If so, it would read like: "... you should simply wait until they leave...".