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December 2015

The secret life of a raindrop

According to a widely held belief, you can’t squeeze water from a rock. UC scientists are challenging that old adage with research at the NRS's Angelo Coast Range Reserve. They are working to understand how water's presence in roots, within bedrock, up tree trunks, in the air, and within soil fluctuates with storms and drought. This video by KQED Science shows how research by the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory is filling major gaps in our understanding of how water behaves in the environment, and its role in global climate. Read more >>

The dancing biologist

Most people wouldn’t be able to find any connection between an elephant seal and the cha-cha. But 20-year-old Xochitl Clare isn’t most people. For this fourth-year UC Santa Cruz student, it’s easy to see a link between a 4,000-pound pinniped and a boisterous form of Cuban dance. Not only does the marine biology and theater major study one and practice the other, but also sees a very real relationship between art and science. Read more >>

A classroom without walls

Imagine studying California's richly diverse landscapes, from sea to Sierra—and not in the confines of a classroom, but right int he thick of the actual habitat. That's exactly what the immersive California Ecology and Conservation course offers. Students from across the UC system spend seven weeks living and learning at UC's natural reserves, in habitats ranging from rocky coast and freshwater marsh to oak savanna, conifer forest, and desert. Read more >>

Conservation scholars program

A UC Santa Cruz program to nurture a diverse cadre of environmental conservation leaders will receive $2 million over four years from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The program will aims to open career horizons in conservation for students of color and first-generation college students. Scholars will get a taste of experiential field learning at NRS reserves, intern with environmental organizations, and receive career mentoring. Read more >>
Image by Kevin Neal

UCLA celebrates NRS 50th

The UCLA NRS threw a 50th anniversary party on November 19 featuring science, food, and a bright future for the Bruin reserves. A packed house learned about proposed research projects at Stunt Ranch and opportunities for scientific study throughout the NRS. Professors Brad Shaffer and Glen MacDonald assumed the mantle of faculty directors for Stunt Ranch Santa Monica Mountains Reserve and White Mountain Research Center, respectively, and professors Phil Rundel and Tony Orme collected well-deserved accolades for their years of leadership at those reserves. More photos >>


Wildlife tagging sparks funding for energy-harvesting sensors
Año Nuevo Island Reserve
Design News

Bruins explore California ecosystems through UC natural reserves
Stunt Ranch Santa Monica Mountains
White Mountain Research Center

Daily Bruin
NRS homepage

New NRS website

The NRS has a new website! It includes all the critical content you've come to rely on regarding reserve research, teaching, and news, in a sleek and easier-to-use package. Add our new virtual home to your bookmarks; we're at www.ucnrs.org.

Stunt bioblitz

So much mountain, so little time: The bioblitz at the NRS's Stunt Ranch Santa Monica Mountains Reserve yielded 117 observations of 99 species. Thanks to the Bruin Naturalists' Club for assisting the effort to characterize reserve organisms. Take a peek at what they found on the Stunt Ranch iNaturalist account.

Golden gates

The NRS's Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center now has a stunning new gate befitting the splendor of its natural surroundings. More photos >>

Newt migration

Rain draws rough-skinned newts (Taricha granulosa) away from the streams of Angelo Coast Range Reserve and into the moist duff of the forest. Staying out of the stream channel helps them avoid seasonal floods that could wash them out to sea. The most toxic of their genus, these amphibians ward off predators with a bright orange underbelly. This aposematic coloration screams without words that this newt packs enough tetrodotoxin to kill 25,000 mice.


Dec. 5 Stewardship Day, Younger Lagoon Reserve
100 Shaffer Rd., Santa Cruz
To help restore this coastal landscape, contact Elizabeth Howard, Younger Lagoon Reserve Director

Dec. 10 Boyd Deep Canyon Lecture Series
6 p.m., UCR Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Dr., Palm Desert
Avoiding dry skin in the tropics: strategies from tree frogs
Many Australian frog species live in tropical savannas and employ a wide variety of strategies to avoid dehydration during the dry season. Christopher Tracy, assistant professor at Cal State Fullerton, will discuss the interesting and sometimes surprising strategies Australian frogs use to gain and retain water during arid times of the year.

Dec. 12 Public hike
9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Sedgwick Reserve, 3566 Brinkerhoff Rd., Santa Ynez
A range of hikes takes visitors to Sedgwick’s unique geological and ecological wonders. Afterward, hikers can picnic and play bocce. Instead of hiking, visitors are also welcome to set up an art easel at the pond or bird watch around the Field Station. Gates will be open from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. RSVP requested.

Dec. 18 Walking Ecology
9 a.m. - noon, Sedgwick Reserve, 3566 Brinkerhoff Rd., Santa Ynez
Ecology 101
Join Dr. Fred Emerson, wildlife biologist, consummate birder, and local physician, for a lecture about Sedgwick Reserve ecology. After his brief talk, Fred will lead a jaunt into the field so visitors can experience reserve habitats firsthand.
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