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January 2020

Showcasing 55 years of the NRS

The protected lands of the UC Natural Reserve System have fostered environmental discovery for more than 50 years. The first-ever UC Natural Reserve System Symposium celebrates that legacy. The Symposium will include talks, poster sessions, and weekend field trips to NRS reserves such as Blue Oak Ranch Reserve and Point Reyes Field Station. Join us at the David Brower Center in Berkeley Nov. 12-13, 2020. Read more >>

Increasing diversity in conservation

The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at UC Santa Cruz is training the next generation of diverse conservation leaders. A $2.63 million grant renews the program for four more years. The program enables the scholars, most of whom hail from backgrounds underrepresented in the environmental sciences, to travel to NRS reserves to practice field research techniques, then gain experience at conservation organizations as interns. Read more >>

Jepson Herbarium Workshops

Learn about California's flora from UC experts and explore NRS reserves to boot at UC Berkeley's Jepson Herbarium Workshops. Learn more and register >>

50 Plant Families in the Field: Monterey Bay
April 23–26
Hastings Natural History Reservation
Get introduced to the flora of the Monterey region by Linda Beidleman, author of Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region, who will teach techniques used to ID plants of California. Practice keying out plants also found in the Bay Area and learn plant morphology terms.

California’s Native Bees: Biology, Ecology, and Identification
May 29–31
Hastings Natural History Reservation
Discover the biology and ecology of your garden's most important pollinators, and the methods scientists use to study them, from native bee experts Gordon Frankie, Rollin Colville, Jaime Pawelek, and Sara Witt. Learn about bee anatomy, life cycles, and how to use keys to identify specimens, as well as information about bee behavior and flower preferences, making a bee garden, and photographing these important insects.

June 5–7
Hastings Natural History Reservation
California is the locus of diversity for Arctostaphylos, also known as manzanitas. More than 90 taxa are found within the state, especially within chaparral communities. This class, taught by botanists Tom Parker and Michael Vasey, will teach you how to key out members of this notoriously tricky plant group, and provide background on manzanita evolution, distribution, and ecology.

Flora of the San Jacinto Mountains
July 16–19
James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve
The San Jacinto Mountains are a sky island at the northern end of the Peninsular Ranges. Separating the California Floristic Province from the Sonoran Desert, the area is a mixing point for vegetation from both biogeographic regions. An expert on the area's flora, Scott White will teach specimen collection, hands-on plant ID, and the chance to practice keying out difficult groups such as oaks, buckwheats, and manzanitas.

Some Like It Hot: Late Summer Flora of the Eastern Mojave Highlands
September 24–27, 2020
Sweeney Granite Mountains Reserve
The Eastern Mojave Desert is among the most floristically diverse regions in California. Proximity to the North American monsoon allows nearly 10 percent of the area's annuals to germinate following summer rain. Add to this the 25 percent of local perennials that flower in late summer to early fall, and September becomes an ideal time to botanize in the area. Sweeney Granite Mountains Reserve directors Jim Andre and Tasha La Doux, both experts on local flora, will lead a course that includes field observations, lab ID, and chances to explore mid- to high elevations of the Mojave National Preserve.

Sustainability report

UC President Janet Napolitano name-dropped the NRS in UC's 2019 Annual Report on Sustainable Practices. The president's message on page 2 highlights the addition of Lassen Field Station and Point Reyes Field Station to the NRS's portfolio of reserves. These two new sites, established via partnerships with the National Park Service, raises our total number of reserves to an impressive 41. The report is chock full of good news about how UC is doing more while consuming fewer resources.  Read more >>

Boyd Deep Canyon Lecture Series

Every year, the NRS's Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center sponsors a series of lectures showcasing research at the reserve, desert conservation efforts, and environmental issues.

All lectures are facilitated by reserve director Chris Tracy and held on Thursdays, 6-7:30 p.m., at the auditorium of UCR Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Dr, Palm Desert. Learn more and RSVP at links.

Jan. 22
Megafauna: the science of large animals and why they matter
Jim Estes, U.S. Geological Survey

Feb. 13
Tribulations and triumphs of Mojave Desert restoration
Lesley DeFalco and Todd Esque, U.S. Geological Survey

Mar. 12
Overcoming extreme challenges: how birds deal with warming temperatures in a changing climate
Alex Gerson, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Apr. 9
Inspiration from the sea: how studying marine organisms can improve our daily lives
Misty Paig-Tran, California State University, Fullerton
Desert chia


It was a terracotta figurine that sprouted green "hair" on your windowsill. TV watchers from the 1980s can still sing the jingle: "Ch-ch-ch-chia—watch it grow!" The popularity of the Chia Pet (grow a green ram! an emerald kitten! shamrock-hued hair on a human head!) has abated, but the plant grown in its pottery grooves has now entered American diets as health food. The soaked seeds turn gelatinous and make a nutritious addition to drinks and puddings. Desert chia (Salvia columbariae), found across California, is a different species than the one that seeded the pet, but was an important traditional food for Native Americans and has seeds with a similar nutritional profile.


These students are partnering with corvids to replant a forest after fire
Santa Cruz Island Reserve

Meet the deep-diving, ear-splitting, 4,500-pound rock star of Año Nuevo
Año Nuevo Island Reserve
Bay Nature Magazine
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