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March 2016

Nonstop nature: the NRS field course

California Ecology and Conservation immerses University of California undergraduates in field research in the wildlands of the UC Natural Reserve System. Open to students from all nine of the general UC campuses, the course lets students experience a variety of protected California habitats, practice hands-on research, and gain a deeper understanding of the natural world. Applications for Fall 2016 are being accepted now. Read more >>

The critical zone: Studying where all of life happens

Science isn’t generally considered an extreme sport, but you wouldn’t know that by watching researchers in the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory scale hundred-foot-tall trees and wade through rushing rivers. “The job description includes diving, swimming and snorkeling,” says hydrologist Sally Thompson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, “along with hammering re-bar into a streambed and plenty of digging." Thompson is part of an interdisciplinary group of researchers from UC Berkeley studying the 10,000-square-kilometer Eel River watershed in northern California. Their work is based out of the NRS's Angelo Coast Range Reserve near Branscomb. Read more >>

Uphill battle for California's native plants

A study examining whether plant species in California have shifted to higher elevations, possibly in response to climate change, discovered that non-native plants are moving fastest, altering and potentially damaging ecosystems. The research also showed less movement by species that grow only in California, suggesting that endemic species may have the hardest time adapting to climate change. Lead researcher Jon Christenson is working with the UC-wide Institute for the Study of Ecological and Evolutionary Climate Impacts, which is using the 39 reserves of the NRS as a network for studying climate change and ecosystems in California. Read more >>


Mar. 10 Boyd Deep Canyon Lecture Series
6 p.m., UCR Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Dr., Palm Desert
Climate-driven diversity decline in California
Plant community diversity is declining in the state's arid and semi-arid climates. This downward trajectory is likely to continue under the influences of climatic warming and increasingly erratic precipitation. Find out what this means to California's rich botanical tapestry from professor Susan Harrison of UC Davis.

Mar. 12 Public hike
8:30 a.m., Sedgwick Reserve, 3566 Brinkerhoff Rd., Santa Ynez, CA
A range of hikes takes visitors to Sedgwick Reserve's 6,000 acres of 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. The gates will be open from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. RSVP requested.

Mar. 25 Walking Ecology
9 a.m.-noon, Sedgwick Reserve, 3566 Brinkerhoff Rd., Santa Ynez, CA
What's going on in dry soil?
Looking at the brown, drought-stricken grasslands of Sedgwick Reserve, you might assume the underlying soils are also dead. But you would be wrong. UC Santa Barbara soil scientist Joseph Blankinship will describe the hidden hive of activity happening beneath your feet. He'll describe how experiments at Sedgwick Reserve are unraveling the roles of microbes, plant cover, and dry season length, and discuss the importance of soil carbon cycling. 

Coal Oil Point film premiere

The NRS's Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve hit the big screen this February with Bringing Back the Wild, a new documentary by director Michael Love. Featuring the reserve's stunning shoreline, lovingly restored native plant communities, eloquent director Cristina Sandoval, and protected colony of western snowy plovers, the film premiered Feb. 24 at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. View the trailer >>

Mobile home for ospreys

UC Irvine sports had a problem. A pair of ospreys had taken up residence at the Anteater baseball stadium last year, introducing a new generation of raptors to America's favorite pastime. But a nest far from foul balls was deemed safer for the future of these protected raptors. That's when lecturer Peter Bowler and students stepped up to the plate. Over a year, they constructed a brand-new nest and got it lifted to a platform above the NRS's San Joaquin Marsh Reserve. The birds took the hint and moved in soon afterward. Image credit: Peter Bowler

Fog and redwood health

Using a novel way to measure photosynthesis, UC scientists are studying how much coastal redwoods rely on fog. Their findings will help forecast how fog declines forecast for the future will affect these quintessentially California forests. The research is supported by the Institute for the Study of Ecological and Evolutionary Climate Impacts (ISEECI), which coordinates climate change research at NRS reserves. Image credit: NPS. Read more >>

Aiding sea mammals

Did you know that Ken Norris, who first thought up the idea of the NRS cowrote the Marine Mammal Act of 1972? The act has been protecting cetaceans, pinnipeds, sirenians, and sea otters from hunting and harassment for over 40 years. Image credit: Clayton Anderson


How two Santa Cruz artists changed the course of environmental history
Sagehen Creek Field Station

Raven-mad or just nutcrackers: mutualism among trees and crows
Santa Cruz Island Reserve
San Francisco Chronicle

Ochre sea stars have suffered a 95 percent dieoff in SLO county
Kenneth S. Norris Rancho Marino Reserve
The Tribune
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