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October 2020

Thinning Valentine Camp's forest to save it

As wildfire fills the West with smoke, Californians are coming to the realization that it takes work to establish more fire-resistant forests. Valentine Camp is getting ahead of this curve with an ambitious project to reduce fire fuels in its forest. The effort will keep the forest healthier, the town safer, and provide fodder for forest management research to boot.  Read more > 

FUERTE program to diversify environmental sciences

In the sciences, environmental fields lag far behind medicine, engineering, and other disciplines in terms of diversity and inclusion. A new program called FUERTE seeks to bridge that gap by introducing Latinx undergraduates at UC Santa Barbara to ecology and evolutionary biology. The program will include a visit to the NRS's Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory for immersive learning. Reserve director Carol Blanchette is one of the program's two principal investigators. Read more >>

Assembling Quail Ridge Reserve

Developing a functional NRS reserve is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Many pieces—from scientifically interesting ecosystems, to decent roads, to accommodations—must be in place for a reserve to reach its full potential. Staff at Quail Ridge Reserve used funds from Prop. 84 to expand the reserve's lands and housing, then leveraged those gains to establish facilities needed to draw more researchers and classes. Wildfires seared the reserve this year, but staff are determined to return Quail Ridge to a busy and sought after field station.  Read more >>

Historic Hastings buildings renewed

Hastings Natural History Reservation in Carmel Valley is one of UC's oldest field stations. So it should come as no surprise that its buildings—an assortment of former ranch houses, cabins, and even a former school—needed major repairs, modern utilities, or outright replacing. Prop. 84 bond funds brought reserve facilities into the twenty-first century and readied them for another century of safe visitor use.  Read more >>

Untangling Bodega's ribbon worms

The NRS's new Field Science Fellowship funds UC undergraduates to do field work at a reserve for a summer with a UC faculty mentor. Madeline Frey has been surveying ribbon worms at Bodega Marine Reserve with guidance from Prof. Eric Sanford of UC Davis. She and Sanford created this terrific video to share what she's discovered.

Bathing beauties

The NRS's Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Marsh Reserve is home to one of California's most endangered shorebirds, Ridgway's rail. The reserve has little nesting huts that float over the water, keeping chicks safe from high tides and predators like domestic cats. Another bonus: cameras installed in the huts give scientists a peek into rail family life. More reserve rail videos >>
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Art for reserve research

Collaborations between artists and scientists have illuminated research projects at three NRS reserves via the Art-Science Residency Program of UC Santa Cruz's Norris Center for Natural History. Projects that got artistic assistance include aquatic invertebrate research at the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (shown), elephant seal science at Año Nuevo Island Reserve, and hydrology investigations at Blue Oak Ranch Reserve. Image: Rae Taylor-Burns. Read more >>

UCSB NRS Fall Seminars

The UCSB Natural Reserve System will be holding a series of online talks this fall showcasing research from across its seven reserves. Each talk will be preceded by a mini tour of the reserve site highlighted in the talk. Seminars will be held Thursdays from Oct. 8 to Nov. 19 7-8 p.m. Learn more and register>>

Oct. 8
Santa Cruz Island and its contribution to understanding initial human occupation of the New World
Amy Gusick, LA Museum of Natural History

Oct. 15
Do parasites run the natural reserve system?
Kevin Lafferty, US Geological Survey

Oct. 22
Oaks by the sea?
Sarah Bisbing, University of Nevada Reno

Oct. 29
The recent past and projected future of oak savannas of the Santa Ynez Valley
Frank Davis, UC Santa Barbara

Nov. 5
Vector-borne disease in a changing world
Andy MacDonald, UC Santa Barbara

Nov. 12
How a pandemic challenges conservation of a California frog, and how scientists and managers can respond
Tom Smith, UC Santa Barbara

Nov. 19
The case for active forest management at Valentine Camp
Hugh Safford and Ashley Grupenhoff, UC Davis

Live from the Field

Climate Change at the Land-Sea Interface
Tuesday, October 13, 11am-12pm PDT

Join an informal chat with researchers studying how climate change is affecting the rocky intertidal zone in California, Maine, and Oregon. Find out who they are, how they got interested in this habitat, and the research questions they are asking. Among them is Prof. Eric Sanford of UC Davis, who has studied the NRS's Bodega Marine Reserve for the past 15 years. Register here >>

Watching ecology 

Sedgwick Reserve director Kate McCurdy held the reserve's popular lecture series over Zoom this year. Missed them? Watch and learn from the recordings. Featured were Prof. Caroline Williams and her graduate student Lisa Treidel of UC Berkeley on  "It’s crickets at Sedgwick," and Jen Hunter, director of Hastings Natural History Reservation, who spoke about skunks.


In this woodpecker kingdom, war is a spectator sport
Hastings Natural History Reserve 
New York Times

Field research sites damaged as fires ravage West Coast
Hastings Natural History Reservation
The Scientist

University farm, research facilities suffer fire damage
Blue Oak Ranch Reserve

Farms assessing damage from multiple wildfires
Multiple reserves
Western Farm Press

Wildfires, COVID-19 disrupt ag research
Multiple reserves
Capital Press

Fire damage, recovery in Bay Area open spaces
Blue Oak Ranch Reserve
Bay Nature
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