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September 2016

100 years of national parks, 100 years of climate change data

A century ago, UC Berkeley zoologist Joseph Grinnell crisscrossed California to document the habitats and vertebrate animals he found across the state. He and his team sampled animals for the University's collections, photographed their study areas, and recorded the relative abundance and types of landscapes they encountered. Now scientists are revisiting these exact locales (including places like the NRS's James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve) to see how wildlife has fared. Their findings reveal just how much a century of development and climate change have altered conditions in California's remaining natural areas.  Read more >>

Underpasses for animals

The nation's most dangerous animal isn't a snake, a bear, a shark, or a spider. Rather, deer—those spindly-legged, mild-mannered vegetarians—kill more Americans than any other animal when hit by cars. Now CalTrans is partnering with U.S. Forest Service and the NRS's Sagehen Creek Field Station to keep wildlife and cars from crossing paths. Learn how animal underpasses built under Highway 89 near Truckee are informing the new field of road ecology in a piece by ABC 7 News / Bay Area. Watch video >>

Stewards of nature

To commemorate the centennial of the National Park Service, UC Santa Barbara takes an in-depth look at its seven UC Natural Reserves. 

Part I: Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve. Hosting several resident researchers and some 30 visiting university classes annually, VESR also welcomes the public to lectures and to participate in citizen science initiatives. Its Outdoor Education Program connects thousands of local schoolchildren to the nature around them each year. Read more and watch videos >>

Snowy plover orphans returned to the wild

Western snowy plovers are on the ropes due to disturbances and destruction of their beachside nesting sites. A longtime sanctuary for this tiny shorebird has been the NRS's Coal Oil Point Reserve in Santa Barbara. Now chicks orphaned or abandoned on the reserve beach are being raised at the Santa Barbara Zoo for later release in the wild.  Read more >>

U.S., Mexico name sister parks 

When President Obama met with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico this past summer, they built bridges connecting several of their spectacular national parks. Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey, located in northeastern Mexico, became a sister park to Yosemite National Park. Both are mountainous and experience visitor recreation impacts, wildland fires, conflicts between wildlife and people, and forest health problems. Parque Nacional Bahia de Loreto, a marine park in the Gulf of California, and Channel Islands National Park were named sister parks too. They share populations of marine mammals, birds, and fish; the partnership should aid cross-border ecosystem management. The NRS will encourage research in both partnerships via its Yosemite Field Station and Santa Cruz Island Reserve. Sister reserve designations are in the works. Read more >>


Island foxes delisted

Three of the diminutive fox subspecies found only on California's Channel Islands have leaped off the endangered species list. The Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, and San Miguel Island foxes are now doing well, while the Catalina Island fox is now considered threatened. Research by Lyndal Laughrin, director of the NRS's Santa Cruz Island Reserve, laid the foundations of Santa Cruz Island fox biology. Scientists used this information to breed and bring the cat-sized canines back. Read more >>

Sierra fire cams

When it comes to spotting forest fires, keeping an eye on as much acreage as possible is critical for nipping conflagrations in the bud. To gain a true overview of the Tahoe Basin, the Nevada Seismological Laboratory has established fire cams that stream real-time views of area forests to firefighters, emergency personnel, and the public. The NRS's Sagehen Creek Field Station fire cam offers an expansive perspective on the weather and forests north of Lake Tahoe. Camera views >>

Beary cool pool

Watch this mama black bear at Sedgwick Reserve lead her cub in a time-honored ritual of summer: swimming lessons. Thanks to Grant and his Figueroa Canyon trail camera for capturing the moment. Video >>

For healthy wetlands, just add water

After four years of drought, California's mountain wetlands were down, but not out. Releases of cold water this spring from Hetch Hetchy Dam revived beleaguered insect populations in downstream marshes and streams. This abundant insect food should allow suffering fish, frog, bat, and bird populations to rebound too. These findings, by research scientist Jeff Holmquist of the NRS's White Mountain Research Center, point to the importance of natural spring floods and the resilience of native aquatic ecosystems.  Read more >>

Old growth grasses

Before Europeans arrived, California's meadows were populated by perennial bunchgrasses that remained green throughout our dry summers. Deep-rooted bunchgrasses can remain nearly unchanged over many decades, suggesting plants on undisturbed ground could be a century or more old.


All queens must die
Santa Cruz Island Reserve
The Verge

How to make zoologists more productive
Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory
The Economist

To save an endangered fox, humans turned its home into a war zone
Santa Cruz Island Reserve
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