With fully equipped and modern laboratory, housing, meeting, and computing facilities, the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL) serves as a major center for research in the Eastern Sierra. The site features a human-made experimental stream system consisting of nine meandering channels used for research on stream hydrology and ecology. Convict Creek flows year-round through SNARL, feeding the experimental system and providing a natural stream environment protected from grazing and other human impacts. Non-aquatic research is also supported and encouraged on the reserve’s pristine habitats, which include Great Basin shrubland and grassland, high desert riparian woodland, and riparian meadow. Another nearby NRS site, Valentine Camp, joins with SNARL to comprise the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserves (VESR).
U.S. Geological Survey-funded scientists monitor seismic activity in the Long Valley Caldera and carbon dioxide emissions around Mammoth Mountain.
Environmental education programs for local elementary school students; K-12 summer school; public tours; short courses; and the Spring Seminar Series of lectures.
Regional Field Station
The reserve attracts users from all UC campuses, many out-of-state colleges/universities, federal laboratories and research programs; reserve manager consults on regional resource management issues.
University courses using SNARL include botany, geology, environmental studies, and snow science, among many others.
- Ecology of Mono Lake: UC research since 1976 on Mono Lake influenced a 1994 decision of the State Water Resources Control Board to raise the lake level, helping to restore its ecosystem; ongoing projects there include physical limnology modeling and monitoring of brine shrimp and alkali fly populations.
- Sierran snowpack: SNARL scientists operate a snow laboratory on Mammoth Mountain; the National Science Foundation and NASA Earth Observing System Project fund ongoing studies of snowpack properties and snowmelt runoff.
- Aquatic biology: Ongoing studies examine impacts of livestock grazing on stream ecology and effects of nonnative trout on Sierra Nevada lake ecosystems.
Special Research of National Significance
Microbial Observatory: Mono Lake, Collaborative Research: Microbial observatory at an alkaline, hypersaline, meromictic lake (Mono Lake, California); Ecology of viruses in an alkaline, hypersaline lake (Mono Lake, California)