Posts Tagged: UC Berkeley
The team compared the ratios of stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in the feathers, which revealed what the birds ate. They learned that, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, murrelets relied heavily on sardines, anchovies and squid. But as decades passed, anchovy, sardine and squid stocks plummeted due to overfishing and cooling waters.
The birds turned to less nutritious and lower-calorie inshore fish and krill, a move down the food chain that is threatening its survival and ability to feed their young, which wait dozens of miles away in nests high in old-growth forest tree branches for food.
This retrospective research is "a classic example of why natural history collections are important," noted the manager of Burke's Museum ornithology collection at University of Washington. "The only way to learn new things about past populations is by utilizing specimens that were collected and archived before the questions were asked.”
Leadership of California’s higher education systems made the funding available to jointly address issues in agriculture, natural resources and human sciences. Project criteria include collaborative research, teaching, or course development; development of student internship opportunities; and workshops, conferences, and symposia. Eight projects totaling more than $79,500 were selected from 30 proposals submitted.
“These research projects will help leverage limited resources to produce quick results on important issues in California,” said Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. “They are also building stronger connections among researchers throughout the state and providing hands-on learning opportunities for students.”
Researchers involved in this year’s projects are from UC Davis, UC Berkeley and California State University campuses at Chico, Fresno, Humboldt, Pomona, Sonoma, San Marcos and San Luis Obispo. The awarded projects, with principal investigators, are listed below:
- “Estimating residential water demand functions in urban California regions” — Economists from UC Berkeley and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo will estimate residential water demand of municipalities and water companies that serve 19 million people in the Bay Area and Southern California. (Maximilian Auffhammer, Stephen Hamilton)
- “Reintroduced mammals and plant invaders as key drivers of ecosystem processes in coastal and interior grasslands” — Researchers from Sonoma State University and UC Davis will study how reintroducing tule elk and reducing invasive Harding grass affects the availability of soil nutrients and the composition of plant communities. (Caroline Christian, J. Hall Cushman, Valerie Eviner)
- “Genetics of plant defense responses to pesticides and spider mites on grapes” — Scientists from UC Davis and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo will conduct laboratory, greenhouse and field studies to learn more about factors affecting grapevine response to spider mites, including cultivar resistance, drought impact and pesticide exposure. (Michael Costello, Richard Karban, Andrew Walker, Jeffrey Wong)
- “Defining the functions of polyphenol oxidase in walnut” — Through genetic analysis, researchers at CSU San Marcos and UC Davis seek to learn more about an enzyme involved in the postharvest browning of cut or bruised fruit. (Matthew Escobar, Monica Britton, Abhaya Dandekar)
- “Modeling the costs of hazardous fuel reduction thinning treatments and removal of woody biomass for energy” — Researchers from Humboldt State University, UC Davis, and the U.S. Forest Service will develop a model to estimate the costs of removing hazardous wildland fuels with different equipment and systems over a wide range of forest stand, site and road conditions. (Han-Sup Han, Bruce Hartsough)
- “Restoration of pollinator communities and pollination function in riparian habitats” — Researchers from California State University, Chico, and UC Davis will characterize native pollinator communities at restored riparian habitats within the Central Valley and test whether successful restoration of pollinator communities also leads to restoration of pollination. (Christopher Ivey, Neal Williams)
- “Estimating alfalfa’s impact on regional nitrogen budgets and nitrate leaching losses in the Central Valley of California” — Researchers from California State University, Fresno, and UC Davis will collect alfalfa and non-legume plants from irrigated fields and also identify San Joaquin Valley farm sites for a multi-year study of alfalfa’s impact on regional nitrogen budgets, groundwater nitrate leaching, and nitrogen requirements of rotation crops. (Bruce Roberts, Stuart Pettygrove, Daniel Putnam)
- “Community and ecosystem response to elevated nitrogen in managed grassland ecosystems” — Restoration ecologists from Cal Poly Pomona and UC Berkeley will investigate how elevated nitrogen levels affect competition among native and exotic plant species with regard to fuel characteristics at UC’s South Coast Research and Extension Center. (Erin Questad, Katharine Suding)
Reports on project outcomes are expected in December 2012.
The team is part of the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP), which is examining the effects of forest thinning, as currently done by the U.S. Forest Service, on the health of local wildlife, the forest and water resources. The U.S. Forest Service implements these thinning treatments out of concern for excessive fire risk.
But what kind of research could go through hundreds of socks a month? After years of experimentation, the research team has determined that socks are the ideal receptacle for hanging fisher bait in trees. The baited socks are hung in trees in view of motion-activated cameras. As the animal moves, climbing the tree and chewing on the sock, the camera takes photos that allow the scientists to identify the species.
The researchers are going through 250 pairs a month, at a considerable cost, to create the “chicken in a sock” bait stations to survey the distribution of Pacific fishers in a 500-square-mile area of forest near Bass Lake.
Besides the cost, Rick Sweitzer, UC Berkeley wildlife biologist and project leader. is spending time in the Wal-Mart checkout line with a cart full of socks when he could be doing research. The scientists don’t need new socks; they would prefer old, unmatched, non-holey ones,something everyone has cluttering up their sock drawers.
In an effort to reduce, reuse and recycle, the SNAMP wildlife research team is
putting out a call for lost and lonely socks. Socks may be delivered or mailed
to 40799 Elliott Dr., Oakhurst CA 93644.
The Pacific fisher is a small, nocturnal carnivore that perches and dens in large,
old-growth pine and oak trees. Once widespread across the high elevation
forests of the Sierra Nevada and in the coastal mountains of northwestern
California, fishers are now only found in two small isolated populations. One
group lives near the California-Oregon border. The others are in the southern
Data being collected by UC scientists about the movements, habitat preferences and
survival of fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada will be used to aid the
multiple agencies, academic institutions, environmental groups, and mountain
residents who are working together to ensure that long-term wildland management
promotes forest health, wildfire control and wildlife conservation.
EDITORS: A photo of a Pacific fisher grabbing a bait-filled
sock can be downloaded from http://ucanr.org/blogs/Green.
Chef and sustainable food advocate Alice Waters has organized a class to be offered at UC Berkeley this fall called "Edible Education 101," according to Mother Jones food and ag blogger Tom Philpott.
The class will be co-taught by Nikki Henderson, executive director of People's Grocery in Oakland, and UC Berkeley journalism professor Michael Pollen, the author of several best-sellers about the U.S. food system.
Henderson told Philpott that the course is subtitled "The Rise and Future of the Food Movement" to acknowledge its outgrowth from advocacy by the white-table-cloth sustainable eating crowd and proponents of food justice for low income Americans.
"Kind of Oakland activists and Berkeley activists coming together," Henderson explained. "Because every successful movement in America, and elsewhere, has found ways to get disparate groups of people to actually work together, especially when they're not in direct conflict with one another."
Henderson told Philpott that the 14-week course will explore class and race and power dynamics in the context of food and agriculture. Each week food experts from a wide variety of perspectives will relate their thoughts and experiences about the American food system. One of the sessions will feature an open conversation with a Walmart executive and a representative from the the largest corporate bulk food distributor in the world. Other confirmed speakers include: Carlo Petrini, Peter Sellars, Marion Nestle, Frances Moore Lappé, Raj Patel, Ann Cooper, Eric Schlosser and Alice Waters.
The two-unit, upper division course will be open to 400 UC Berkeley students and 300 members of the general public. The class will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays in UC Berkeley's Wheeler Auditorium. Tickets for the general public will be available beginning Aug. 15. Find information and updates on Water's Chez Panisse website.
Sustainable eating and food justice will be combined in UC Berkeley course.