Sunday, July 12, 2015

July 11, 2015: busiest day in Sagehen history!

BioBlitzers record as many species as
possible in 24 hours.
We just had the busiest single day in Sagehen’s history. 135 people participating in 6 different events, including:

  • California Naturalist
  • Trout Camp
  • iNaturalist BioBlitz
  • Adventure - Risk - Challenge
  • A UC Davis team studying flower-pollinator-microbe interactions
  • A UC Davis immersion summer program exposing pre-Med students to field biology
We also had our resident intern researcher, Camilla, a Brazilian student who is helping revisit the Sagehen Forest Project vegetation plots.

Additional station use this week included MAPS bird banding, California Native Plant Society 25-Families class, and Vladimir Pravosudov's chickadee cognition research.

See our Flickr feed for more photos from activities this week.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

NSF grant for Sagehen's chickadee memory researcher

Vlad and his student apply RFID leg bands to fledgling
chickadees in the upper Sagehen basin.

The bear-proof feeders are wired to allow birds to only receive
food from a specified feeder, testing their problem-solving
UNR researcher, Vladimir Pravosudov's work on Mountain Chickadees is one of Sagehen's longest running research projects, starting long before Jeff and I arrived 14 years ago.

Vlad studies cognition in these tiny, non-migrating birds, who must remember hundreds of thousands of hidden seed locations with high spatial precision in order to not starve to death over the winter.

His work is fascinating, previously establishing that bird memory capacity (and hippocampus size) varies dramatically just over the scale of the Sagehen basin, depending on how harsh the local weather conditions are.

Vlad recently received National Science Foundation funding to expand his research and study the birds and their communities in the wild, rather than in his lab. Tracking and testing an entire community of individual birds in the wild is ground-breaking stuff, and very difficult!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sagehen paper wins award!

"Dear Sarah, Dear Jim

In my role as the Editor-in-Chief of Hydrological Processes it is my great pleasure to inform you that your paper “Dynamic, discontinuous stream networks: hydrologically driven variations in active drainage density, flowing channels and stream order”, was selected for the 2015 'MG Anderson Award for outstanding paper of the year' (for a paper published in Volume 28).

To celebrate Professor Malcolm Anderson’s role as the founder of Hydrological Processes and to acknowledge his important and long-lasting contributions to the journal, this new award has been established to commend one outstanding paper every year (one per volume) for its contribution to the field of hydrological processes. The award is not designed to honour the most cited paper, but is recognizing originality, advancement to the field and likely exceptional influence on the community..."

Our congratulations to Sarah Godsey and Jim Kirchner for this excellent recognition of their ground-breaking work!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Art/science workshop at the Nevada Museum of Art, Center for Art + Environment

Amanda Horn, Director of Communications


Reno, Nev. (June 19 2015) – This weekend, the Nevada Museum of Art Center for Art + Environment (CA+E) hosts Perspectives: Examining Complex Ecological Dynamics through Arts, Humanities and Science Integration, a convention of leaders in the arts, sciences, and humanities disciplines. The seminar begins Friday afternoon, continuing Saturday, at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. It concludes Sunday with a field trip to UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field Station north of Truckee, California.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks received a grant from the National Science Foundation to produce the two-day event aimed at encouraging art at sites of long-term ecological inquiry. A stellar array of participants from around the globe will discuss, among other things, how to use forest and marine preserves as settings for artists residencies that foster the exchange. The topics covered will focus on strategies for integrating field science with the arts and humanities to address the complex questions posed by ecological dynamics. Participants will consider how to use the various tools, worldviews and philosophies presented by each discipline to envision and solve complex, shared problems.

The organizers represent Long-Term Environmental Research (LTER) sites and US Forest Service Experimental Forest and Ranges (EFRs) around the country including: Hubbard Brook, New Hampshire; Bonanza Creek, Alaska; H.J. Andrews, Oregon; and UC Berkeley, Sagehen Creek Field Station, California. Additional key organizers include the CA+E, Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS), and National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML).

Sunday, seminar participants will journey to Sagehen Field Creek Station to view integrated disciplines in practice, surveying ongoing work by renowned environmental artists Helen Mayer and Newton Harrison, in addition to the recently installed Invisible Barn.

Those interested in tracking the panel discussions can follow on Twitter using the hashtag #ArtSciConverge and following @nevadaartCAE. Perspectives: Examining Complex Ecological Dynamics through Arts, Humanities and Science Integration takes place Friday, June 19 through Sunday, June 21, at the Nevada Museum of Art, Donald W. Reynolds Center for the Visual Arts, E. L. Wiegand Gallery, 160 West Liberty Street in downtown Reno, Nevada.



The Center for Art + Environment (CA+E) is an internationally recognized research center, located at the Nevada Museum of Art, that supports the practice, study and awareness of creative interactions between people and their natural, built, and virtual environments. In January 2009, the Museum launched the CA+E, hired its first director and began planning to collect and digitize its archives.  The CA+E Archives now include materials from artists and organizations on six continents. The only accredited art museum in the state, the Nevada Museum of Art is a private, non-profit organization supported by the generosity of its membership as well as by sponsorships and grants.  Through creative programming and scholarship, the Museum provides the opportunity for people to encounter, engage and enjoy a diversity of art experiences. 

Amanda Horn
Director of Communications

Cell Phone 775.636.2567
Direct Line 775.398.7228
Fax  775.398.7273

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Art program updates

The Sagehen art program continues to develop in interesting directions.

  • Dan is constructing the Invisible Barn, and the project designer, Seung Teak Lee will be arriving from NYC next week to start installing the reflective skin. We hope this artwork will spur people to think more deeply about their relationship to the environment (see more photos).
  • The Harrison project plots are sprouting and growing. The work explores the potential for assisted migration to increase the water-carrying capacity of the soil to help mitigate the loss of snowpack and glaciers to climate change. Modeler Erin Riordan is producing climate change models for the Harrison species palette.
  • Beth Stevens and Annie Sprinkle are performance artists and filmmakers who will be working on a new water-themed project at Sagehen this summer. Beth says,
We’re trying to change the metaphor from Earth as a mother to Earth as lover. We want to show that humans need to realize they are in a more mutual relationship with the Earth, rather than a domineering or controlling or separate relationship. It’s an equal relationship.

  • Sagehen is working with a group of Long-Term Environmental Research (LTER) scientists and the Nevada Museum of Art, Center for Art + Environment to host a workshop at the museum in June: Arts, Humanities and Science Integration to Examine Complex Ecological Dynamics. Our Grand Challenge for this effort is this:
How can we integrate field science with the arts and humanities to address the complex questions posed by ecological dynamics, and at a practical level, how can we apply the different tools, worldviews and philosophies of these disciplines to envision and solve complex problems?
More about art at field stations

Climate change models for Sagehen plants

Researcher Erin Riordan is a modeler, working on the projected effects of climate change on vegetation. "Over the next century, climate change is expected to significantly impact California’s environment, threatening biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human systems across the state."

"Using information on species locations from herbarium records of the Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH) and species lists from the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), I am modeling future climate-driven changes in suitable habitat for rare plant taxa across the NRS reserve network."

It's interesting how variable the results are: in some cases, the habitat suitability changes dramatically; in others, not so much. This work could help prioritize refugia areas needing special protection. The photos here are some of her model runs for Sagehen species Ivesia sericoleuca and Abies magnifica.

Download all Sagehen model runs here (45M-zip).

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Flower report

People are calling to find out of the camas lilies are in bloom yet, so I went down to take a look.

Most of the flowers are just buds. I did find one patch of blossoms, but the meadows are already dry, so things are pretty dire for the little blossoms.

You can always use our iNaturalist page to find recent observations of plants and animals in the Sagehen Basin. Just click on the "Observations" tab.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cal Day, 2015

Cal Day is Berkeley's annual open house to welcome the community, prospective students, current students, kids and families. Over 300 lectures, demonstrations, tours and performances took place this year across the Berkeley campus.

Dan and the bear represented Sagehen, along with other NRS reserves celebrating the 50th anniversary of UCNRS. Over 2000 people learned about the reserves that day.

Blue Oak Ranch Reserve used a wildlife camera to make a timelapse of people interacting with the bear and the Sagehen booth all day.

Here's a note from Todd Dawson:

"...thanks to everyone for the efforts put in to showcasing the reserves and their place in our mission. I got 7 emails from parents and/or prospective students raving about how great of a day it was and how much they learned and enjoyed seeing the diversity of efforts being put into using the 'living laboratories' the reserves represent to advance research and understanding and also enhance the student experience. Well done everyone."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sagehen Collections Manager moving on

Cooling the feet on a plant hunting expedition last year.
In sort of a good news/bad news scenario, Sagehen's Collections Manager, Erica Krimmel is moving on to accept a position with the Chicago Academy of Sciences.

Erica came to us 3 or 4 years ago, basically saying, "I just graduated and I'd like to keep my museum curator skills sharp while I decide what to do next with my life. Do you have anything going on here that I could help with?"

We looked around and saw that our bear mount had a nose damaged by a wood rat, so we asked if she could fix it. She did. Then we looked around next and said, "Well, we have these old teaching collections of plants and animals. Why don't you take a look and let us know if you have any ideas." It was really that basic--none of us had any idea this would become important.

But we went on to organize, then digitize our collections together, along with partners like the Berkeley Natural History Museums. We expanded the collections to include more of the basin's species, created a new herbarium collection for the North Fork of the American River properties we also manage for research, and captured historical botanical data for that area.

As a result of our efforts, we have triggered numerous new research projects using these new digital resources, began documenting our biota lists, discovered new species in the basin, added related citizen science monitoring projects using iNaturalist and California Naturalist, and expanded our efforts into the UC Natural Reserve System's other properties, the Organization of Biological Field Stations, Symbiota, and iDigBio, which are national efforts.

In the intervening time, Erica completed an on-line Master's degree, received a fellowship that paid for it (largely based on her efforts here at Sagehen), and she just accepted her first museum job at the Chicago Academy of Sciences. She is now working on the national scale, as one of the budding new experts in the digital collections field.

We are really proud of Erica, and incredibly sad to lose her and her partner Travis, who did Sagehen's catering.