Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fall meetings

2015 has been a very busy fall meeting season. Jeff and I organized and/or presented at a number of venues, including an iDigBio Workshop, the GNOMO formation meeting, OBFS and UCNRS annual meetings. And we have more yet to come, with upcoming meetings in Vermont and France.

Here are some of our presentations:

View more presentations or Upload your own.

View more presentations or Upload your own.

View more presentations or Upload your own.

Monday, October 05, 2015

New interpretive signs for art plots

Dmitri Zurita waters a Harrison Plot.
Photo: Carolyn Monastra
Helen and Newton Harrison have designed interpretive signs to mount on their project plots next month. The signs explain the thinking behind this conceptual art project.

Here is a digital version.

FY2013-15 Biennial Report released

Every few years when our campus administration changes, we like to do a more detailed annual report that tells the Sagehen story better than just the usual spreadsheet of performance numbers. Field stations are very different than on-campus operations, and it's good to let our people know how we meet the university mission out here in the boondocks.

We've just submitted our Biennial Report for fiscal years 2013-2015. Read the report here (downloading the PDF works better than reading it online, which omits some images).

In this document, we try to explain how Sagehen is working hard to understand and execute the slippery third pillar of the University of California mission: that of Public Service. While there are lots of accepted metrics for quantifying the success of Research and Education, there really aren't equivalent, institutionalized ways to demonstrate Public Service effectiveness, since this is by nature a broader, less defined goal.

But, the 2014 National Academy of Sciences report, "Enhancing the Value and Sustainability of Field Stations and Marine Laboratories in the 21st Century," specifically calls on FSMLs to figure out a way to move the data and knowledge we are generating, through to policy and action. In fact, the paper calls this critical to our survival.

And the first step is convincing our own team.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sagehen art program updates

Sierra Nevada College MFA program brings the
portable studio to Sagehen.
The Sagehen art program continues to pick up steam, largely thanks to our amazing relationship with Bill Fox and the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art.

Wondering why we would want art at a field research site? Read this.

We've had lots of visitors from the art world this summer, including:

  • Architects from New York's stpmj design stayed at Sagehen in early June to complete construction on Invisible Barn, and make presentations to several groups. IB has already been seen by over 600 people this summer, and is helping us reframe our approach to our mission;
  • The National Science Foundation funded our ArtSciConverge workshop in Reno last June at the Nevada Museum of Art. The international group of participants, including artists Brandon Ballengee and Xavier Cortada, made a field trip to Sagehen to view Invisible Barn and the Harrison plots. The ArtSciConverge group is working to integrate art and humanities into field station programs nationwide. This meeting led into a larger NSF proposal to create a Research Coordination Network (RCN) to bring these communities together over the next 5-years. And we are working with this group to get a Clore Foundation Fellow to help us craft the entity that will emerge to facilitate art/science collaborations at sites of long-term environmental research.
  • Sierra Nevada College's new MFA program met at Sagehen for several days in August. The program is highly innovative, focusing on the problem-solving potential of art;
  • Performance artists Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle of "Here Come the Ecosexuals!" stayed at Sagehen in July to work on their new documentary on water issues;
  • Helen and Newton Harrison continue their 50-year art project on climate change at Sagehen, with several site visits and team meetings this spring and summer. The Harrisons have also engaged the Washoe tribe with their work here;
  • Daniel McCormick and Mary O'Brien of Watershed Sculpture continue to be involved in discussions about designing the Sagehen fish barriers as art, and working with the Truckee River Watershed Council on restoration projects;
  • Randall Koch from the Alliance of Artist Communities, and Deb Ford of PLAYA visited to begin a conversation about facilitating artist residencies at field stations, and scientist residencies at arts communities;
  • We are starting to integrate artists and humanists into all our initiatives at the beginning, in order to tap into their problem-solving abilities. These efforts this summer included inviting artists to our wildly successful Congressional Briefing on the Sagehen Forest Project in August, and inviting artist and humanists into the formation of the Global Network of Mountain Observatories (GNOMO) in September;
  • We are working with the Truckee Public Arts Commission and the Town of Truckee to convene a meeting at Sagehen in late September to talk about community art.
  • Numerous important environmental artists from the local area, around the country and the world have visited this summer to talk about their work and how it might relate to Sagehen. This includes Erika Osborne, Larry Mitchell, David Buckland (Cape Farewell), Ed Morris and Susannah Sayler (Canary Project), Troy Corliss and Todd Gilens.

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).