Hopland Research and Extension Center - June 2016. Research abounds...

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07/20-07/23/2016 - Wool Felting and Sheep Stories at Mendocino County Libraries
08/01/2016 - Deer Hunt
08/23/2016 - Collaborative Facilitation Workshop
09/24/2016 - Gardening for Native Bees
October Harvest Celebration - watch this space!
11/12-13/2016 - Hopland Sheepdog Trials



F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R

Research abounds...

June 2016 UPDATE

Dear Friends,
We are at an exciting time of the year here at HREC, as we review and confirm the research projects which will be taking place on site from 2016-17. The projects planned for the next year are often part of long term studies in a huge diversity of areas from rangeland management to parasitology and wildlife management. Over 20 projects will be taking place on our site over the next year, helping to answer the questions facing our community today and into the future, such as considering the implications of drought and climate change and the challenges of ranching with a great diversity of wildlife co-existing with us.
This newsletter introduces you to just some of our projects, but you can find details of them all on our website

We also welcome our new Superintendent, Dave Koball this month – read more about his hopes for the position below.
Dr. Kim Rodrigues
HREC Director

P.S. Take advantage of early bird registration by July 1st  ($125) for a special workshop to help all those needing to navigate difficult meetings at our “Collaborative Facilitation” workshop. We will offer you the tools to turn any meeting around!

Effects of Fencing on Wildlife
Dr. Justin Brashares, Associate Professor, Department of  Environmental Science Policy and Management, UC Berkeley

Sheep itching goatgrass seedsHow easily willdife can travel across landscapes, is key to it's survival - roads, fences and other human created obstructions can have a great effect on the health of a community.  Much study has been conducted on the impact of roads on wildlife movement, but we still have a lot to learn about the effect of fences.
Part of the reason for this is the need for very fine scale detail to understand how these lines across the land affect wildlife behavior. However, with the event of new technologies such a high quality trail cameras, high-resolution GPS positioning and accelerometer systems we can see not only where individual animals are, but also how fast they are travelling!
The Brashares lab plans to study wildlife and fence interactions over the next several years at HREC and it is hoped that insights from the study will greatly advance broad areas of wildlife ecology and management, aiding land managers in planning for wildlife connectivity.

Click here to learn more about the Brashares Lab

Barb goatgrass and medusahead
Dr. Elise Gornish, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist

Barb goatgrass (Aegilops triuncialis L.)  and medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae L.) are two of our biggest challenges at HREC. These non native grasses spread quickly, decrease native grass species and can cause problems for our sheep once their barbed seeds get into their fleece. Guy Kyser, plant science Specialist at UC Davis, tells us a little more about a project using sheep to manage these weeds:

"Elise Gornish, Josh Davy, Travis BSheep itching goatgrass seedsean, and I are testing the use of sheep for management of late-season invasive annual grasses. This trial is taking place at five sites at the Hopland Research and Extension Center – two with barb goatgrass, two with medusahead, and one mixed.

Treatments include grazing at boot stage (32 sheep-days on 324 m2), revegetation with native spp vs forage spp, and treatment with low or high rates of glyphosate at tillering, boot stage, and heading. The main plots are 18 m x 36 m including an 18 x 18 grazing enclosure and are replicated three times at each site. All treatments are crossed, for a total of 48 subplots in each main plot.

Grazing was conducted from mid-April to early May 2016, depending on the maturity of the invasive grasses at each site. Vegetation cover surveys are ongoing. We anticipate planting the revegetation species in fall of this year."

Click here to learn more about the Gornish Lab

Conserving California's Annual Grasslands 
Dr. Valerie Eviner, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, Davis

For the past 250-300 years, California’s grasslands have experienced significant invasion of non-native annual Grazed versus ungrazed pasturegrasses, which now comprise over 90% of vegetation cover across the state’s grasslands. California’s grasslands are one of the only ecosystems in the world that are stable as an annual-dominated system, in the absence of a frequent disturbance regime. Understanding, predicting, and managing these grasslands requires different conceptual frameworks than are currently used in perennial-dominated grasslands. For the past 10 years, we have been studying the year-to-year and site-to-site variability in plant community composition, plant production, soil nutrient cycling, soil carbon dynamics, and soil water availability, and how they are impacted by grazing, and by the boom-and-bust cycles of small mammals from year to year. This is allowing us to develop key tools specific to annual grasslands:
  • Controls over vegetation composition and production. What are the site conditions and yearly weather conditions that favor key desirable species compared to aggressive weeds such as goatgrass and medusahead?
  • Response of vegetation and soils to drought, and key mechanisms in recovery from drought.
  • Nutrient controls that are unique to annual systems. Specifically, a large proportion of the nutrients available to plant growth are not derived directly from decaying litter or the soil. Instead, high seed production, followed by high amounts of seedling death fertilize plant growth. 

Link to more information:

Longest Running Natural Malaria Study 
Dr. Anne Vardo-Zalik, Assistant Professor of Biolofy, Penn State York

Blue bellied lizards
Did you know that HREC continues to be the site of one of  the longest running natural malaria studies to date? The malaria parasite, Plasmodium mexicanum, naturally infects the western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis, in northern CA and has been under study at the center since 1978! Unlike most malaria species which use mosquitoes to get from host to host, P. mexicanum is transmitted to lizards by the bites of infected sand flies- Lutzomyia spp. Conducted by researchers at the University of Vermont, the Pennsylvania State University and Norwich University, this research is critical to our understanding of how natural malaria parasites cycle in the wild, and what drives these parasite-host dynamics. One of our long term goals is to highlight which factors, such as transmission intensity and environmental anomalies, have the largest effect on malaria prevalence in the western fence lizard population at HREC.  After over 30 years of research, we have answered many fundamental questions, and with every answer, new directions for this ongoing project arise.

Click here to watch a short video of Dr. Anne Vardo-Zalik carrying out her research




Welcome Dave Koball, HREC Superintendent

Dr. Burt Calson gets ready to practice phenology!
In the 60 years that the University of California has operated it’s beautiful 5,358 acre Research and Extension Center (REC) in Hopland only a handful of people have helped to manage the site as Superintendent. Dave Koball, formerly of Fetzer, joined us this week to follow in the footsteps of Bob Keiffer in this role. When asked about his feelings about the position Dave commented...
“I am thrilled and honored to become a member of the knowledgeable, dedicated, and enthusiastic team at the University of California Hopland REC. It is my hope that my background in research from earlier in my career and more recent winegrape industry experience and contacts will help me to increase the visibility, and usability of this gem of a resource that we have here in our backyard.  I feel very fortunate to be able to have this fantastic opportunity to learn more about nature and biology while continuing to live and work in Mendocino County.” 

Find out more about Dave Koball on our blog

Volunteer of the Month

Dr. Burt Calson gets ready to practice phenology!
Dr. Burt Calson retired from his medical practice as an allergist earlier this year and was looking for something to occupy his time...
As a certified California Naturalist he was aware of HREC and before he knew it his free time had turned into volunteer time! Burt has been instrumental in supporting our first citizen science project on the site and enjoys connecting with researchers from all backgrounds. Thanks Burt for offering us over 40 hours of your time so far this year!

Would you be interested in joining the HREC volunteer team? Contact Hannah to find out more:


Hopland Research and Extension Center connects the public to UC research focused on natural resource management and sustainable agriculture practices resulting in an empowered, active and engaged citizenry building thriving communities.
Copyright © 2016 The Hopland Research and Extension Center, All rights reserved.

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