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 Bean, 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
grasses, 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: http://www.plantsciences.ucdavis.edu/plantsciences_faculty/eviner/index.htm
Longest Running Natural Malaria Study
Dr. Anne Vardo-Zalik, Assistant Professor of Biolofy, Penn State York
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
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
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