Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Scientists from The Nature Conservancy Meet at Hastings

The Nature Conservancy's Global Science and Indicators group is an international and multi-disciplinary team of conservation scientists specializing in broad-scale, spatially explicit analyses of biodiversity, habitat condition, and threats to the world’s freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. They met at Hastings Reserve to integrate a large amount of global data that has been generated over the past year-and-a-half, including, for example: marine features such as corals, mangroves, and saltmarshes, freshwater features such as megadiverse catchments, and terrestrial features such as most remote (to Homo sapiens economicus) regions on earth (in addition to many other data themes). They are designing a large data serving capability, as well as further developing a number of publications, including one book and at least 10 manuscripts. Their overall purpose is to provide scientific guidance to TNC and other organizations on conservation investments at the global scale. Michael's wonderful food (Moveable Feast) kept them going, Feb 5-11.

Front Row: L-R; Michael Jennings, Senior Terrestrial Scientist, Carmen Revenga, Senior Freshwater Scientist, TJ Heibel, Research Assistant. Back Row: James Robertson, GIS Analyst, Jonathan Hoekstra, Lead Scientist, Mark Spalding, Senior Marine Scientist, Timothy Boucher, Spatial Scientist, Jennifer Molnar, Conservation Scientist.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mosses, Liverworts and Hornworts of Hastings
Bryophyte fans of Hastings now have a species list on the Hastings website. Ken Kellman of Santa Cruz, one of the 75 or so who participated in the 2004 SoBeFree excursion at Hastings was kind enough to provide the species lists, as well as listings from the database on the bryophytes of Hastings. Ken's listing includes all the known specimen data from Hastings on the bryophytes. Thanks, Ken!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

We had a brief visit by Silke Werth, now of UCLA, and her assistant, Gernot Segelbacher of the Unversity of Freiburg, Dept. Wildlife Ecol & Management in Germany. This was finally my chance to ask an expert about the wonderful Lace Lichen on our oaks.
Silke is studying the phylogeographic pattern of Ramalina menziesii (Lace Lichen) in valley oaks Quercus lobata, blue oaks Q. douglasii, and Oregon oak, Q. garryana. This comparison is the first of its kind for an epiphyte and its hosts. As you may know, this lichen is a combination of a fungus and an algae. The fungus makes spores that can drift from tree to tree, and when it lands it must find an algae to incorporate into its body. If it can’t, it dies. Sometimes the migrating fungus can tap into other lichens and rob a few cells of algae to get started. Other times it just lucks out and finds an algae it can use on the oak. So, we see this odd pattern of Lace Lichen being abundant on some trees but absent on adjacent trees. Determining how this works, and what kinds of algae are incorporated into the lichen will keep her busy. Silke is running around the state, having recently sampled Lace Lichen from Ft. Hunter Liggett, The Indians, Arroyo Seco, and was on her way to Morro Bay, with many stops in between.
Silke is also taking twigs from the host oaks to compare the genetic similarities in oaks on a geopgraphic basis to see where the most highly related oaks co-occur. Whatever she finds will be interesting and may give us an idea of past migration patterns of the lichen and the host oaks. Oaks, are of course, of great concern in Monterey County and California. For more, see the Hastings website’s section on Oak Woodlands.