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Volunteer workdays for Spring 2017 will resume Saturday, February 4. We had originally planned to start January 21, but a number of faculty, staff, and volunteers requested the day off to attend the Women’s March.

You can check out the volunteer schedule here.

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For the last workday of the fall semester, volunteers removed a number of invasive woody plants, including:

  • Tree Tobacco (Nicotiana glauca)
    A flourishing Tree Tobacco -- it's no longer there!

    A flourishing Tree Tobacco – it’s no longer there! ©Nancy Hamlett

    This South American native was introduced to California about 100 years as a landscape plant. It produces the poisonous alkaloid anabasine and is very toxic to both humans and wildlife.

    Tree Tobacco is drought resistant, tolerates a wide range of conditions, and grows rapidly to form dense stands that displace native vegetation.

    At the BFS, Tree Tobacco plants are currently mostly along the fire roads and other disturbed areas, but we want to remove them before they spread.

     

     

     

     

  • Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)
    One of the Mexican Fan Palms that have popped up around the lake.

    One of the Mexican Fan Palms next to pHake Lake. ©Nancy Hamlett

    Mexican fan palms are native to central Mexico, but were introduced into the Los Angeles area as a ornamental, where they became iconic Los Angeles street trees. In the 1930s alone 40,000 Mexican Fan Palms were planted along 150 miles of streets in Los Angeles.

    Mexican Fan Palms reproduce by seed, which can be dispersed by droppings from bird that eat the palm fruits or spread by water along washes, streams, and storm drains. Mexican Fan Palms are especially invasive in riparian areas, where the palms can form monospecific stands that threaten biodiversity. The dead palm fronds can also pose a fire hazard.

    At the BFS, a number of these Mexican Fan Palms popped up around pHake Lake.

     

  • Bird-of-Paradise Shrub
    (Caesalpinia gilliesii)

    A Bird-of-Paradise Shrub growing in the 'Neck'.

    A Bird-of-Paradise Shrub growing in the ‘Neck’.

    The Bird-of-Paradise Shrub is native to Argentina and Uruguay, but has been widely planted around the world for its beautiful flowers. It tolerates dry conditions and invaded arid areas of the American southwest as well as South Africa, displacing native vegetation.

    At the BFS, seeds from plants in adjacent yards have been carried across the fire road, and new Bird-of-Paradise shrubs have started cropping up in the sage scrub, where we want to remove them while they’re still small.

 

The workday was very successful, and the volunteers removed every one of the Mexican Fan Palms, Tree Tobaccos, and Bird-of-Paradise shrubs that we have located. They also removed a few young Mexcian Palo Verde Trees and some horehound for good measure. Here are some photos of the volunteers at work:

Digging out Tree Tobacco.

Digging out Tree Tobacco. ©Nancy Hamlett

 

Searching for invading Bird-of-Paradise Shrubs in the Neck.

Searching for invading Bird-of-Paradise Shrubs in the Neck. ©Nancy Hamlett

 

Volunteers vs. palm tree -- the volunteers emerge victorious!

Volunteers vs. palm tree – volunteers emerge victorious! ©Nancy Hamlett

The next workday is scheduled for January 21 February 4 – we hope you can join us then!

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On this Thanksgiving, we at the BFS give thanks for all our wonderful volunteers! The BFS is so much better because of your efforts!

For November, the BFS volunteers were planting and clearing….

November 5 – Planting:
Back last January, Antonio Sanchez, the Nursery Production Manager, at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG), helped us make and root cuttings from BFS plants so we could have plants from the indigenous genetic stock for restoration of disturbed areas.

By this fall, the propagated plants we big enough to plant out, and on our first November workday, volunteers planted them on the “mounds” on the west side of the BFS ‘Neck’, adjacent to the RSABG greenhouses. We’re not sure of the history of this area, but it’s clearly disturbed and has mostly supported growth of invasive, non-native mustards and star thistles. Repeated weed removal has reduced the non-natives, so it was time try to get some natives established.

White flags mark the newly planted plants.

White flags mark the newly planted plants. ©Nancy Hamlett

 

A newly planted White Sage (Salvia apiana).

A newly planted White Sage (Salvia apiana). ©Nancy Hamlett

November 19 – Trail clearing:
On our second November workday, thirty-nine volunteers – our largest contingent ever – cleared the overgrown trails around pHake Lake and from the drive to the southeast corner of the lake, so that classes and researchers can access the lake easily. They also removed some invasive Mexican Fan Palms (Washingtonia robusta) that have sprouted up around the lake.

We are especially grateful to students from Pitzer College, Citrus College, and the Environmental Club and Key Club of Claremont High School for making this workday a big success! We also owe a big “Thank you!” to Sue Schenk, Mike Tschudi, Dick Haskell, and Al and Gloria Cangahuala for helping to supervise work crews. Here are a few photos of the workers and their work:

Many hands make light work.

Many hands make light work. ©Nancy Hamlett

 

Well, that's one less sagebrush in the middle of the trail.

Well, that’s one less sagebrush in the middle of the trail! ©Nancy Hamlett

 

How are we ever going to get this pesky palm out of here?

Now how do we get this pesky palm out of here? ©Nancy Hamlett

 

Trail on the west side of the lake. Left: Before. Right: After.

Trail on the west side of the lake. Left: Before. Right: After. ©Nancy Hamlett

 

Trail on the east side of the lake. Left: Before. Right: After.

Trail on the east side of the lake. Left: Before. Right: After. ©Nancy Hamlett

 

Southeast corner of the trail. Left: Before. Right: After.

Southeast corner of the trail. Left: Before. Right: After. ©Nancy Hamlett

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Volunteer workdays continued on October 1, when a terrific crew of stalwart volunteers cleared cattails, bulrushes, and reeds from the northeast corner of pHake Lake. The little island there is a prime spot for viewing waterfowl and other wildlife at the lake, but the view had been completely blocked by the cattails and bulrushes. The volunteers also cleared overgrown vegetation from the island to improve the habitat for the native digger bees that nest there, and cleared the path to the island.

Sometimes cutting back cattails reveals other surprises, as this volunteer found when his cutting revealed a motion-sensing wildlife camera:

Volunteer meets wildlife cam.  ©Nancy Hamlett.

Volunteer meets wildlife cam. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Once the cattails are cut, they need to be collected and piled in an accessible location, from where some were collected and taken to the Cooper Regional History Museum in Upland, to be used to refurbish a Tongva shelter. The rest will be collected and used for mulch. It turns out that gathering up the cut cattails and transporting them to the collection site is even more work than cutting them. Some are put in boats and rowed over the site…

Picking up cut cattails. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Picking up cut cattails. ©Nancy Hamlett.

 

Piling cut cattails into the boat.

Piling cut cattails into the boat. ©Nancy Hamlett

…while others are taken by overland route:

Dragging cattails out of the lake. Nancy Hamlett.

Dragging cattails out of the lake. ©Nancy Hamlett.

 

An armload of cattails. Nancy Hamlett.

An armload of cattails being taken off the island. ©Nancy Hamlett.

After a morning of hard work, the volunteers were re-fueled with our usual pizza lunch. This lunch was a bit special, as it was the last one held in the old outdoor classroom, which will soon be demolished for renovation of the old infirmary for the new home of Pitzer College’s Robert Redford Conservancy of Southern California Sustainability. The renovation will include two new outdoor classrooms, but we will have many fond memories of this one, which was built when the field station was first established (see 1978 photo here).

Volunteers eat pizza in the old outdoor classroom. Nancy Hamlett.

Volunteers eat pizza in the old outdoor classroom. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Volunteers eat pizza in the old outdoor classroom. Nancy Hamlett.

Volunteers eat pizza in the old outdoor classroom. ©Nancy Hamlett.

At the end of the day, we could enjoy the restored view from the island.

View from the lake shortly before sunset. Nancy Hamlett.

View from the lake shortly before sunset. ©Nancy Hamlett.

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The first BFS Volunteer workday for 2016-2017 academic year was held Saturday, September 17, when 14 volunteers, including Claremont Colleges faculty and students, Citrus College students, and community members, cleared cattails from the south shore of pHake Lake, where this heavily used lake access point had become almost unusable. Here are some photos of the volunteers hard at work:

Cutting the cattails.

Cutting the cattails. ©Nancy Hamlett

 

Piling cut cattails into a boat.

Piling cut cattails into a boat. ©Nancy Hamlett

 

Rowing the cut cattails across the lake.

Rowing the cut cattails across the lake. ©Nancy Hamlett

And here’s the result:

'South Beach' before cattail clearing.

‘South Beach’ before cattail clearing. ©Nancy Hamlett

'South Beach' after cattail clearing.

‘South Beach’ after cattail clearing. ©Nancy Hamlett

What a difference! Thank you, volunteers!

We plan to continue cattail removal for the next two workdays, so join us if you can!

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If you’re curious about what went on at the BFS this past academic year, you can check out the “Robert J. Bernard Field Station 2015-16 Annual Report”, which is posted on our website.

The 2015-2016 BFS Annual Report

“Robert J. Bernard Field Station 2015-2016 Annual Report”
Click on the image to see the report.

We’ve also posted research publications for the 2015-2016 academic year, including six peer-reviewed journal articles and five senior theses. Do check them out!

Journal Articles:

  • Hollowell, A. C., J. U. Regus, D. Turissini, K. A. Gano-Cohen, R. Bantay, A. Bernardo, D. Moore, J. Pham, and J. L. Sachs. 2016. Metapopulation dominance and genomic island acquisition of Bradyrhizobium with superior catabolic capabilities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 283: 20160496. Abstract | HTML | PDF (Subscription required)
  • Wheeler, M. M., M. M. Dipman, T. A. Adams, A. V. Ruina, C. R. Robins, and W. M. Meyer III. 2016. Carbon and nitrogen storage in California sage scrub and non-native grassland habitats. Journal of Arid Environments 129: 119-125 Abstract | HTML | PDF (subscription required)
  • Thomson, D. M., R. Cruz-de Hoyos, K. Cummings, and E. L. Schultz. 2016. Why are native annual abundances low in invaded grasslands? Testing the effects of competition and seed limitation. Plant Ecology 217: 431-432. Abstract | HTML | PDF (Subscription required)
  • Hollowell, A. C., J. U. Regus, K. A. Gano, R. Bantay, D. Centeno, J. Pham, J. Y. Lyu, D. Moore, A. Bernardo, G. Lopez, A. Patil, S. Patil, Y, Lii, and J. L. Sachs. 2016. Epidemic spread of symbiotic and non-symbiotic Bradyrhizobium genotypes across California. Microbial Ecology 71: 700-710. Abstract | HTML | PDF (Subscription required)
  • Wu, G. C., and J. C. Wright. 2015. Exceptional thermal tolerance and water resistance in the mite Paratarsotomus macropalpis (Erythracaridae) challenge prevailing explanations of physiological limits. Journal of Insect Physiology 82: 1-7 Abstract | HTML | PDF (Subscription required)
  • Staubus, W. J., E. S. Boyd, T. A. Adams, D. M. Spear, M. M. Dipman and W. M. Meyer III. 2015. Ant communities in native sage scrub, non-native grassland, and suburban habitats in Los Angeles County, USA: conservation implications. Journal of Insect Conservation 19: 669-680 Abstract | HTML | PDF

Theses:

  • Adams, Tessa (2016) Effects of fire on ant assemblages in California sage scrub. Bachelor of Arts, Pomona College, Biology. Advisor: Wallace Meyer. Abstract
  • Cowen, Madeline (2016) Offspring dispersal and territory acquisition of Western scrub-jays (Aphelocoma californica californica) at the Bernard Field Station. Advisor: Rachel Levin. Abstract
  • Sartorius, Andrea (2016) The effects of type-conversion and fire on sage scrub vertebrate assemblages. Bachelor of Arts, Pomona College. Advisors: Nina Karnovsky & Wallace Meyer. Abstract
  • Startin, Charlotte (2016) The effects of light pollution on the foraging behavior of Caltpte anna
    and Selasphorus sasin. Advisor: Elise Ferree.
  • Farooq, Ana (2016) Effects of light and noise pollution on bird vocalizations. Advisor: Elise
    Ferree.

We have a new addition to our lists of biota of the BFS – a preliminary list of bryophytes, including 10 types of moss and 4 different liverworts. The list was generated by an introductory level bryophytes class offered on February 20-21, 2016, by the Rancho Sanata Ana Botanic Garden and taught by Dr. Paul S. Wilson, California State University, Northridge. Mosses and liverworts were identified visually in the field with the aid of a hand lens; consequently this is very preliminary list, and definitive identification will require more detailed study, which we hope to be able to do in the future.

Spring into Summer

This year most of the BFS wilflowers were finished blooming by May, but a couple our more spectacular flowers bloomed in June, after most of the students were gone for the summer.

Chaparral Yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei) blooming the Neck. Nancy Hamlett.

Chaparral Yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei) blooming the Neck. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Chaparral Yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei), also known as Our Lord’s Candle and Spanish Bayonet, grows in foothills and valleys of California and northern Baja California. Local native peoples used fiber from the leaves of Chaparral Yuccas for sandals, cloth, and rope. Fruits, seeds, stalk, and flower were also used for food.

Chaparral Yuccas, which are pollinated exclusively by the California Yucca Moth (Tegeticula maculata), take more than five years to mature and produce the spectacular flowering stalk, after which they die; although sometimes the dead plants replaced by offsets around the base. We have only a few Chaparral Yuccas at the BFS, so it is a special treat to see on in bloom.

Flowers of Scarlet Larkspur (Delphinium cardinale) blooming among buckwheat in the Neck. Nancy Hamlett.

Flowers of Scarlet Larkspur (Delphinium cardinale) blooming among buckwheat in the Neck. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Like the Chaparral Yucca, Scarlet Larkspur is native only to California and Baja California. In good years, the flowering stalks may grow over six feet tall. The bright read trumpet-shaped flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds and native bees.

We have several nice patches of Scarlet Larkspur at the BFS, but the bloom varies a lot from year to year, depending on the weather. Although most the BFS Scarlet Larkspur did not do much this year, a patch in the Neck put on a nice show.

Over 100 community members attended the third annual BFS Earth Day Celebration on April 23. Here are a few snapshots from the event:

A Cassin's Kingbird waiting for the bird watching tour.

A Cassin’s Kingbird waiting for the bird watching tour ©Nancy Hamlett.

 

Prof. Cathy McFadden (Harvey Mudd) leads the bird-watching tour.

Prof. Cathy McFadden (Harvey Mudd) leads the bird-watching tour ©Nancy Hamlett.

 

BFS Director Marty Meyer talks about pHake Lake on the general tour of the BFS.

BFS Director Marty Meyer talks about pHake Lake on the general tour of the BFS ©Nancy Hamlett.

 

Sue Schenk points out Crassula growing in a fire road on the wildflower tour.

Sue Schenk points out Crassula growing in a fire road on the wildflower tour ©Nancy Hamlett.

 

A woodrat naps before the arrival of the family science tour at the mammal station.

A woodrat naps before the arrival of the family science tour at the mammal station ©Nancy Hamlett.

 

Prof. Steve Adolph (Harvey Mudd) explains lizard biology on the family science tour.

Prof. Steve Adolph (Harvey Mudd) explains lizard biology on the family science tour ©Nancy Hamlett.

 

Prof. Paul Stapp (Cal State Fullerton) shows off a woodrat on the Family Science Tour.

Prof. Paul Stapp (Cal State Fullerton) shows off a woodrat on the Family Science Tour ©Nancy Hamlett.

 

Families learn about White Sage at the Plant Ecology station on the Family Science Tour.

Families learn about White Sage at the Plant Ecology station on the Family Science Tour ©Nancy Hamlett.

 

A very "furry" moth (Tolype sp.)  collected at 'Insects of the Night' on the Night Tour for Families.

A very “furry” moth (Tolype sp.) collected at ‘Insects of the Night’ on the Night Tour for Families ©Nancy Hamlett.

Click for a PDF copy of the flyer!

Click for a PDF copy of the flyer!

On April 23, 2016, the BFS will host a variety of tours for the Claremont Community in celebration of Earth Day 2016. Everyone is invited!

To ensure that all participants are provided a wonderful experience, tour size is limited and pre-registration is required for all tours. Tour options include:

  1. Bird-watching Tour
  2. General Tour of the BFS
  3. Wildflower Tour
  4. Family Science Tour, including:
    • Lizard Diversity & Ecology
    • Bird Ecology
    • Plant Ecology
    • Mammal Diversity and Ecology
  5. Night Family Tour
    • Night Sky
    • Insects of the Night

Please see the BFS Earth Day web page for details and links to online registration forms for each tour. Don’t delay – we expect tours to fill quickly!

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