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For the last volunteer workday of the fall semester, we had a record crew of 53 people, including large contingents from the Webb Schools, Bonita High School, and Citrus College, as well as Claremont Colleges faculty, staff, students, and children. They turned out to help restore the area bulldozed during renovation of the Redford Conservancy! Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden had propagated plants from the BFS, and they were now ready to do into the ground.

All the plants are set out waiting to be planted. ©Nancy Hamlett.


The crew at work! ©Nancy Hamlett.

We had a good rain a few days before the planting, so the soil was nice and moist. There’s no getting around, however, the fact that the BFS is on an alluvial fan, so that the ground is mainly rocks, and digging is never easy.

Abraham goes “HAM” on a new place to plant a California Coffee Berry (Frangula californica). ©Linda Worlow.


Malcolm, Patricia, and Matthew preparing the planting hole for their California Coffee Berry (Frangula californica) next to The Second Biggest Rock of the Day, which came out of their hole. ©Nancy Hamlett.


Bonita High students Nika, Sarah, and Elika checking the level of their Lemonade Berry (Rhus integrifolia). You can also see their The Biggest Rock for the Day! ©Linda Worlow.


Citrus College students Fangshu, Kevin, and Sabrina with their Showy Penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis).


Bonita High students Jake, Avinash, Yeonu, and Ethan with their Skunk Bush (Rhus aromatica). ©Linda Worlow.


It’s a family affair! Citrus College students Christine, Julianne, and Zoey Mullen with their Lemonade Berry (Rhus integriflolia). ©Linda Worlow.


Bonita HIgh students Noah, Mia, Vincent, and Omar with their Chaparral Yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei). ©Linda Worlow


Citrus College students worry whether their Skunk Bush (Rhus aromatica) might be planted too deeply. ©Linda Worlow.


Bonita High students Sanskar and Sam with their Showy Penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis). ©Linda Worlow.


Webb school students with their Showy Penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis). ©Linda Worlow.

Once all the plants were in the ground, it was time to refuel the volunteers with a tasty pizza lunch.

Pizza time! Webb students enjoying their lunch. ©Linda Worlow.


The Bonita High students like their pizza, too! ©Linda Worlow.


Many boxes, many choices! BFS Director Marty Meyer chats with Christine & Zoey in the background. ©Linda Worlow.


Professors Diane Thomson (Keck Science), and Nancy Hamlett (BFS Volunteer Coordinator) confer over pizza. ©Linda Worlow.

Spring volunteer workdays are scheduled to begin on Saturday, January 19. We hope you can join us!

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On the November 3 workday, volunteers cleaned up around pHake Lake. A few days of strong Santa Ana winds in previous weeks had brought down limbs and some entire trees that were blocking the lake trail. One very large downed willow tree was removed by Johnny’s Tree Service, but the volunteers took care of the smaller stuff to excellent effect as you can see below:

Fallen tree blocking the trail on the west side of the lake. Left:before; right: after. ©Nancy Hamlett.


Branches blocking the trail on the west side of the lake. Left: before; right: after. ©Nancy Hamlett.


Overgrown brush on the east side of the lake. Left:before; right: after. ©Nancy Hamlett.

The volunteers also cleared out the remains of the tent that was used as a classroom during the renovation of the Redford Conservancy, and cut back a a few cattails that had the nerve to regrow after our last cutting:

Cattail regrowth on the south shore. Top: before; bottom: after. ©Nancy Hamlett.

The next workday will be Saturday, November 17, and we will be removing non-native plants in the ‘Neck’. We hope you can join us!


This past Saturday’s volunteer workday was what we expect to be the last cattail cutting for this year. The volunteers concentrated on widening the lake access on the south shore and also did some additional cattail tidying around the boat landing and the northeast corner of the lake.

Here they are at work on the south shore:

Volunteers load cut cattails into the boat for transport back across the lake. Left to right: Patricia Barroso, Al Canguahuala, Kevin Jimenez (mostly hidden), Ben Stapp, Fang-shu Liu, Dean McHenry. ©Nancy Hamlett.

And here are some of the volunteers with the giant pile of cattails from four weeks of cutting – the whole pile was too big to fit into the picture!

Some of the volunteers with part of the enormous pile of conquered cattails. Left to right: Dean McHenry, Al Canguahuala, Sebastian Canguahuala, Kevin Jimenez, Fang-shu Liu, and Patricia Barroso. ©Nancy Hamlett.

And here’s the south shore of the lake showing the change over the last month:

Cattail clearing on the south shore of the lake. Top: before (September 13), middle: during (September 30), bottom: after (October 20), with volunteers hauling away the last of the cut cattails. ©Nancy Hamlett.

You will note that the large willow tree in the center of the access area is missing in the bottom photo. That was not the result of volunteers; the tree blew down in the Santa Ana winds earlier in the week. The highest gust recorded by the BFS weather station on Monday was 38 mph.

The next volunteer workday with be November 3, with the activity to be announced. Check our volunteer page for more information.

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The Saturday, October 6, volunteer workday continued the cutting of cattails (Typha latifolia) as well as some bulrushes (Schoenoplectus sp.) and smaller rushes (Juncus sp.) on the edge of pHake Lake. This time the work centered on the northeast corner of lake to clear a site on the north shore that is used for collecting samples and to open an area for viewing the lake from a little island.

A determined Christina Valdez moves in on the bulrushes. ©Nancy Hamlett.


Linda Worlow attacks the rushes blocking the path. ©Nancy Hamlett.


Gosh, it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it! Dick Haskell after piling up cut cattails. ©Linda Worlow.


The work really made a big difference. Here, in lieu of Vanna White, we have volunteer Christina Valdez to point out the areas we worked on:

View of the lake from the little island before (top) and after (bottom). ©Nancy Hamlett.


View from the sampling site on the north shore before (top) and after (bottom). ©Nancy Hamlett.


View looking across the lake to the island. Before (left); after (right). ©Nancy Hamlett.

Weather permitting, we’ll have one more cattail workday on October 20. If you’d like to splash around in the lake, please come join us!

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September 29 was another warm fall Saturday and another day of cutting cattails at pHake Lake. This time volunteers concentrated on the south shore of the lake, where access to the lake was almost totally blocked.

After cattails were cut, they were piled into boats and hauled across the lake to the boat landing area, where they were piled for later collection and mulching or composting.

Jeremy Hall and Luke Hall bring a load of cut cattails back across the lake. ©Nancy Hamlett.


Chia-Yun Chin and Kevin Jimenez unload cut cattails from the boat. ©Nancy Hamlett.

The south shore access was dramaticlly improved, as you can see from these photos!

View of the lake from the south shore. Left: before (is there a lake there?); right: after. ©Nancy Hamlett.


View across the lake to the south shore. Left: before; right: after. ©Nancy Hamlett.

We also spend some time clearing more cattails to the west of the boat landing:

Cattails cleared from the west side of the boat landing. Top: before; bottom: after @Nancy Hamlett.

Cattail cutting will is scheduled to continue for the next two workdays so long as the weather cooperates. So if you’d like to have fun splashing around in the lake while improving the BFS, please join us on October 6 or October 20.

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Saturday, September 15, marked the start of BFS volunteer workdays for the 2018-2019 academic year, after the summer hiatus. As usual for this time of year, the work for the day was trimming back those pesky cattails (Typha latifolia) that keep trying to take over pHake Lake. On Saturday, we specifically worked on clearing out the area around the boat landing.

Volunteers at work. BFS Director Marty Meyer points out areas to cut as Stacy Scibelli and Dean McHenry saw away. ©Nancy Hamlett.

The cattails spread via large rhizomes that essentially make floating peninsulas out into the lake. We try to get rid of as many rhizomes as we can.

Stacy Scibelli admires a fine cattail rhizome. ©Nancy Hamlett

The boat landing area was much improved!

The boat landing before (above) and after (below). ©Nancy Hamlett

Cattail removal will continue on our next workday, September 29, and likely the two Saturdays after that. Please join us if you can for some wet fun and free pizza!

You can see the workday schedule for this academic year at bfs.claremont.edu/volunteer.html.

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The California Department of Fish & Wildlife has declared June 2 – June 10 “California Invasive Species Action Week“, so Saturday, June 9, was the perfect day to have Sustainable Claremont’s Green Crew to the BFS to learn about and remove invasive plants.

After an introduction to the BFS and some of our invasive plant species, the Green Crew together with some of our regular BFS volunteers removed Short-pod Mustard (Hirschfeldia incana), Maltese Star Thistles (Centaurea melitensis), Horehound (Marrubium vulgare), and Tree Tobacco (Nicotiana glauca) from two disturbed areas. One is the area that burned in the May 2017 “Foothill Fire“, and this spring it became covered with mustard (and some star thistles), which, if not removed, will prevent the natives shrubs from growing back. The second area was bulldozed during the establishment of sewer connections to the newly renovated Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability. Volunteers planted this area in the fall with native plants that had been propagated from the BFS, but this area was also being invaded by mustard, horehound, and tree tobacco, which would be compete with the newly established native plants.

Here are some photos from the workday:

Jennifer Stark examines Horehound (and a piece of Wild Cucumber that was climbing on it) while Sorrel Stielstra looks on. ©Marcyn Clements.


BFS Volunteer Coordinator Nancy Hamlett shows the volunteers Tree Tobacco. ©Marcyn Clements.


Volunteers remove Short-pod Mustard from the burned area. ©Nancy Hamlett.


A giant Horehound just ready to be removed! ©Marcyn Clements


Marcyn Clements conquers the giant horehound! ©Marcyn Clements

At the end of the workday, we had had several HUGE piles of invasive plants that will be left to decay in place.

A Short-pod Mustard plant goes onto a trash pile. ©Nancy Hamlett.


Jen Pizzolo shows off another big pile of mustard and horehound. ©Marcyn Clements

And the volunteers also took time to appreciate some of the wildlife at the BFS. The toad pond in the burn area was filled with Western Toad tadpoles, and newly metamorphosed toadlets were hopping around on the shore.

Western Toad tadpoles in the toad pond. ©Nancy Hamlett.


A newly metamorphosed Western Toad at the toad pond. ©Nancy Hamlett.

And a Great Blue Heron stopped by to fish in pHake Lake.

A Great Blue Heron at pHake Lake. ©Nancy Hamlett.

All in all, it was most successful day! We hope this will be the first of many collaborations of Green Crew and the BFS.

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Since our last publication update in August 2016, BFS researchers have been very active indeed. We’ve posted seventeen new peer-reviewed articles and conference papers on the BFS website!

The new publications report research on a wide variety of projects, including carbon and nitrogen storage in soil, effects of drought on bird species richness, a revised taxonomy of a cleptoparasitic (cuckoo) bee genus, refuges that enable native snails to avoid heat and dessication, genetics of nitrogen-fixing sympbiotic bacteria, interactions of non-native grasses with native annuals, genetics of fairy shrimp, using underwater robots to track marine life and examine archeological sites, effects of leg loss on reproduction of Green Lynx Spiders, effects of disturbance on ground spider populations, and others!

We at the Claremont Colleges are incredibly fortunate to have a resource that supports such diverse research. In fact, Onuferko (2018) states in the Acknowledgements of his article,

I thank the Claremont Colleges and in particular Dr. Wallace Meyer (Pomona College) for giving me access to collect Epeolus and other bees at the Robert J. Bernard Biological Field Station in Claremont, California. The area hosts several uncommon/rare cuckoo bees, and its importance as a refugium for native species in an otherwise completely human-transformed environment cannot be overstated.”

Here is the complete list of articles with links to abstracts and the full text of the articles (where available), along with a few photos of some of the experimental subjects:

    California Shoulderband (Helminthoglypta tudiculata) – see Osborne & Wright (2018).

  • Caspi, T., L. Estrada, A.V. Dowling, E. Su, M. Leshchinskiy, A.R.O. Cavalcanti, E.J. Crane, C.R. Robins, and W.M. Meyer III. 2018. Carbon and nitrogen in the topsoils of inceptisols and mollisols under native sage scrub and non-native grasslands in southern California. Geoderma Regional. In Press. Abstract | HTML (subscription required)
  • Myers, B.M., E.J. Questad, M.D. Hubbell, and D.J. Moriarty. 2018. Trends in bird species richness in the midst of drought. Western Birds. In press. Abstract
  • Onuferko, T.M. 2018. A revision of the cleptoparasitic bee genus Epeolus Latreille for Nearctic species, north of Mexico (Hymenoptera, Apidae). ZooKeys 755: 1–185. Abstract | HTML | PDF
  • Bishop Lotus (Acmispon strigosus) – see Pahua et al. (2018) and Regus et al. (2017)

  • Osborne, T.R., and J.C. Wright. 2018. Seeking refuge in subsurface microhabitats during aestivation aids avoidance of lethally high temperature and desiccation in the snail Helminthoglypta tudiculata (Binney, 1843) (Pulmonata: Helminthoglyptidae). Journal of Molluscan Studies 84: 132-140. Abstract | HTML | PDF (subscription required)
  • Pahua, V.J., P.J. N. Stokes, A.C. Hollowell, J.U. Regus, K.A. Gano-Cohen, C.E. Wendlandt, K.W. Quides, J.Y. Lyu, and J.L. Sachs. 2018. Fitness variation among host species and the paradox of ineffective rhizobia. J. Evol. Biol. 31: 599-610. Abstract | HTML | PDF (from Sachs lab)
  • Thomson, D.M., J.W. Kwok, and E.L. Schultz. 2018. Extreme drought alters growth and interactions with exotic grasses, but not survival, for a California annual forb. Plant Ecology 219: 705-717. Abstract | HTML | PDF (subscription required)
  • Distant Phacelia (Phacelia distans) – see Thomson et al. (2018)

  • Aguilar, A., A.M. Maeda-Martínez, G. Murugan, H. Obregón-Barboza, D.C. Rogers, K. McClintock, and J.L. Krumm. 2017. High intraspecific genetic divergence in the versatile fairy shrimp Branchinecta lindahli with a comment on cryptic species in the genus Branchinecta (Crustacea: Anostraca). Hydrobiologia 801: 59-69. Abstract | HTML | PDF (subscription required)
  • Lin, Y., J. Hsiung, R. Piersall, C. White, C.G. Lowe, and C.M. Clark. 2017. A multi-autonomous underwater vehicle system for autonomous tracking of marine life. J. Field Robotics 34: 757–774. Abstract | HTML (subscription required) | PDF (from Clark lab)
  • Ramirez, M.G., J.N. Takemoto, and C.M. Oliveri. 2017. Leg Loss and Fitness in Female Green Lynx Spiders Peucetia viridans (Araneae: Oxyopidae). Arachnology 17(6): 277-281. Abstract | HTML | PDF (Subscription required)
  • Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans) – see Ramirez et al. (2017)

  • Regus, J.U., C.E. Wendlandt, R.M. Bantay, K.A. Gano-Cohen, N.J. Gleason, A.C. Hollowell, M.R. O’Neill, K.K. Shahin, and J.L. Sachs. 2017. Nitrogen deposition decreases the benefits of symbiosis in a native legume. Plant Soil 414: 159-170. Abstract | HTML (subscription required) | PDF (from Sachs lab)
  • Spear, D.M., T.A. Adams, E.S. Boyd, M.M. Dipman, W.J. Staubus, and W.M. Meyer. 2017. The effects of development, vegetation-type conversion, and fire on low-elevation Southern California spider assemblages. Invertebr. Biol. 136: 134–145. Abstract | HTML | PDF (subscription required)
  • Thomson, D.M., R.A. King, and E.L. Schultz. 2017. Between invaders and a risky place: Exotic grasses alter demographic tradeoffs of native forb germination timing. Ecosphere 8(10): e01987. Abstract | HTML | PDF
  • A robot ready for deployment at pHake Lake – see Lin et al. (2017), Viswanathan et al. (2017), Anderson et al. (2016), and Smith et al. (2016).

  • Viswanathan, V.K., Z. Lobo, J. Lupanow, S.S. von Fock, Z. Wood, T. Gambin, and C. Clark. 2017. AUV motion-planning for photogrammetric reconstruction of marine archaeological sites. 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) Abstract |PDF (from Clark lab)
  • Anderson, J., B. Belcher, K. Clark, J. Faust, E. Hall, J. Sandoval, K. Tozer, and R.N. Smith. 2016. Development and implementation of a marine robotics algorithm validation testbed. OCEANS 2016 MTS/IEEE Monterey Abstract | PDF (from Smith lab)
  • Fiesler, E., and T. Drake. 2016. Macro-invertebrate biodiversity of a coastal prairie with vernal pool habitat. Biodiversity Data Journal 4: e6732. Abstract | HTML | PDF
  • Smith, K.D. , S.C. Hsiung, C. White, C.G. Lowe and C.M. Clark. 2016. Stochastic modeling and control for tracking the periodic movement of marine animals via AUVs. 2016 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Daejeon, 2016: 3101-3107. Abstract | PDF (from Clark lab)
  • Krumm, J.L. 2013. Axial Gynandromorphy and Sex Determination in Branchinecta lindahli (Branchiopoda: Anostraca). Journal of Crustacean Biology 33: 303–308. Abstract | HTML | PDF


This year 14 seniors across the Claremont Colleges did research for their senior theses at the BFS. On April 25, the BFS held a senior thesis research symposium where seniors presented their thesis research in posters and oral presentations so all these students would have an opportunity to find out about all the other senior thesis projects. Here are a few photos from the event:

Jack Halsey presents his poster on the effects of fire on seed germination.


Ellie Harris talks about fire effects.


Jack Litle talks about the effects of herbivory.


Savanah Bird discusses how the 210 freeway affects genetic diversity in coyotes.


Savannah Meadors talks about processes that determine the survival and distribution of White Sage (Salvia apiana).


Kay Garlick-Ott takes questions on her presentation of how temperature impacts mating behaviors in the freshwater snail Physa acuta.


Symposium attendees. Front row, left to right: Prof. Fran Hanzawa, Ellie Harris, Tal Caspi, Savanah Bird, Prof. Nina Karnovsky. Back row: Prof. Diane Thomson, Savannah Meadors, Jenna Loesburg, Jack Halsey, BFS Director Marty Meyer, Jack Litle, Kay Garlick-Ott, Prof. Dave Smith



On Saturday, April 21, the BFS is hosting a variety of tours for the Claremont Community in celebration of Earth Day 2018. A list and description of the different tour options is below. We do expect that tours will fill up quickly, so please sign up as soon as possible (see links to tour sign-ups below).

For a taste of what to expect, check out these scenes from last year’s Earth Day Celebration!

Once registered, it is critical that all participants arrive at least 5 to 10 minutes early. Everyone will need to sign a waiver of liability. Everyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian.

Please prepare yourself for the conditions. We recommend that everyone wear closed-toed shoes, long pants, and a hat. Sunscreen and water are also recommended – and critical if it is hot. Specific equipment for each tour is listed under the description.

List of Tours:

  1. Bird Watching Tour – 8:00 to 10:00 AM:
    Prof. Catherine McFadden from Harvey Mudd College will be leading a bird-watching tour. For a list of birds that you may see while at the BFS refer to the BFS list of bird species. Records of birds observed during the monthly surveys at the BFS can also be explored on eBird. People of all ages are welcome, but everyone must be in good enough shape to hike for ~ 2 hours.

    • Please bring your own binoculars. We do have a few for people who don’t have any, but please indicate on your registration form if you require binoculars.
    • Water, closed toed shoes, and sun protection required.
    • Click HERE to register for the Bird-Watching Tour
  2. Family Science Tour – 9:00 to 10:30 AM:
    This tour will lead groups to a variety of stations:

    1. Bird Ecology, where Prof. Elise Ferree from the Keck Science Department will teach people about local bird species and discuss aspects of their ecology,
    2. Native Invertebrates, where Wallace Meyer, BFS Director, will provide an introduction to the ecology of invertebrates in southern California, and
    3. Mammal Diversity and Ecology, where Prof. Paul Stapp from Cal State Fullerton, will be introducing participants to mammals found at the Bernard Field Station.

    People of all ages are welcome, but the focus of this event is for K-12 students interested in science. Everyone must be in good enough shape to hike for ~ 1.5 hours.

    • Water, closed-toed shoes, and sun protection required.
    • Click HERE to register for the Family Science Tour
  3. Native Plant Tour – 9:30 to 11:00 AM:
    Dr. Susan Schenk will be leading a tour focused on native plants found at the field station for those interested in Southern California plant communities. People of all ages are welcome, but everyone must be in good enough shape to hike for ~ 1.5 hours.

    • Water, closed-toed shoes, and sun protection required.
    • Click HERE to register for the Native Plant Tour
  4. Wildflower Tour – 2:00 to 3:30 PM:
    Professor Nancy Hamlett from Harvey Mudd College will be leading a wildflower tour. The late rains and the fire have provided unique opportunities for viewing wildflowers. People of all ages are welcome, but everyone must be in good enough shape to hike for ~ 1.5 hours.

    • Water, closed-toed shoes, and sun protection required.
    • Click HERE to register for the Wildflower Tour
  5. Night Tour for Families – 8:00 to 9:00 PM:
    This tour will lead groups to two stations in the evening:

    1. Night Sky, where participants, led by professor Prof. Naftilan from Keck Science, will examine aspects of the night sky using the Keck Science telescope
    2. Insects of the Night, where Professor Jonathan Wright from Pomona College will teach participants about various insects active at night.

    People of all ages are welcome, but the focus of this event is for K-12 students interested in science. Everyone must be in good enough shape to hike for ~ 1 hour.

    • Please bring a flashlight with you.
    • Water and closed-toed shoes required.
    • Click HERE to register for the Night Family Tour

If you have any questions, please contact the BFS Director, Wallace Meyer, at wallace.meyer@pomona.edu.

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