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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!

BFS volunteer workdays will resume for the spring semester on Saturday, February 6. Although we had originally planned to start on January 16, the cold weather has slowed the growth of the annual weeds that occupy most of our spring workdays, and currently there are not enough weeds to pull! So relax for a few more weeks, and we hope to see you on February 6!

In the meantime, here are a few photos from the fall semester:

Cutting cattails.

Cutting cattails.

 

Clearing the 'bee island'.

Clearing the ‘bee island’.

 

Carrying cut cattails back to the boat landing.

Carrying cut cattails back to the boat landing.

 

Pulling horehound in the 'Neck'.

Pulling horehound in the ‘Neck’.

 

Piling cut cattails for collection.

Piling cut cattails for collection.

How do mites and snails that cope with extreme heat and desiccation in soil at the BFS? How can underwater robots track fish in 3D? How do ant species at the BFS differ among habitats, and how do they compare to ants found in adjacent suburbia?

The answers to these and many other questions can be found in the most recent crop of BFS theses and publications that we’ve just posted on the BFS website! They are listed below with links to abstracts and to full text (if it’s available online).

If you know of any publications or theses that we’ve missed, please let us know! We are also collecting reports and presentations on work done at the BFS, so if you have any of those, please pass them along!

Journal articles:

  • 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
  • Lin, Y., H. Kastein, T. Peterson, C. White, C. G. Lowe, and C. M. Clark. 2014. A multi-AUV state estimator for determining the 3D position of tagged fish. Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2014): 3469-3475. Abstract | PDF

Dissertations & theses:

  • Dipman, Madison (2015) Factors driving early decomposition processes in low elevation habitat types of southern California. Bachelor of Arts, Pomona College, Biology. Advisor: Wallace Meyer. Abstract
  • Gormally, Brenna (2015) Comparing corticosterone concentrations in male Sceloporus occidentalis from urban and protected habitats. Bachelor of Arts, Pomona College, Biology. Advisor: Kristine Kaiser. Abstract
  • Hackenberger, Benjamin C. (2015). The San Antonio Wash: Addressing the gap between Claremont and Upland. Bachelor of Arts, Pomona College, Environmental Analysis. Readers: Char Miller, Lance Neckar, and John Bohn. Abstract | Thesis
  • Hernandez, Jessica (2015) The effects of urbanization on circulating testosterone levels in male Sceloporus occidentalis across urban and protected areas in the Los Angeles basin. Bachelor of Arts, Pomona College, Biology. Advisor: Kristine Kaiser. Abstract
  • Hollowell, Amanda C. (2015) Drivers of genotypic abundance and spatial spread in wild Bradyrhizobium. Doctor of Philosophy, University of California Riverside, Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics. Advisor: Joel Sachs. Abstract | Dissertation
  • Nuffer, Alex (2015) Relationship between soil nutrients and vegetation communities at the Robert J. Bernard Biological Field Station. Bachelor of Arts, Keck Science, Environmental Analysis. Advisor: Colin Robins. Abstract
  • Osborne, Rose (2015) Behavioral and physiological adaptations to avoid desiccation, starvation, and lethally high temperatures during estivation in the land snail Helminthoglypta tudiculata. Bachelor of Arts, Pomona College, Biology. Advisor: Jonathan Wright. Abstract
  • Stroutsos, Mia (2015) Environmental education curricula in the Inland Empire: ethnographic accounts of innovative schooling. Bachelor of Arts, Pitzer College, Anthropology and Environmental Analysis. Advisor: Claudia Strauss. Abstract

We’ve recently updated the BFS Plant List. Here are the changes:

NEW ADDITIONS:

Eleven new plants have been added to the list – five natives, four non-natives, and two California native that appear to have been planted – it seems that someone has been seeding the parkway with wildflowers! They new additions are:

Sunflower Family (Asteraceae):

  • Chaenactis artemisiifolia (White Pincushion) – native. A single plant was spotted growing in the upper Neck.

    White Pincushion (Chaenactis artemisiifolia) growing in the 'Neck'. Nancy Hamlett.

    White Pincushion (Chaenactis artemisiifolia) growing in the ‘Neck’. ©Nancy Hamlett.

  • Erigeron foliosus var. foliosus (Leafy Fleabane) – native. A number of these are growing in two patches in the East Field burn area.

    Leafy Fleabane (Erigeron foliosus var. foliosus) growing in the East Field. Nancy Hamlett.

    Leafy Fleabane (Erigeron foliosus var. foliosus) growing in the East Field. ©Nancy Hamlett.

  • Dimorphotheca sinuata (African Daisy) – non-native. This southern African native is widely grown as an ornamental and has naturalized in Southern California and Arizona. At the BFS, several plants were spotted in the burn area west of the drive.

    African Daisy (Dimorphotheca sinuata) growing amid Phacelia distans in the burn area just west of the entry drive. Nancy Hamlett.

    African Daisy (Dimorphotheca sinuata) growing amid Phacelia distans in the burn area just west of the entry drive. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Borage Family (Boraginaceae)

  • Emmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora (Whispering Bells) – native. A single plant of this charming Phacelia relative was spotted in the sage scrub southeast of pHake Lake.
    Whispering Bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora) growing southeast of pHake Lake. Nancy Hamlett.

    Whispering Bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora) growing southeast of pHake Lake. ©Nancy Hamlett.

  • Phacelia campanularia (Desert Bluebells) – CA native, but not endemic to the BFS. Spotted in the parkway where it was likely seeded as part of a wildflower mix.

    Desert Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia) growing in the Mills Ave parkway. Nancy Hamlett.

    Desert Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia) growing in the Mills Ave parkway. ©Nancy Hamlett.

  • Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida (Caterpillar Phacelia) – native. Several plants were growing next to the trail on the south side of pHake Lake. Although recorded at other sites in Claremont, this species had not previously been reported at the BFS.

    Caterpillar Phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida) growing by the path on the south side of the lake. Nancy Hamlett.

    Caterpillar Phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida) growing by the path on the south side of the lake. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)

  • Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa (Garden Rocket) – non-native. Salad anyone? Several plants of Garden Rocket, also known as arugula, appeared behind the infirmary. This Mediterranean native has naturalized in Southern California, but is not considered invasive.

    Garden Rocket (Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa) growing behind the infirmary. Nancy Hamlett.

    Garden Rocket (Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa) growing behind the infirmary. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Goosefoot Family (Chenopodiaceae)

    Several plants of two species known as Russian Thistle or tumbleweed were spotted in the East Field. Besides being quite prickly, these Eurasian natives contain high levels of toxic oxalates and serve as an alternate host for a leaf-hopper that carries a virus of important agricultural crops. Although the California Invasive Plant Council considers their impact “Limited”, we plan to remove them whenever we spot them.

  • Salsola australis (Russian Thistle) – non-native
    Russian Thistle (Salsola australis) near Mills Avenue in the East Field. Nancy Hamlett.

    Russian Thistle (Salsola australis) near Mills Avenue in the East Field. ©Nancy Hamlett.

  • Salsola tragus (Russian Thistle) – non-native
    Russian Thistle (Salsola tragus) near Mills Avenue in the East Field. Nancy Hamlett.

    Russian Thistle (Salsola tragus) near Mills Avenue in the East Field. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Legume (Bean & Pea) Family (Fabaceae)

  • Lupinus succulentus (Arroyo Lupine) – native. Several plants of Arroyo Lupine appeared behind the field house.

    Arroyo Lupine (Lupinus succulentus) growing behind the field house. Nancy Hamlett.

    Arroyo Lupine (Lupinus succulentus) growing behind the field house. ©Nancy Hamlett.

  • Lupinus nanus (Sky Lupine) – CA native, but not endemic to the BFS Like P. campanularia, L. nanus was spotted in the parkway where, like the Desert Bluebells, it was likely seeded as part of a wildflower mix.

    Sky Lupine (Lupinus nanus) growing in the Foothill Blvd Parkway. Nancy Hamlett.

    Sky Lupine (Lupinus nanus) growing in the Foothill Blvd Parkway. ©Nancy Hamlett.

NAME CHANGES:

Advances in plant phylogeny – largely through the newer molecular techniquest – have led to new understanding of the relationships of many plant species and, in some cases, to changes in taxonom. Here are the recent name changes of BFS plants:

  • Chamaesyce albomarginata to Euphorbia albomarginata
  • Chamaesyce serpyllifolia to Euphorbia serpyllifolia
  • Trifolium gracilentum var. gracilentum to Trifolium gracilentum
  • Juglans californica var. californica to Juglans californica
  • Calandrinia ciliata to Calandrinia menziesii
  • Anagallis arvensis to Lysimachia arvensis
  • Phoradendron serotinum ssp. macrophyllum to Phoradendron leucarpum ssp. macrophyllum

SUBTRACTIONS:

We have not been able to confirm the following plants as being present on the BFS; consequently, we’ve moved them to the list of “Unconfirmed plant reports”. If you spot any of these at the BFS, please let us know, and we’ll document them and restore them to the main plant list:

  • Baccharis salicina (Emory Baccharis)
  • Hazardia squarrosa (Saw-toothed Goldenbush)
  • Isocoma menziesii (Coastal Goldenbush, Menzie’s Goldenbush)
  • Epilobium canum ssp. canum (California Fuchsia)
  • Eulobus californicus (Mustard Evening-Primrose)
  • Navarretia hamata (Hooked Navarretia)

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