The UC Hopland Research & Extension Center has been the repository for Mendocino County bird observation records for about 25 years. "Birding" is a rapidly growing leisure-time activity in North America and portions of the record keeping are quite serious.... as kept track of by local, regional, national, and continental entities. The North American Birds quarterly publication under the direction of the American Birding Association has established regional and sub-regional editors that compile important bird observation reports and submit them for publication.
Mendocino County falls within the Northern California Region, and HREC Superintendent Robert Keiffer compiles Mendocino County records for the spring, summer, fall, and winter periods and submits those reports to the four regional editors.
Here you see a new bird species for the county that was found on the coast near Fort Bragg last June 27th. The Black Skimmer species has flown by the Mendocino coastline in the past as known from rare past west coast records, but this is the first occurrence of one actually seen and reported here from Mendcoino County. From the band on its foot we know that this bird was banded at the Salton Sea in southern California in the year 1999 or 2000. This bird should be accepted by our local review committee to be the 417th bird species (including established introduced species) for Mendocino County.
One of the resident bird species found in Mendocino County is the Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata). The coastal subspecies (P.f. monilis) is commonly found at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center during fall,winter, and spring months ... but the hot, interior summer weather seems to push it away. It is found, however, in most of the rest of the county during the summer, and it is a resident breeder (especially along the coast).
There are at least 8 subspecies of this fascinating native bird found in western North America and parts of Central and South America. On almost all of these these the distal portion of the tail is very pale, showing as a "band" and hence the name "Band-tailed" Pigeon. To find out more about the population status and trends go to this 2012 USFWS report.
The species is susceptible to various ecto (exterior) and endo (internal) parasites. The parasitic louse (Columbicola extinctus) was believed to have gone extinct with the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, but was recently re-discoverd on the Band-tailed Pigeon. UC Davis Wildlife Health Center and the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife have just discovered a new endoparasite named Trichomonas stableri. This newly discovered parasite, along with the long-known Trichomonas gallinae, have been found responsible for a recent major die-off of Band-tailed Pigeons. Trichomonas is a single-celled protozoan parasite. Find out more here about the recent discovery.
The North Coast is in the midst of the worst drought conditions on record. Wine grape production is Mendocino County's leading agricultural crop, and managing for the 2014 grape crop requires an understanding of balance between the grape crop needs and the drought-caused limitations. There is a FREE evening seminar scheduled for this coming Monday, June 30th at 7:00 PM, addressing the issue.
The speaker for this event is Erica Lundquist, Soil Scientist for the USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service at the Ukiah Field Office. Dr. Lundquist has over ten years of experience working in Lake County and Mendocino County vineyards, and will talk about soil, evapotranspiration, and plant-based techniques to guide irrigation scheduling in these water-limited times.
Dr. Lundquist's past experiences include working for Rhonda Smith, UCCE Viticulture Advisor, and Terry Prichard, UCCE Irrigation Specialist... working on a cabernet sauvignon deficit irrigation trial at HREC. Erica also has experience as a private irrigation consultant and serves as the Lake County Winegrape Commission Viticulturist.
Even though this seminar is targeted to wine grape growers, all members of the community are invited to this free seminar. Following the seminar will be an opportunity for questions and answers, and light refreshments will be served. The event will be held at the Rod Shippey Hall, 4070 University Road, 4 miles east of Hopland off of Old River Road.
For further information or directions, please refer to HREC's website here, or call the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center at 707-744-1424.
- Contributor: Biao Zhu
Impacts of soil warming and plant roots on organic matter decomposition in a Mediterranean grassland
Accurate understanding of soil carbon cycling is critical for predicting future climate. Decomposition of root litter and its transformation into soil organic matter are critical processes of soil carbon cycling. Thanks to support from the U.S. Department of Energy's Terrestrial Ecosystem Science program, a team led by Dr. Margaret Torn from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been studying the impacts of soil warming and plant rhizosphere on decomposition of 13C-labeled roots buried at two soil depths using a field lysimeter facility at Hopland Research and Extension Center, California.
The lysimeters contain soil columns of 38-cm diameter and 48-cm depth and annual grasses dominated by wild oats (Avena barbata). The experiment has three treatments (planted-ambient, planted-warming by 4°C, and unplanted-ambient). 13C-labeled Avena fatua roots were added to two depths (8-12 and 38-42 cm). The team will quantify the fate of added root litter in CO2 efflux from soil surface, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) leached from the bottom drain, and organic carbon remaining in bulk soil and different physical fractions for two growing seasons.
First season results show strong role of soil moisture in controlling soil carbon cycling in this Mediterranean ecosystem. Soil warming enhanced plant growth and ecosystem respiration in the early growing season with high soil moisture, while it suppressed plant growth and ecosystem respiration in the late growing season when soil moisture was limited. The team will continue measurements on CO2 flux, DOC loss, and organic carbon recovery in soil fractions, as well as collaborate with microbial ecologists and ecosystem modelers to better understand the underlying processes and to improve the models used for prediction of our future climate.
- Author: Robert J Keiffer
- Contributor: Lisa Fischer
Next week, after 27 years of service as the director of the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center, Dr. Robert M. Timm is retiring. "Bob" is only the second "director" (used to be called Superintendent) of HREC (used to be called "Hopland Field Station") since the Center's establishment in 1951 ... the first was Alfred H. Murphy.
Bob spent these past 27 years of his career providing leadership, direction and operational management to this Research & Extension Center ... a UC Ag and Natural Resources research facility comprised of 5358 acres of land and multiple buildings and facilities. HREC provides UC researchers and educators with managed and sustainable resources to conduct quality field research and outreach/extension opportunities on high priority regional and statewide issues. Under Bob's direction, HREC was the first REC to have an established website, published the only REC-specific annotated bibliography of 50 years of research publications, and guided the vision, planning and development of the Rod Shippey Hall.
Dr. Timm also split his directorship efforts with his appointment as a ANR Specialist in the field of vertebrate pest management and is considered to be a leading authority on coyotes and that critter's interactions with humans and livestock. His interest and connections in his specialty field resulted in some very unique field research at HREC during the 1990s on the behavioral interactions between coyotes, sheep, guard dogs, and guard llamas ... a cooperative effort for about 9 years between USDA-APHIS, UCB, and HREC.