- Author: Robert J Keiffer
- Article: Wild Turkey: A Native California Bird?: Don Roberson
This title might be found on the front page of any newspaper in California! But why do we commonly associate bad-behaving humans with turkeys? Please... give those wild turkeys some respect!
Wild turkeys are native to North America, but the species has not been in the California region of the continent since the Pleistocene time period 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Evidence of Meleagris californica, the now extinct California Turkey, shows up in preserved remains from the La Brea tar pits of Los Angeles County, CA. Ancient remains have also been found from the Potter Creek Cave, Shasta County CA. However, why the turkey disappeared from California thousands of years ago can only be speculated.
The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) was introduced (or reintroduced?) into California in a campaign of widespread releases by the California Department of Fish & Game (now renamed Ca. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife) during the 1960s and 1970s. The UC Hopland Research & Extension Center cooperated with the release program in 1972 by allowing CDFG to turn loose wild turkeys on the property.
Wild Turkeys still persist and are common on the Center and throughout the North Coast. Despite the gamebirds providing a fantastic sport hunting opportunity throughout the North Coast, there is some debate as to the species' impacts on certain environments in California.
- Author: Robert J Keiffer
- Contributor: Biao Zhu
Accurate understanding of soil processes is critical for predicting climate-ecosystem feedbacks. Here at UC Hopland Research & Extension Center, there exists a 72-tank lysimeter structure that is currently used in support of two research projects. One of those research experiments has 4 replicates of 9 treatment combinations made from three environmental factors and three substrate factors. This project's title is: Impacts of soil warming and plant rhizosphere on root decomposition and soil organic matter dynamics at different depth.
In simple terms, the researchers are using ambient soil temperature, heated soil temperature, plants or lack-of-plants, surface disturbance, and additional root litter at different depths, all in various combinations, in order to improve scientific predictions of the feedback between soil carbon cycle and climate change. Such predictions can help mankind as global warming continues to alter natural processes.
The experimental design called for the placement of heaters and probes in some of the lysimeter tanks, as you see here in the photograph.
It is incredible and surprising to realize that a small bird that weighs less than 7 grams can migrate from the UC Hopland Research Center to places like Belize, Guatamala, and Honduras for the winter ... and then return. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caeruleana) is a very small songbird that returns to the chaparral brushlands of the Center each April.
These unique birds have a very squeaky, wheezy call that cannot be missed by human ear once you learn it. A pair will establish a territory of their own and proceed to build a camouflaged cup nest in the fork of a chaparral-type bush or small tree, many times a chamise bush, scrub oak, or live oak. The outside of the nest is covered with bits of lichen and spider web so that it blends in with the adjacent trunk and limbs. About 4 to 5 eggs are laid and incubation only takes 13 days.
HREC has many opportunities for the study of neo-tropical migrant bird species. Especially lacking is knowledge of bird use in the chaparral habitats of the North Coast.
Springtime brings many changes to the rangelands of the North Coast. Here at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center springtime brings on new visions and hopes for the future. Here you see a Fremont Cottonwood, one that the BLOG has shown a couple times in the past ...but in the fall.
Well, the April sunrise through a particular gap in the horizon creates the same "sunlit tree" and "shadowed background" as I see in the fall .... and here it is.
The recent rain event (last 10 days) dropped over 7 inches of precipitation onto the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center. The rangeland is SLOWY turning green with the annual grasses and forbs are now germinating. However, even more impressive on a scale of the short time period, is how quickly the bryophytes and mosses turn bright green after the first rain.
The photo below was taken literally within 48 hours after the first major rain last February 7th and 8th.