UC Davis doctoral student Grace Horne of the Department of Entomology and Nematology will host a BioBlitz in the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden on Saturday, April 29 from 9 to 11 a.m.
The BioBlitz will take place at a new location: the Wyatt Deck (previously it was scheduled for the Carolee Shields White Flower Garden and Gazebo.)
"I am excited about the location change because we will be located next to two biodiversity hubs: The T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove and the Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California Native Plants," said Horne, a member of the laboratory of urban landscape entomologist Emily Meineke, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Reservations (free) are underway here.
“We need your help to track and identify the wildlife in Davis!" Horne said. "Participants will take photos of plants, animals, and fungi, and upload these observations to the community science platform, iNaturalist. All you need to bring is a smartphone or a photo-taking device. We will have a table with small lenses, bug boxes, field guides, insect specimens, and more to help you make observations of wildlife. Local experts will also be available to assist in identifying the wildlife."
This event will be hosted in coordination with the City Nature Challenge Sacramento. The City Nature Challenge (CNC) is an annual international competition among cities with the goal of documenting the most biodiversity within a four-day period.
This year, the challenge will occur from April 28 to May 1, "so any observations of wildlife that are uploaded to iNaturalist will contribute to the 2023 CNC," Horne said. "At the end of the CNC, the region with the most observations wins. We are looking to make as many quality observations as we can during the Davis Bioblitz, so stop by the Shields Gazebo to help contribute observations to the Greater Sacramento Region!”
Horne joined the Meineke lab in 2021 after graduating from Colby College,Waterville, Maine, where she double-majored in majored in biology (evolution and ecology), and environmental science (conservation biology). She served as education staff member and undergraduate researcher at The Caterpillar Lab, Marlborough, N.H. from 2018-2021. The environmental education organization focuses on inviting people—youth and adults alike—to share in stories of ecology, evolution, and natural history. She gained experience in conservation and education in the spring of 2020 when she participated in the Round River Conservation Studies in Maun, Botswana.
Horne's undergraduate thesis about the effects of the decline of ash trees on native caterpillars, scored the cover of the February edition of the journal Environmental Entomology. The paper, “Specialist Herbivore Performance on Introduced Plants During Native Host Decline,” is co-authored by Ria Manderino of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, Upperville, VA and Samuel Jaffe of The Caterpillar Lab, Marlborough, N.H. “Our publication highlights the importance of multispecies assessments of host plant acceptance,” said Horne, who studies plant-insect interactions, urban ecology, global change biology, natural history and community science in the Meineke lab.
Directions to the new location:
Take 1-80 to the Richards Blvd. Exit (toward downtown). Go under the underpass. Turn left on 1st Street. Turn left onto Old Davis Road and cross a small bridge over the Arboretum Waterway. Parking is available at Visitor Parking Lot 5, straight ahead from the stop sign at Old Davis Road and Arboretum Drive. Wyatt Deck is located at the west end of the Redwood Grove, across Arboretum Drive from the Wyatt Pavilion Theater.
Graduate students from the Jason Bond laboratory will showcase spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes, while the Lynn Kimsey lab at the Bohart Museum will display specimens of the Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia (nicknamed "the murder hornet" by the news media); and specimens of the state insect, the California dogface butterfly, Zerene eurydice, and its host plant, California false indigo, Amorpha californica.
Bond is the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and associate dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Kimsey, a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, directs the Bohart Museum.
"The arachnid/myriapod section of Biodiversity Museum Day will consist of some live specimens--a tarantula, trapdoor spider, scorpion, and some millipedes, and ethanol preserved specimens of arachnids/myriapods that are pretty common and/or well-known, and a small interactive station where people will be able to use props that mimic an insect flying into a web and learn more about the sensory structures that spiders have to detect those vibration," said doctoral candidate Lacie Newton of the Bond lab, coordinator of the exhibit.
The Bohart section will feature Professor Kimsey sharing her expertise on the Asian giant hornet, and Professor Fran Keller of Folsom Lake College, a Bohart scientist and UC Davis doctoral alumnus will join Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas, naturalist and photographer, in discussing the California dogface butterfly and its host plant.
- Arboretum and Public Garden
- UC Davis Bee Haven
- Bohart Museum of Entomology
- Botanical Conservatory
- California Raptor Center
- Center for Plant Diversity
- Department of Anthropology Museum
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology
- Nematode Collection
- Paleontology Collection
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection
Admission and parking are free, but visitors must adhere to the COVID-19 Campus Ready guidelines. Masks will be required in accordance with campus policies, organizers said. Visitors can also sign up at the Conference Center for limited tours. The collections or museums offering tours:
- The Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane, has scheduled tours at noon, 1 and 2. The Bohart houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens, and also a live "petting zoo" and gift shop. "People will sign up at the Convention Center and be chaperoned over approximately 15 minutes before the hour to the attend their tour," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. "Tours should last 30 to 45 minutes." Entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of the Lepidoptera collection, will be discussing butterflies and moths.
- The UC Davis Bee Haven, located on Bee Biology Road, next to the Harry H.Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the central campus, will offer tours at noon and 2. Established in the fall of 2009, the Bee Haven is a half-acre demonstration garden operated by the Department of Entomology and Nematology. "We'll focus on how best to observe and identify bees in the garden, as well as suggested bee plants that grow well in our area with low water," said Christine Casey, academic program management officer of the Bee Haven.
- The Arboretum and Public Garden will provide two 30-45 minute tours, "Climate-Ready Tree Project: Texas Tree Trials." Groups will leave the Conference Center at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The project mission is to see if trees from west and central Texas will do well in this climate. The project involved collecting seeds, propagating them and planting them in the Arboretum.
- The Phaff Yeast Culture Collection is planning self-guided tours of the UC Davis Brewery, used for teaching and research, according to Kyria Boundy-Mills, curator, Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Food Science and Technology.
Different yeast strains are used for different styles of beer. These include ale yeast strains, lager yeast strains, and Belgian beer strains that are hybrids of wild yeasts. UC Davis offers an undergraduate major in food science and technology, with an emphasis on brewing science. Training includes chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, quality assurance, engineering, sanitation, packaging, malting and crewing. The program currently includes 18 students studying for their bachelor of science degrees, and three students seeking their master of science degrees.
- The Botanical Conservatory is technically not offering tours, says manager Ernesto Sandoval "but we will be open to the public so people can wander through at their own pace and we'll regulate the number of people in the greenhouse at any one time. They can see our revamped succulent and carnivore rooms as well as our Cacao, aka 'Chocolate Tree,' with fruits as well as coffee and a very happy vanilla plant all amongst an incredible diversity of plants from ferns to an assortment of orchids."
The UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day is traditionally held on the Saturday of Presidents' Day weekend. However, last year's event was virtual, and this year's event is centrally located in an exposition. For more information, access the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day website and/or connect with Instagram,Twitter, and Facebook.
A UC Davis Crowdfunding Project is underway until 11:59 p.m., Feb. 28, with a set goal of $5000. Contributions from $5 on up are welcome.
The Biodiversity Museum Day, free and science-based, traditionally takes place the Saturday of Presidents' Day weekend and involves nearly a dozen museums or collections showing their displays and exhibits to the general public. It's always been an opportunity for campus visitors to talk to the scientists and see the work underway.
However, due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and UC Davis policies, this year's event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, March 6 in the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane and is geared for undergraduates and other members of the UC Davis community instead of the general public. (The general public can look forward to the UC Davis Picnic Day on April 23, 2022 when many of the same museums and collections are scheduled to be featured.)
"Last year, throughout the month of February, we offered a virtual 'BioDivDay' with lectures, talks, and demos from experts," they wrote on the Biodiversity Museum Day Crowdfunding Project page. "Your support will enable our 11 collections-- the students, staff and faculty associated with them-- to hold this event again."
"Donations will not only help us sustain the free, in-person event, it will enable our student interns to take science outreach to a whole new level. The goal of our event is to connect people from all walks of life to science and the biodiversity surrounding them. All donors will be recognized on the Biodiversity Museum Day social media accounts with a shout-out post. Your gifts will help us with some of our key expenses that include:
- Volunteer support ($2000)
- Event rentals ($1500)
- Event materials ($1500)"
COVID guidelines for UC Davis,Yolo County and the state of California--including appropriate mask wearing, UC Davis symptom surveys, vaccination records or negativeCOVID tests--will be followed. Side trips or tours of some of the facilities or collections, including the Bohart Museum of Entomology, Botanical Conservatory, Arboretum and Public Garden, and the yeast collection are planned but not yet scheduled.
To donate, access https://bit.ly/3HPhSaA. A donor wall includes the names of contributors.
The second annual Robbin Thorp Memorial First-Bumble Bee-of-the-Year Contest is over.
On two separate expeditions, but at exactly 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 1, UC Davis doctoral candidate Maureen Page of the Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and horticulturist Ellen Zagory, retired director of public horticulture for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, co-won the contest by each photographing a bumble bee foraging on manzanita (Arctostaphylos) in the 100-acre Arboretum.
Fittingly, they both knew and worked with Robbin Thorp (1933-2019), a global authority on bees and a UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology.
The event also marked the second consecutive year that a member of the Williams lab scored a win. Last year postdoctoral researcher Charlie Casey Nicholson of the Williams lab and the lab of Elina Lastro Niño, claimed the prize by photographing a B. melanopygus at 3:10 p.m., Jan. 14 in a manzanita patch in the Arboretum.
Contest coordinator Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, sought the first bumble bee of the year in the two-county area of Yolo and Solano in memory of Thorp, a 30-year member of the UC Davis faculty. Thorp retired in 1994 but continued his work until several weeks before his death at age 85 at his home in Davis. Every year he looked forward to seeing the first bumble bee.
Page began looking for the bumble bee in the Arboretum on Dec. 31. “I went on a walk through the UC Davis Arboretum at 3 p.m. on New Year's Eve and stopped by a manzanita tree hoping to see a bumble bee,” recounted Page. “After less than a few minutes, I spotted a black-tailed bumble bee, Bombus melanopygus! However, it was not yet 2022 so I planned to return the following day at 2 p.m. and was similarly lucky--I spotted a bee within minutes of arriving. It was sunny and about 50 degrees Fahrenheit outside when I observed the bumble bee." Bombus melanopygus is the earliest bumble bee species to emerge in this area.
"Although I saw the bee within a few minutes of arriving, I spent an hour trying to get a good photograph," Page said. "In the process of trying to photograph the bee, I saw at least one other Bombus melanopygus visiting manzanita flowers!" She captured the image with her cell phone.
Professor and pollinator ecologist Neal Williams identified the bee image that Zagory took as a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, but indicated it is way early for this bumble bee to emerge in this area.
Both Zagory and Page and worked with Robbin Thorp, a tireless advocate of pollinator species protection and conservation and the co-author of Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University, 2014) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday, 2014).
“I indeed knew Robbin Thorp, one of the most generous and kind people I have ever met,” Zagory said. “Dr. Thorp invited me to do a page for their book (California Bees And Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists) about the UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars (pages 230 -232) and he edited a publication we created at the UC Davis Arboretum called Ten Bees and Ten Plants they Love that can be downloaded from the web site at https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/pollinator-gardening.
Both Page and Nicholson are alumni of The Bee Course, which Thorp co-taught from 2002-2018. Page took the course in 2018, and Nicholson in 2015. The nine-day intensive workshop, geared for conservation biologists and pollination ecologists and considered the world's premiere native bee biology and taxonomic course, takes place annually in Portal, Ariz. at the Southwestern Research Station, part of the American Museum of Natural History, N.Y.
Page said she was “also lucky enough to participate in a "Bumble Bee Blitz" organized by Thorp and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in July 2016 on Mt. Ashland, where we searched for Bombus franklini and Bombus occidentalis-- two very rare west coast bee species. We unfortunately did not find Bombus franklini, which is now recognized as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.”
“Robbin was a brilliant scientist and a dedicated advocate for bumble bee conservation,” Page said. “His death was a great loss and I wish more of my career could have overlapped with his time in Davis.”
As a doctoral candidate in entomology, Page researches and investigates “whether European honey bees compete with native bees for floral resources and how we can use well-planned floral enhancements to mitigate negative effects of competition."
She and Nicholson are the co-leading authors of "A Meta-Analysis of Single Visit Pollination Effectiveness Comparing Honeybees and Other Floral Visitors," the Nov. 30th cover story in the American Journal of Botany. Citing the importance of native bees, Page said: "Native bees provide irreplaceable pollination services. I'm glad to see that flower plantings, like those found in the UC Davis Arboretum, provide food for diverse native bee communities as early as Jan. 1.”
Vannette isolated one new species on California fuchsia, Epilobium canum, located in the 100-acre UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, and another new species on California figwort or California bee plant, Scrophularia californica, in the 258-acre UC Davis Stebbens Cold Canyon Reserve, located near Winters and encompassing parts of Solano and Napa counties. Both plants are natives and perennials.
The new species are named Acinetobacter pollinis (from Stebbins) and Acinetobacter rathckeae (from the Arboretum). Acinetobacter pollinis was named for its affinity for pollen, "as it does not grow well in the absence of pollen," Vannette said. Acinetobacter rathckeae memorializes University of Michigan emerita and lauded female pollination biologist Beverly Rathcke (1945-2011).
“There's more to come on these bacteria and what they do in flowers but from what we know now they seem to germinate and 'eat' pollen,” Vannette said. “In any case, we love and appreciate our reserves and natural areas on campus: they are an awesome source of unexplored biodiversity and really interesting biology.”
The third species the scientists described is Acinetobacter baretiae, named for female botanist Jeanne Baret (1740-1807). "So two of the three newly described species are named for noted female botanists, one a great pollination biologist and ecologist--Beverly Rathcke--and the other, historical botanist Jeanne Baret."
Rathcke, who received her doctorate from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1973, served on the faculty of the University of Michigan's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from 1978 to 2010. She focused her research on community ecology, specifically, plant–animal interactions such as herbivory, competition, and pollination ecology. "She published some of the first papers using null models in community ecology," according to an obituary published by the Ecological Society of America. "She researched how environmental changes, such as introduced species, habitat fragmentation, and hurricane disturbances, affect species' reproductive success."
Baret, the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, disguised herself as man and as an aide to botanist Philibert Commerson, to board the French ship, Etoile, on a 1766-69 expedition. "Baret captured the attention of Commerson because she possessed botanic knowledge that lay well beyond the competence of his professors and mentors," according to Glynis Ridley, author of The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe. "She was an herb woman: one schooled in the largely oral tradition of the curative properties of plants."
Microbiology Society Journal
The newly published research paper on the news species of Acinetobacter appears in the Microbiology Society's journal, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. See https://doi.org/10.1099/ijsem.0.004783.
Other co-authors are Tory Hendry, Lydia Baker, and Vivianna Sanchez of Cornell University; Sergio Alvarez-Perez, affiliated with KU Leuven University, Belgium and Complutense University, Spain; Megan Morris of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore; Kaoru Tsui of Kyoto University, Japan; Bart Lievens of KU Leuven and Tadashi Fukami of Stanford University.
The abstract: “A detailed evaluation of eight bacterial isolates from floral nectar and animal visitors to flowers shows evidence that they represent three novel species in the genus Acinetobacter . Phylogenomic analysis shows the closest relatives of these new isolates are Acinetobacter apis , Acinetobacter boissieri and Acinetobacter nectaris, previously described species associated with floral nectar and bees, but high genome-wide sequence divergence defines these isolates as novel species. Pairwise comparisons of the average nucleotide identity of the new isolates compared to known species is extremely low (Acinetobacter species, for which the names Acinetobacter pollinis sp. nov., Acinetobacter baretiae sp. nov. and Acinetobacter rathckeae sp. nov. are proposed. The respective type strains are SCC477T (=TSD-214T=LMG 31655T), B10AT (=TSD-213T=LMG 31702T) and EC24T (=TSD-215T=LMG 31703T=DSM 111781T).”
Rachel Vannette Lab
The Vannette lab is a team of entomologists, microbiologists, chemical ecologists, and community ecologists trying to understand how microbial communities affect plants and insects.
All plants are colonized by microorganisms that influence plant traits and interactions with other species, including insects that consume or pollinate plants, Vannette explains. She and her lab investigate the basic and applied aspects of microbial contributions to the interaction between plants and insects.
“Much of the work in my lab focuses on how microorganisms affect plant defense against herbivores and plant attraction to pollinators,” Vannette related. “For example, we are interested in understanding the microbial drivers of soil health, which can influence plant attractiveness to herbivores and the plant's ability to tolerate or defend against damage by herbivores. In addition, we are working to examine how microorganisms modify flower attractiveness to pollinators. This may have relevance in agricultural systems to improve plant and pollinator health.”
Vannette, who holds a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology (2011) from the University of Michigan, was selected a UC Davis Hellman Fellow in 2018.
Her recent research grants include two from the National Science Federation (NSF). One is a five-year Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award, titled “Nectar Chemistry and Ecological and Evolutionary Tradeoffs in Plant Adaptation to Microbes and Pollinators.” The other is a three-year collaborative grant, “The Brood Cell Microbiome of Solitary Bees: Origin, Diversity, Function, and Vulnerability.”