- Contributor: Ben Granholm
Initiated by Jerry Tecklin and Dr. Steve Beissinger in 2002, the Black Rail Project monitors the population dynamics and movements of two very secretive wetland birds, the Black Rail and the Virginia Rail. Over the past decade, researchers have examined a wide range of questions regarding these difficult-to-study birds including genetics, dispersal of young, West Nile Virus, territoriality, wetland type and vegetation preferences, and diet. Now in its thirteenth year, Nathan Van Schmidt is researching how the rails cope with drought, seasonal hydrology regimes, and the "rescue effect."
Check out the video for details!
- Contributors: Madison Easley, Larry Forero and Nikolai Schweitzer
For this project, researchers and staff regularly monitor and assess four factors associated with the production of foothill flood irrigated pasture utilizing pipe and ditch delivery methods. These factors include the amount of water applied to the pasture, the amount of water run-off, the effectiveness of irrigation, and the production of the pasture (measured in biomass and AUM harvest).
Preliminary findings indicate that the interval between irrigations could be lengthened in the fall as the days shorten and become cooler. Fewer applications result in less water being used, saving ranchers time, money, and stress. The monitoring for this project will continue through the summer and fall, so check back for additional updates.
With July being “Smart Irrigation Month” this is the time for ranchers to explore opportunities for more efficient irrigation methods using resources like those offered in this post.
- Author: Ben Granholm
Epizootic bovine abortion (EBA), also referred to as foothill abortion, is one of the most serious cattle diseases in the Western United States. UC researchers, Professor Jeff Stott and Specialist Myra Blanchard from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine have made major headway in developing a vaccine for this disease and currently are mid-way through a multi-year field trial examining vaccine field efficacy. This disease is carried by ticks and is present in many foothill regions making SFREC a natural outdoor lab to evaluate field efficacy.
Last Wednesday researchers checked pregnancy status and condition on heifers assigned to the study. By August, heifers will be moved to irrigated pasture where SFERC staff can monitor animals closely for how the vaccine improves calving success and calf health. To read more about the efforts of SFREC researchers to combat foothill abortion, click here.
- Contributor: Elise Gornish
The winter annual grass Taeniatherum caput-medusae (L.) Nevski, commonly known as medusahead, is one of the most dominant invasive range species in the West. Despite a broad understanding of medusahead impacts we have limited understanding of how environmental conditions and management strategies influence medusahead population dynamics. This insight is key if we are to ultimately forecast changes in medusahead abundance and spread under various conditions. Using periodic matrix models, we are investigating how density and habitat type (grassland vs. oak woodland) and defoliation influence population dynamics. First year results show strong density dependence ranging from positive to negative depending on time of year with oak woodland habitat suppressing medusahead population growth much more than open grassland.
Check out the video for more!
- Author: Ben Granholm
At the end of May trained SFREC staff along with members of Cal Fire conducted a prescribed burn to manage vegetation on the center. There are many advantages to conducting a burn rather than other management practices. These advantages include the ability to kill off weed-seed violations and remove any unwanted species that threaten the native species in an ecosystem. However, with the current air-quality regulations and state of drought, a prescribed burn can be difficult to get approved this time of year. SFREC had a burn scheduled last week that was postponed to a later date because of these difficulties.
The burned area will be used to look at the utility of spring burns to manage vegetation and eliminate invasive species such as medusa head and star thistle as well as look at the success rate of the native species after the invasion and burn.
We thank the members of Cal Fire for working with our staff to conduct a safe and successful burn.