Entries in Biodiversity (10)


Wildflower Festival at Sunol Regional Wilderness

Little Yosemite

This weekend, I attend the Spring Wildflower Festival at Sunol Regional Wilderness. Activities included naturalist-led hikes, crafts, music, and nature activities. I was super excited for the ethnobotany hike, but unfortunately, I didn't make it to the site in time. There's always next year!

I posted several observations on iNaturalist that I came across on the Little Yosemite and McCorkle Trails. Special thanks to the East Bay Parks Regional District for the fun afternoon!

Here are three highlights from the day:

Castilleja exserta

Suborder Sauria

McCorkle Trail


Save the Arctic Refuge

Local Alaskans speak about why it's critical to preserve the Arctic Refuge as designated wilderness.


A Victory for Conservation and Communities

Image Source: The White House Blog

Today, President Obama announced the creation of three new national monuments that demonstrate the wide range of historic and cultural values that make America’s public lands so beloved. Together, the new monuments protect over one million acres of public land. With these new designations, President Obama will have used the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 19 national monuments. Altogether, he has protected more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any other President.

The new monuments are:

Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, a landscape containing rare biodiversity and an abundance of recreational opportunities;

Waco Mammoth in Texas, a significant paleontological site featuring well-preserved remains of 24 Columbian Mammoths; and

Basin and Range in Nevada, an iconic American landscape that includes rock art dating back 4,000 years and serves as an irreplaceable resource for archaeologists, historians, and ecologists.

The Wilderness Society, working with a coalition of local and national partners, played a leading role in the two larger lan­­dscape-scale monuments.  Both Berryessa Snow Mountain, and Basin and Range have been priority campaigns for our organization and they represent the evolution of executive level conservation for the Obama administration and its willingness to think at a landscape scale and act boldly.  The Society is working hard to reinforce and validate this move with an eye toward leveraging more like it on the horizon, and we are very optimistic about the prospect of many more great places being protected from now until the end of the administration.

These monuments will provide a boost to local economies by attracting visitors and generating more revenue and jobs for local communities, further supporting an outdoor recreation industry that already generates $646 billion in consumer spending each year. 

For example, an independent economic report found that the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument designation is likely to increase visitation and could generate an additional $26 million in economic activity for local communities over five years. 

Thank You President Obama!


Image Source: The White House Blog


Biodiversity Academy

Two of my favorite academies—California Academy of Sciences and Khan Academy—have partnered to produce an online series that investigates the amazing diversity of life on this planet. In the short, informative videos, viewers learn what biodiversity is, why it is important, where it is found, how it comes into existence, how you study it, why it is threatened, and how it can be protected.

Why is Biodiversity Important?
Discover why a high diversity of species sustains ecosystems, which in turn provide important services to humans.


  • Biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Ecological interactions
  • Ecological levels: from individuals to ecosystems
  • Ecosystem services
  • Ecosystems and ecological networks
  • Healthy ecosystems

Where is Biodiversity Found?
Explore how life is found almost everywhere on Earth, but is not distributed evenly. And learn why the clumped distributions of species are the result of a wide variety of both natural and human-driven factors.


  • Biodiversity distribution patterns
  • Biodiversity Hotspots
  • Extreme life
  • How biodiversity is distributed globally
  • Tolerance ranges of species
  • Why biodiversity is distributed unevenly

How is Biodiversity Studied?
Delve into the history of humanity’s passion to document and display specimens from the natural world and learn how biodiversity expeditions are conducted today.


  • Biodiversity analyses and uncertainties
  • Biodiversity analyses and unknowns exploration questions
  • Biodiversity Expeditions Past and Present
  • Biodiversity fieldwork
  • Field Methods for Documenting Biodiversity
  • How much biodiversity do we really know?
  • Studying biodiversity in the lab

The tutorial videos are narrated by Dr. Rich Mooi, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology, and the series includes a variety of supplementary educational materials, such as activities, case studies, community questions, glossaries, and quizzes.

According to the welcome site:

“We chose biodiversity as the focus of our first course with Khan Academy not only because it is so relevant to our institutional mission, but also because biodiversity is literally the stuff of life. It is the diversity of all the species on this planet, the genetic diversity represented by all the individuals, the ecosystem diversity, and the evolutionary lineages represented by all species, living and fossil. Biodiversity is all around us. It is crucial to the quality of our lives and the lives of all other living organisms, but we actually know very little about who all the players are in this pageantry of life, much less the roles they play and the benefits they can and do provide. We do know, however, that we are losing biodiversity at an alarming and unprecedented rate, driven by our own actions that result in habitat loss, pollution, climate change, overfishing and overhunting, to name a few. But it is not all bad news. We are learning more about biodiversity every day, and tremendous advances have been made in protecting and restoring biodiversity in many areas of the world. This course is designed to tell these exciting, amazing, crucial, and at times troubling stories of the diversity of life.

The course is designed for many audiences, including teachers, students, families, youth leaders, policy makers, and anyone interested in learning more about the diversity of life on our planet. We hope that you will not only learn things from the course, but will also be moved to become even more active stewards of the environment and its precious biodiversity.”

All of the video tutorials are wonderful and I especially enjoy the California Case Study, featuring Dr. Rebecca Johnson, my colleague and mentor who trained me as a Rocky Shore Naturalist.

Check it out!


BioBlitz and Biodiversity Festival

The three national park units that make up the Golden Gate National Parks encompass more than 80,000 acres and 91 miles of shoreline along the northern California coast. These parks are home to an amazing array of biodiversity, including over half of the bird species of North America and nearly one-third of California’s plant species!

To better understand, appreciate, and protect this natural treasure, the National Park ServiceNational GeographicGolden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and Presidio Trust are teaming up to host a 24-hour BioBlitz species count and two-day Biodiversity Festival, Friday-Saturday, March 28-29, 2014.


BioBlitz 2014 will take place in several national parks, including Muir Woods National Monument, Fort Point National Historic Site, and locations in Golden Gate National Recreation Area including the Giacomini wetlands, Muir BeachMarin Headlands, Crissy Field, Presidio, Mori Point, and Rancho Corral de Tierra.

The event will take place Friday-Saturday, March 28-29, 2014 and will bring together more than 300 leading scientists and naturalists from around the country, thousands of local community members of all ages, and more than 2,000 students from across the Bay Area.

Throughout March, BioBlitz collaborating organizations such as the Institute at the Golden Gate, California Academy of Sciences, Aquarium of the Bay, the American Cetacean Society, Marine Mammal Center, and Slide Ranch are hosting several BioBlitz-related events

Biodiversity Festival

The FREE Biodiversity Festival will take place at Crissy Field’s East Beach in the San Francisco Presidio, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 28, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 29. The festival features science demonstrations and exhibits, live animals, hands-on activities provided by prominent science and environmental organizations, National Geographic-led photography workshops, food, entertainment, and art. Explorers of all ages can enjoy the festival and “graduate” from Biodiversity University by participating in a variety of activities.

All festival events are free and open to the public, and no registration is required.

Download the event schedule to learn more.

Update! I graduated with a Doctorate of Biodiversity from Biodiversity University! 


Citizen Science at the Academy

The California Academy of Sciences is partnering with iNaturalist to enlist an army of citizen scientists working toward conservation efforts. This Science Today video features several of the Academy's citizen science programs, a few of which I've been able to join. 

Citizen science (also known as crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, or networked science) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists, often by crowdsourcing crowdfunding. Formally, citizen science has been defined as "the systematic collection and analysis of data; development of technology; testing of natural phenomena; and the dissemination of these activities by researchers on a primarily avocational basis."[1] Citizen science is sometimes called "public participation in scientific research."[2]

I'm particularly delighted to see my Rocky Shore Naturalist, iNaturalist, and Naturalist Center colleagues profiled prominently in the video.

Keep up the good work!


An Intertidal Expedition at Pillar Point

There are some fantastic low tides in the San Francisco Bay Area this time of year!

On this expedition, I joined my colleagues at NatureBridge as they collected specimens for the marine lab at the Golden Gate campus.

It’s always fun going to the tide pools with a group of people (the more sets of eyes, the more you can see), especially when most of them are friends and fellow naturalists. On many occasions during this trip, we had no idea where to look—between the spectacular sunset, the colorful nudibranchs, and a rainbow of anenomes, it was hard to take a break long enough to soak-in the beauty around us.

One thing I like to do whenever I make it to a tide pool is to look for something new—something I’ve never seen before. On this trip, the bright orange Spotted Dorid (Triopha maculata) and Sea Clown Triopha (Triopha catalinae) were both “firsts” for me—and, wow!

Another beautiful sunset in California. 


A River Runs Through It - Again

Our national parks are spectacular classrooms that change lives and fundamentally link our national and natural heritage. They remind us that people and places evolve interdependently, evident in the nation's largest dam removal project in the heart of Olympic National Park

According to a recent story on QUEST, featuring field science educators from NatureBridge, "The Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, which has relied on the river for sustenance and its spiritual traditions for thousands of years, has been fighting for nearly 100 years to have the dams removed. In the early 1990s, Congress finally authorized dam removal as a way to help restore the river and its salmon runs."

With funding secured two decades later, the dam removal process has become a learning process for scientists and water experts, as aging infrastructure across the nation will result in many more dam removals in the near future. 

The story is also an inspiring tale of resilience, for the entire ecosystem, from the salmon, to the landscape, to the local tribes and visitors that admire the stunning beauty of Olympic National Park.

Checkout these photos from my most recent visit to Olympic National Park in May 2013. The album includes pictures I took on the banks of the Elhwa River. It was remarkable to see how the water clarity changed from the headwaters to the delta. I also hiked Mount Storm King, the shores of Lake Crescent, and Marymere Falls, taking lots of pictures on my iPhone of the natural beauty of the Olympic Peninsula. 


I'm a Rocky Shore Naturalist!

From March 2nd to May 11th, I've been training as a Rocky Shore Naturalist, a partnership program of the California Academy of Sciences and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary that trains volunteers to help protect intertidal areas through education, monitoring, and research. As part of the training, we had weekly classes, assigned readings, and three trips to the tidepools on field days.

In our training as naturalists, our group:

  1. Studied the natural history of tidepool animals and algae with Rebecca Johnson, Academy scientist;
  2. Joined the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and California Academy of Sciences volunteer corps;
  3. Leared monitoring techniques and participate in scientific research;
  4. Became a part of a larger citizen science community;
  5. Learned how to be the best stewards of tidepool habitats and how to convey stewardship messages to visitors; and
  6. Interacted with California Academy of Sciences visitors and visitors to the tidepools at Duxbury Reef in Marin County and Pillar Point in San Mateo County.

Now that our training is complete, my cohort will commit to volunteering at least once a month for a year. I'm going to volunteer as a docent at the Discovery Touch Tidepool at the Steinhart Aquarium and I hope to get involved in an exciting citizen science project soon!

Volunteer options include:
  1. Working as a roving naturalist at Duxbury Reef in Bolinas or Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay;
  2. Helping out with student intertidal monitoring at one of the beaches listed above;
  3. Working and talking to visitors to the Discovery Touch Tidepool at the Academy of Sciences;
  4. Participating in citizen science monitoring of invertebrates and algae;
  5. Counting visitors to the reef; and
  6. Other opportunities as they arise.

This experience was absolutely amazing! As I posted below, it also included an opportunity to participate in the BioCube project with David Liittschwager, an author and photographer working with National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution.

Enjoy the iPhone photos that I took during the field days in the album above. Special thanks to Rebecca Johnson for her excellent teaching and for inspiring the next cohort of Rocky Shore Naturalists to communicate ecological concepts, continue learning, share a love of tidpools with others, and volunteer to conserve them for future generations.

Want to join the fun?

My first gig as a Rocky Shore Naturalist will be on Sunday, May 19, 2013 at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in San Mateo County. I will be leading a group as a member of the steering committe at Bay Localize, an organization inspires and supports Bay Area residents in building equitable, resilient communities. Contact me for more information or to join us!



This weekend as part of the Rocky Shore Naturalist training program, I joined my colleagues from the California Academy of Sciences and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to welcome David Liittschwager, an author and photographer working with National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution.

David’s project is known as BioCube and its goals are document the biodiversity of one cubic foot of earth. With the help of his assistant, program participants, and several professional biologists to watch, count, and photograph the number of different living organisms that pass through a single cubic foot in a given habitat.

This weekend, we journeyed to Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay, California, a rocky tidal area with amazing animal and plant life. We explored massive mussel beds and tidal pools that contained colorful starfish, sea urchins, sea anemones, abalone, crabs, snails, clams, nudibranchs, and a wide a variety of algae and sea grasses.

Throughout the day, we learned how to explain biodiversity concepts to fellow nature enthusiasts by encouraging them to think about the special ecosystem relationships and to cultivate a sense of place. One personal highlight was seeing an octupus for the first time in the wild!

David is also working with my colleagues at NatureBridge in the coming weeks to examine one cubic foot of Rodeo Pond and one cubic foot of terrestrial habitat along the South Lagoon Trail at our campus in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area

I look forward to taking these lessons with me as I continue to develop my skills as a naturalist! 

BioCubes at the Pillar Point tide pools. © Adam C. Bad Wound.

David Liittschwager (right) assembles the BioCube. © Adam C. Bad Wound.