Happenings at Hopland REC
Killdeer are the most common species of shorebird that utilize HREC, and the only shorebird species that nests here. This nest was placed by the parent killdeer in open gravel next to the HREC greenhouse, and was staked by HREC staff to prevent people from walking or driving over the nest. Two days ago the eggs hatched, and yesterday the "mom" led the precocial chicks, four of them, away from the nest site and down to Parson's Creek gravel bar.
The Hopland Research & Extension Center is accessed by University Road which is a county road. It is one of the last Mendocino County roads with a livestock "cattleguard" ( metal grate-like structure at ground level that prevents livestock from crossing without the need for a gate) maintained by the county. At times when HREC has sheep grazing in Vassar Pasture, visitors get the thrill of seeing sheep on the road ... literally!
Beginning in 2010, a group of researchers began assessing an individual's risk of acquiring an infectious disease ("disease risk") and whether or not that risk can be determined by a handful of ecological traits of the host individual. They are also looking to see if other host species that are potential sources of infection play a role ("community context"). The experiments utilize aphids and grasses and a certain grass-specific virus as the model. The HREC greenhouse has been retrofitted to be aphid-proof" to allow the propagation of "virus-free" grasses.
In 1977 the US State Agricultural Experiment Stations (SAES) began a nationwide project to monitor atmospheric deposition and study its effects on the environment. This project is titled the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP). The NADP precipitation chemistry network, which began in 1978, has the goal of providing data on the amounts, trends, and geographic distributions of acids, nutrients, and base cations in rainfall. NADP site CA45, located at HREC, has collected some of the cleanest rain water in the nation due to the fact that most moisture in our storms is derived from moisture over the Pacific Ocean (not many industrial plants out there!).
TUVU is the scientific acronym for Turkey Vulture. Remember the tree from the last post? Well, that tree has been a successful Turkey Vulture nest in years' past, but look who is living in the tree now. Several photos captured this raccoon leaving (at dusk) and entering the tree (at dawn) which tells us that this critter is using the tree for daytime sleeping. TUVUs have actually looked into this tree cavity this year, so will they attempt to nest there?