With a land resource exceeding 5,300 acres that is rich in biological and physical diversity, and therefore typical of many environments within California’s Coast Range, HREC has been a significantly productive research site over more than 63 years. Several areas of research that have received emphasis include the following: sheep biology and management; range improvement, particularly emphasizing vegetation management and soil fertility; wildlife science, with particular attention to Columbian black-tailed deer and to coyotes; and entomology, parasitology, and disease, with emphasis on species of public health and veterinary significance. For example, approximately 14 tick-borne microbial agents have been detected in or isolated from wildlife or ticks at Hopland. Of these, 7 are proven or suspected causative agents of human or livestock diseases. These include the micro-organisms that cause Lyme disease, tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and Q-fever as well as a Colorado tick fever-like virus.
At HREC, many studies have been interdisciplinary in nature, resulting from a team effort of scientists and managers with diverse specializations. Watershed studies initiated in 1955, for example, have had components and cooperators that include studies of geology, hydrology, agronomy, range science, plant ecology, and plant physiology. A similar mix of disciplines came together to undertake brush management studies at Hopland, also beginning in the mid-1950s. The information compiled through such studies not only soon provided a basis for revised management recommendations, but it also contributed to basic knowledge about physical and biological processes.
In the last decade, much of the Center’s research mirrors society’s realization that sustainable management of agricultural systems and of natural resources is critical to assure the continued health of California’s environment and its people.