Home

Stock Ponds

Stock ponds provide drinking water for the 1,600 cattle that graze on the Reserve. Some ponds are breeding sites for the federally threatened California Tiger Salamander.
Cattle Stock Pond in Reserve

5th Graders from Merced Public Schools

In spring, Reserve staff and "Splash" educators from Sacramento teach K-12 students about vernal pool ecology
5th Graders from Merced Public Schools. Photo by David Rosen

Lizard Sighting

On August 6, 2015 we spotted the first common side-blotched lizard recorded on the Grasslands Reserve

Meadow foam & Whitetip Clover

These lovely wildflowers were in full bloom in early April. Photo by Jenna Heckel.
Meadowfoam and Whitetip Clover

Dedication Ceremony

Chancellor Leland cuts the ribbon at the April 30 ceremony as Chris Swarth (L), Peggy Fiedler and Martha Conklin look on.
Chancellor Leland cuts ribbon as Chris Swarth (L), Peggy Fiedler and Martha Conklin watch.

Burrowing Owls Dwell in Reserve

Burrowing Owls roost and nest in the burrows of California Ground Squirrels. They feed on beetles, grasshoppers and small rodents.
Burrowing Owl looking out from a ground squirrel burrow. Photo by Chris Swa

High over Black Rascal Creek

This false color image by Brandon Stark and Brenden Smith (UCM MESA lab) on March 4, 2015 reveals fine-scale elevational differences.

Science Education

The Reserve is convenient and accessible to undergraduates. A number of UC Merced professors now hold field trips there.
UC Merced Ecology students. Photo by Marilyn Fogel

Spring 2014 Service Learning Team

A team of students designed an award-winning brochure, web page and interpretive sign for the Reserve.
Spring 2014 Service Learning Team

Preserving Nature

With 6,500 protected acres, UC Merced will always have majestic views of a spectacular natural landscape.
Grasslands and blue sky. Photo by Clayton Anderson.

Sightings on Reserve

Our motion sensor camera photographed this Great Blue Heron and three White-faced Ibis foraging on the Le Grand Canal leakage wetland on an August afternoon.
Great Blue Heron & White-faced Ibis at reserve wetland.

Soil profiles

On an area adjacent to the Reserve, scientists examine soil layers that underlie the vernal pools.
Soil scientists at UC Merced. Photo by C. Swarth.

The Wild Side

The Reserve supports many native plants and animals that depend on this diverse, healthy ecosystem. This Least Sandpiper is foraging in a playa vernal pool.
Least Sandpiper in reserve playa pool. Photo by Chris Swarth

Vernal Pool Research

Vernal pools are fascinating, but rare ecosystems. Scientists have much to learn about the geological and hydrological processes that create and maintain them.

Predation In Action

One of our automatic, motion cameras snapped a photo of a Bobcat carrying off a California Ground Squirrel, reflecting predator-prey relationships.

Long-billed Curlews Winging Overhead

Long-billed Curlews, the world's largest shorebird, forage for insects on Reserve grasslands.
ng-billed Curlews flying over UC Merced's Vernal Pool Reserve. Photo by Dorothy Leland

Coyote Pups

These coyote pups were photographed with our motion sensor camera on a June afternoon at the Hercules watering tank.
Three coyote pups in Vernal Pools Reserve, UC Merced.

Horned Lark Nest

Horned Larks are abundant nesting birds on the Reserve. Their nest is placed on the ground, often near a grass clump or cobble. Photo by Jenna Heckel.
Horned Lark Nest

Reserve Hike

UC Merced staff, faculty, and students set out with Reserve staff to explore Black Rascal Creek. Check out the Events section for our next hike.

Mima mounds

This aerial image taken 100 ft up by photographer David Rosen shows the remarkable Mima mound geomorphology in northern part of Reserve
Mima mounds in northern part of Reserve. Photo by David Rosen.

Blog

July 3, 2020

This weekend, we celebrate freedom as a nation, and on the Reserve, birds sing their songs of freedom! The Western meadow lark (Sturnella neglecta) is one species often seen on the Reserve, which can be heard singing joyfully and freely. The bird is a type of passerine (perching) bird that has a flute-like call characteristic of California grasslands. Males commonly sing atop fence posts. It has a distinct yellow breast with a black bib, and conspicuous patches of white on the outer tail...

COVID-19 and the MVPGR: Update - March 19

The following represents current guidance for the UC Merced Natural Reserve System Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve (MVPGR). We reserve the right to cancel any reservation to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff, and to revise policies in the event of specific campus, state, NRS, NPS, or CDC guidance.

Updated 3/19/2020

Given the "shelter-in-place" order issued by Governor Newsom, the MVPGR is generally closed to all NRS visitors at the moment.  Visits that support essential research activities (i.e., place-based scholarly activities and programs that cannot reasonably be conducted elsewhere or rescheduled for a later date) need approval from the Vice Provost of Research to continue, in accordance with the campus research continuity plans.

 

In case of emergency, call 911 or the campus police at (209) 228-2677

For non-emergencies such as gate lock issues:

Call local contact and Faculty Director, Jessica Blois, at (209) 228-2256

OR Campus Facilities Management at 209-228-2986