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.

Drought leaves stock ponds dry

With only 2 inches of rain so far this year, cattle stock ponds are dry or nearly dry.

Long-billed Curlews Winging Overhead

Long-billed Curlews, the world's largest shorebird, forage for insects on Reserve grasslands.

Chancellor Leland visits Reserve

Chancellor Leland, Reserve Director Chris Swarth and Kim Garner, Exec Asst. to the Chancellor, enjoy the view above Black Rascal Cr.

Science Education

The Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve is convenient and accessible to undergraduates. A number of professors now hold field trips there.

Preserving Nature

With 6,500 protected acres, UC Merced will always have a majestic view of the high Sierra and plenty of open space.

The Wild Side

The Reserve supports many native plants and animals that depend on this diverse, healthy ecosystem. This Least Sandpiper is feeding in a playa vernal pool.

Burrowing Owls Dwell in Reserve

Burrowing Owls roost and nest in burrows, especially those of the California Ground Squirrel. They feed on beetles, grasshoppers and small rodents.

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

Site Visit

SNRI staff and members of a UC Natural Reserve System evaluation committee pause for a group photo during a tour of the Reserve.


March 12, 2014

American Kestrels populations are declining in many areas across North America.  Habitat loss, lack of prey, and lack of nest sites are all reasons cited for this decline. At UC Merced we're trying to help kestrels by erecting nesting boxes along fence rows in the Reserve. Kestrels are small relatives of the lightening fast Peregrine. But unlike all other North American falcons, the kestrel is a cavity nester. They take over an old woodpecker nest in a tree. However, suitable nest...