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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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Lizard Sighting

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

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.

Meadow foam & Whitetip Clover

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

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

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

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.

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.

Predation In Action

One of our Bushnell Cameras snapped a photo of a Bobcat carrying off a California Ground Squirrel, reflecting predator-prey relationships.

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.

Blog

March 1, 2016

By Jack Cronin, Reserve Intern This year, the vernal pools have gotten more rain than any year since 2011. The rain is welcome and greatly appreciated. The vernal pools have filled! Fairy shrimp can be seen swimming along the edge of the pools. The flowering plant species of the vernal pools, which are well known for their exquisite displays, are beginning to bloom. Meadowfoam, Bluedicks, and ‘Butter and Eggs’ are among the first plant species in bloom. The birds on the reserve are...

Announcements & Observations

Earth Day Nature Hike and Mini-BioBlitz on the Reserve

Join Reserve Naturalists on Earth Day (April 22, 2015) for an easy stroll and mini-BioBlitz on the UC Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve.  Help us record (using the iNaturalist app) any birds, mammal, and plants that we see!  The 6,500 acre Natural Reserve is adjacent to campus.  Vernal pools flowers are in the midst of blooming!  Coyotes and brush rabbits are often seen.  A golden eagle may even be spotted.  Bring a daypack with a water bottle, camera, binoculars, and a hat.  If you have a smart phone, please download the iNaturalist app on your phone, and we will teach you how to use it!  Meet at 9:00am sharp at the entrance gate on Rancher's Road, 500 yards north of the Student Services Building.  No fee.  Limited to 25, but a reservation is required.  Open to all.  To reserve a space and for more information, contact Mo Kolster at mkolster@ucmerced.edu.