Winter is Raptor Season

by Chris Swarth,
February 3, 2014.
There are few places in California that have as high a diversity of daytime raptors as the Reserve. This winter we’ve recorded many sightings of the following species:
Bald Eagle                         Rough-legged Hawk
Golden Eagle                    Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Harrier              American Kestrel
Ferruginous Hawk            Prairie Falcon
White-tailed Kite               Merlin

UC Regents Vote Reserve into the UC Reserve System

Written by Kathleen Wong.

Rolling grasslands that harbor rare vernal pool ecosystems next door to UC Merced have joined the UC Natural Reserve System. The 6,561-acre Merced Vernal Pools Grassland Reserve will enable students and faculty to study fairy shrimp, endemic plants, and some of North America’s oldest soils just minutes from campus. Most of California’s original vernal pool habitats have been destroyed, making the new reserve a critical refuge for rare and endangered plants and animals.

Exploring Chemistry in the Reserve, By Marilyn Fogel

(Oct. 26, 2013) About once a week since the dead heat of summer, I’ve been heading out to the Vernal Pool and Grassland Reserve with Chris Swarth and my research assistant David Araiza. In July and August, as temperatures soared to over 100°F, we started out at 7 am when the landscape was still cool. Our mission was to collect dried grasses for residual dry matter (RDM) measurements, which entailed scissors and a balance for weighing the samples back in the Lab. As a new faculty member with a laboratory barely getting off the ground, we had the “technology” for RDM measurements.

Splendor in the Grass?

By Tom Hothem, Assistant Director
Merritt Writing Project
October 18, 2013
In a previous post on “Assessing the Impacts of Cattle Grazing on the Reserve,” Chris examined the biological diversity (or, sometimes, the lack thereof) in the vegetation that surrounds the UCM campus. The average Mercedian could perhaps be forgiven for overlooking such things this time of year, so sere is the landscape.

What is a Vernal Pool?

By Chris Swarth
July 31, 2013

Vernal pools are shallow, intermittently or seasonally flooded wetlands. Wetland ecologists refer to them as "seasonally astatic and episodic."

Badgers Make an Appearance in the Reserve

Chris Swarth
May 2, 2013

On March 20, while exploring the reserve east of the old barn, several of us were startled to see a new face on the landscape.

There was no doubt about the animal we were viewing - it was an American badger. The distinctive black-and-white-striped face stared intently at us as we looked at it through our binoculars at a distance of about 100 meters.

A Hike Across the Grasslands

Chris Swarth
January 23, 2013

A cool, cloudy day offers the perfect chance for a camera-safari and get-acquainted hike across the planned Grassland-Vernal Pool Natural Reserve.

Jan. 23, was a perfect day for a trek across the grasslands of the planned UC Merced Grassland-Vernal Pool Natural Reserve. The sky was completely overcast with low, dark clouds, but there was no wind and temperatures were mild. Predicted rain showers never materialized.


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