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Cliff Swallows on the Reserve, by Cami Vega (Reserve Intern)


Spring brought life and color onto the Reserve. Dry vernal pools were filled with pockets of beautiful wildflowers. Burrowing bees escaped the depths of their burrows to pollinate the blooms of Goldfields, Downingia, and Meadowfoam. The warm breezes and blooming flora set the breeding season into full throttle. After a short winter, Cliff Swallows returned from the tropics to their optimal breeding site in the Reserve.

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.


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