What do you enjoy most about studying meadows and climate change in the Sierra Nevada Mountains?
As an ecologist, I feel incredibly lucky that I am able to conduct research in an area that is not only beautiful but that hosts inherently complex relationships between water, plants, insects, and wildlife. Understanding how all of the facets of this ecosystem work and how they are impacted by climate change keeps me inspired on long days in the field and long hours analyzing data back at the office.
Why is this research so important?
The Sierra Nevada Mountains are the source of California’s water. It is especially rewarding to study how climate change impacts are expressed in meadows because meadows are natural water storage basins and biodiversity hotspots in this region. Understanding how climate change impacts a meadow’s ability to store water and act as climate refugia for many different species will help to protect these beautiful habitats and provide a water resource that all Californians can benefit from.
How does citizen science support your research?
Citizen Scientists give South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) and our partners the ability to answer key questions about how climate change is impacting our meadow ecosystems in a manner that is both scientifically defensible and can be sustained over the long term.
What is one of your favorite moments in the field?
One of my favorite moments in the field happened quite recently while I was measuring greenhouse gas flux in Loney Meadow, here in the Yuba watershed. I was just about to take the third and final gas sample when a cow sauntered over to where I was standing, picked up the plastic bag containing my completed sampling vials and started to chew. After about three minutes of my yelling and jumping up and down the cow released the bag. To my relief all of the vials were intact.