The California Biodiversity Center: Understanding the Diversity of California's Animal

The California Biodiversity Center: Understanding the Diversity of California's Animal







with field station reports from






Unit Mission and Activities

The California Biodiversity Center (CBC, a new organized research unit, fosters collaborations between the Berkeley Natural History Museums, Berkeley's Natural History Field Stations, and other partners studying changes in California's biological diversity, past, present, and future. Biological populations in California and elsewhere can change unexpectedly with dramatic consequences, both biological and economic. We see an exotic weed, present at low densities for decades following its introduction, suddenly explode as a noxious pest (e.g., yellow star thistle); sudden oak death and other pathogens threaten tanoaks, coast live oaks, madrones, redwoods, and Monterey pines; a native frog population (e.g. mountain yellow legged frog) thriving in one watershed but dwindling or disappearing in another, apparently similar habitat. In all of these cases, ecological change, evolutionary (genetic) change, or both could account for the change in the species' performance and impact. Interactions of genetic and ecological change probably drive many changes in biodiversity and environments, yet such interactions go widely unrecognized because of the lack of collaboration between scientists familiar with museum-based, historical approaches and field ecologists and earth scientists using field observations and experiments to investigate contemporary processes. Such collaborations are fostered by the CBC.

The CBC's affiliated partners include Berkeley's Natural History Museums and Field Stations (Table 1). The field stations provide protected areas that serve as "living laboratories," where researchers can investigate the on-going processes that are currently influencing biological diversity. The museums’ vast collections and databases add geographic breadth and historical depth to our understanding of processes that can control biodiversity--processes that begin with the geologic origin of California and range in time scale from the splitting of species lineages to changes within a single generation. Combining these two invaluable types of resources enhances the abilities of CBC researchers to evaluate the relative roles of climate, evolution, human impacts, and new pathogens in changing distributions, abundances, and genomes of key species over time.

Table 1. Affiliated partners of the California Biodiversity Center

Berkeley Natural History Museums / Berkeley Natural History Field Stations
University of California Museum of Paleontology / Angelo Coast Range Reserve
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology / Hastings Natural History Reservation
University of California Botanical Garden / Hans Jenny Pygmy Forest Reserve
Essig Museum of Entomology / Chickering-American River Reserve
University and Jepson Herbaria / Sagehen Creek Field Station
Hearst Museum of Anthropology / Sierra Snow Lab

CBC Activities, 2002-2003

The CBC organized two retreats in 2003. A Berkeley Natural History Museum Director's Retreat at the Angelo Reserve held from 9-11 May 2003. This included discussion of the development of funding applications and the ongoing research at the reserve. The was also a presentation by George Brimhall (Professor of Geology, Earth Resources Center, UCB). The presentation covered digital paperless mapping research to facilitate hypothesis generation and testing in field sciences--adapting GeoMap to EcoMap or PhylogeoMap—links with digital identification guides etc. This was followed by a field demonstration of technology applied to Angelo Reserve. The CBC also sponsored a new graduate student retreat at the Angelo Coast Range Reserve to welcome and orient new graduate students in the Department of Integrative Biology at Berkeley in August, 2003.

The CBC helped organize and provided logistical support for an NSF Planning Workshop held at The Angelo Reserve from 4-7 September 2003. The participants included twelve scientists from outside the University of California, seven faculty from three departments at UCB (one of whom was the campus Vice Chancellor for Research, and another the Director of the UC Systemwide NRS ) a Science Writer from the UC Natural Reserve System and the Director of the Hastings Natural History Reservation (also in the NRS. Following a general orientation to the site, guided field trips demonstrating ongoing research projects, and a day and a half of discussion, the review committee reached several recommendations for future research directions at the reserve and identified critical priorities for improvements to facilities and infrastructure.

On February 3 2003 CBC arranged an Ecoinformatics Workshop follow-up. This built upon the Ecoinformatics Workshop held in 2002. Four scientists currently working in this area gave brief overviews of their work and the tools they are using to the weekly Ecolunch seminar series on campus. Presentations were made by Mark Stromberg (Reserve Manager at Hastings Natural History Reservation), John Battles (Associate Professor Division of Ecosystem Science), Neo Martinez (Assistant Professor of Biology at the Romberg Tiburon Center of San Francisco State) University and Rich Williams (postdoctoral researcher, San Francisco State University)

In April 2003 CBC provided funds to supplement research awards to four undergraduates to carry out research projects that use both museums and field sites, and combine evolutionary, systematic, biogeographical, and ecological biology.These research projects were all carried out in collaboration with faculty at UC Berkeley.

John Latto, Peter and Trish Steel and Mary Power, initiated a collaboration with Education Outreach staff of the National Center for Earth Surface Dynamics (NCED) to develop high school exchanges and school outreach programs. These would train students as docents at the field reserves by giving them Initial summer employment as field assistants at reserves. The program will also bring students to NCED labs and field sites in Minnesota and Minnesota students to the Angelo Reserve. The program will have a special emphasis on Native Americans within both communities. Trish Steel, , Laytonville Coordinator North Coast Rural Challenge Network will participate in Oct. 5-10 NCED workshop, and continue developing these collaborative outreach efforts on behalf of Angelo Reserve and Laytonville schools.

Over the whole of the 2003-2003 year CBC has sponsored the production of weekly seminar listing for all ecology, environmental science and evolution related seminars on campus. (See This listing has become widely used by ecologists and environmental scientists in many different departments on campus.

In May 2003 CBC Director Mary Power was a speaker at the System-Wide Committee Meeting of the U.C. Natural Reserve System, Oakland CA. In June 2003 she gave a presentation for the NSF Site Review of the National Center for Earth Surface Dynamics, Minneapolis, MN. Angelo is used as a primary field site for this NSF STC.

Field Station Activities, 2002-2003

Angelo Coast Range Reserve: 2003 Annual Report

About the reserve:

The Angelo Coast Range Reserve (ACRR) is one of 34 reserves protected for university level teaching and research by the University of California Natural Reserve System (UCNRS, The Angelo Reserve is administered by the Berkeley campus through the California Biodiversity Center. The reserve was established in 1959 by the Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Heath and Marjorie Angelo, and was managed by TNC until 1989 when management was turned over to the UCNRS. Title to the reserve was transferred in 1994. In 1961 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) set aside some of its adjacent land in recognition of its natural value. Together the two areas combine to form an 8000 acre natural area for research, teaching, and public environmental education.

The reserve is located in northern Mendocino Co. in the steep and rugged Coast Range. Elevations range from 390 m to 1263 m. Habitats include mixed evergreen forest, chaparral, oak woodlands, meadows, and riparian zones along the S. Fork Eel River. In addition to a 5-km reach of the S. Fork Eel River, the reserve encompasses the entire watersheds of 3 perennial streams. The climate is typically Mediterranean, with the bulk of the rain falling between November and March, followed by long dry and warm summers.

Collections on site include an extensive herbarium and plant species list, as well as surveys of mammals, soils, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The USGS has maintained a gauging station on Elder Creek since 1974.

Angelo Reserve Facilities support year round research and teaching, and include individual as well as group housing available to any qualified person, institution, or group, on a per/person/night basis. When fully furnished the newly completed Environmental Science Center (funded by a grant from the Goldman Foundation) will provide lab space, computer lab, library and collections room, class/conference room, and high-speed internet connection. Recent users include graduate students and classes from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, Humboldt State University, SF State University, classes from College of the Redwoods, K-12 classes from the Laytonville Unified School District and local private schools, USGS, Cal. Fish and Game, and over 1500 public day users.

The Angelo Coast Range Reserve will serve as a primary field laboratory for a new NSF Science and Technology Center, the National Center for Earth Surface Dynamics (NCED). In September 2002 Earth scientists, ecologists, engineers, and educators from U.C. Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Minnesota, and Fond du Lac College in northern Minnesota met at the new Environmental Center recently completed at the Angelo Reserve. Focused discussions with the entire core NCED team, as well as breakout group discussions, were held to map out several research areas and particular collaborations. Two such projects, an examination of ecosystem physiology over scales from microns to kilometers, and a study of how riparian trees influence the evolution of channel morphology, were launched at the Angelo Reserve in summer 2003 (collaborating PIs Hondzo and Finlay from U. Minn and Power from UCB) and will continue over the coming field seasons. NCED will fund high speed internet connections to the Angelo Reserve, which will serve as a primary field laboratory for this Minneapolis-based NCED (

Selected 2002-2003 Research Projects are described in Appendix 2.

Sagehen Creek Field Station: 2003 Annual Report


Sagehen Creek Field Station(SCFS) is a research and teaching facility of the University of California at Berkeley's, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the Berkeley Natural History Museums and the California Biodiversity Center. The Station was established in 1951 with the signing of a long-term special use permit with the USDA Forest Service, which
manages the land.The year round Station facilities are at an elevation of 6380 feet in California on the east slope of the northern Sierra Nevada, approximately 20 miles North of Lake Tahoe. The roughly 8000 acre Sagehen Creek watershed includes yellow pine, mixed conifer, and red fir forests, brushfields, scattered mountain meadows and fens. Deep snow is typical of the winter season, and dry, warm weather is typical of the summer period. Sagehen Creek is about 8 miles long, extending eastward from near the crest of the Sierra to Stampede Reservoir on the Little Truckee River. The watershed is managed by the Truckee Ranger District of the Tahoe National Forest for multiple uses. Sagehen Creek is a candidate for inclusion in the Wild and Scenic River Inventory and the UC Natural Reserve System.
Station ManagerJeffrey R. Brown

AddressUniversity of California, Berkeley

Sagehen Creek Field Station

P.O. Box 939, 11616 Sagehen Rd, Truckee, CA 96160

Telephone(530) 587-4830

Fax(530) 582-4031

Web Site

Multicampus Research / Public Outreach

SCFS provides full service, multidisciplinary research and classroom facilities to any qualified group on a per night/per person use fee basis. Use of the station and facilities is quite varied and applications/reservations are accomplished through an online system. Recent use includes: UC Berkeley graduate students and classes, UC Davis graduate students and classes, SFSU graduate students, the USDA Forest Service, California Fish & Game, University of Nevada at Reno, the Desert Research Institute, The Truckee School District, Truckee River Watershed Council, USGS, Lawrence Hall of Science, The Nature Conservancy, California Public
Health Service, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, University of Chicago Field Museum, UC Santa Cruz Herbarium, UC Santa Barbara and California Partners in Flight.
Sagehen Creek is a Benchmark Creek for the USGS and water samples have been
collected and analyzed since 1975. Weather data has been collected since
the early 1950's. Stream flow measurements and temperatures have been taken
at the USGS stream gauging station on Sagehen Creek since the early 1950's.
Extensive plant, mammal, vegetation, fish, soils, archaeologic and insect
survey records are on file. Over 75 PHD and Masters theses and more than
300 other scientific publications have been produced from research efforts
conducted at SCFS. Data sets and plant/mammal/bird/insect lists are available online through the station’s website.

A wireless network, 3 additional automated weather stations and a full service GIS Center were installed in 2003 and renovation has begun for several buildings within the reserve.
SCFS has an underwater observation building built adjacent to Sagehen
Creek. This facility has 3-8' long underwater viewing windows that enable
various projects relating to streams to be conducted.

Central Sierra Snow Laboratory: 2003 Annual Report

Administered by the California Biodiversity Center

by Randall Osterhuber

Manager and Staff Research Associate

Central Sierra Snow Laboratory

PO Box 810

10162 Bunny Hill Road

Soda Springs, California 95728 USA

(530) 426-0318

(530) 426-0319 fax

email contact:

The Central Sierra Snow Laboratory (CSSL)

Since its inception in 1946 (built by the then U.S. Weather Bureau and Army Corps of Engineers), the CSSL has been a snow hydrology research facility. The Central Sierra Snow Laboratory is a research field station of UC Berkeley specializing in snow physics, snow hydrology, meteorology, climatology, and instrument design.

The CSSL's mission is to provide a facility for research to address the uncertainties, characteristics, and timing of the Sierra Nevada's snowfall and hydrologic cycle. This includes, but is not limited to, the temporal and spatial distribution of the accumulating and ablating snowpack; the snowpack's physical and chemical response to atmospheric and anthropogenic phenomena; and identifying short and long term implications of these phenomena to snowpack ground- and surface-water yield. Since more than 50 percent of California's usable fresh water is born of the melting Sierra Nevada snowpack, understanding the physical variations of snowpacks and alpine watershed climatic regimes is essential if water managers are to have sufficient resiliency to cope with climatic change. Industry, recreation, riparian health, recreation, and domestic water use all have claims—and sometimes competing interests—levied against the snow zone's water yield.

Current research activities at the CSSL (Appendix 3) include using rare earth elements as solute transport tracers within the snowpack; measuring the attenuation of cosmic radiation through snow to assess snowpack snow water equivalent; trends in climatology and snowpack characteristics during the past 13 decades; weather instrument testing and evaluation; avalanche safety and forecasting; and conducting various community education and outreach programs that address local snow hydrology and weather issues.


Andrew Barkhuff, Program Manager, National Weather Service 6,7

Mark Bollinger, Research Scientist, 2B Technologies 4

Elizabeth Carter, Atmospheric Scientist, Firnspiegel 5,6

David Collins, Electrical Engineer, Dartmouth College 3

Ken Condreva, Research Scientist, Sandia National Laboratories 4

Michael Dettinger, USGS, Scripps Institution of Oceanography 6,7

Anthony Faaia, Dartmouth College 3

Xiahong Feng, Professor of Geophysics, Dartmouth College 3

Frank Gehrke, Chief, Snow Surveys, CA Department of Water Resources 4,6,7

Emma Goldberg, UC Berkeley 2

Dan Greenlee, Hydrologist, USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service 6,7

Kathy Hoxsie, Meteorologist, National Weather Service 6

Arlen Huggins, Research Climatologist, Desert Research Institute 6

Richard Kattelmann, Snow Hydrologist, UC Santa Barbara 5

James Kirchner, Professor of Geophysics, UC Berkeley 1,3

Björn Klaue, Hydrologist, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Michigan 3

Joyce Leighton, Administrative Analyst 1

Jessica Lundquist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego 1,4,6

Greg McCurdy, Programmer, Desert Research Institute 6

Bob Moore, Snow Ranger, Tahoe National Forest 5

Gary Murphy, Avalanche Forecaster, Alpine Meadows Ski Corp 5

Randall Osterhuber, Research Associate, Central Sierra Snow Laboratory 1,3,4,5,6,7

Kelly Redmond, Climatologist, Desert Research Institute 6

Carl Renshaw, Geophysicist, Department of Earth Science, Dartmouth College 3

Tarel Selles, Analyst 1

Dave Simeral, Desert Research Institute 6

Alex Tardy, Meteorologist, National Weather Service 6

Susan Taylor, Hydrologist, US Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory,

Hanover, NH 2,3

Bill Williamson, Operations Director, Sugar Bowl Ski Area 5

1 UCB Faculty/Staff

2 Student

3 REE project

4 Gamma sensor project

5 Avalanche safety/forecasting

6 Meteorology/Climatology/Monitoring

7 River flow forecast

Appendix 1. Attendees at NSF Planning Workshop, Angelo Coast Range Reserve, September 4-7, 2003

Cherie Briggs
Associate Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Jerry Booth
Senior Science Writer, University of California Natural Reserve System

Mary Beth Burnside

Vice Chancellor for Research and Chancellor's Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology

Todd Dawson

Associate Professor in Integrative Biology at the University of California Berkeley
Bill E. Dietrich
Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences, at the University of California
Alexander GlazerProfessor of the Graduate School of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of California Berkeley. Director, UC Natural Reserve System.
Robert O. Hall, Jr.
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming
Bret C. Harvey
Research Fisheries Biologist, USDA-USFS Redwood Sciences Laboratory, Arcata, CA
John Hunter
Plant Ecologist

Carol Kendall
Chief of the Isotope Tracers Project, USGS Menlo Park Stable Isotope and Tritium Labs.
E-mail: /

Jim KirchnerProfessor, Department of Earth and Planetary ScienceE-mail:

Tom Lisle

Research Hydrologist, USDA-USFS Redwood Sciences Laboratory, Arcata, CA

Carolyn B. MeyerLecturer, Department of Botany, University of WyomingE-mail: