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DON EDWARDS S.F. BAY NWR: Connecting People to Nature through Citizen Science-CPWN
California-Nevada Offices , September 29, 2014
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This poster provides visitors with more information about phenology and encourages them to get involved!
This poster provides visitors with more information about phenology and encourages them to get involved! - Photo Credit: Edward Lee
The 2013 phenology results are in! Take a look at the effects the drought has had on the plants.
The 2013 phenology results are in! Take a look at the effects the drought has had on the plants. - Photo Credit: USFWS
This poster shows visitors how to get involved with the bird monitoring project on the refuge.
This poster shows visitors how to get involved with the bird monitoring project on the refuge. - Photo Credit: Edward Lee

By Eric Lynch

The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge started monitoring the phenology of four different species this spring. In order to account for variation, two individuals of each species were chosen. The species were California live oak (Quercus agrifolia), coyotebrush (Braccharis pilularis), blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra-cerulea), and California wildrose (Rosa californica).

All species are located in a recently restored area near the Environmental Education Center in Alviso, Calif. Although the refuge is only part way into the first season of monitoring, refuge staff and interns have already learned a lot. For one thing, staff learned that both of the coyotebrush that were initially chosen to monitor were males, so a female was added to the mix. Many of the plants seemed to be having a tough time with the drought. One of the live oaks had a moderate show of acorns, but another, located slightly uphill from the first, did not show any fruit at all this year. Likewise, the California wildrose had trouble getting fruits reach full ripeness. The project has proven to be a fun way for volunteers to engage with the refuge’s ecosystem and the staff look forward to learning more about the natural ebb and flow of the plants as they continue to monitor through the seasons.

Another citizen science project was started  this year that aimed at getting visitors to contribute to the eBird website. The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR is a hotspot for spotting shorebirds, including many seasonal migrants. Many visitors visit the refuge for the excellent birding opportunities. The eBird.org website offers a place for birders to catalogue their bird sightings which can then be used by scientists worldwide. The geographically and chronologically referenced birding data has proven to be a treasure trove for researchers who want to study bird populations across the globe.

In order to encourage visitors to contribute to this effort, interpretive signs about the eBird project were installed at several entrances to popular birding trails in the Alviso area of the refuge. The sign points were stocked with flyers for birders to record their bird sightings and provided instructions on how to create an account. Five sighting points were established along a pathway for birders to compare which species they observed at different locations. The hope is that this will increase the amount of data available to those who study bird populations in the San Francisco Bay Area and around the globe while providing an enjoyable and engaging experience for birding visitors.

Editors Note: The phenology program was set up by Julie Kahrnoff, Interpretive Specialist for the Watershed Watchers Program and an employee of the Refuge's Friends group the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society. Edward Lee, Refuge Volunteer, created the posters and assisted with this program. The bird monitoring program was set up by the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory Staff. Eric Lynch is a Park Management Intern from West Valley College. He is assisting with the delivery of this program this fall. Both of these programs are being coordinated by Julie Kahrnoff.

Eric Lynch is from West Valley College and an intern at the Don Edwards S.F. Bay National Wildlife Refuge.


Contact Info: Genie Moore, 408-262-5513, Ext. 100, genie_moore@fws.gov
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