COVID-19 Safety, Long term soil warming experiment, and the Lester B. Rowntree Memorial Weather Station

Things have been humming along at the field station this past year, although like everywhere else, it’s all a bit different. Through careful consideration with UC Berkeley, state, and local health officers, campus Environmental Health & Safety officers, and campus administration including the Vice Chancellor of Research, we have been able to carefully(!) host researchers and even some groups and classes at the field station while maintaining utmost safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You can see our protocols here.

Part of the activity at the field station has included establishing a new long-term field experiment at the field station. Researchers from the Terrestrial Ecosystem Sciences group in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley Lab are conducting a soil warming experiment to measure changes in soil carbon and respiration in grassland habitat dominated by perennial grasses. Their project began in mixed conifer forest at Blodgett Experimental Forest. Before the plots go in the team is measuring site characteristics and soil properties by performing the following measurements.
– soil coring and soil analysis
– piezometers to measure water table depth
– root zone imaging
– electromagnetic induction (EMI) surveys to measure apparent subsurface electrical resistivity
– electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) to measure subsurface soil structure
– vegetation survey.

EMI Survey
Dr. Baptiste Dafflon performing the electromagnetic induction survey of the grassland site at Point Reyes Field Station. (Image: Allison Kidder)


Dr. Baptiste Dafflon and Dr. Yuxin Wu conduct the Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) survey in the grassland site at Point Reyes Field Station. (Image: Allison Kidder)

We look forward to continued developments with this project!

In other news, our weather station has been dutifully collecting weather data since January 7, 2020. Thanks to the stellar work by UC Natural Reserve System Weather Station Technician, Wendy Baxter, and UCNRS IT technician, Kevin Browne, all sensors and solar systems have been recording with no problems. We are still working on uploading the weather station’s data stream, a process that’s been delayed by our exceptionally slow satellite internet service. 

In the meantime, we are pleased to announce our new weather station has been named the Lester B. Rowntree Memorial Weather Station. Les Rowntree (1938-2019), a well-known geographer and environmental scientist, provided the foundational gift that made the weather station possible. He supported the Point Reyes Field Station because of his long-standing interest in California’s unique climate and natural history. We had the following bronze plaque created that will be posted at the base of the weather station.

The bronze plaque memorializing Point Reyes Field Station’s weather station in honor of Lester B. Rowntree (1938-2019).

The data generated by our weather station is available by request. Please email Wendy Baxter with the dates you require.




Point Reyes Field Station is now the 40th reserve in the UC Natural Reserve System

Point Reyes 40th UC NRS Reserve
We are pleased to announce that Point Reyes Field Station is now the 40th Reserve in University of California’s Natural Reserve System! It is exciting to be a part of this network of living laboratories throughout California and further the missions of UC and the National Park Service through our partnership with Point Reyes National Seashore.

The event made the news in several spots, including UC Berkeley News, The Daily Californian (UC Berkeley’s student newspaper), the San Francisco Chronicle, and UC Natural Reserve System’s news page.

We look forward to hosting researchers and classes far into the future!



Spaces still available for this summer’s California Ecology and Conservation course

Here is a timely announcement from the UC Natural Reserve System’s Program Coordinator about this summer’s California Ecology and Conservation course. This is a terrific course and they regularly visit Point Reyes Field Station as part of the course. Check it out!
We have a handful of spaces still available in the Fall 2018 offering of the UC Natural Reserve System field course, California Ecology and Conservation, so have extended the application deadline to May 8th! Applications can be found here
This relatively new program, launched in Fall 2015, has been a tremendous success. Over 200 students from across the UC system have gained strong independent scientific research skills while immersed in the training grounds of the UC natural reserves, from Big Sur to the Mojave Desert, from coastal redwoods to California grasslands to high altitude bristlecone pines. Check out this video to get glimpses of what students are calling the most rewarding experience in their undergraduate careers.
“I’ve never felt so confident in not only forming questions about the world around me, but also in my ability to turn those into testable hypotheses,” said a recent UC Davis student. “On top of that, I’ve learned so much about myself and gained confidence in my path. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many ‘best-day-of-my-life’ experiences in such a short period of time. I’m so much more confident that field ecology is the path for me! Between the connections and skills I’ve gained of the last 50 days, I couldn’t be more prepared.”
California Ecology and Conservation brings together 27 undergraduates from across the UC system for seven weeks of intensive learning at NRS reserves. Experienced field instructors help undergraduates transform into scientists. Students complete a series of increasingly independent research studies while learning to notice natural patterns, frame questions into feasible research projects, and practice standard field techniques. At the conclusion of each project, students analyze their data and present their findings in oral presentations and written reports. Students hone their research, public speaking, and scientific writing skills with constant practice and feedback. All the while, students gain a working familiarity with California’s diverse ecosystems.
All UC undergraduates who have a 2.5+ GPA, are in good standing with their home campus, and have successfully completed an introductory biology course are eligible to apply.
More information is available on the course website. As always, I am happy to answer any questions you might have about the program. 
Please distribute this email widely and share this exciting program with your students. I’ve attached two documents for you to share with students- one is a general flyer for you to print and post and the other lists how the course units map onto various degree programs at your campus.  If students from majors not listed are interested in taking the course, they can petition their departments to receive credits toward their major, minor, and GE requirements. Additional flyers can be found here
Thanks so much!
Erin Marnocha, PhD
Program Coordinator
UC Natural Reserve System