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Program Blog

Welcome to the UC California Naturalist Program Blog

Through our blog we share program and partner highlights, events, and inspiration on a wide variety of natural history and climate change topics. We also host occasional guest writers from our community of UC academics, statewide partner organizations, and certified California Naturalists and Climate Stewards. We want to champion the great work our community is doing. To submit an article for consideration, please e-mail Brook Gamble. This website features the last 20 blog articles. To view archives, please click here.  

  • See You Down the Trail, Sarah!

    This week we say “see you down the trail” to our Sierra/Central region Community Education Specialist, Sarah Angulo. Please join us in thanking Sarah for years of hard work and devotion to CalNat! Sarah joined our team almost four years ago, and as a UC Santa Cruz Environmental Studies and Natural History Field Quarter graduate with plenty of non-profit experience, she was a home run for the position. She came with well-honed environmental education skills, excellent community...


  • Adina Merenlender CA Biodiversity Day pic
    A refugia for wildflowers

    Guest author Adina Merenlender is the founding Director of the UC California Naturalist program, and writes about the North Coast Biogregion for California Biodiversity Week 2021.   California's Northern Coastline is a refugia where the local climate is relatively stable compared to rates of climate change in other parts of California. This is particularly true if we continue to experience a drier future under climate change. The resilience to immediate rapid change...


  • Photo by Andy Wraithmell
    The Biodiversity of the South Coast Bioregion

    Guest author Blanca Villalobos is a certified UC Riverside Palm Desert Center California Naturalist, and writes about the South Coast Biogregion for California Biodiversity Week 2021. You can follow more of Blanca's work at www.blancasvillalobos.com or on Instagram at @blanca.s.villalobos.  Tecolotlán & El Totole, nahuatl names given to the lands from which my parents were raised in: their origin meaning place of owls and turkey hen, respectively. My parents...


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    The Biodiversity of the Mojave Desert Bioregion

    Guest author Chloe Van Loon is a certified Grassroots Ecology California Naturalist, and writes about the Mojave Desert Biogregion for California Biodiversity Week 2021. You can follow more of Chloe's writings posted on Chloe Van Loon's Nature Blog. For most of the past year and half I have nomadically roamed around California, chasing nature's “blooms”. That meant spending the winter in Mendocino County finding fungi, and springtime in the Bay Area...


  • Siera Nystrom UC Merced VPGR CA Biodiversity Day pic
    The Biodiversity of the Great Central Valley

    Guest author Siera Nystrom is a certified UC Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve California Naturalist, and writes about the Sacramento and San Joaquin Biogregions for California Biodiversity Week 2021. You can follow more of Siera's writings posted on Notes from a California Naturalist.   September marks the beginning of a great awakening across California's Great Central Valley. As summer fades quietly into the warm, golden tints of autumn, long-absent...


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    A Model for Engagement and Empowerment for Biodiversity Conservation

      The California Biodiversity Collaborative correctly identifies “engage and empower” as one of four key strategies for biodiversity conservation. Together with “knowledge,” “protection, “and “restoration,” the state seeks to put people at the center of its strategy to protect the genes, species and ecosystems that sustain our society and economy. The emphasis on engagement and empowerment is well founded as it is one of the most...


  • A North American Beaver at a popular neighborhood park in South Bay
    The Biodiversity of the San Francisco Bay & Delta Bioregion

    Guest author Karan Gathani is a certified Grassroots Ecology California Naturalist, and writes about the San Francisco Bay and Delta Biogregion for California Biodiversity Week 2021. You can follow more of Karan's writings posted on California Naturalist Diaries. What things do you love about your bioregion? I live in the San Francisco Bay Area/Delta Bioregion which means there is more to life than just paying Jacksons for your Avocado Toasts and artisan brewed coffee....


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    Providing Context

    A "Natural History Note" From UC California Naturalist's lead scientist, Dr. Cameron Barrows, in celebration of California Biodiversity Day.     “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” - E.F. Schumacher Asking questions about patterns in nature, or perhaps the sometimes apparent lack of patterns, can seem to lead to more...


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    Detecting Climate Change Impacts

    A "Natural History Note" From UC California Naturalist's lead scientist, Dr. Cameron Barrows.   “Climate change is the greatest threat to our existence in our short history on this planet. Nobody's going to buy their way out of its effects.” - Mark Ruffalo The environment is changing. There is a daily cycle governed by the earth's rotation – warmer days and cooler nights. There is a seasonal cycle governed by the tilt of the earth toward the sun...


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    Climate Stewardship is the Way Forward

    In the new book Climate Stewardship: Taking Collective Action to Protect California (UC Press September 2021), Adina Merenlender, CalNat Founding Director shares stories from everyday people and shows how their actions enhance the resilience of communities and ecosystems across California. Her co-author Brendan Buhler helps communicate these stories in a way that is enjoyable, inspiring, and even amusing.  Climate Stewardship focuses on regenerative approaches to energy, agriculture,...


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    Communication Comes in Many Forms

    A "Natural History Note" From UC California Naturalist's lead scientist, Dr. Cameron Barrows.     “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better” – Albert Einstein   There is an inherent conflict for many animals: blend in with your surroundings so that predators will not see you, but at the same time make yourself obvious so that you can attract a mate and pass along your genes. Birds solved this problem with song. Most birds are...


  • California Conservation Corps members learn about fire ecology and post-fire vegetation recovery at the recent UC Hopland Research & Extension Center immersion course
    Why We Fundraise

    I'm guessing most of us would much rather explore a new trail, identify a new plant, or marvel at the colors reflecting off a hummingbird's gorget than ask someone for money. We often associate asking for money with jobs and careers that many of us might have intentionally avoided. I remember a conversation with my grandfather, when I told him I enjoyed environmental education because I wasn't comfortable with the idea of sales. He reminded me that even good ideas didn't just happen;...


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    The City Nature Challenge 2021 is a win for nature

    The City Nature Challenge encourages people to explore their urban nature, connect with local advocacy organizations and other iNaturalist users, and learn how to participate in community biodiversity science. From its first competition between the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County in 2016, it quickly has grown to include more than 350 cities around the world. The search for nature over a period of 4 days each spring inspires over 50,000 people to tune in to the nature...


  • A field of iris (Iris douglasiana) at Point Reyes National Seashore
    Infrastructure = Ecosystems

    A guest blog post by Sarah Royce and Álvaro Palacios Casanova, submitted for their capstone project, in partial fulfillment of their UC California Naturalist certificate. The views expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the UC California Naturalist Program, its affiliates, or employees. If you see infrastructure as only roads, bridges, and harm to ecosystems, look again! Done right, infrastructure investments can be good for...


  • A Ithuriel's spear, photo by Sarah Angulo
    Flowers and the Epic Stories Behind a Few of Their Names

    The reappearance of favorite springtime wildflowers across California brings a smile to any Naturalist. We recite their names as we come across them in the field, upload them to iNaturalist, and note them in our nature journals with joy. While the Latin names reveal interesting features of the plants themselves, some of these favorite flowers have common names that have us wondering: what's the story behind that? Ithuriel's spear, Triteleia laxa These flowers stand tall above the...


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    Celebrate Participatory Science This Month

    Spring is here! Despite the dry winter across California, flowers are in bloom, leaf buds are opening, and birds are singing. It's a great time to get outside, and while you're there, contribute to science! Led by SciStarter, April is Citizen Science Month, and now more than ever scientists are relying on volunteers to help fill critical data gaps. For all of 2020, iNaturalist recorded 22.5 million observations of 194,000 species, with 30 million identifications. Our naturalists have...


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    Words Matter: They Can Inspire Hope and They Can Incite Hate

    If there is any doubt about the power of words, one only has to look to the writings of Rachel Carson, a naturalist and biologist who is credited with inspiring the modern environmental movement. The power of a few well-chosen words can inspire and leave a lasting impact: “One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?” Sometimes words and phrases are so powerful that just hearing them once is enough to...


  • Desert tortoises do not live centuries, but they might live as long as we humans do.
    Tomorrow’s environments will be different

    A "Natural History Note" From UC California Naturalist's lead scientist, Dr. Cameron Barrows. In nature, species are constantly “striving” to be “better” species. To be clear, this is not a conscious effort, rather that improvement can occur through reproduction, there are new combinations of genes being created with every generation, both through mutations and through the mixing of genes through sexual reproduction. For asexual species, gene mutations are the...


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    ¡Los Naturalistas!

    Southern California Mountains Foundation Urban Conservation Corps receive the Corps Network's Project of the Year Award. Our California Naturalist partners at Southern California Mountains Foundation Urban Conservation Corps were recently honored for their work making the national parks and public lands of the Inland Empire more accessible to the communities that frequent these areas. In 2018, UCC members surveyed Spanish-speaking community members and the results showed that these community...