Science Lectures - 2016

Please join Point Reyes National Seashore staff for Science Lectures, 45 minute presentations on scientific research being performed at Point Reyes and elsewhere in the California. Science Lectures are sponsored by the Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center at Point Reyes National Seashore. They usually occur at noon on many Thursdays throughout the year and are normally held at the Red Barn Classroom at Point Reyes National Seashore's Headquarters. All are welcome and admission is free.

Visit our Science Lectures page to learn about upcoming lectures.

Some of our Brown Bag Lectures in 2016 included:

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria). Two red mushrooms with white spots. © Debbie Viess.
Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria).

Date: Sunday, January 3, 2016
Event: Fungus Fair at Point Reyes Bear Valley Visitor Center
Summary: Fungi from the park was on display and experts were available to answer questions throughout the day. Two talks were offered in the Bear Valley Visitor Center Auditorium on Science and Ecology of Fungi.

  • noon "Introduction to Wild and Edible Mushrooms" by David Rust
  • 2 pm "Amanitarita's Freaky and Fabulous Fungi" by Debbie Viess



Special Evening Lecture:
Date: Friday, January 8, 2015
Description: Join us for a special presentation on Dune Restoration, Dune Plant Ecology, and Western Snowy Plovers presented by Dr. Tiffany Knight and Dr. Eleanor Pardini from Washington University, and Dr. Lynne Stenzel from Point Blue Conservation Science.

"Of Mice and Plants"
Dr. Tiffany Knight and Dr. Eleanor Pardini,
Washington University, St. Louis, MO.
-- Native mice on sand dunes consume the seeds of plants. Recent research at Point Reyes National Seashore has shown that invasive European beachgrass provides shelter that allows mice to consume large quantities of fruits of the endangered plant, Tidestrom's lupine. The recent large-scale restoration at Abbotts Lagoon, which has removed European beachgrass, has allowed for an incredible recovery of this endangered plant at this site.

"Secretive inhabitant of the beach and dunes: Snowy Plovers on the West Coast"
Dr. Lynne Stenzel,
Point Blue Conservation Science
-- You find Snowy Plovers year-round on our coastal beaches and dunes, habitats they share with an ever-increasing human population. Learn their intriguing life-history and hear how the public, government agencies, and non-profit organizations have collaborated to recover their populations in many locations along the coast.

Download the flyer. (126 KB PDF)

Didemnum vexillum, an invasive tunicate, growing on eelgrass from Tomales Bay.
Didemnum vexillum, an invasive tunicate, growing on eelgrass from Tomales Bay.

Date: Thursday, January 14, 2016
Title: "Overgrowth of eelgrass by an invasive tunicate in Tomales Bay"
Presenter: Holly Long, M.S., Bodega Marine Lab - UC Davis, Mosaic Associates
Summary: The invasive tunicate Didemnum vexillum has become widely distributed in estuaries in western North America over the past decade. It has recently invaded eelgrass meadows in a central California estuary, growing directly on shoots and rhizomes. This invasion is of concern due to the important role of eelgrass as a foundation species in coastal communities and the known detrimental effects of this tunicate on sessile organisms in other habitats. Holly Long studied the effects of tunicate overgrowth on eelgrass growth and morphology using surveys, field experiments, and outdoor mesocosm experiments. Holly Long will discuss her findings.
More info:

A carcass of an albatross that died from ingesting too much plastic. USFWS.
The carcass of an albatross that died from ingesting plastic marine debris.

Date: Friday, January 15, 2016
Title: "Threat of plastic pollution to seabirds is global, pervasive, and increasing"
Presenters: Dr. Chris Wilcox and Dr. Denise Hardesty, Senior Research Scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia
More info: The paper with the same title as this lecture was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and was widely reported by the national and international media.

Map showing the projected sensitivity of vegetation to climate change. Creative Commons Ackerly, et al. Public Library of Science. (Click on this image to go to the PLoS ONE journal article in which this map was published.)
Projected sensitivity of vegetation to climate change.

Date: Thursday, February 4, 2016
Title: "Climate change and conservation in the Bay Area: Visualizing the future"
Presenter: David Ackerly, Ph.D., Professor, UC Berkeley
Summary: Climate change poses a grave threat to California biodiversity. Current research in the Ackerly lab is focused on studies of climate change impacts on California biodiversity, including distribution modeling, long-term vegetation dynamics and focal studies of selected plant species. Graduate students and post-docs are working on evolution of physiological traits, demography of alpine plants, and species distributions on fine-scale spatial gradients.
More info:

Replica of a fossilized whale on display in the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center.

Date: Thursday, February 18, 2016
Title: "Coastal Paleontology Monitoring at Point Reyes"
Presenter: Lillian Pearson, Geological Society of America Intern, Point Reyes National Seashore Association Intern, UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology

California red-legged frog.

Date: Thursday, March 17, 2016
Title: "Ecology of the California Red-legged Frog (Rana draytonii) in Coastal Dune Systems"
Presenter: Patrick Kleeman, Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey's Western Ecological Research Center
Summary: More than 60% of the coastal dunes at Point Reyes National Seashore have been invaded by non-native plants such as European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) and iceplant (Carpobrotus edulis), threatening one of the largest remaining expanses of native dune plant communities in California. The National Park Service has begun restoration of this native dune ecosystem by removing these invasive plants, but little was known about how California red-legged frogs (Rana draytonii) used this habitat. Patrick Kleeman, Brian Halstead, and other USGS employees surveyed 25 sites in 20 seasonal drainages that run through dunes with independent double surveys and found California red-legged frogs in 90% of the drainages. For a more detailed understanding of habitat use, they attached radio transmitters to 22 frogs in three of these drainages between April and September 2015, and they collected habitat data on paired use and random points. The results of this study will inform the Park Service how to protect the California red-legged frogs while they proceed with dune restoration, and sheds light on the frog's use of an under-studied habitat that exists elsewhere in their range.

Rangelands in Yolo County. © Ryan DiGaudio.
Rangelands in Yolo County.

Date: Thursday, May 19, 2016
Title: "The Rangeland Monitoring Network"
Presenter: Dr. Libby Porzig, Point Blue Conservation Science
Summary: The Rangeland Monitoring Network provides tools, data, and people that assist ranchers, researchers, and conservation planners and partners in collecting data that expands our knowledge of the ecological function of California rangelands and ranching practices.

Jennifer Phillips with a white-crowned sparrow. © Jennifer Phillips.
Jenny Phillips with a white-crowned sparrow.

Date: Thursday, June 16, 2016
Title: "Singing in the city: How soundscapes affect communication and vocal performance in White-crowned Sparrows"
Presenter: Jenny Phillips, Ph.D Candidate at Tulane University
Summary: Graduate student Jenny Phillips will present on current research of how noise pollution affects songbird communication, using the model species of Nuttall's white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys nuttalli). Jenny has been working in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore for three years recording song and testing whether changes in song affect function for male-male competition and female mate choice.


For more information about the Brown Bag Lectures, contact Ben Becker at 415-464-5187 or by email.

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Last updated: December 20, 2020

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