Teaching field ecology and evolution


This winter and spring I am teaching a fantastic and unique class at UC Davis with TA Kate Zamenick. In Experimental Ecology and Evolution in the Field we have two consecutive quarters to work with some of the most motivated and creative ecology undergrads at UC Davis. We will determine a research question, implement a field experiment and write a paper for peer review.  The class is keeping a blog as a group laboratory and field notebook and using #eve180 on twitter to share information. In the next two weeks we will determine our question and develop our design. Can’t wait to see where the next few weeks will take us!

Measuring Impacts of Solar Development on Mojave Desert Plants

Energy Vulture

by Emil Morhardt

The massive development of wind and solar generating facilities in California’s Mojave Desert puts California way out in front of the rest of the US in generation of renewable electricity, but at the same time the development drastically alters the desert ecosystem. Installation of photovoltaic arrays seems to require grading the land flat, removing all existing vegetation, and since there will be nothing to eat, all of the animals as well. To those who haven’t travelled this wild desert during a verdant spring—something that happens only every few years—it might seem barren. But I’ve camped out in the middle of it many times in the spring when it is lush, covered with desert flowers, and alive with birds and other animals; to me it is the epitome of virgin wilderness. (My wife and I even wrote a book about it and took a lot of plant pictures…see reference…

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