Big things are happening in the Collinge lab! Mari Elise Ewing will be starting an assistant professor position at Austin College in Sherman Texas in August and Nifer Wilkening will be heading to India on a Fulbright Fellowship to study pikas in the Himalayas. Congrats to you both!
With the early rains that are hitting California this year it is shaping up to be a good year for the vernal pool natives. After only a few blustery days we have recently completed a successful field trip to Travis and now we wait for the spring blooms!
After a busy summer our lab came together for the 97th annual Ecological Society of America conference in Portland Oregon. Sharon Collinge presented her and Chris Ray’s recent work on habitat quality versus connectivity in an endemic vernal pool species. Akasha Faist explained how invasive species are altering vernal pool soil properties. Jennifer Wilkening presented a portion of her dissertation on how fecal samples can be used to understand physiological stress on the American pika. While Mari Elise Ewing focused on the more social concept of how decision making can alter land use patterns in the Great Basin. All in all it was a great success and we look forward to next year!
After a dry winter out at the field site, recent April showers have filled the pools to their highest point of the season. This photo shows a subset of the native flowers that are just above the inundation line while some have been completely submerged. We will be returning to the site in a couple of weeks to conduct vegetation surveys and to see the impact these late rains had on the vernal pools.
Germination is in full swing at the California vernal pool field site! Many of the native annuals are in their tiny germinant stage hunkering down for a wet winter to engulf their pools. The most recent visit to the site was a success with all pools flagged, germinants counted and litter depths manipulated. Now we all have our finger crossed that the skies will soon open up bringing more snow to the mountains and rain in the valley.
It is fall, which means that in addition to crisp, clear days and an abundance of pumpkins; we are receiving many inquiries from prospective graduate students interested in the possibility of working in the Collinge lab. I currently supervise four PhD students and plan to recruit an additional PhD student to begin in Fall 2012 to work specifically on the vernal pool restoration experiment in California. Please click the “Prospective students” box at the top of the page to learn more about opportunities for graduate students in the Collinge lab. Thanks for your interest!