Biology Students Explore
Natural History of Southern California
On a recent spring break trip, 12 students explored the natural history of Southern California on the Biology Field Trip (BIO 3072) with Profs. Mike Blust and Jim Graves. In this 9-day field-intensive experience, students developed observation skills, learned about flora and fauna in ecosystems ranging from Sonoran Desert to Live Oak Woodlands, observed conservation problems and solutions in a region rich in endemic species, and conducted field research. Before the trip, the class discussed Bakker’s An Island Called California, and each student searched additional literature on a topic of interest and designed a study. For example, they asked, “Do lizards show a preference for cool microsites in a warm environment?” and “What factors influence distance between shrubs in desert and chaparral communities?” Solving problems with these studies in the field provided students with some of their best learning experiences. Trip highlights included a walk through the sparsely leafy and flowering desert to a palm oasis, Great Horned Owls hollering from the sandstone cliffs over Joshua Trees and Junipers, and a Darwinian experience on Santa Cruz Island where isolation has yielded a curious world of little Island Foxes, large Island Scrub Jays, and Giant Coreopsis. The students will present research findings from this trip on Friday, April 13, starting at 2:30 pm. Location will be announced soon.