To the 90° bend!

The weather was definitely in our favor this Tuesday with sunshine and a scenic bike ride through North Davis for those of us who where able to!

Our field excursion today took us to the North Davis Channel, also known as the North Davis Riparian Corridor. This channel is used to divert storm water and agricultural run off into the Willow Slough Bypass. In 2013 it was revitalized to serve as riparian landscape, increasing biodiversity in the area and the surrounding residents with some scenery.

From there we walked down the corridor and noted new things we saw or found interesting, while keeping our minds open to bigger topics and ideas. The restored area was filled with native plants such as milkweed (though not currently growing) as well as some non-native plants such as the Eucalyptus tree.

As we made our way farther down, we came across many interesting things, such as the invasive Eastern Gray Squirrel that has recently increased in population size within Davis, seemingly out competing the native Fox squirrels. We also encountered a one clawed Louisiana Red Crayfish that had gotten stuck in a puddle during a rise in water level this past week, and some fairy shrimp in a bunch of puddles. We returned the crayfish to the stream to hopefully recover! The area also supported many different species of birds and we encountered multiple hummingbirds on our walk.

We continued down to a bend in the trail, where we explored for awhile before regrouping for discussion. Due to shortage of time and it being such a nice day, we had our discussion on the walk back and conversed about a lot of interesting things. Some ideas included:

  • How soil quality/ the surrounding environment could potentially be affected by oil released from the Eucalyptus trees
  • How the sugary honeydew produced by the Oleander aphids on milkweed may reduce nitrogen content of soil.
  • **A fun fact learned was that all Oleander aphids, which are exotic, are all female clones in North America!**

Other more broad ideas that were thought of were:

  • How exotic ecosystems respond to native invaders
  • Ecosystem engineers of newly invasive species
  • Distribution limits of certain organisms within a habitat

The plan for next week is to take advantage of the good weather and time we have to visit some of the remaining field sites to the west. But before class, be sure to think of keyword and phrases and look up some literature before class to jump start our discussion. And if you can, bring a helmet!

2 responses to “To the 90° bend!

  1. I was looking up some squirrel stuff. Both the eastern gray squirrel and the eastern fox squirrel are non-native. The fox squirrel of Davis are actually on birth control!

    If I remember correctly, Prof Shapiro once told our class that the fox squirrels of Davis are genetically identical to populations in Texas.

    Our native tree squirrels include the western gray squirrel and the Douglas squirrel.

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