HASTINGS NATURAL RESERVE, CALIFORNIA

University of California has long been known as an innovative institution. The 1939 WPA guide to California referred to the university as a “home of celebrated scholars and a brilliant center of research,” and today, that tradition of research continues at UCLA, UC Berkeley and the other campuses across the state.    

One of the university’s invaluable resources is its nature reserve system - a network of protected land throughout the state where researchers and graduate students can conduct field studies. Hastings Natural Reserve is the oldest in the system. Its rich and unique history as a research station dates back to the 1930s when former farming land was offered to the University for biological fieldwork. The forward-thinking landowner and University staff and faculty allowed the 2700 acres of land to return to a natural state, and 80 years later, it’s become a great place for scientists to investigate anything from geology to phenology - the study of seasonal or periodic events in biology - with a focus on long term patterns in the environment.

We visited the reserve to interview Brian Haggerty, a UC Santa Barbara graduate student.  He’s one of the researchers working on the The California Phenology Project, an effort to track and keep record of plants as a way to monitor climate change. He conducted a workshop with thirty scientists from central California to talk about creating a statewide database for phenological events… or as he calls it “Facebook for plants.”  Brian and Vince Voegeli, the reserve manager, took some time to show us around Hastings and tell us a little bit about current research going on here along with the other reserves at UC.

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