UCCE Sonoma County
University of California
UCCE Sonoma County

UC Agriculture & Natural Resources News

What This Scientist Discovered in an Insect and Why It Matters

A fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, feeding on a banana. (Photo by Sanjay Acharya, courtesy of Wikipedia)

What this scientist discovered in an insect and why it matters... Naoki Yamanaka, an assistant professor at UC Riverside (UCR), is known for his innovative and creative research. In fact, the National Institute of Health (NIH) just awarded him a $2.4 million grant in its High-Risk, High-Reward...

A fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, feeding on a banana. (Photo by Sanjay Acharya, courtesy of Wikipedia)
A fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, feeding on a banana. (Photo by Sanjay Acharya, courtesy of Wikipedia)

A fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, feeding on a banana. (Photo by Sanjay Acharya, courtesy of Wikipedia)

Posted on Friday, October 19, 2018 at 4:36 PM

Pollinators on the Beach? Fancy Meeting You Here

A syrphid or hover fly, Eristalis tenax, nectaring on a sea rocket plant, Cakile maritima, on Oct. 18 at Doran Regional Park Beach, Sonoma. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

So you're walking along Doran Regional Park Beach in Sonoma County on Tuesday, Oct. 16 and thinking about the pollinators in your back yard. (Don't we all?) And then: what a delight to see. Apis mellifera (honey bees) and Eristalis tenax, syrphid flies (better known as a "drone flies")...

A syrphid or hover fly, Eristalis tenax, nectaring on a sea rocket plant, Cakile maritima, on Oct. 18 at Doran Regional Park Beach, Sonoma. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A syrphid or hover fly, Eristalis tenax, nectaring on a sea rocket plant, Cakile maritima, on Oct. 18 at Doran Regional Park Beach, Sonoma. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A syrphid or hover fly, Eristalis tenax, nectaring on a sea rocket plant, Cakile maritima, on Oct. 18 at Doran Regional Park Beach, Sonoma. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Along with sand castles and beach balls and beach umbrellas, look for pollinators nectaring on  sea rocket plants at the beach. Note the honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Along with sand castles and beach balls and beach umbrellas, look for pollinators nectaring on sea rocket plants at the beach. Note the honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Along with sand castles and beach balls and beach umbrellas, look for pollinators nectaring on sea rocket plants at the beach. Note the honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Footprints in the sand? Yes, and bees and other pollinators  nectaring on sea rocket. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Footprints in the sand? Yes, and bees and other pollinators nectaring on sea rocket. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Footprints in the sand? Yes, and bees and other pollinators nectaring on sea rocket. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

European sea rocket grows in clumps or mounds on sandy beaches along the coastlines of North Africa, western Asia, and North America. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
European sea rocket grows in clumps or mounds on sandy beaches along the coastlines of North Africa, western Asia, and North America. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

European sea rocket grows in clumps or mounds on sandy beaches along the coastlines of North Africa, western Asia, and North America. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 4:31 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment Natural Resources

Bring the wild back into our farmlands to protect biodiversity, researchers say

>

Berkeley — With a body the size of a fist and wings that span more than a foot, the big brown bat must gorge on 6,000 to 8,000 bugs a night to maintain its stature. This mighty appetite can be a boon to farmers battling crop-eating pests.

But few types of bats live on American farms. That's because the current practice of monoculture – dedicating large swathes of land to a single crop – doesn't give the bats many places to land or to nest. 

Diversifying working lands – including farmland, rangeland and forests – may be key to preserving biodiversity in the face of climate change, says a new review paper published this week in Science by conservation biologists at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Benzinger Family Winery is a diversified vineyard in Sonoma County. (Photo: Corey Luthringer)

Diversification could be as simple as adding trees or hedgerows along the edges of fields, giving animals like birds, bats and insects places to live, or as complex as incorporating a patchwork of fields, orchards, pasture and flowers into a single working farm.

These changes could extend the habitat of critters like bats, but also much larger creatures like bears, elk and other wildlife, outside the boundaries of parks and other protected areas, while creating more sustainable, and potentially more productive, working lands.

“Protected areas are extremely important, but we can't rely on those on their own to prevent the pending sixth mass extinction,” said study co-author Adina Merenlender, a UC Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. “This is even more true in the face of climate change, because species will need to move around to adapt to shifts in temperature and climate.”

Diversified farms could include crops, pastures, orchards and woodland. (Photo: Xerces)

A win-win for wildlife and for farms

Maintaining even small pieces of the original landscape – even a single tree– can help conserve the original diversity of species, Merenlender said. Clearing oak woodlands and shrublands to establish large vineyards hits many native species hard. Animals that are well adapted to urban and agricultural areas, such as mockingbirds, house finches and free-tail bats, continue to flourish, while animals that are more sensitive to disturbance, like acorn woodpeckers, orange-crowned warblers and big brown bats, begin to drop away. “If you can leave shrubs, trees and flowering plants, the habitat suitability -- not just for sensitive birds but also for other vertebrates – goes way up,” Merenlender said. This is true not only in California's vineyards, but on working lands around the world.

Incorporating natural vegetation makes the farm more hospitable to more creatures, while reducing the use of environmentally degrading chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and man-made fertilizer.

A vineyard in California's central coast is an example of industrialized agriculture. (Photo: Steve Zmak, https://stevezmak.com/)

The ideal farming landscape includes woodland pastures and vegetable plots bumping up against orchards and small fields, said Claire Kremen, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Integrating livestock produces manure which can fertilize the crops, while those same crops produce feed for livestock. Birds and bats provide pest control, and bees boost crop production by pollinating plants.

“It is possible for these working landscapes to support biodiversity but also be productive and profitable,” Kremen said. “And ultimately, this is where we have to go. We just can't keep mining our soils for their fertility and polluting our streams – in the end, this will diminish our capacity to continue producing the food that we need. Instead, we must pay attention to the species, from microbes to mammals, that supply us with critical services, like pollination, pest control and nutrient cycling”

“We have some amazing diversified farms, sustainably managed forests and species-rich rangelands here in California that exemplify working lands for conservation around the world,” Merenlender said. “We are calling for a scaling up of this approach around the world, and to do that we champion community-based action and more supportive polices” Kremen concludes.

RELATED INFORMATION

CONTACTS

Claire Kremen, ckremen@berkeley.edu, 510-367-2100 (cell)
Adina Merenlender, adinam@berkeley.edu, (707) 489-4362

Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 12:58 PM
  • Author: Kara Manke, kjmanke@berkeley.edu, (510) 643-7741
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Environment

Herbicide injury in avocado

Sometimes weeds are tasty, like amaranth and purslane

From the Topics in Subtropics blog (Oct. 15, 2018) ****************** Although the main objective of herbicide use in avocado orchards (and all crops) is to manage weed populations, sometimes unintentional injury of the crop itself can occur when herbicides are incorrectly applied. Herbicide...

Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 9:18 AM
Tags: Avocados (9), herbicide (50), herbicide injury (10), weed (10)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Food Pest Management

Honey bee health key to wellbeing of important species

>

Our friends the honey bees make it possible for us to devour an abundance of almond products. In 2016 the California almond crop totaled 2.15 billion pounds valued at $5.2 billion. Growing 80 percent of the world's almonds in California takes a lot of honey bees for pollination, roughly two hives for every acre of almond trees. It's estimated that California has 1.3 million acres of almonds, stretching 400 miles between Bakersfield and Red Bluff.

California is rated in the top five honey producing states in the nation. The U.S. per capita consumption of honey is around 1.3 pounds per year. Our buzzing friends visit millions of blossoms, making pollination of plants possible and collecting nectar to bring back to the hive. Lucky for us bees make more honey than their colony needs allowing beekeepers the opportunity to remove the excess honey and bottle it for us to enjoy.

Bees are animals too

Bees are one of our planet's most important animals. They produce honey and they are the primary managed pollinators for a majority of high value specialty crops grown in the contiguous states of California and Oregon, such as nuts, stone fruits, vegetables, and berries. A problem looms for our animal friends, the bees. Colony losses are high due to a variety of environmental and biological causes including bacterial diseases. Historically, beekeepers have self-prescribed antibiotics to control these diseases.

Enter UC Davis and Oregon State University to aid beekeepers in addressing the problem of antibiotic resistance and antimicrobial use in the feed or water of food-producing animals, namely, protecting the health and safety of bees. The overall strategy leads to a safer food supply because the potential for antibiotic resistance is reduced.

The Western Institute for Food Safety and Security (WIFSS), UC Cooperative Extension, and UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine are partnering with Oregon State University in a USDA funded multi-state specialty crop project to develop CE training for veterinarians on bee health and antibiotic use — a practice that is now regulated under the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). The project will offer a comprehensive bee biology online course and train-the-trainer practical training for veterinarians and apiculture educators. The ultimate goals are to protect the specialty crop — honey — from becoming contaminated with antibiotic residues; to protect the health and safety of bees, which are essential to California agriculture; and, finally, to support veterinary oversight in the use of antibiotics, which will lead to an overall reduction of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment.   

The $483,278 award will address the unique needs of the beekeeping industry that have been experiencing high colony losses since 2006. It will also focus on new rules established by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration on the use of antibiotics which are used to control certain diseases affecting bee colonies.

The principal investigator is Elina L. Niño, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Project leader is Bennie Osburn, director of outreach and training at WIFSS. Collaborating in the project is Jonathan Dear, from the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and the partner state collaborator is Ramesh Sagili from the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University. A team of graphic and instructional designers from WIFSS will work with Drs. Niño, Dear, and Sagili, to translate the science into user friendly information for veterinarians and beekeepers.

Educating about honey bee health

Jonathan Dear, a small animal internal medicine veterinarian and hobbyist beekeeper inspects one of his hives.

Dear who is collaborating with WIFSS to produce an online and hands-on module to train veterinarians about beekeeping and honey bee health, points out that, “Honey bees are such an important part of our economy and, like any food producing animal, they can be affected by preventable and treatable diseases.”

He is enthusiastic about the project and says, “Our hope is that by educating veterinarians about honey bee health, they can play a key role in maintaining the health and wellbeing of this important species.”

With the efforts of extension specialists, veterinarians, and graphic and instructional designers, beekeepers and veterinarians will work together to navigate the VFD regulations, and consumers will continue to enjoy nature's sugar.

UCANR-Honey-400x300
UCANR-Honey-400x300

Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 7:47 AM
Tags: Honey (39), honey bees (367)
Focus Area Tags: Food

Next 5 stories | Last story

 
E-mail
 

University of California Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County
133 Aviation Blvd Suite 109, Santa Rosa, CA 95403  Phone: 707.565.2621  Fax: 707.565.2623
Office Hours:  M-F, 8am-Noon & 1pm-4pm

Like us on Facebook: UCCE Sonoma                        Follow us on Twitter @UCCESonoma 

Webmaster Email: klgiov@ucanr.edu