UC Agriculture & Natural Resources News
When insects, animals, weeds and disease-causing microbes make their way into California from other parts of the nation or the world, the economic and environmental impacts can be catastrophic.
A recent UN report that details the world's biodiversity crisis assigns part of the blame to the proliferation of invasive alien species. “The numbers,” the report says, “have risen by about 70%, across the 21 countries with detailed records” since the 1970s.
“It's time to better understand how invasive species affect California's biodiversity, as well as our water supply, fire regimes, recreation and agriculture,” said Sabrina Drill, UC Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Drill worked with the California Invasive Plant Council and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to offer five free 40-minute mid-day webinars on invasive species as part of the multi-agency sponsored California Invasive Species Action Week.
During the first part of the week the series cover a range of organisms, from killer algae and incestuous beetles to rodents of unusual size. Later in the week, it's Weeds-A-Palooza, with talks focusing on invasive plants.
The webinars will be offered using Zoom Video Communications from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m June 3-7. All details are available online at https://ucanr.edu/sites/invasivelunch/invasivelunch2019/. Links to the Zoom meeting space will be posted on that webpage before the webinars begin.
Sabrina Drill, UCCE natural resources advisor, and Edwin Grosholz, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, UC Davis
Most people only hear about an invasive species when they are here causing problems. But preventing new invasive species from getting here in the first place requires understanding the “pathways” of introduction. From tsunamis to aquariums, container ships to canoes, Grosholz and Drill will discuss ways that freshwater and marine organisms travel to California, and how we can prevent spreading them once they arrive.
Tuesday, June 4: “What's killing California's trees? Shot hole borers, palm weevils and the rest”
Beatriz Nobua-Behrmann, urban forestry and natural resources advisor, UC Cooperative Extension in Orange County
Tree pests come to Golden State from around the world and threaten street trees, agriculture, and natural areas. Last year the legislature in Sacramento allocated $5 million to begin addressing the latest threat – shot hole borers that kill a wide variety of trees in Southern California. Nobua-Behrmann will describe how these insects damage trees and what we can do about it.
Valerie Cook-Fletcher, Nutria Eradication Incident Commander, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Nutria, a South American rodent, have caused extensive damage in Louisiana wetlands for decades. Now nutria have been found in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and its tributaries and state agencies are working to find them before they can breed and spread. Cook-Fletcher will provide an update on efforts to locate this elusive swimmer in the maze of sloughs and backwaters of California's San Joaquin Valley.
Thursday, June 6: “Citizen stewardship: Tackling giant reed in Contra Costa County”
Mike Anciaux and Bob Simmons, Walnut Creek Watershed Council
Giant reed (Arundo donax) is one of the most damaging wildland weeds in California. More than $20 million was spent to remove it from the Santa Ana River watershed in Southern California to protect the endangered Least Bell's Vireo, a songbird that nests in native streamside vegetation. On the eastern side of San Francisco Bay, citizens are uniting to find and remove hundreds of populations along Contra Costa County's creeks.
Eric Wrubel, San Francisco Bay Area Network, National Park Service
Invasive knotweed species are some of the worst weeds in the world. They have become notorious for destroying property values in Europe. Knotweed is extremely difficult to get rid of because its underground rhizomes store energy and resist herbicides. Wrubel will describe the partnership that has formed to eradicate recently found invasive knotweed in the San Geronimo Valley and Lagunitas Creek watersheds in Marin County before it can spread.
Rachael Freeman Long treasures her memories as a graduate student in entomology at the University of California, Davis. She remembers eating fried grasshoppers at a party. "They're okay with a lot of spices!" She remembers watching Professor Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. and his wife, Ruth, give one...
Rachael Long, UCCE farm advisor, leads a tour of her family farm in Yolo County in April of 2015. "Hedgerows are important for enhancing beneficial insects, including bees and natural enemies, for better biocontrol and crop pollination in adjacent field crops, with measurable economic benefits," she says. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Researchers who have been investigating the impacts of the Camp Fire and other urban fires in Northern California will gather June 4 in Chico to share what they have learned. Members of the public are invited to attend the Camp Fire Water Resources Monitoring and Research Symposium, which will be held at the California State University, Chico Farm located at 311 Nicholas C Shouten Lane, Chico, CA 95928.
“The recent urban fires across California have raised questions about the fire impacts on watershed health, food safety and groundwater,” said Tracy Schohr, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Butte, Plumas and Sierra counties, who is organizing the symposium.
“The Camp Fire Water Resources Monitoring and Research Symposium on June 4 creates a forum for researchers across a broad spectrum of disciplines to share findings from research conducted in Butte County and across the North State.”
“Chico State is partnering with University of California Cooperative Extension to host this educational symposium to help our community understand the impacts of the Camp Fire,” said Kasey DeAtley, Chico State professor in the College of Agriculture. “In a region rich in natural resources and agriculture production, there has been significant interest in the topic of urban fire implications and researchers have been working hard to find answers that will be shared at the symposium.”
The program will start at 9 a.m. and will feature three sessions. The day will kick off with a session titled “First Year Findings,” looking at initial rapid response for water quality, surface water monitoring, groundwater monitoring and more.
The second session is on “Urban Fires Impacts on Food and Agriculture” and will feature research presentations from UC Cooperative Extension on livestock drinking water quality and forage, eggs laid by backyard poultry, fruits and vegetables grown in gardens, and post-fire forest management.
The symposium will conclude with a session on future investigations, with Chico State professors sharing an overview of a comprehensive study underway to understand the impacts of the Camp Fire on water quality and soil health.
For more information and to register, visit https://ucanr.edu/sites/Rangelands. The event is $50 to attend and includes program materials, morning refreshments and lunch. Parking is free at the Chico State Farm.
People who are interested in using drones for real-world mapping are invited to attend a three-day intensive drone workshop in the Monterey Bay Area. The third annual DroneCamp will be offered June 18-20 by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Informatics and GIS Program. No experience with drone technology is needed to participate.
Drone mapping involves taking high-resolution photos with drones and stitching them together with software to make extremely accurate, orthorectified maps. More difficult than videography, it is widely used in agriculture, construction, archeology, surveying, facilities management and other fields. DroneCamp will cover all the topics someone needs to make maps with drones, including:
- Technology - the different types of drone and sensor hardware, costs and applications
- Drone science - principles of photogrammetry and remote sensing
- Safety and regulations - learn to fly safely and legally, including tips on getting your FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate
- Mission planning - flight planning tools and principles for specific mission objectives
- Flight operations - hands-on practice with both manual and programmed flights
- Data processing - processing drone data into orthomosaics and 3D digital surface models; assessing quality control
- Data analysis - techniques for analyzing drone data in GIS and remote sensing software
- Visualization - create 3D models of your data
- Latest trends - hear about new and upcoming developments in drone technology, data processing, and regulations
On the first day, DroneCamp instructors will discuss drone platforms, sensor technologies and regulations. On the following two days, participants will receive hands-on instruction on flying safely, using automated flight software, emergency procedures, managing data, and turning images into maps using Pix4D mapper and ArcGIS Pro.
Registration is $900 for the general public and $500 for University of California students and employees. Registration includes instruction, materials, flight practice and lunches. Scholarships are available.
This year DroneCamp is being held in conjunction with the Monterey Bay DART (Drones Automation & Robotics Technology), which is holding an industry symposium on Friday, June 21. DroneCamp participants get a $50 discount to attend the symposium.
When Alejandro Del Pozo-Valdivia started his new job as UC Cooperative Extension entomology advisor in the Salinas Valley last year, he immediately faced an urgent problem in organic lettuce production.
Pest control advisers were finding lettuce aphids in plants that were supposed to be resistant.
Because lettuce aphids crawl deep within the heart of the lettuce head, and because organic growers do not have many options for chemical pest control, the industry relies on patented lettuce varieties that have been conventionally bred to be unpalatable to the pest.
“With other types of aphids, they stay on the outer leaves. When you harvest and clean the head, you are taking the aphids out,” Del Pozo-Valdivia said. “But with the lettuce aphid, it's almost impossible to remove them. We don't want consumers to buy a lettuce with these tiny red insects inside.”
Organic producers pay a premium for resistant seeds to grow lettuce without the lettuce aphid and are mystified by the sudden appearance of the pest inside lettuce heads. Has the aphid developed the capability to feed on resistant varieties? Is there a different lettuce aphid biotype in the area? Since Del Pozo-Valdivia is an entomologist, he is focusing on the pest.
With funding from the California Leafy Green Research Board, Del Pozo-Valdivia and his co-principal investigator, USDA scientist Jim McCreight, have launched a research project to collect and identify the lettuce aphids that are feeding and reproducing in the resistant lettuce in the Salinas Valley.
“I'm asking growers and PCAs to contact me if they find any red aphids in resistant lettuce so we can confirm the type of aphid,” Del Pozo-Valdivia said. “
Seed companies that hold the patent on resistant lettuce also experienced broken resistance in Europe a few years ago, Del Pozo-Valdivia said. They found that the pest in Europe was a different biotype and are already working on identifying genes to maintain the lettuce aphid resistance.
“We haven't seen any scientific report for the U.S. That's why we decided to take the lead. To take the bull by the horns and identify the aphids here in the Salinas Valley,” Del Pozo-Valdivia said.