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Author Topic: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020  (Read 24665 times)

Robert

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2020, 08:02:45 PM »


This ancient Canyon Live Oak, Querucs chrysolepis, was also very impressive.



Despite the freeze thaw cycles and heaving of the soil a number of different native annual species are beginning to germinate. The green cotyledon seedlings are those of Lessingia leptoclada. The darker cotyledon seedling (upper center) is Lupinus. It is difficult for me to determine the Lupinus to the species level at this time, but they are most likely L. nanus, or perhaps L. stiversii.



I surveyed the chaparral environment for some time before working my way down into a densely forested ravine. Here Ranunculus occidentalis var. ultramontanus was well into its new season growth.



The ravine had very steep slopes. When I finally arrived at the opposite crest of the ravine I entered a new area of chaparral. Here I found Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californicum, growing among the other chaparral species. The plants were growing near the high elevation limit for this species.

Since visiting this area a few days ago there has been light to moderate snowfall in this area. More snow and much colder temperatures are forecasted.

Until next time…
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hoy

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2020, 08:23:00 AM »
Nice to see some photographs of a sunny landscape, Robert! I know you would like more precipitation though. Here it is the opposite. We have rain almost every day. Got a glimpse of the sun yesterday (and down to freezing temperature during the night) but today we are back on the track with wind and rain.
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Robert

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2020, 06:26:39 PM »
Hello Trond,

I enjoy hearing about your current weather conditions. Here in California we are moving into a cooler and wetter weather pattern. Today we have overcast skies and some rain showers at the lower elevations and snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

It sounds like you are having windy conditions. I am currently quantifying how local (study region) surface wind speeds and patterns may be changing. There are some theories about how winds patterns may change in the future due to climate change. Obviously long-term data will be needed, however it is an interesting aspect of climate to examine. Thank you for the New Years message. I will address this topic and much more very soon.

Now for ideas on perspective that I hope everyone will appreciate:



In the past I have shown this chart (average annual temperature 30 plus years @ farm) with its linear trend line.



Here is the same chart using a polynomial trend line. I like to analyze data in different ways to gain different perspectives from the same information.



I am attempting to find a new perspective to gardening. I have discontinued the use of anthropogenic fixed N fertilizers (directly or indirectly) and am attempting to use exclusively biologically fixed N through the use of leguminous plants, especially California native species that fit into this category. In this case, I am allowing Vetch (not native) to grow in this pot full of Narcissus sp. I am keenly aware of the impacts of anthropogenic fixed N on the Earth’s ecological systems and am willing to find new plant combinations that incorporate biologically fixed N and pleasing plant combinations. This is my version of perspective and being open to new ways of using old established methods in different ways.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2020, 06:28:31 PM by Robert »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hoy

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2020, 06:37:56 PM »
Robert,

I hope you get a lot of rain/snow! We could do with colder weather here. No signs of that at the coast. The danger is that plants start to grow (many already have) and that we get cold weather later in the season. In the north they still have below zero C so all the precipitation come as snow.

Although private gardeners can grow plants without much anthropogenic fixed N I think this so far is impossible if you shall feed the still growing population of the world. Intercropping is difficult with heavy machinery! Maybe it will be possible to genetically modify non-legumes to fix nitrogen.
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Robert

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2020, 05:18:10 AM »


Hello Trond,

I conducted my weekly snow survey today. My timing was prefect. A weak storm pasted through the region this morning dropping about 2 cm of new snow. The weather was clear when I arrived at the survey site. The snow quickly melted or vaporized via sublimation. This did not last long as a new set of storm clouds quickly moved in.

Yes, I do hope that cooler (perhaps what would be more typical for you) weather arrives in your part of the world. Here temperatures are running about average for the first two weeks of January, precipitation has been well below average. The weather is forecasted to change. A very wet storm is forecasted to arrive over the next few days with much below average temperatures. Beyond this we will see what changes arrive. It could be very interesting. Recently, the MJO has been extremely active; much more active than I have seen it for a very long period of time, September of 2019 came close. Check out the Pacific Meridional Mode index. It is very high, as well as the Arctic Oscillation index. It is well over +4! I will be very curious to see what tomorrows STTs look like. There are a lot of extremes out there right now.

It might be interesting to have an open forum discussion on how the Haber-Bosch process transformed agriculture and how the current magnitude of the N deposition and denitrification issues are impacting the planet today (It did touch on this topic last year). It is projected that the use of anthropogenic fixed N will increase by 50% in the next 20 to 30 year to keep pace with the ever rising human population on Earth. I do know that efforts are being made to genetically modify crop so that they can fix their own N. In addition, there is research investigating the possibilities of designing some form of artificial/semi-biological nitrogenase.

On a sad note I was just informed that the Western Monarch Butterfly might become extinct by this time next year. There are only 600 to 800 remaining butterflies, not really a viable population. For me this heart breaking.

Anyway, over the next week I will report on today’s outing.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2020, 05:29:50 AM »


My first destination for the day was one of a series of seasonal seeps that are found in the area. The previous week this seep had been moist, but with no seeping water. Numerous seedling of Lessingia leptoclada, Cynosurus echinatus were germinating and growing in the moist soil. If the wet weather continues, these seedlings will quickly die off in the flooded portions of the seep and the remaining seedlings will form a ring on the drier ground surrounding the seep.



There are a number of larger rocks that edge portions of the seep. Here I found the first seedlings of Madia glomerata germinating.



The last fire to burn through this site occurred in 1990. Despite the lack of fire, some seedling regeneration is taking place. Pictured is a young seedling of Arctostaphylos mewukka ssp. mewukka. After a fire, this species generally regenerates from a burl found partly below the surface of the ground. There is clear evidence that this occurred after the last fire. Other Arctostaphylos species are obligate seeders (no burls) and are very dependent on fire for propagation. It is necessary for fire to occur at proper intervals. If fire occurs too frequently the seed bank in the soil will be exhausted and there will be no new flowering-seed bearing age plants to produce a new generation of seed. Without fire, very few new seedlings will grow and there is the possibility that other species will proliferate and come to dominate the ecosystem. Acrtostaphylos viscida ssp. viscida is another Arctostaphylos species found at this site. After the fire, dormant seed of this species germinated prolifically.



A number of perennial species can be found in their vegetative state this time of year. Eriophyllum lanatum var. grandiflorum is one of them and is found frequently at this site.



A few Soap Plant, Chlorogalum pomerdianum, were breaking their summer dormancy – forming new rosettes.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 05:33:52 AM by Robert »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hoy

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2020, 09:07:54 AM »
Is the western monarch a separate subspecies? I have read that it is only one species as the eastern and western population interbreed and both populations overwinter either in Mexico or in California.

Without Haber-Bosch I think a lot of people had starved!

A lot of both wild and garden plants have started growing here also. January seems to be one of the warmest ever!
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Robert

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2020, 05:38:52 AM »
Hello Trond,

I will have to look into the Monarch butterfly issue more, however I think that it is only the California race that is facing extinction.

Yes, I could not agree with you more. The Haber–Bosch process was one of the major contributors (there are others) that helped facilitate the exponential growth in the human population since ~ 1900. Without massive inputs of anthropogenic fixed N, agricultural production would most likely crash. Unfortunately, the planetary limit for N has been well exceeded with major consequences currently playing out. Currently, carbon limits get much of the attention, however we are currently in uncharted territory with the planetary N cycle.

Through N deposition, unmanaged ecosystems are being top loaded with N. Nitrogen is generally a limiting factor with many unmanaged ecosystems. It is well known that N inputs into N-limited ecosystems have very destabilizing effects. Biomass production increases while biodiversity decreases. Alien invasive species frequently have a competitive advantage in these situations. Gardeners may want to pay attention, as this has implications regarding wild species that, may or may not, be available for horticultural development in the future, as well as a dwindling gene pool to draw upon to create improved and diverse new plant varieties.

This is only part of the N issue. Denitrification of soil nitrate is also a major issue, especially when anaerobic conditions prevail. With all soils there are generally periods of time when anaerobic conditions exist, or compartments within the soil structure that are anaerobic. Although there are soil microorganisms that have various reductase enzymes to reduce NO3, ⇒NO2, ⇒NO, ⇒N2O to N2, the release of N2O into the atmosphere is still a major issue, especially considering N2O is 300 times more potent as a GHG than CO2.

Here in the U.S.A. the planetary crisis regarding the nitrogen cycle gets zero press attention. The general public has no idea what is going on in this regard. The magnitude of this issue is staggering. As I progress with this diary I will attempt to demonstrate how alterations to the N cycle are impacting the ecosystems that I study. In most instances, there are additional contributing factors. Isolating nitrogen’s contribution within an ecosystem’s processes has challenges, but there are methodologies can give reasonable results.

Now to continue with my last outing…



Later in the morning, there were still a few lingering clouds from the cold front that passed through earlier.



Now that cold weather has arrived, winter senescence has set in with many perennial species. Eriogonum prattenianum var. prattenianum can look, well dead, this time of year. The majority of the leaves have fallen and the remaining leaves that were a beautiful gray during the growing season are now brown.



There are a number of annual Phacelia species that grow in this area. Phacelia imbricata ssp. imbricata is one of the perennial species. Much of the ridge is a thermal belt. At colder site farther up the mountain Phacelia imbricata is generally replaced by the silvery P. hastata.



The Crystal Range was white with snow. Precipitation has been below average for much of January and the Sierra snow pack is now falling below average at most locations.



I had ample time on this outing to visit a local spring. Here Asarum lemmonii grows abundantly in the perennially moist soil. Much of the site was covered with snow, so there was not much of an opportunity to observe most of the fascinating low growing perennial species that grow at this site.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2020, 05:46:09 AM »


The snow depth varied depending on exposure and the forest management. Much of the area on the right side of this photograph had the brush and lower branches of the remaining conifers removed by a mechanical brush-clearing machine two years ago. This management practice alters the surface energy budget to an extent that new ecosystem patterns emerge. Plant distribution is altered and biodiversity is greatly reduced.  Many invasive plant species now occupy niches once filled with native species. Rapid and permanent changes to ecosystems have been frequent occurrences in the past. The worlds of John Muir and John James Audubon disappeared in 20 to 30 years.



The sunny skies did not last long. By early afternoon storm clouds began to arrive as the next frontal system approached.



A non-native invasive species, Redstem Filaree, Erodium cicutarium, was introduced to this portion of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the 1850-60’s when livestock grazing was introduced and the American River Canyon became a major transportation route between California’s gold fields, the Central Valley and active transportation hubs in western Nevada. This species is now well established and found extensively throughout this portion of the Sierra Nevada. At this site, the Erodium is now growing so densely that all the native species have been displaced. Other invasive species such as Dogtail Grass, Cynosurus echinatus, and Skelton Weed, Chondrilla juncea, are among the other invasive species to find a niche at this site.



Fortunately there are still many native species. Monardella odoratissima is robust and grows large enough to coexist with many of the invasive species in this area.

The storm clouds continued to build, the wind increased in speed and the temperature began to drop. The first snowflakes began to fall signaling me that I was a go time to head home.

Until the next time…
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

ian mcdonald

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #24 on: January 19, 2020, 11:12:55 AM »
Robert, E. cicutarium is a native plant here. It grows on sand.

Robert

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2020, 06:24:08 PM »
Hello Ian,

Are there attempts to control or eliminate North American invasive plant species at your patch? Here in California many invasive species were introduced when the Spanish first started to colonize California. There have been many later accidental introductions. Some attempts are still made to limit the spread of some invasive species, but generally with very limited success. Some recent arrivals are particularly noxious. I certainly hope that these can be eliminated. There is also evidence that climate change is creating favorable conditions for established invasive species to colonize new habitats that were once unfavorable environments for their growth.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

ian mcdonald

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2020, 08:05:36 PM »
Robert, the main alien species on site are himalayan balsam, Impatiens glandulifera, on wet areas and new zealand pygmy weed, Crassula helmsii, in some water bodies. Nothing has been done to remove them.

Robert

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #27 on: January 20, 2020, 08:53:00 PM »
Hello Ian,

It is unfortunate that once invasive species get established they are generally very difficult to eradicate.

656805-0

Snow survey day. 21 cm of snow, but it will not last long. There is warm air advection from the SW. we might get some precipitation tomorrow, but after that it looks like a spell of above average temperatures.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hoy

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2020, 06:14:38 AM »
Robert,

The Erodium is native here but a very modest species. It never grows in abundance. We have our share of foreign invaders but they create problems mostly in disturbed areas like road verges. It has not been any major invasive species in natural habitats. A couple lupins, L. perennis and nootkatensis, have spread a lot in some places. They were introduced to stabilize sand dunes along the railway (which they did)! The himalayan balsam is considered an invasive species and forbidden to trade but it is common locally in moist sites. Locally some efforts are done to remove it but it doesn't help much I think.

Regarding N deposition some concern has been uttered about clear montane lakes with little algal growth. Many of them show signs of eutrophication but I haven't heard or read anything lately. 50 years ago it was acid rain, now it is CO2.

Here is a nice plant I spotted on Sunday. Probably Huperzia appressa. Edit: Possibly H. arctica H. selago is very common here but I haven't noticed this before.

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« Last Edit: January 22, 2020, 08:18:31 AM by Hoy »
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Robert

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Re: Robert’s Crystal Range Project – Year 2, 2020
« Reply #29 on: January 22, 2020, 06:26:30 PM »
Hello Trond,

Huperzia appressa is an interesting species and appears quite attractive. I was not familiar with this species and needed to do some research to learn something about this species. It appears that it can be found on both sides of the Atlantic. Thank you fro sharing the photograph. The species is quite striking, as it contrasts well with the surrounding plants.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

 


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