Free UCR Ecology Classes

Presented by the UCR Center for Conservation Biology at the 13th Annual Desert Garden Community Day on October 27, 2018

8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Landscaping for wildlife — Turning Your Yard Into a Healthy Ecosystem,

by Cameron Barrows, PhD. Center for Conservation Biology, UCR

Healthy ecosystems include animals and plants adapted to a local climate, and whose lives are intertwined creating an appearance of “balance”. We humans, on the other hand, do our best to create manicured (sterile) areas around our homes, landscaping with grass, shrubs, and trees native to some other corner of the world. So we need to pour on water every day (much of which just evaporates), we mow the grass weekly to keep it looking like a green carpet, and then spray poisons to control weeds. Then there are those pesky fire ants, and those other ants that get into the house. Plus crickets and cockroaches and more poisons. Rather than a balance, you are in regular, if not constant, battle with the “manicured” landscape you created. If that’s not what you signed up for, there are alternatives. Take lessons from nature to turn your landscaping into a more healthy ecosystem. Life is a journey, and so is creating a healthy landscape. We will discuss steps to take yourself on that journey.

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Desert Disruptors: Invasive Plants in Our Local Wildlands

by Lynn C. Sweet, PhD, Center for Conservation Biology, UCR

Invasive species are non-native to our area; they arrived via human intervention, either for management (e.g. flood control, wind break), as landscaping plants, or as contaminants (for instance, in agricultural seed and soil). These species establish and interfere with native plant communities, or worse, disrupt ecosystems by changing soil characteristics or flood regimes. Here in our valley, we have a variety of invasive species: some woody species that occur in our creek beds, and grasses and herbs that are widespread in our sandy flats and plains. We also have newer invaders that are just arriving, and other plants to “watch out” for. The talk will discuss invasive plants in California, in particular, those affecting our local ecosystems, and what you can do to help reduce the problem.

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Zombie Makers and Cattle Ranchers: The Diverse Lives of Insects

by Scott Heacox

Insects are by far the most diverse group of organisms on the planet. We live side-by-side with them every day, much of the time without knowing they are present. They can be ruthless predators, zombie-makers, silent stalkers, and war-wagers. They have managed to thrive in almost every type of habitat on the planet, including the most arid deserts, the open ocean, our homes and yards, and sometimes in our nightmares. These, plus countless more unique and bizarre lifestyles have aided in insects’ undeniable global success, while sometimes doubling as the source of our fears. However, a closer inspection into the complex lives of insects reveals an all-too-often misunderstood collection of critters that also includes gardeners, ranchers, recyclers, architects, and many other oddities that are not only critical components of a healthy native ecosystem, but also essential for a healthy humanity.

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