October 1, 2017.
Santa Rosa Island (SRI), part of Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Santa Barbara, is home to thousands of native and endemic flora and fauna. While full of unique island endemics, Santa Rosa Island has an extensive ranching history. A sheep and cattle ranching business was operated from the mid-1800s until 1998 and a deer and elk hunting operation ran until 2011. Together these operations led to extensive ecological degradation of the island ecosystem as a result of the grazing caused by ungulates. In December of 2015, the Cloud Forest Restoration Project began with the goal of restoring the island ecosystem through the initiation of active restoration techniques on a key ridgeline of the island, Soledad Ridge. Active restoration techniques and treatments include the installation of wattles for erosion control, fog fences to harvest water from fog, and the establishment of native plants. This study focuses on the impact of three different restoration treatments on the germination and survival of the endemic island scrub oak (Quercus pacifica). Island scrub oak seeds were collected in October of 2016 and planted on the restoration site in December of 2016. In July of 2017, an island scrub oak survey was conducted to determine the percentage of seedlings that successfully germinated and how the various restoration treatments impacted the germination rates. It was concluded that 646 of an estimated 3000 island scrub oak seedlings survived. There was a higher average percent of island scrub oak seedlings that successfully germinated under restoration treatments with either a wattle and/or fog fences in addition to an irrigation line. The next step of the study will be to focus on monitoring and measuring the overall growth of the establishment of the island scrub oak seedlings.
California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI)
The 2017 STEM Teacher and Researcher Program and this project have been made possible through support from Chevron (www.chevron.com), the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (www.marinesanctuary.org), the California State University Office of the Chancellor, and California Polytechnic State University, in partnership with California State University Channel Islands.