Creekside Science

Archive for the ‘Nitrogen Deposition’ Category

The Bay Checkerspot Butterfly Returns to San Bruno Mountain!

In Bay Checkerspot, Climate Change, Nitrogen Deposition, Recognition and Media, Research, Restoration, Stewardship, Topoclimatic Studies on March 6, 2017 at 3:55 pm

The federally threatened Bay checkerspot butterfly was extirpated from San Bruno BCB_Larva_lanceolata_munch_SBM 3-1-2017 4-51-20 PM (1)Mountain in the mid 1980s.  On March 2 and 3 2017, Creekside Science biologists collected 3630 caterpillars from Coyote Ridge in San Jose and released them on the main ridge of San Bruno Mountain.  The larvae immediately started munching English plantain, a  non-native used by other closely related checkerspot populations.  The cool coastal environment, robust perennial hostplant, and extensive habitat are encouraging aspects of this project.  This project may show that we can reintroduce extirpated species without the technical challenges and expense of restoring all historical conditions.

BCB_Larva_SBM_SF 3-2-2017 5-23-37 PM

Find the very hungry caterpillar!

Many thanks to the Disney Butterfly Conservation Initiative, US Fish and Wildlife Service, San Mateo County Parks and Recreation, and SF Bay Wildlife Society for financial and professional support.

Kirra_SBM_SFO_larva 3-2-2017 4-46-55 PM

Reintroduction high above San Francisco International Airport. Bay checkerspot flight #1 will depart in late March!

LAG Grant Award for Monitoring Nitrogen Deposition in Santa Clara County

In Nitrogen Deposition, Research on September 16, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Creekside Science, in collaboration with the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency, has been awarded a Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) Local Assistant Grant for researching nitrogen deposition trends in the HCP area of Santa Clara County.

Added nitrogen drives annual grass invasions on serpentine soils and threatens many of the covered species, especially the Bay checkerspot butterfly (Weiss 1999). Indirect impacts of continued N-deposition on natural communities are anticipated to result from the development covered under the NCCP and serpentine habitat types are the focus of preservation and management/enhancement actions to offset the effects of nitrogen deposition. All other land cover types in the permit area have also been identified as sensitive or potentially sensitive to N-deposition (Weiss 2006, Fenn et al. 2010), including northern mixed and serpentine chaparral, mixed oak woodland, foothill pine-oak woodland, mixed evergreen forest, redwood forest, California annual grassland, valley oak woodland, blue oak woodland, coast live oak forest and woodland, freshwater marsh, seasonal wetland, and ponds. Understanding and monitoring this primary driver of ecological change is the primary goal of this project.


Consistent elevated nitrate in shallow groundwater is a prime symptom of terrestrial nitrogen saturation (Fenn and Poth 1999, Fenn et al. 2008). Excess N leaches below the root zone as nitrate. Low-productivity serpentine soils have very limited capacity to retain N (Fenn et al 2010). There are dozens of springs fed by serpentine grassland catchments within the Plan Area and beyond, and spatial gradients and trends in N-deposition can be monitored efficiently through sampling of selected springs for nitrate.

This grant will fund work on this project into 2019.