Creekside Science

Archive for the ‘Research’ 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!

Creekside Science Quino checkerspot work

In Research, Restoration, Stewardship on February 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm

Creekside Science is working in collaboration with numerous agencies and institutions, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, San Diego Zoo, San Diego State University and Earth Discovery Institute, on reversing the decline of the critically endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) in San Diego County.  Dr. Weiss has gone down to San Diego County a few times for field work, and he will be going again soon when the Quino checkerspot butterflies start flying. Please click here for more information.

Fine-scale modeling of bristlecone pine treeline position in the Great Basin, USA

In Climate Change, Research, Topoclimatic Studies on January 10, 2017 at 11:01 am

A multi-year collaboration between Western Washington University (Andrew Bunn, Jamis Bruening, Tyler Tran), The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at University of Arizona (Matthew Salzer) and Creekside Science (Stu Weiss, Jimmy Quenelle) culminates with the publication of this paper!


It was an honor to work with this dedicated team over time and over diverse terrain, from various lab locations to the AGU conference in San Francisco to the peaks, ridges and canyons of the Sierra, White Mountains and Snake Range.

Congratulations to Jamis and Tyler for recently earning their Master’s Degrees


from Western Washington University for their work on this project! Enjoy the paper!

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.

Hunting the Tiburon Paintbrush

In Research on July 14, 2013 at 9:18 am

Laney - Castilleja study in Marin-3327Creekside staff has teamed up with researchers in order to help us learn more about the endangered Tiburon Paintbrush (Castilleja affinis ssp. neglecta). Laney Widener of the Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden has been traveling through California collecting samples and updating the distribution of this plant (and a number of Castilleja species). Read the rest of this entry »

Where the wind blows

In Research on August 14, 2012 at 11:22 am

Creekside Science has been working with the Presidio Trust on a number of projects over the years.  One current project will provide initial calibration of a local wind model, tied to existing wind readings on the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The model will estimate winds at particular sites in the Presidio based on velocity (speed and direction) data from the anemometer on the bridge.  The key part of the model is a calibration of wind attenuation with directional canopy cover from hemispherical photographs. The effect of wind funneling topography will also be investigated in open areas facing the ocean.

The model will inform the impacts of tree removal in dune areas (will tree removal alter sand movement?) and on remaining forest edges (will there be increased risk of blowdown?).  Furthermore, the model will help determine where and how wind may affect potential monarch overwintering sites.