Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve
Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve can easily be missed: just off Highway 280 in the city of Woodside, the entrance is blocked by a rusted metal gate with a small sign that reads ‘No Tresspassing, Area Patrolled.’
But some of the folks at QUEST – including yours truly – got a special tour of the preserve. I joined reporter David Gorn and biologist Scott Loarie on a three hour hike around Jasper Ridge’s Searsville Lake.
I learned that plant-life on the preserve, and most endemic California plant-life, are in trouble.
At least, that’s what Loarie and his team at Stanford predict. “If plants can’t adapt to the climate changes,” says Loarie, “Then by the end of the century two-thirds of California plants face an 80 percent reduction.”
So which plants are most likely to go as the global climate changes, well, the plants that have a hard time with seed dispersion. Plants like Bay Laurel, the California Buckeye, Madrone and the Western Burning Bush have seeds that aren’t easily dispersed. This gives them a very concentrated zone for growth. If the climate shifts slightly in that particular region, then the these California natives could all die out.
The plants that do have an easier time are those with a wide seed dispersion – like the beautiful but dangerous Poison Oak, the Coyote Bush, Clarkia, Virgin’s Bower and Box Elder Maple. These plants all have small seeds that are easily dispersed by the wind, or by birds. By dispersing their seeds to various climates, these plants will have a better chance of surviving.
So which California plants will survive a century from now? It’s hard to say. But what is definite is that preserves like Jasper Ridge are crucial for monitoring and protecting California’s unique plant life.
View a slideshow of the“Disappearing Plants” Radio Report online, as well as find additional links and resources.