I grew up in Southern California and fell in love with biodiversity and natural landscapes at young age from summers spent camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains and snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez. I graduated from UC Santa Cruz with bachelor’s degrees in Ecology & Evolution and Environmental Studies in 2013, and I have spent the last several years working various jobs in education, conservation, and field biology. These experiences have cultivated in me a passion for biodiversity conservation, science communication, and remote field work, which I am excited to further pursue with my master’s degree here at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.
For my project, I am conducting a floristic inventory of the Coyote Ridge and Coyote Flat area that lies east of the crest of the Sierra Nevada in the northwest corner of Inyo County, California. My study area is about 50 square miles, ranges from 9,000 to 13,500 feet in elevation, and is notable for containing a large amount of continuous alpine terrain with patches of calcareous rocks otherwise uncommon in the Sierra Nevada.
Alpine plant species are among those most at risk of local extirpation and eventual extinction from a warming climate, therefore it is urgent to collect baseline data and document the floras of alpine areas like Coyote Ridge before it is too late! My project goals are: 1) to document the current diversity, distribution, and abundance of plant species occurring on Coyote Ridge and Flat via collection of physical specimens, 2) compare these to previous collections when possible to document current change on the landscape, and 3) to summarize my results in a published species checklist for the area. The collection of this data also will allow agency botanists and land managers to make more informed decisions regarding resource use and conservation on Coyote Ridge and Coyote Flat now and into the future.
The fact that I can pursue my professional passion for biodiversity research and conservation in one of my favorite landscapes, the alpine Sierra Nevada, still amazes me and I am humbled to have this opportunity.