I grew up in San Francisco and am grateful to have had easy access to the rich diversity of California’s plant life early on. My work in botany includes conducting rare plant surveys, seed collection, invasive plant control, revegetation projects, and nursery work in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. I got my bachelor’s in botany from Connecticut College where I conducted research on woody plant invasions in deciduous forests. My drive for exploration motivates me to do field research and to work in science. When I was younger there were times when I envisioned myself searching for life on Mars, but it turns out there is a lot we don’t know about the things living right near home.
I am conducting an inventory of the vascular plants of the McGee Creek watershed in Mono County, California. This eastern Sierra drainage is notable for its diversity of rock and soil types which is unusual in a mountain range that is mostly granitic. It is geologically similar to the adjacent Convict Creek watershed which contains a number of disjunct populations of species that are not found elsewhere in the Sierra Nevada or in the state. Unlike Convict Creek, however, McGee Creek has not been extensively studied and the number of oddities this drainage might hold is still a mystery. Alpine areas like those in this drainage tend to be underdocumented because they are difficult to access but they are also more vulnerable to global warming. Without floristic studies of these areas, we could lose biodiversity without ever knowing it existed.
Photo descriptions left to right: Matthew at Convict Lake (Photo by Rachel Tageant), Matthew at Owens River Headwaters Wilderness (Photo by Rachel Tageant), McGee Creek (Photo by Marty Purdy)