Questions I Seek to Answer
Progress is made in the field of Science by questioning and conducting investigations.
                        ~ California State Science Standards
* Why are Coot chicks rusty orange after hatching? Is it a warning color to animals that would prey upon them? It is a means of camouflage? (Note that the Tule seed heads are brown/orange at this time.)? a fascinating article appeared in 1994 entitled "Parental choice selects for ornamental plumage in American coot chicks" (Nature 37l: 240-243) written by B. Lyon, J. Eadie, and L. Hamilton along with a commentary by Mark Pagel, "Parents prefer pretty plumage," in the same issue on page 200. As the case reveals, the authors concluded that coot parents "feed ornamented chicks over non-ornamented chicks, resulting in higher growth rates and greater survival for ornamented chicks."

*What Do Ruddy Ducks have blue bills? Is this showy color helpful in breeding purposes?

* What causes flowers to bloom at different times of year? Does it have to do with temperature, climatics, genetics? Does it have to do with ability to attract pollinators? (Note the milkweed blooming just as the Monarchs arrive.) Is bloom time related to the optimal time for the plants seeds to enter the soil?

* Why are so many of the wildflowers at the preserve yellow? Does it have to do with attracting pollinators and if so which pollinators favor yellow flowers?

* If it is true that Indian Warriors (
Pediculars densiflora) are parasitic upon other plants, how can one tell which plant host it is feeding upon without digging it up?

* What is the name of the little hover fly that's colors and actions are so much a bee? Does it also seek nectar and help to pollinate flowers?
It's a bombyliid fly! They are pollinators.

* Why do the flowers from post 3 to the edge of the vernal pool seem to grow in miniature? Is the soil thinner here? Does the soil lack the minerals plants require for growth?

* When the bloom of Diogene's Lanterns aka Yellow Globe Lily (
Calochortus amabilis) is fading and before it produces it's seed pod, it turns red/orange. Of what benefit is this to the plant? Does this color warn animals from eating it? Is this red color stored sugars as in fall leaves?

* Does the thick litter of oak leaves and pine needles help retain moisture in the soil of the forest floor just as a layer of mulch helps retain moisture in my gardens at home? Also, what is the role of the mold and fungus that grows in the leaf litter? Decay?

* Which animal is digging up the buried eggs (2 to 3 inches deep) and having feasts? What sort of eggs were they? ( If they were snake eggs do I really want to know?)

* There is a coyote that marks his territory by defecating mid trail or atop rocks or logs. Often the stool is runny. Does this mean that he is ill or is he eating things that do not agree with his digestive track?

* Which animal is marking with the very strong smelling urine? I'm being respectful and not hiking at dawn or dusk. Are there any other measures I should be taking?

* Which animal is turning over football sized rocks and digging shallow holes? Is it after insects, grubs, eggs, or is it simply opportunistic?

* Is there a flora guide just for vernal pools? Many of the plants on the CNPS list don't show up in my guides.

* Which is the water fowl with the haunting cry that is almost like sad laughter? I never see it. Could it be some sort of loon riding low in the water? I have read that their bones are not hollow like most birds. Why would a loon visit the vernal pool? There are no fish here. Could a loon live on tadpoles and insects?

* Why does no one else come here? Am I really the only person keeping a journal documenting the vernal pool? Have the scientist moved on to other, FUNDED projects? I keep praying to meet a botanist, a geologist, an entomologist...where are you?

* Why do I see fewer and fewer honeybees?

* I see a lot of feathers on the path in late July. Is this time molting season?

* The basalt rocks at post 4...flow that is eroding or "lava bombs"?

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