Lecture on the mysteries of our nearly ancient neighbors: valley oaks

Photo by Drew Esnard

Star Report:

Come listen to an informative and entertaining lecture co-sponsored by the UC Sedgwick Reserve on the mysteries of the valley oak on Saturday, Feb. 11.   The lecture will take place at 7:00 PM at the Tipton Meeting House on the Reserve, 3566 Brinkerhoff Avenue, Santa Ynez.

The signature oak tree of California, the valley oak (Quercus lobata), has been slowly revealing some of its secrets due to research conducted at the UC Sedgwick Reserve in Santa Ynez. The majority of the mature valley oak trees at the Reserve were here long before the Europeans arrived. In spite of the current drought, these trees will likely live for the remainder of this century even though they face a variety of threats that will challenge them in the long term. The connections between valley oaks, the changing climate, and the animals in their habitat is complex, but by using the latest genetic technology  and detailed field data researchers have made considerable progress towards understanding these relationships.

Professor Victoria Sork of UCLA will be sharing information she’s garnered through her 15+ year study at Sedgwick Ranch in Santa Ynez. (Photo contributed)

Speaking will be Professor Victoria Sork of UCLA, a plant evolutionary and conservation biologist with a current focus on California oaks.  Her research interests include the evolution of local adaptation, plant response to climate, and ecological genomics.  She has conducted research at the UC Sedgwick Reserve since 2000 and produced 36 publications on oaks and lichens there.  Professor Sork is Dean of Life Sciences and a Professor with a split appointment in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and the Institute of Environment and Sustainability at UCLA.  The lecture will include a presentation by her collaborator Andy Lentz, a Sedgwick Docent who has been collecting data on flowering and acorn production on 100 valley oak trees for over 10 years.

A full list of upcoming lectures and field trips sponsored by the Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society can be found at www.syvnature.org. Lectures are free and open to all.