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Creating a Model of Plant-Water Relations in Van Norden Meadow, Headwaters of the South Yuba River

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As part of the NCC Science Series, Catherine Schnurrenberger will discuss Creating a Model of Plant-Water Relations in Van Norden Meadow, Headwaters of the South Yuba River. The presentation and discussion will be held on Tuesday evening April 14, from 6:30–7:30 pm, in the Multipurpose Center, building, N-12. This presentation is free, and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend. Please come early for a meet and greet and refreshments at 6:00 pm.

Van Norden Meadow, located at the headwaters of the South Yuba River, is the second largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada. Mountain meadows store and filter water, and provide valuable habitat for plants and wildlife. These meadow ecosystems will become increasingly important with projected climate change. Alteration to the hydrology supporting these meadow ecosystems can affect their function and resilience.  Van Norden Meadow has a long history of human use dating back to pre-historic times. Currently the South Yuba River Citizens League, U.C. Davis, Gateway Mountain Center and the Truckee Donner Land Trust are working together to understand how the Van Norden Meadow system functions and determine how proposed restoration projects and climate change will affect the function of this important meadow ecosystem.

Vegetation is a key component of the ecosystem, it both exerts an effect on local hydrology and is affected by local hydrology. This presentation will discuss how data collected on the plant species growing within the Van Norden meadow can be related to shallow ground water to develop an interactive map which may be used to detect changes and predict how climate change and proposed restoration projects will affect the Van Norden Meadow and downstream water flow. We will talk about how we collect such data, why we collect the data, how it is utilized in a computer model and how this model can be used as an important tool to guide restoration and conservation actions.

Catherine SchnurrenbergerAbout our Speaker, Catherine Schnurrenberger

Catherine is a botanist/plant ecologist with a Master’s degree in Hydrology. Much of her work has focused on the interaction between meadow or riparian ecosystems and their underlying hydrology. Meadows and riparian areas represent an important component of the arid west providing valuable wildlife habitat and water storage. Catherine graduated with a B.S. in Range and Wildlands Science from U.C. Davis in 1988 and has worked on various projects assessing rangeland health. Such work has led her to the Jarbidge Mountains of Nevada to determine the carrying capacity of reintroduced elk, to northern California to determine the effects of past grazing practices, and to Patagonia to investigate the range of the native Huemul deer and potential conflicts with introduced red deer.

Her master’s work in the Toiyabe, Toquima and Monitor Ranges of Nevada related current channel incision or downcutting, and the resulting loss of meadow habitat, to the geomorphology or form of alluvial fans in order to determine and predict which meadow systems might be most susceptible to erosion. More recently Catherine has worked with local conservation organizations on river and meadow restoration projects. She is working with the South Yuba River Citizen’s League, U.C. Davis, Gateway Mountain Center and the Truckee Donner Land Trust to map the meadow vegetation within Van Norden Meadow and relate these plant communities to local ground water levels creating an interactive predictive model which may be used to investigate how climate change, restoration and other factors affect composition and diversity within the meadow ecosystem.

The Nevada County Campus is located at 250 Sierra College Drive, Grass Valley, CA 95945. There is a $3 parking fee on campus. Parking permits are available for purchase at the dispenser located at the main campus entrance. For more information about this seminar and others in this series, contact the series coordinator, Jason Giuliani at: jgiuliani@sierracollege.edu .
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