Rachael Freeman Long treasures her memories as a graduate student in entomology at the University of California, Davis. She remembers eating fried...
Rachael Long, UCCE farm advisor, leads a tour of her family farm in Yolo County in April of 2015. "Hedgerows are important for enhancing beneficial insects, including bees and natural enemies, for better biocontrol and crop pollination in adjacent field crops, with measurable economic benefits," she says. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When Alejandro Del Pozo-Valdivia started his new job as UC Cooperative Extension entomology advisor in the Salinas Valley last year, he immediately faced an urgent problem in organic lettuce production.
Pest control advisers were finding lettuce aphids in plants that were supposed to be resistant.
Because lettuce aphids crawl deep within the heart of the lettuce head, and because organic growers do not have many options for chemical pest control, the industry relies on patented lettuce varieties that have been conventionally bred to be unpalatable to the pest.
“With other types of aphids, they stay on the outer leaves. When you harvest and clean the head, you are taking the aphids out,” Del Pozo-Valdivia said. “But with the lettuce aphid, it's almost impossible to remove them. We don't want consumers to buy a lettuce with these tiny red insects inside.”
Organic producers pay a premium for resistant seeds to grow lettuce without the lettuce aphid and are mystified by the sudden appearance of the pest inside lettuce heads. Has the aphid developed the capability to feed on resistant varieties? Is there a different lettuce aphid biotype in the area? Since Del Pozo-Valdivia is an entomologist, he is focusing on the pest.
With funding from the California Leafy Green Research Board, Del Pozo-Valdivia and his co-principal investigator, USDA scientist Jim McCreight, have launched a research project to collect and identify the lettuce aphids that are feeding and reproducing in the resistant lettuce in the Salinas Valley.
“I'm asking growers and PCAs to contact me if they find any red aphids in resistant lettuce so we can confirm the type of aphid,” Del Pozo-Valdivia said. “
Seed companies that hold the patent on resistant lettuce also experienced broken resistance in Europe a few years ago, Del Pozo-Valdivia said. They found that the pest in Europe was a different biotype and are already working on identifying genes to maintain the lettuce aphid resistance.
“We haven't seen any scientific report for the U.S. That's why we decided to take the lead. To take the bull by the horns and identify the aphids here in the Salinas Valley,” Del Pozo-Valdivia said.
Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension advisor covering integrated pest management for field crops in Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties, is the recipient of the 2019 Bradford Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award.
Long will receive the award at a presentation at 4:30 p.m. May 28 in the Alpha Gamma Rho Hall (AGR) room of the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center. A reception begins at 4.
The award, established in 2008, honors individuals who have a broad understanding of agricultural systems and the environment, takes the long view, and aims high to make a difference in the world. Awardees exhibit the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by the late Eric Bradford, a livestock geneticist who served UC Davis for 50 years, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist.
The award presentation prefaces the Agricultural Sustainability Institute's Distinguished Speakers' Seminar, “Building a Better World, the Opportunity to Achieve Climate Drawdown and a Safe Future" by environmental scientist Jonathan Foley, executive director of Drawdown. Foley, ranked by Thomas Reuters as among the top 1 percent of the most cited global scientists, will address the audience from 5 to 6 p.m.
Long received her bachelor's degree in biology from UC Berkeley and her master's degree in entomology from UC Davis. She was hired as one of the first sustainable agriculture advisors with UCCE in 1992, with a charge to, “Develop, evaluate, and implement nonchemical approaches to pest management in field crop production that maintains environmental and economic viability of agriculture."
During her career with UCCE, Rachael was a pioneer in developing practices to protect water quality from agricultural crop production, helping farmers meet state mandates for clean surface water. She worked on hedgerows, documenting that field edge plantings of native California plants attract beneficial insects, including bees and natural enemies, for better pest control and pollination in adjacent crops. She documented that birds and bats are farmer allies; they help control codling moth pests in walnut orchards. She's promoted hawks and barn owls for control of rodent pests. She has also written numerous publications focusing on agronomic practices for managing pest, weeds, and diseases in field crop production.
At the time she started her research projects over 25 years ago, her ideas were way outside the box and on the fringe. Now her work is mainstream with the UC IPM guidelines incorporating the value of habitat planting for enhancing natural enemies and pollinators on farms for better pollination and biocontrol of crop pests. The California Healthy Soils Initiative and Natural Resource Conservation Service have cost share funding for hedgerow establishment on farms, for pest management and carbon sequestration. She continues to do research on hedgerows, but more importantly, she strives to be a leader by teaching others about agriculture and the need to have co-existence between farming, food production, and wildlife conservation for a better world for all. Her work is documented in many peer-reviewed publications, UC ANR blogs, cost studies and crop production manuals.
“I'm honored to receive this award, especially in recognition of two extraordinary people, Charlie and Eric," Long said. "I owe thanks to so many people who helped in this journey and feel lucky to work in a community that is open to new ideas. I'm especially grateful to farmers in the Sacramento Valley who allowed me to work on their farms. I couldn't have done all this work without their support.”
When you're an entomologist exploring Africa, you photograph the lions, tigers and elephants, but you don't forget the insects. Never forget the...
Dung beetles in St Lucia Wetlands National Park, South Africa. (Photo by James R. Carey)
Moth emergence at The Arc (lodge), Aberdare National Park, Kenya. (Photo by James R. Carey)
This image of a white rhino (critically endangered species) was taken on the Careys' safari in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, South Africa. (Photo by Patty Carey)
Zebras watching out for predators in the Serengeti National Park on overland safari. (Photo by Patty Carey)
Elephant family at river in Chobe National Park, Botswana. (Photo by Patty Carey)
Mountain gorilla (critically endangered species): this image was taken on the Careys' trek in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo. (Photo by Patty Carey)
Male African lion sleeping on rock in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photo by Patty Carey)
All of our certified California Naturalists know how to use iNaturalist. Since uploading at least one observation is part of the course requirements, the City Nature Challenge was the perfect opportunity for Naturalists to reconnect with each other, offer their skills to their city's efforts, and contribute to a global scientific database.
The 4th annual City Nature Challenge was a huge success around the world. Together with the 159 cities that participated, we uploaded almost one million observations of biodiversity to iNaturalist in just 4 days. More than 35,000 people took part across the globe, and over 31,000 species were documented, including more than 1,100 rare, endangered, or threatened species.
This was also the biggest week for observations recorded in iNaturalist history, as demonstrated in the graph below.
With the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County organizers publicizing the Challenge for their cities and working to highlight events, we wanted a chance for our Sacramento Region Naturalists to join the fun, too. Beginning in September of 2018, we co-organized for the Sacramento Region with Ryan Meyer and Julianna Yee from the UC Davis School of Education's Center for Community and Citizen Science, our UC Davis Evolution and Ecology California Naturalist instructor Laci Gerhart-Barley, and environmental educator Chelle Temple-King.
- Partners that held Bioblitzes outside of city boundaries over the weekend: Hopland Research & Extension Center, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum
- Sacramento Region CalNat partners: Many thanks to American River Conservancy, Yolo Basin Foundation, Effie Yeaw Nature Center, and UC Davis' Wild Davis for organizing Bioblitzes as first year guinea pigs
- Bay Area CalNat partners: thanks to Sonoma Ecology Center for a Bioblitz and Grassroots Ecology for contributing observations during their class field trip
- Certified California Naturalist Cedric Lee as the number one observer for Los Angeles County!
- Certified California Naturalist and Tuleyome instructor Mary Hanson came in 5th for the Sacramento Region; UC Davis' Wild Davis instructor Laci Gerhart-Barley and 3 current CalNat students came in the top 10
- Certified California Naturalist Millie Basden came in 8th for San Diego County
- Certified California Naturalist Amy Jaecker-Jones is a co-organizer for the international City Nature Challenge through the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Despite the final results, the real winner of the City Nature Challenge is science and nature. A database holding a greater number of research-grade observations to draw from allows scientists to further study our natural world. You can take a look at publications that have used data from iNaturalist to see just where our contributions are going. And of course, the more people who get outside during the Challenge, the more people engage with the nature around them. Everybody wins!
- 1st place for number of observers with 1,947 (This includes more than 550 observers who were new to iNaturalist)
- 1st place for number of identifiers with 813
- 4th place for number of observations with 38,028
- 5th place for number of species found at 3,183
- Participants submitted anywhere from 1 to 698 observations
- Most observed species: California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
- Los Angeles had the greatest increase in number of observations over last year: increase of 14,702 observations!
- Los Angeles had the greatest increase in number of people observing over last year: increase of 700 people!
- Over 1/3 of our observers were new to iNaturalist in the two weeks before CNC began
- Overall, Sacramento came in 30th out of 159 participating cities
- Of 27 the other participating cities with a population of 2,500,000-5,000,000, Sacramento came in 9th
- In all of 2019 leading up to the Challenge, post-Challenge our region was able to increase the number of observations by 7.8% (9832 observations), species by 2% (124 species), and observers by 3.5% (233 observers).
- Sacramento came in 5th for the number of total observers for a region > 20,000 km2
- For all the observations we collected in the Sacramento region, 57% ID'd to species became research grade (or useable for scientific quality data).