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Posts Tagged: Colorado

Ever Seen a Mantidfly?

Mantidflies use their front legs to catch small insect prey. This one was collected by John De Benedictis at the UC Davis Stebbens Cold Canyon Reserve. (Snapshot by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Ever seen a mantidfly, also called a mantisfly? Bohart Museum of Entomology associate John De Benedictis, aka "Moth Man,"  brought a mantidfly,...

Mantidflies use their front legs to catch small insect prey. This one was collected by John De Benedictis at the UC Davis Stebbens Cold Canyon Reserve. (Snapshot by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Mantidflies use their front legs to catch small insect prey. This one was collected by John De Benedictis at the UC Davis Stebbens Cold Canyon Reserve. (Snapshot by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Mantidflies use their front legs to catch small insect prey. This one was collected by John De Benedictis at the UC Davis Stebbens Cold Canyon Reserve. (Snapshot by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

In coloring, the mantidfly abdomen resembles a paper wasp. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
In coloring, the mantidfly abdomen resembles a paper wasp. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

In coloring, the mantidfly abdomen resembles a paper wasp. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Part of the collection of mantidflies, Climaciella brunnea, at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Part of the collection of mantidflies, Climaciella brunnea, at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Part of the collection of mantidflies, Climaciella brunnea, at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bohart Museum of Entomology associate Wade Spencer holds a drawer of mantidfly specimens. The museum houses some eight million specimens, collected globally. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bohart Museum of Entomology associate Wade Spencer holds a drawer of mantidfly specimens. The museum houses some eight million specimens, collected globally. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bohart Museum of Entomology associate Wade Spencer holds a drawer of mantidfly specimens. The museum houses some eight million specimens, collected globally. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at 1:00 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

And Along Came a Wasp...

A European paper wasp, Polistes dominula, attacks a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

So here's this cute little reddish/orangish caterpillar munching away on a passionflower vine. It's Sunday and he's having Sunday dinner--after...

A European paper wasp, Polistes dominula, attacks a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A European paper wasp, Polistes dominula, attacks a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A European paper wasp, Polistes dominula, attacks a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The non-battle is over within seconds,as the wasp shreds the caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The non-battle is over within seconds,as the wasp shreds the caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The non-battle is over within seconds,as the wasp shreds the caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Trapeze style, the predator  devours its prey. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Trapeze style, the predator devours its prey. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Trapeze style, the predator devours its prey. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The European paper wasp finishes off the rest of the caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The European paper wasp finishes off the rest of the caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The European paper wasp finishes off the rest of the caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Canyon Classroom: Exploring the Grand Canyon's plants along the Colorado River

While some people were spending spring break at the beach or catching up on their Netflix queue, students from the EcoGeoMorphology class at UC Davis were rafting down the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

[Join the journey: UC Davis Grand Canyon interactive website, http://grandcanyon.ucdavis.edu.]

The class split in two groups for the 225-mile river journey. On March 10, the group embarked from Lee's Ferry, rafting 90 miles before hiking to the rim on March 19 along Bright Angel Trail. They passed the second group on their way down the same day. They traveled the remaining 135 miles to the next road access at Diamond Creek. 

The class is conducted during winter quarter by the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the Center for Watershed Sciences, in partnership with Campus Recreation's Outdoor Adventures. While its first trip to the Grand Canyon was in 2003, students have taken this optional trip for each of the past five years.

Truman Young, Sarah Yarnell and Sasha Leidman begin another day on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Credit: Joe Proudman/UC Davis

Among the class' instructors this year was UC Davis plant sciences professor and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources affiliate Truman Young.

‘There's nothing quite like this'

The trip is the physical and visible representation of what the class is all about: Geologists, hydrologists and ecologists learning to communicate with each other and the public. It's a skill necessary in real-world careers, where working on environmental problems requires a variety of expertise that isn't always taught in siloed classrooms.

“I'm not a geologist myself, but you only have to look left to right at any moment, and there's nothing quite like this,” said Young while floating down the river, taking in the cliffs rising around him.

The classrooms are pretty spectacular: red walled caverns, ancient Puebloan ruins, rock formations and fossils, the river itself. It's the students' textbooks brought vividly and tangibly to life.

Along the way, Young described the life cycle of Century plants; explored the plants sprouting around Vasey's Paradise, a natural spring; and rubbed scale insects off prickly pear plants to expose the crimson dye they produce. At each step, he casually prodded the students to consider what it means to have a river running through a desert.

Truman Young points out a Century plant in the Grand Canyon to UC Davis students. Credit: Kat Kerlin/UC Davis

Time travelers

The group was unplugged, off-grid, and literally immersed in the river, rocks and landscape.

Geologists, ecologists, and hydrologists helped teach each other about rocks, plants, fish and flow rates—usually informally as they scrambled up a trail or gazed up at the vertical cliffs slowly floating past.

Truman Young talks to UC Davis students in the Grand Canyon. Credit: Joe Proudman/UC Davis

They slept each night under a sky bright with forgotten stars, to the sounds of softly strumming guitar and the nearby rushing river. 

Over the course of eight days on the river, they traveled through about a billion years of geologic time.

Young had been on the trip once before, two years ago. He said it was just as impressive the second go-around.

“It's actually more spectacular on the second pass, which surprised me,” he said. “Just the magnitude and the grandeur of it, all that stuff. It's just more.”

Posted on Wednesday, August 3, 2016 at 8:44 AM
Tags: Canyon (1), Colorado (1), Davis (15), Desert (3), Ecogeomorphology (1), Grand (1), Plant (3), River (1), Sciences (1), Truman (1), UC (1), Water (75), Young (1)

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