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© Tejon Ranch Conservancy 2013

Research

The Conservancy has sponsored a number of research projects to inform our management planning and stewardship activities.  As results and data become available, we will update this website.  Tejon Ranch is a large, diverse landscape and we look forward to expanded partnerships to more deeply investigate the Ranch’s ecology. Feral Pigs on Tejon Ranch The damaging effects of feral pigs are a principal threat to the native biodiversity and ecosystem values of Tejon Ranch.  Evidence of pig foraging (known as rooting) can be seen across Tejon Ranch from the Mojave Desert to the San Joaquin Valley grasslands.  Tejon’s impressive oak woodlands (approximately 84,000 acres) from the Brewer’s oaks at the highest elevations to the lower elevation valley oaks exhibit extensive damage with pervasive deep rooting.  Conservancy staff often sees vast swaths of the approximately 110,000 acres of grasslands torn up by rooting pigs.  By far the most damage occurs to the streams, wetlands and riparian areas of the Ranch.  In this arid landscape, these areas are vital for the maintenance of biodiversity and wildlife. To better understand the ecology of feral pigs and the broader regulatory context and framework of feral pig management in California, the Conservancy commissioned a Group Project (Pig Project) at the UC Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. The Pig Project also helped the Conservancy select monitoring techniques to inform our approach to understanding the seasonal and geographic distribution of feral pigs on Tejon Ranch.  Finally, the report offers a series of recommendations for the Conservancy to consider as we confront the issue of feral pigs on the Ranch. (A brief report summary can be found here…and the full report here.) Tejon Ranch Grassland Assessment Grasslands occupy over 100,000 acres of the conserved lands on Tejon Ranch.  In order to characterize their composition, spatial patterns and inter-annual dynamics, the Conservancy is partnering with the Range Ecology Laboratory at UC Berkeley (Principal Investigator – Dr. James Bartolome) on a multi-year assessment of the grasslands at Tejon Ranch.  This is the doctoral research project of Sheri Speigal.  The findings of this assessment show that where Tejon Ranch supports high quality native grasslands, they are associated with particular geology, soil, and landform characteristics and that grassland composition is also strongly driven by annual weather patterns.  The Conservancy used these results to inform stewardship activities (best management practices and conservation activities) in the Ranch-wide Management Plan and is transitioning this research to focus on assessing the efficacy of grasslands management activities. 2012 Grasslands Assessment results 2011 Grasslands Assessment results 2010 Grasslands Assessment results Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UC Santa Barbara The Conservancy has an ongoing partnership with the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara.  The Conservancy is a “client” of the Bren School’s, submitting proposals for multi-disciplinary Group Masters projects on various topics of interest.  The Conservancy has hosted summer internships for Bren students.  Group project summaries and reports can be found below. Developing Public Access Resource Assessments and Plans at Tejon Ranch, California, April 2012 – March 2013 The Bren Masters group team of (Eric Hopkins, Linda Kwong, Jenny Low, Kirsten Tilleman, and Michelle Wagner), advised by Conservancy Board member Dr. Frank Davis, worked with the Conservancy to develop a public access plan for Tejon Ranch. Thus the Group Project team’s work was a real asset as the Conservancy prepared the Public Access Plan (Volume 3 of the RWMP).  Linda and Michelle interned with the Conservancy and assessed the proposed reroute of the Pacific Crest Trail across Tejon Ranch for the group.  Eric also interned with the Conservancy, conducting an evaluation of spring condition.  Report For additional information go to the Bren Tejon Group Project site Developing Fire Management Strategies in Support of Adaptive Management at Tejon Ranch, California, April 2011 – March 2012 A Bren Masters group (Sean Baumgarten, Ashley Gilreath, Ellie Knecht, Adam Livingston, Nicole Phipps, and Andrew Prosser), advised by Conservancy Board member Dr. Frank Davis, investigated the fire ecology of Tejon Ranch and explored potential fire management strategies for the Conservancy’s Ranch-wide Management Plan. The extensive body of research and analysis conducted by the Bren team provided the Conservancy with important information with which to assess the need for and potential approaches managing fire and fuels on the Ranch. Report For additional information go to the Bren Tejon Group Project site. Assessment of management and monitoring strategies in support of adaptive management of oak woodlands at Tejon Ranch, California, April 2010 - March 2011 The Conservancy was fortunate to have another great team of Bren students (Anderson Shepard, Serra Hoagland, Andrew Krieger, and Shannon Moy), advised by Conservancy Board member Dr. Frank Davis, to assess the condition of oak woodlands on the conserved lands on Tejon Ranch and to identify potential oak woodland monitoring and management approaches.  The Conservancy hosted two summer internships for Andrew and Shannon to conduct extensive field surveys of oak woodland structure and condition.  They evaluated the understory composition, oak size structure, demographic parameters, and stocking rates of blue, valley, and black oak woodlands.  This research established a great baseline data set that will allow the Conservancy to establish a long-term monitoring program and consider management needs. Report For additional information go to the Bren Tejon Group Project site. Development of conceptual models and ecological baselines to support monitoring and adaptive management of Tejon Ranch, California (Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, April 2009 – March 2010) The Conservancy was fortunate to have a stellar team of five students (Dana Roeber Murray, Jonathan Applebaum, Lisa Kashiwase, Erin Brown, and Shaina Forsyth), advised by Conservancy Board member Dr. Frank Davis, to pull together foundational information in support of our efforts to develop a monitoring and adaptive management plan (i.e., the Ranch-wide Management Plan) for the enormously complex conserved lands of Tejon Ranch.  The project team assembled existing information to document baseline conditions of the Ranch and to develop conceptual ecological models.  Given the great ecological importance of riparian areas, the Conservancy hosted two summer internships for Jonathan and Erin to conduct more in-depth field research on riparian systems. Report For additional information go to the "Bren Tejon Group Project site" Bren Tejon Group Project site. Ongoing Graduate Student Projects The Conservancy is hosting several ongoing graduate research projects: Sheri Spiegal, UC Berkeley – A state-and-transition approach to California valley grassland restoration Chris Evelyn, UC Santa Barbara – Distribution and phylogeny of Batrachoseps salamanders Chris Schultz, California State University Northridge – Demography and fire ecology of Brewer’s oak (Quercus garryana var. breweri) on Tejon Ranch Felix Ratcliff, UC Berkeley – Composition and structure of San Joaquin Valley riparian habitats in relation to livestock and feral pig management Nick Jensen, Claremont Graduate University and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden – Flora of Tejon Ranch