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    • October 28, 2019

    CNDDB Looks at 40: The Past, Present, and Future of the California Natural Diversity Database; Collage of plants, animals, a map of CNDDB data, and Misty Nelson

    Presented by: Misty Nelson

    CNDDB Lead Scientist Misty Nelson will present an overview of the rich history of the California Natural Diversity Database program, highlighting milestones and accomplishments from the past forty years. She will also examine some of the challenges associated with managing data for the most biodiverse state in the U.S., and will discuss upcoming changes and opportunities to keep the program relevant and regarded for decades to come.

    Born and raised in the mountains of western Montana, Misty Nelson spent the first 20 years of her career as an itinerant biologist, working on research projects studying a wide range of species, from small mammals to large whales. She earned her M.S. from the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, where she studied the acoustic behavior of red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico, and spent several years working with the National Park Service on noise and light pollution issues. In 2015, she joined CDFW on a limited-term assignment to lead a large-scale biodiversity and terrestrial drought stressor monitoring project, and has served as the CNDDB Lead Scientist since December 2017.

    Date: Monday, November 4th Science Institute logo
    Time: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
    Location: First floor auditorium, 1416 9th Street, Sacramento (and via Skype)
    Register to view online or in-person
    Questions? Contact: Whitney Albright

    Categories: Education and Awareness
    • October 21, 2019

    Closeup of the white ghost plant - © Keir Morse, all rights reserved

    In the “spirit” of the season, we wanted to highlight one of CNDDB’s spookiest species. Imagine wandering along a dark and secluded trail in the forest, a dense canopy of trees above you. You see a white patch on the ground out of the corner of your eye – is it a ghost? Sort of! Monotropa uniflora, a member of the Ericaceae family, is known by the common names ghost pipe, ghost plant, or Indian pipe.

    As one might suspect from its ghostly pallor, these plants do not contain chlorophyll and therefore cannot produce their own nutrients. M. uniflora is a mycoheterotroph; they are parasites on underground fungi. In turn, these fungi obtain their nutrients by forming mycorrhizal relationships with tree roots, which means that there is a mutually beneficial exchange of resources between the fungi and tree roots. Therefore, M. uniflora plants are indirectly taking their nutrients from the nearby trees by stealing them from the fungi they are parasitizing. Since M. uniflora does not require direct sunlight and is closely associated with trees, it can be found in dark areas of the forest understory.

    Although M. uniflora is widespread through much of Northern America, it is considered rare in California with a California Rare Plant Rank of 2B.2. Currently there are 100 occurrences of this species in CNDDB, all of which are restricted to the far northern coast of California in Del Norte and Humboldt counties. While M. uniflora populations tend to occur in remote and unpopulated areas, this does not mean they are immune to human-caused threats and disturbances. Due to the preference for forested habitats, the primary threat to M. uniflora in California is timber harvest operations.

    If you happen to catch a glimpse of this elusive specter in California, don’t forget to submit your observation using the Online Field Survey Form!

    Photo credit: Keir Morse

    Categories: Taxon of the week
    • October 16, 2019

    The quarterly update of the Barred Owl Observations Database is available in the BIOS Viewer for CNDDB subscribers. The barred owl database includes barred owl (Strix varia), Strix hybrid, and unknown Strix detections.

    Many of the records represent incidental detections made during spotted owl surveys; therefore, this dataset may not accurately represent the current distribution of barred owls in California. Furthermore, this dataset is only available to CNDDB subscribers because it contains references to sensitive spotted owl locations. A public version will be available in the future.

    For a copy of the geodatabase or for site-specific inquiries, contact the database manager at

    Screenshot of BIOS mapping application displaying the barred owl dataset

    Categories: Quarterly Updates