Capstone project

Expansion of Ouercus tomentella Groves at Black Mountain on Santa Rosa Island

Quercus tomentella (island oak) groves have been expanding across the Channel Islands since 1989. Island oaks are a keystone species providing shelter, foraging abilities, soil stability and water to the associated flora and fauna in the nearby community (Schumann et al. 2014). The National Park Service (NPS) began restoring Santa Rosa Island (SRI) in 2011 after the Vail and Vickers families sold SRI in 1986. Since then, the island oaks on Black Mountain at SRI have expanded between 1989 and 2016. Grove expansion appears to be occurring from three factors; natural (gravity and cloning), birds and mammals (Li et al. 2003, Costa et al. 2011, Linan et al. 2011, National Audubon Society 2015). We also reinforced the concepts of how nurse plants effect island oak health and height (Padilla et al. 2006, Ren 2008). This study also aims to create a new baseline of Black Mountain’s island oak population. This baseline includes data on all outliers on the mountain and accurate polygons delineating the 14 groves. With this data collection the NPS can decide to continue natural restoration or shift gears into active restoration on Black Mountain. Island oaks, as a keystone and foundation species, are important to study to create a healthy ecosystem on SRI.

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