South Coast Research and Extension Center
University of California
South Coast Research and Extension Center

Natural Resources

173 – Mitigating Pollutants in Run-Off from Urbanized Environments

Principal Investigator: Dr. Darren Haver, Center Director, UC ANR South Coast Research and Extension Center. For more project information, click here.

Urban runoff from both irrigation and stormwater is a significant source of pollutants to local waterbodies where it impacts beneficial uses such as drinking water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreation.  The majority of these pollutants are transported to local waterbodies during the first few storms following an extended dry period.  During dry periods, pollutants accumulate at or near the source or may be carried further in the constant low flows generated by excess irrigation, car washing, and the hosing down of driveways and sidewalks.  The main goal of this project is to develop, test, and implement urban landscape best management practices (BMPs) that can effectively reduce urban pollutant loading during dry periods, minimizing pollutants in first flush storm events.  Three parallel residential landscapes were constructed along with a fourth graded plot representing a 100% pervious landscape.  The landscapes are integrated with different degrees of BMP implementation in the areas of irrigation, plant selection, pest control tactics, and infiltration.  Water use, runoff volumes, soil moisture levels, and pollutants in runoff are monitored in order to determine if the management practices are successfully reducing water use and pollutant loads. 

219 - Physiological & Morphological Reponses to long-term Changes in Water Availability

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jennifer Funk, Department of Biological Sciences, Chapman University. For more project information, click here.

This research addresses how leaf, stem and root traits collectively influence organismal responses to different precipitation scenarios across multiple species in a Mediterranean-climate ecosystem. Precipitation in arid and semi-arid environments can vary strongly within and across years and plant fitness can depend on rapid or efficient utilization of water during these events. Plant species adapted to arid systems possess numerous leaf, stem and root traits that serve to minimize water stress, but it remains unclear whether these water conservation traits limit a plant’s ability to rapidly respond to precipitation events and how water acquisition and conservation traits correspond to plant fitness. The proposed research is organized around two questions: (1) is there a trade-off between the ability to respond to sudden changes in water availability and a water conservation strategy, and (2) how do traits pertaining to water acquisition and conservation correlate with plant fitness and how does this depend on the magnitude and frequency of precipitation? I will examine these questions in four annual and six perennial species from a southern California coastal sage scrub community.

227 Southern California Urban Coyote Health and Ecology Study

Principal Investigator: Dr. Niamh Quinn, Vertebrate Pest Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension. For more project information, click here.

Human-coyote conflicts are on the rise.
In many cities across the United States, incidences of coyote encounters (Canis latrans) and human-coyote conflicts are rising. This is especially true for cities in Southern California where conflicts including pet attacks have been recorded since the 1960s. The only coyote-related human fatality in the United States occurred in southern California in 1981 and, although no fatal attacks have occurred since, coyote bites on humans are still occurring. Coyote attacks on pets appear to be common in Southern California, however, data is lacking in this area of human-coyote conflicts. Another significant conflict surrounding coyotes is the prevalence of rodenticide residues. Secondary toxicity of urban carnivores is most commonly cited as the reason why second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) should be completely removed from the marked, even for professional and public health uses. Given the recent introduction of AB2596, which proposed an outright ban on the use of all anticoagulant rodenticides, the mode of ingestion of these products by urban carnivores has becoming increasingly important. This projects aims to analyze the stomach contacts of Southern California urban coyotes. The contents of the stomach will enable us to answer several questions 1. Is the proportion of domestic pets in the diet of the coyote greater than previously reported in Southern California? 2. What proportion of anthropogenic food do Southern California urban coyotes consume? 3. What rodents are potential vehicles for secondary toxicity in urban carnivores? This project will also assess the prevalence of plague, typhus and heartworm in urban coyotes.

228 Southern California Urban Rodent Research

Principal Investigator: Dr. Niamh Quinn, Vertebrate Pest Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension - Orange County. For more project information, click here.

Managing urban rodents.
Rodent populations are prolific in urban areas in the US. Two species are commonly coexisting in the US: the Norway rat (Rattus Norvegicus) and the roof rat (Rattus rattus). The Norway rat was once present in many areas in Southern California but many pest management professionals and vector control agencies have not seen Norway rats for at least a decade in some areas. This research focuses on the examination of urban rodent fecundity to examine if there has been any type of competitive release in the absence of a once abundant competitor. This project aims to examine changes, if any, in the reproductive timing and output of the roof rat and to examine if this information can help us better manage rodent outbreaks in particular. The aim is to reduce the use of toxic baits. This research will also focus on disease surveillance. We will test a sample of rodents for salmonella, leptospirosis and plague to investigate the prevalence of these diseases in urban rodent populations in Southern California. Given the importance of second generation anticoagulant rodenticide as a tool for managing urban rodents, it is important to protect this tool for pest management professionals and for public health use. A sample of rodents will also be tested for rodenticide residues.

229 - Optimizing Water Management Practices to Minimize Soil Salinity and Nitrate Leaching in California Irrigated Cropland

Principal Investigators: Dr. Laosheng Wu, Environmental Sciences Deptartment, University of California - Riverside; Dr. Darren Haver, Director, UC Cooperative Extension - Orange County. For more project information, click here.

Irrigation is essential to sustain agricultural production. It was estimated that over 90% of California cropland is irrigated. Irrigation water adds dissolved salts (or salinity) to cropland, thus leaching is necessary to keep the average rootzone salinity below the plant threshold EC levels in order to sustain crop production. On the other hand, nitrogen loss via leaching is a primary concern in irrigated cropland. However, the current irrigation or salinity leaching management practices do not consider how to balance the salinity and nitrate leaching, especially the optimization under drip or micro irrigation. The overall objective is to develop optimal water management practices to maximize salinity leaching with least amount of leaching water, and minimize nitrate groundwater pollution in irrigated cropland based on soil and crop characteristics, irrigation water quality and fertilization practices. To achieve the objectives, we will conduct computer simulations and field experiments to identify and verify the salinity management best management practices (BMPs).

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