Author Archives: Emily Burns

Avatar for Emily BurnsEmily Burns, the League’s former Director of Science, led the research program that includes the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative. She holds a PhD in Integrative Biology on the impacts of fog on coast redwood forest flora from the University of California, Berkeley.

During BioBlitz 2014, League scientists climb and explore the tallest trees in Muir Woods for the first time ever.

First Canopy Exploration at Muir Woods

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This time last week, our intrepid research partners were ascending up into the tall trees of Cathedral Grove at Muir Woods National Monument. This historic first climb was part of BioBlitz 2014, a massive effort throughout the Golden Gate National …

Redwood Canopy – A Research Frontier

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Humans have walked through the redwood forest for millennia, but we first journeyed into the redwood canopy mere decades ago. Recent advances in climbing technology now enable canopy researchers to safely access the highest reaches of the redwood tree tops …

Shaggy Mane Mushroom in a Forest Near You

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Finally, with the onset of rain, we have amazing mushrooms pushing up throughout the coast redwood forest. One of my favorites is the shaggy mane mushroom, Coprinus comatus. This is a gilled mushroom that emerges with a white scaly cap …

View California’s Drought from Space

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The last 12 months in California have been the driest on record since weather records began in 1885.  NASA’s Earth Observatory recently showed us just how seriously the drought is impacting Californian vegetation statewide from the redwood forest to grassy …

Drought in the Redwoods

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Last week I traveled northwards up the coast redwood range to check on weather conditions in the forest at Humboldt Redwoods, Prairie Creek, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks. Through our Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative, we are studying how …

Big Trees in the News

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This week, Nate Stephenson and his colleagues published a new study showing that 97% of tree species grow faster as they age. Unlike in animals whose growth clearly plateaus with maturity, older trees just keep getting bigger and bigger. Large …

Smooth Bark Matters

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If you’ve driven around the country in recent years, it’s likely you’ve seen vast stretches of pine forest wiped out by the mountain pine beetle. This beetle naturally occurs in North American forests, but changing climatic conditions are causing outbreaks …

Researcher Emily Burns noticed that half the ferns in coast redwood forests were evergreen and half were deciduous. Deciduous ferns turn white in the fall while the evergreen ferns stay vibrant green.

Winter white ferns

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We may not have a typical white winter wonderland here in the coast redwood forest, but we do have spectacular displays of white leaves that appear this time of year. Half of the fern species that live in the coast …

How Redwoods Heal

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The ability of redwoods to heal themselves is almost as remarkable as how incredibly tall they grow. Amazingly, coast redwoods can heal over a wound when they are injured from fire, are damaged by the wind, or even are cut …

Critical Conservation at Strybing Botanical Garden

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Not many people know this, but I can trace my career as a redwood conservation scientist back to Strybing Botanical Garden in San Francisco. It was during a field trip to Strybing in 1998 that I sat and sketched plants …

Too dry for redwood sorrel?

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I recently walked with a childhood friend through Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, one of the only old coast redwood forests left in Sonoma County. It certainly felt like fall, with the sunlight low in the sky as midday approached. …

Life on the leaf’s edge

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Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Nature will bear the closet inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.” His words eloquently describe a field of research that would …

Bats of Humboldt Redwoods

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Last week, we drove into Humboldt Redwoods State Park at dusk to watch bats dart over Bull Creek. We joined up with USDA Forest Service researcher, Ted Weller, and his team as they studied local and migrating bats through the …

On the edge: Eastern redwoods

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I recently drove eastward through the many vineyards of the Napa Valley in search of coast redwoods living on the species’ eastern boundary. Given how widespread redwoods used to be on planet Earth, the edges of the natural redwood range today …

Shady Dell’s Smallest Wonder

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The Lost Coast is a destination for intrepid hikers who enjoy the rough and uninterrupted coastline of Mendocino County. If you’re one of them, I recommend you take some time looking underfoot next time you explore the wilderness to see …

The First Redwoods

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The redwood lineage has lived on Earth for many millions of years. The first recognizable Sequoia left its imprint in the fossil record 200 millions ago, during the Jurassic when dinosaurs roamed the land and filled the sea. If we journeyed back …

A Summer of Ferns

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The best part of the year for any field ecologist like myself, is the stretch of long summer days spent outside collecting data. Over the past two months, I journeyed into the coast redwood forest to take measurements in our …

Like a Phoenix

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When a forest fire blazes, it seems like the path of destruction will result in irreversible change for the woods. Fire does indeed leave its mark among the redwoods, but I’m struck over and over again how quickly forests can …

A Perspective on Albino Redwoods

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This week, arborist and horticulturist, Tom Stapleton, shares his perspective on the fascinating and mysterious ghosts of the redwood forest…the albino redwoods! By studying these rare trees, he hopes to learn if climate causes albinism and aid in the protection and …

Foggy Focus

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The new issue of Bay Nature has an article on the fantastic and ephemeral feature of our local climate — fog. The article, Demystifying Mist, describes the science of studying fog and conjures up images of misty forest days that …