BioBlitz at Muir Woods: What Will We Find in the Canopy?

Will wandering salamanders be among the creatures found in the canopy during the BioBlitz? Photo by Dan Portik
Will wandering salamanders be among the creatures found in the canopy during the BioBlitz? Photo by Dan Portik

The Muir Woods BioBlitz is just a couple weeks away, and folks around here are getting excited.  One of the hot topics of conversation around the Save the Redwoods League office is which species the scientists will find living in the canopies of the giant redwoods.  We don’t know exactly what they’ll find since this will be the first time anybody’s gone up there to look, but here are a few likely candidates:

Leather fern (Polypodium scouleri)
Leather fern, or leather-leaf fern, is a perennial plant, meaning that it lives for more than two years. It is also evergreen, keeping its leaves throughout the year.  Leather ferns can grow fronds over a foot long.  Like many plants in the redwood canopy, leather fern probably arrives in the treetops as seeds from the bellies of birds.

California bay (Umbellularia californica)
California bay is an evergreen tree that is found in the lower and middle canopy of the redwood forest when it’s not growing in the actual trees themselves.  The tree’s distinctive leaves, long and pointy, are a great way to identify the species, as is the pungent smell it emits.  Like leather fern, the seeds of bay are spread by birds.

Wandering salamander (Aneides vagrans)
I’m not sure what’s cooler about this species – the fact that it has no lungs and breathes through its skin, or the fact that an individual wandering salamander may live its entire life in a single tree!  The wandering salamander’s skin is camouflaged to blend in perfectly with the lichen-covered bark of redwood trees, helping it hunt the small insects that also inhabit the forest canopy.

What do you think we’ll find in the forest canopy? Leave a comment below and be sure to join us at the event. Take photos and be sure to tag them in Instagram with #RedwoodBioBlitz!

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About the author

Richard joined the League’s staff in 2012 as the Conservation Science Manager and now serves as Director of Restoration. He brings nearly a decade of experience in forest management and restoration.

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