Research Grants

Thick bark enables giant sequoia to withstand lower-severity ground fires

Grants Fund Research on Wildfire, Wildlife and a Rare Plant in Coast Redwood and Giant Sequoia

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Nearly $150,000 in research grants from Save the Redwoods League have been awarded as part of the 2018 grant cycle. Funding these projects is a significant component of fulfilling the League’s mission, and each of these projects will contribute to scientific knowledge of coast redwood and giant sequoia forests. This research can help us answer big questions that will protect the health of people, wildlife, and the forests.

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While it takes mere decades for second-growth redwoods like these to reach impressive heights, it takes can more time for the forest to truly recover.

How Long It Takes for a Forest to Recover after Clear-cutting

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For the sake of redwoods conservation, it’s crucial to understand the patterns of natural recovery in second-growth forests. Researchers at San Jose State University wondered how long it takes for a forest to truly recover after clear-cutting, and decided to approach the question by comparing forests in different age classes.

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Unofficial trails including this one in Redwood National and State Parks' Grove of Titans result in trampling that can harm roots of ancient trees. Photo by Claudia Voigt

Mitigating Effects of Unofficial Trails on Ancient Redwood Groves

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And now, because of internet and mobile technology, the locations of more and more of the tallest redwoods are becoming public knowledge, drawing more people to these giants. This often leads to people blazing their own trails either because the officially designated trail does not provide close access, or because there is no official trail to a specific tree or grove. These unofficial trails are called social trails. So, just how great is the impact of these unofficial trails? Learn more about this research.

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The study found that although trees within 5 meters of each other (like these here) were more likely to be clones than trees farther away, they weren’t always. Photo by Jason Hollinger, Flickr Creative Commons

Some Coast Redwoods May Seem to Be Clones, but They’re Not

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If you’ve visited a coast redwood forest, you’ve probably seen these trees growing around the stump of a logged giant. These “fairy rings,” as they’re known informally, show how the coast redwood reproduces asexually by sending new sprouts up from the trunk base of a parent redwood. The mystery was whether these sprouts are genetically identical copies of the parent redwood. Because 95 percent of the current coast redwood range is younger forests, understanding the genetics of the coast redwood is critical for conservation and restoration. Learn more about this research.

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A study found that thinned areas supported higher populations of prey species for the endangered northern spotted owl (pictured) and the rare Humboldt marten.

Thinning Stands Boosts Wildlife Diversity

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For many years, selective thinning has been considered a potential tool for accelerating old-growth forest characteristics in the dense stands of young trees that typically cover harvested redwood lands. Now, research by the US Forest Service has confirmed the wisdom of thinning, or removing select trees to reduce competition in a stand. Learn more about this research.

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A study confirms that northern giant sequoia groves have lower genetic diversity than central and southern groves. Photo by Bob Wick

Lower Genetic Diversity Puts Giants at Risk

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Recent League-funded research by Richard Dodd, an Environmental Science Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, confirms that northern groves (north of the Kings River drainage) have lower genetic diversity than central and southern groves. This could have profound consequences for long-term conservation strategies for the species, especially considering the changing global climate. Learn more about this research.

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For a League-sponsored study, Wicket sniffs for the scent of a white-footed vole, one of the rarest and least understood mammals in North America, and one of the only mammals endemic to the coastal coniferous forests of Northern California and Oregon. Photo by Humboldt State University

Seeking Elusive White-Footed Voles

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The League funded an ambitious study to learn more about white-footed voles. Unfortunately, they’re almost impossible to find in the luxuriant understory of the typical coastal redwood forest. In response, researchers have released the hounds.

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Thanks to our members' support, a League-sponsored researcher will examine how the Ensatina salamander's role as a top predator in the redwood forest affects its ability to influence the storage of carbon in the soil. Photo by Anthony Ambrose

Latest Research Grants Support Discoveries in Wildlife, Plants, Restoration

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More than $200,000 in research grants from Save the Redwoods League in 2013 and 2014 will fund projects that will contribute to scientific knowledge of coast redwood and giant sequoia forests. This research can help us answer big questions that will protect the health of people, wildlife and redwood forests.

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New Zealand mud snails showed up in Redwood National Park in 2009. These prolific creatures could reduce insect numbers, and therefore the food web. Photo by Darren M. Ward

Snail Invasion Could Mean Trouble for Food Web

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Humboldt State University fisheries biologist Darren Ward was concerned, but not surprised, when New Zealand mud snails showed up in Redwood National Park in 2009. With help from a grant from Save the Redwoods League, Ward and a colleague at the US Geological Survey, Adam Sepulveda, began searching to see if they were moving upstream. Learn more about this research.

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Humboldt Marten.

Redwood Forest Restoration and Martens

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Martens are agile, 2-foot-long members of the weasel family. They need ancient forests—and used to thrive in the coast redwoods of California. Today the Humboldt marten, the coastal subspecies of the Pacific marten in California, has vanished from more than 95 percent of its former range. A single population of about 100 remains on the coastal edge of the Six Rivers National Forest, roughly between Crescent City and Arcata. Learn more about this research.

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Good giant sequoia regeneration was strongly associated with canopy gaps. Photo by Marc D. Meyer

Promoting Giant Sequoia Regeneration

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Giant sequoias can live for thousands of years, but they sometimes have difficulty getting started. Unlike coast redwoods, giant sequoias rarely sprout from their bases. Their reproductive future lies in their tiny (0.2-inch-long) seeds, which need just the right combination of soil, sun and moisture to survive. Learn more about this research.

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