About the Project
Coast redwood trees grow in a relatively narrow strip on the coast of California. While we understand the general region where redwoods grow (see map to the right), we need to understand more specifically where redwoods grow within their natural distribution. Through Redwood Watch, we are discovering redwoods on the boundaries of their natural range and learning where on mountain slopes redwoods grow before the forest transitions into other habitats. We know even less about where other redwood forest species are today or how they are being affected by a changing environment. Observing trees, shrubs, wildflowers, ferns, insects and other animals makes a big difference in understanding species distribution. When we know where redwoods forests and their inhabitants do well today, we will be better able to predict where the redwood forests of tomorrow will thrive.
Redwood Watch Partners
- iNaturalist.org: Powering our citizen science technology
- Google Earth Outreach: Connecting Google Earth users globally to coast redwood forests
- California Academy of Sciences
How to Get InvolvedAs you walk through the forest, Redwood Watch encourages you to submit observations of plants and animals that live in the redwood forest (a more specific list of what we are looking for and when can be found in the table below). Use the free iNaturalist app (for iphone and Android) selecting the Redwood Watch Project to record and submit your photos and observations.
Redwood Watch works because it uses technology to get accurate location data for each observation and utilizes crowdsourcing online to help with species identification. When you make an observation in the forest with a smart phone (or GPS unit) and submit it to the project, every observation is verified by redwood forest experts and enthusiasts online.
Get the iNaturalist app on your phone by going to your app store and downloading it. Go to iNaturalist.org and set up an account. Then click on the search button and type “Redwood Watch” and join our project. Through the iNaturalist app on your phone, you can select the Redwood Watch Project at the bottom of your observation.
Watch the Google Earth video (above), Finding the Redwood Forests of Tomorrow, to experience the wonder of the redwoods and learn how you can help scientists study these majestic forests.
Suggested Plant and Animals to Monitor for Redwood Watch
|PLANT COMMON NAME||SCIENTIFIC NAME||BEST TIME TO MONITOR|
|California bay laurel||Umbellularia californica||Year around|
|Coast live oak||Quercus agrifolia||Year around|
|Coast redwood||Sequoia sempervirens||Year around|
|Coast rhododendron||Rhododendron macrophyllum||Spring|
|Common snowberry||Symphoricarpos albus||Year around|
|Pacific trillium||Trillium ovatum||Spring|
|Redwood sorrel||Oxalis oregana||Spring-Summer|
|Sword fern||Polystichum munitum||Spring-Summer|
|Tanoak||Lithocarpus densiflorus||Year around|
|Wood rose||Rosa gymnocarpa||Spring|
|ANIMALS||BEST TIME TO MONITOR|
|Banana slug||Year around|
|California newt||Year around|
|Pacific giant salamander||Year around|
How We Use Your Data
Photos that are submitted to iNaturalist have a GPS coordinate associated with them. This lets us know where and when each picture was taken. These data points are used by the League and our researchers to help us better understand where redwood forests grow. Our researchers are currently using over 100 years of weather station data to look at temperature and precipitation trends in the recent past, and how they compare to current data. This information, compiled with redwoods distribution data, can help give us an idea of where future redwoods might survive with a changing climate.
Additionally, the League uses these distribution data to figure out where biodiversity hotspots are today and to track the movement of species in and out of the redwood forest over time. This helps Save the Redwoods League know where we should establish the next redwood reserve and also where in already-existing parks the forest would benefit most from careful stewardship of sensitive species.
We’ve integrated our scientific findings into our new Redwoods and Climate Change High School Program. Students draw on our research data, making climate change tangible and relevant because they can see how environmental changes affect redwoods in their back yards. Learn more about this program.