James Bartolome, Professor

Open (1) Estimating carbon in mosaics of grasslands and shrublands using Ecological Site Descriptions

Open. Apprentices needed for the fall semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before September 11th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning August 16th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, August 29th at 8 AM.

The replacement of dominant vegetation communities via novel ecological state transitions is occurring worldwide as a consequence of global environmental change, and these transitions may alter the quality and timing of key ecosystem services. In Californian semiarid ecosystems, shrub to grassland conversion and vice versa is occurring in both directions and its implication on ecosystem carbon (C) allocation pattern is unknown.

Literature on the effects of shrubland to and from grassland transition on C dynamics is inconsistent. Some claim a net ecosystem C loss with woody plant invasion of grasslands. While others show an increase in C stocks with respect to amount of woody plants. Livestock grazing may be an important factor influencing both state transitions and phase shifts within Ecological Sites and in annual carbon dynamics. To incorporate C sequestration into the decision-making process, it is important to understand the range of C sequestration rates and how these relate to management.

At Tejon Ranch, Ecological Sites have been described for grasslands, but not for shrublands. Thus, we will first define the shrubland Ecological Sites on Tejon Ranch. Then we will compare above and below-ground C dynamics for grasslands and shrublands using spatially explicit ecological site descriptions (ESD) and state-and-transition models (STM). We are also using camera traps to monitor the degree of grazing use by livestock and wildlife on our study plots.

We have scheduled fieldwork at Tejon Ranch Conservancy in Kern County in mid-October for 4-5 days. URAP students are encouraged, but not required, to come on the field with us. There, we will collect aboveground biomass and soil samples in addition to camera trap photos. Students will have the opportunity to learn about native plants and animals on site.

Back in the lab, we will dry and weigh biomass and process soil samples to measure carbon and nitrogen content in the soil. As for camera trap photos, we will go through each photo and record cattle and wildlife use. Further, we will do some data entry and data quality control.


We have scheduled fieldwork at Tejon Ranch Conservancy in Kern County in mid-October for 4-5 days. URAP students are encouraged, but not required, to come on the field with us. There, we will collect aboveground biomass and soil samples in addition to camera trap photos. Students will have the opportunity to learn about native plants and animals on site.

In the lab, we will separate, dry and weigh biomass and process soil samples to measure carbon and nitrogen content in the soil. Studentys will also work with camera trap photos, we will go through each photo and record cattle and wildlife use. Further, we will do some data entry and data quality control.


Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Lina Aoyama, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Desirable apprentice is a motivated, team-oriented undergraduate student with interests in conservation, soil science, and/or range ecology. There are no prior technical skills or experience required for this position; however, we are looking for students who are willing to learn and able to follow instructions. URAP students are welcome to attend our weekly lab meetings.

Weekly Hours: 3-6 hrs

Related website: https://ourenvironment.berkeley.edu/lab_affiliation/bartolome-group