I am one of two interns placed with the San Diego Zoological Society for Conservation Research, a non-profit organization focused on conservation science around the world. The Applied Plant Ecology Division, of which I am part of, is just one small part of the scientific community here at the Beckman Center for Conservation Research. Other divisions within the building include Animal Reproductive Biology, Behavioral Biology, Genetics, Regional Conservation Programs and Conservation Education to name a few. We share our lab space with Applied Animal Ecology as well as their Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Aquariums. Currently endangered, these frogs were rescued from a puddle in the high elevation mountains in central California, so they prefer cooler temperatures. Unfortunately for us, this results in our lab space being quite chill! ( 68 degrees F!)
Although our primary responsibilities here include seed collections for Seeds of Success, we’ve been fortunate to get our hands dirty with a variety of research projects within the institute. This particular organization receives the majority of it’s funding for endangered animal species, so most of our plant projects revolve around habitat rehabilitation. Our first two weeks of intense field work involved a vegetation survey of the chaparral areas in the 900 acre preserve (“the back 9”) located adjacent to The Wild Animal Park to restore for the Cactus Wren. Transversing in this environment can be painful as you can imagine, but it was actually a great experience for an east-coaster like me to back my butt into a prickly pear cactus for the first time!