Photo Credit: Debra Valov

Annetta Carter Memorial Fund Grants (up to $1000)

The Annetta Carter Memorial Fund honors Annetta Carter, who devoted the last 40 years of her life to the study of the Baja California flora. Her special interests were floristics, history, biogeography, and ethnobotany of the Sierra de la Giganta.

The review committee will consider proposals from members of the California Botanical Society who are conducting or proposing to conduct botanical research on the green plants of Baja California. Studies of populations outside Baja will also be considered if they elucidate problems in Baja California.

Next Deadline is December 31, 2025

Tito Abbo

2024 Recipient

Tito Abbo, UC Riverside

What role does the Baja California Peninsula play in manzanita diversification?:

Manzanitas are extremely diverse, and their taxonomy and species relationships are the subject of historic and ongoing debates. Given that morphological evidence can be misleading and/or subject to various interpretations, it is preferable to settle taxonomic uncertainties using DNA evidence about the evolutionary relationships among populations and/or lineages. In manzanitas, however, early DNA evidence was largely uninformative, and persistent taxonomic and phylogenetic uncertainty makes it challenging to ask deeper evolutionary questions, such as how and when these woody shrubs diversified in the California Floristic Province (CAFP). Using more modern genomic methods, Tito’s preliminary data resolves the phylogeny for the majority of manzanitas in the US and mainland Mexico, but key gaps in his sampling are the manzanitas endemic to Baja California. The Annetta Carter Memorial Fund Grant will finance his collecting expedition to Baja California, where he is collaborating with BCMX Herbarium Curator Jose Delgadillo. Baja California has several endemic manzanitas, but these have received less attention from systematists than northern areas of the CAFP. From an evolutionary perspective, Baja California is fascinating for manzanitas because of its uniqueness. As manzanitas extend outside of the CAFP, their species diversity rapidly decreases until they are represented by only one (or two) widespread species; for example, bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) in the north or pointleaf manzanita (A. pungens) in mainland Mexico. This is true of Baja California as well, where the peninsular manzanita (A. peninsularis) is the only species to expand outside of the CAFP, but being a peninsula, Baja California strongly limits the amount of land peninsular manzanita can occupy. The only direction in which it can expand its range to the mainland is north through the CAFP where it comes into contact with other manzanitas with which it can compete, coexist, and hybridize. Tito’s project aims to investigate the consequences of this unique geography on manzanita evolution. He is particularly interested in whether the Baja California manzanitas have a single origin or multiple origins, as this will allow him to investigate the hypothesis that many Baja California narrow endemic manzanitas were hybrid lineages that diversified after widespread species became isolated by the surrounding waters and migrated back into the CAFP, sharing their genes with northern manzanitas. It is also imperative for conservation that the manzanitas of Baja California be resurveyed to document their continued persistence and abundance. Perhaps the most important example is the rare subspecies of Eastwood manzanita, A. glandulosa ssp. atumescens which was rumored to have been completely wiped out by a fire, and it is unknown if there has been any seedling recruitment.

Tito did his undergraduate at SFSU where he researched plant genome size with Kevin Simonin. His main passion is plant systematics and taxonomy, and he is deeply thankful to his mentors, Bob Patterson and Tom Parker, for providing him with a strong foundation in general floristics and manzanita taxonomy. He is currently a 4th year PhD candidate at UCR studying manzanitas with his advisor Amy Litt.

Past Recipients

2024 – Tito Abbo: What role does the Baja California Peninsula play in manzanita diversification?

2022 – Sophie Winitsky: Investigating taxonomic hypotheses of Baja California’s hyper-diverse genus Marina (Fabaceae) using target enrichment

2018 – Isaac H.L. Marck: Revising the Systematics of Amauri, the Baja California endemic road daisies

2018 – Benjamin T. Wilder: Botanical Diversity and Change of Volcan Tres Virgenes

2016 – Andy Siekkinen: Searching for Hechtia gayorum, the Baja Endemic Bromeliad

2014 – C. Matt Guilliams: Distribution, extent, and floristics of vernal pools in Baja California, Mexico

2014 – Daniel E. Winkler: Reconnaissance of the status of a rare, endemic plant species in Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park, Baja California, Mexico

2012 – Kristen Hasenstab-Lehman: The vascular flora of Greater San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico

2010 – Christopher DiVittorio: Adaptive radiation of Encelia (Asteraceae) in Baja California

2008 – Sula Vanderplank: The vascular flora of Greater San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico

2006 – Peter J. Garcia: Plant collecting on Isla Angel, Sea of Cortez

2005 – Jon P. Rebman: Checklist of the plants of Lower California, Mexico

Photo by Debra Valov
Photo by Debra Valov
Photo by Debra Valov

Paul Silva Student Research Grants (up to $600)

The Paul Silva Student Research Grant is named after Paul Silva (1922-2014), a phycologist and Curator of Algae at the University Herbarium, UC Berkeley, whose bequest to the Society has made this award possible. Awards are made to qualified undergraduate and graduate student members of the Society working on projects that will help achieve the Society’s goal of advancing Western American botany. Students from any accredited university doing botanical research within western North America and who are members of the Society are eligible for this award.

The next deadline for receipt of applications for a Paul Silva Student Research Grant is May 15, 2024. Proposals will be reviewed by a panel of experts, and winners will be announced within two months.

David Mitchell
David Mitchell
Chi Wei
Chi Wei
Josue Magaña
Josue Magaña

2023 Recipients

David Mitchell, University of California, Davis

Soil management to improve native tree and shrub restoration and enhance mycorrhizal symbioses in rangeland riparian zones:

In Northern California’s low-elevation rangelands, many historically-grazed riparian zones have lost woody vegetation and are now dominated by invasive grasses. Re-establishment of native trees and shrubs along degraded streambanks can restore multiple ecosystem functions. Efforts to restore woody cover along rangeland streams are often limited by poor establishment in the first 1-3 years after planting. Degraded soil conditions and scarcity of mycorrhizal partners may contribute to such low survival and growth of woody seedlings. Restoration practices that alleviate stressful soil conditions and promote mycorrhizal symbioses have the potential to increase tree and shrub restoration success. Such practices include organic soil amendments and inoculation with soil collected from mature stands of the target species. Research has found soil inoculum to increase root colonization and restoration success for many ectomycorrhizal tree species, but few studies have tested how soil inoculum affects arbuscular-mycorrhizal woody species. I have established a field experiment to test how organic amendments and soil inoculum affect tree and shrub restoration and mycorrhizal associations at a riparian site in Marin County, CA. Restoration efforts at this site aim to establish a diverse tree and shrub community along a reach of Stemple Creek impacted by ~100 years of cattle traffic and dominated by annual grasses. This experiment includes two native woody species with distinct mycorrhizal associations: Quercus agrifolia (coast live oak), which associates with both ectomycorrhizae and arbuscular mycorrhizae, and Frangula californica (coffeeberry) which only associates with arbuscular mycorrhizae. Experiment treatments include two locally-available organic amendments – biochar produced from conifer wood feedstock, and compost produced from yard waste – in combination with inoculum soil collected from mature stands of these plant species.

Chi Wei, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA

Using Aerial Vegetation Indices to Enhance Acorn Crop Estimates in Analyses of California Oak Phenology Patterns

The diversity of oaks and their mast seeding significantly influence oak-dependent species like Acorn Woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus). Due to high variability in acorn production, quantifying the yearly acorn crop is challenging and often involves either direct visual surveys or through indirect means, such as pollen detection and remote sensing. Visual surveys of five tree oak species (i.e., Quercus lobata, Q. douglasii, Q. agrifolia, Q. chrysolepis, and Q. kelloggii) have been conducted since 1980 at Hastings Natural History Reservation in Carmel Valley, California. Acorn crops are influenced by factors like temperature and precipitation, with varying effects across oak species, but the underlying mechanisms remain unknown.

With access to long-term ground-based monitoring data, I intend to extend the investigation of oak phenology using a combination of drone and satellite imagery, with the following three questions: (1) Can drone-based tree crown assessments complement ground-level visual surveys in estimating acorn production? (2) Is there agreement in the timing and synchrony of masting events between tree crown assessments and ground-based visual surveys? (3) Do long-term acorn production patterns from satellite images align with ground-based survey estimates? To evaluate these assessments, a drone equipped with RGB sensors will be deployed to capture high-resolution images of ~250 individual tree crowns, facilitating precise acorn quantification. To validate long-term observations, Landsat satellite imagery spanning 2000 to 2023 will be used, and vegetation indices will be derived from both drone and satellite imagery, including the RGB- or near-infrared-associated Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). By integrating multiple data sources and survey techniques, this study aims to improve our understanding of acorn crop dynamics in California oak woodlands. The results will contribute valuable insights into the phenology of these ecosystems and their impact on wildlife populations, aiding in conservation efforts and management.

Josue Magaña, California State University, Fresno

Investigating the relationship between Galápagos Island and North American Amaranthus species with a focus on Amaranthus torreyi:

Amaranthus is a broad ranged genus of weedy plants that can be found across the world. Although some species may be found throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, the majority of the species within this genus can be found in the Americas. This includes the Galapagos Islands off the coast of South America. The species found in the Galapagos islands have similar morphology and genetics to those found in three different North American Amaranthus groups. Because of these similarities, it is suspected that there may be a relationship between the species of Amaranthus found in the Galapagos Islands (ex. Amaranthus sclerantoides) and species found in Southwestern regions of North America (ex. Amaranthus torreyi). One native Galapagos species (A. sclerantoides) even forms its own clade with species found in the Southwestern areas of the U.S. (A. albus, A. blitoides, A. californicus). It is theorized that the spread of these plants across such vast distances was due to migratory birds dispersing the seeds as they traveled. This leads to the possibility of Southwestern Amaranthus species giving rise to species found in the Galapagos Islands.

To answer this question, more information on Southwestern Amaranthus species needs to be collected. Our study chose to specifically focus on Amaranthus torreyi, which was missing from previous phylogenies of Amaranthus and is not taxonomically understood. A. torreyi is the most similar to the species found on the islands in terms of morphology and may allow us to form a firm taxonomic conclusion for this species and those it is related to. Lastly, our research will allow us to complete the phylogeny of Southwestern U.S. Amaranthus and propose a time/method of colonization for Amaranthus sclerantoides in the Galapagos islands.

Past Recipients

2023 – David Mitchell, University of California, Davis: Soil management to improve native tree and shrub restoration and enhance mycorrhizal symbioses in rangeland riparian zones

2023 – Chi Wei, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA: Using Aerial Vegetation Indices to Enhance Acorn Crop Estimates in Analyses of California Oak Phenology Patterns

2023 – Josue Magaña (undergraduate), California State University, Fresno: Investigating the relationship between Galápagos Island and North American Amaranthus species with a focus on Amaranthus torreyi

2022 – Peri Lee Pipkin, Claremont Graduate University/California Botanical Garden: A Floristic Inventory of the Silver Peak Range, Esmeralda County, NV.

2022 – Selena Vengco, Claremont Graduate University/California Botanical Garden: Maintenance of flower color polymorphisms in a non-model system of Erythranthe discolor (Phrymaceae)

2022 – Peter Nguyen (undergraduate), University of California, Santa Cruz: Using eDNA to characterize associated soil microbes of Lupinus nipomensis that influence survival

2021 – Emma Fryer, California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo: Community Assembly of Vertic Clay Endemic Annuals of the San Joaquin Desert

2021 – Riley Scaff, Pitzer College, Claremont, California: Restoring a Native Plant Community to a Mojave Desert Burn Site

2021 – Annie Taylor, Boise State University, Idaho: Resolving taxonomic uncertainty and clarifying species boundaries in the Cymopterus terebinthinus species complex

2021 – Kristy Snyder, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Washington: Analysis of the Role of Annual Seeds in Palouse Prairie Restoration

2020 – Ernesto Chavez-Velasco, University of California, Santa Cruz: Does coastal fog interact with drought to affect water use and endophytic pathogenesis in Coastal Prairie?

2020 – Jenna Ekwealor, University of California, Berkeley: UV tolerance in Mojave Desert mosses

2020 – Jacob Ewald, California State University, Chico: Species boundaries in two northern California Monkeyflowers

2020 – Michael Mulroy, California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo: An investigation of lichen biotas of ultramafic and sandstone outcrops along a maritime gradient in central California

2019 – Lacey Benson, San Jose State University: Desiccation tolerance of western sword fern (Polystichum minimum) gametophytes across the coast redwood forest ecological gradient

2019 – Alec Chiono, University of San Francisco: Testing the climate variability hypothesis in coast-inland systems and implications under climate change

2019 – Maria Jesus, Claremont Graduate University & Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden: A vascular flora of Conglomerate Mesa and Malpais Mesa, Inyo County, California

2019 – Christina Varnava, Claremont Graduate University & Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden: A vascular flora of the Upper Sespe Creek Watershed

2018 – Nicole Kollars – University of California, Davis: The consequences of grazing disturbance on the genetic diversity of seagrass

2018 – Audrey Haynes, University of California, Berkeley: Night-time transpiration in parasitic plants

2018 – Emily Cox (undergraduate), University of California, Berkeley: Lasthenia californica and water stress: A glimpse into the future of California grasslands

2017 – Jennifer Harrower, University of California, Santa Cruz: Investigating the impacts of climate change on Joshua trees and their symbionts

2017 – Nila Le, University of San Francisco: Climate change and limited distribution of the California native plant and rocky outcrop endemic Arabis blepharophylla

2017 – Annie Ayers, Kate Miller, Drew Burke & Maxwell McCollum, California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo: A floristic survey of Mt. Conness and Skelton Plateau in Yosemite National Park

2016 – Kristen Peach, University of California, Santa Barbara: Predicting responses of wild plant populations to climate change: Integrating climatic and biological factors influencing the ecology of floral attraction

Photo by Susan Fawcett
Photo by Susan Fawcett
Photo by Susan Fawcett
Photo by Susan Fawcett
Photo by Susan Fawcett

Research Grants from Other Sources

Photo by Susan Fawcett
Photo by Susan Fawcett
Photo by Susan Fawcett

 ©2024 California Botanical Society

c/o Jepson Herbarium 1001 Valley Life Sciences Building Berkeley, California 94720-2465

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