Speakers – Saturday

Yiwei Wang - Saturday Afternoon Presentation

Topic: Breeding Success of San Francisco Bay’s Western Snowy Plovers in the Wake of a Changing Environment

Saturday, September 24, 2016, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm

The Pacific Coast population of the Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) typically breeds on coastal sandy beaches, and are also found in the South San Francisco Bay’s dry salt panne habitat provided by former salt evaporation ponds. The Pacific Coast population of Snowy Plovers is federally threatened as a result of poor reproductive success, due to habitat loss or alteration, human disturbance, and increasing predation pressure. Snowy Plovers in the South Bay nest almost exclusively on salt pond habitat and since 2003, the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory has been monitoring these breeding efforts. The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project plans to restore 15,100 acres of former salt production ponds in the South Bay to tidal marsh and managed ponds. Though beneficial for native wildlife and combatting sea level rise, the Project’s actions would ultimately result in the loss of Snowy Plover breeding habitat (dry salt ponds). To aid in achieving Project and species recovery goals, SFBBO and the USFWS are investigating methods of habitat enhancement using oyster shells to maximize breeding success in the wake of a changing environment. yiwei-o Yiwei Wang grew up in the South Bay and has called the Bay area her home for most of her life. She attended Cornell University and double majored in Biology and Psychology. Returning to the west coast, she worked for a variety of organizations that focused on birds and mammals, including an internship with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory and a season as a field technician in SFBBO's Snowy Plover Program. She then attended UC Santa Cruz and received her PhD in Environmental Studies. Her dissertation focused on learning how human development impacts mountain lions and their relationships with other smaller carnivores. After completing her Ph.D., she worked in northern Kenya to coordinate research efforts among four NGOs to study regional human development and wildlife movement as part of a project supported by the Nature Conservancy. Most recently she was a post-doctoral scholar in Santa Barbara, where she worked to increase and facilitate the management and sharing of ecological data. Since 2015, Yiwei has been serving as the Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory.  

Kate Marianchild - Saturday Evening Presentation

Topic: Extraordinary Ordinary Birds of California's Oak Woodlands

Saturday, September 24, 2016, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Kate Marianchild doesn’t chase rare birds––she chases fascinating information about so-called ordinary birds. If you think you already know everything worth knowing about oak titmice, acorn woodpeckers, or western bluebirds, you might be in for a surprise. Do you know which birds imitate the sounds of dangerous animals? Do you know who engages in simulated sex rituals every night before bed? Who is capable of “mental time travel” and “theory of mind?” Whose winter social structure depends on oak mistletoe? Have you heard which bird eats poison oak berries and seeds for seven months of the year––the same species that collects spider webs with its tail? If you would like to know more about the marvelous survival strategies, behaviors, and social structures of various bird species found in California’s most diverse terrestrial ecosystem, you will love this talk. Kate-Marianchild-headshot-o Kate Marianchild is the author of the best-selling book Secrets of the Oak Woodlands: Plants and Animals among California’s Oaks (Heyday, 2014). After moving into a yurt near Ukiah in 2001, she fell in love for the first time––with an ecosystem, that is. A budding birder, she learned to recognize most of the regulars within a few years, but names weren’t enough. She wanted to know how the birds fit into the oak woodland web of life—particularly what they needed for survival and who needed them. While investigating those questions, she uncovered mind-boggling information about other oak woodland inhabitants, from fungi and plants to reptiles and mammals. Secrets of the Oak Woodlands is captivating Californians and nature lovers far and wide, and is playing a role in the effort to pass AB2162­­––the recently introduced Oak Woodlands Protection Act. Kate still lives in the same yurt, where she loves hearing “waka, waka, waka!” all day long. To read excerpts from Secrets of the Oak Woodlands or see samples of its lavish watercolor illustrations, go to www.katemarianchild.com.  
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