Citlali Villarreal

Citlali Villarreal

Thursday, 13 June 2019 21:17

Something New You Have Learned

How’s it going?

This week I explored Giant Forest with the SIEN forest crew to monitor Sequoia health. We collected data on whether the trees were dead or alive, and the status of the tree’s foliage, which indicates stress levels. If a sequoia tree has “dieback”, or a certain amount of needle loss, this means that the tree can be under attack from beetles, have a lack of water or sunlight, or some other stressor affecting it.

I also had a chance to spend a day at the Wolverton camp with high school volunteers that were working with the National Park Service at Sequoia National Park. One of the lead wildlife technicians gave the group a talk about bears, as well as bear safety. They explained that the American black bear is the only type of bear that naturally lives in the Sierra Nevada. Grizzly bears, which were also once prevalent in the area, were hunted to extinction decades ago. Black bears are not aggressive like grizzlies, but rather skittish and evasive of humans.

Being a responsible visitor to the park includes being aware of how to properly store and dispose of food, trash, and anything with a smell that could attract bears. It may seem like we could be doing the bear a favor by leaving food outside for it, but bears that associate humans with food are monitored by the NPS wildlife crew. If these bears are found to repeatedly rummage for human food, they could be considered a threat to visitors and be euthanized.

To keep this from happening, the wildlife crew does their best to scare away bears. In an effort to make bears associate humans with unpleasant things so they can stay away from us, they make loud noises, yell, shoot rubber bullets, and chase them. The wildlife crew works to keep the bears and park visitors safe, and we can do our part by not feeding our wildlife and being responsible about our waste.

The photo above shows my first bear sighting here in California. I heard the wildlife techs yelling and clapping and I looked out of my cabin window in time to see a bear passing through the Lodgepole living area! The bear made it safely to the other side of the forest.

Monday, 03 June 2019 16:47

My Project

Hi all!

I’m at the start of my third week here! The snow in Lodgepole has mostly melted, and while the snow was nice to see, I’m hoping it doesn’t come back. However, we are at high elevation, so my hopes may not be realistic. Pictured here is one of the last, beautiful days of snow here at Lodgepole. Since the snow has melted, I have been able to explore more areas of the park, including the area around the river near my cabin. 

This week’s focus is choosing a subject on Sequoia tree demographics, which I will further explore and develop into a research project. So far, my possible project topics include resampling juvenile trees related to the original census taken in the 1960s, comparing the demographics between burned and unburned plots of trees, marking differences between groups of Sequoia trees in front country (closer to cities or civilization) VS. the wilderness, and learning about seedling recruitment in regard to the recent 2012-2016 drought while using a database of drought information dating back to around 30 years.

I will be meeting with my project supervisor, Dr.Christy Brigham, to find a topic I would be most interested in, determine how feasible it is to create a project around it within the amount of time I have this summer, and clearly define the goals of each week to complete my investigation. The other part of my internship project is the interpretation segment, where I will be educating the public on my work and the park.

I’m really looking forward to deciding on a specific topic that will provide direction for my study, and I can’t wait for all the discoveries I’ll make this summer. I’m also excited to talk  to park visitors about park conservation!

See you next week!



 

Monday, 03 June 2019 16:39

Introducing myself

Hi Everyone!

My name is Citlali Villarreal, and I am an intern for the 2019 cohort of the Latino Heritage Internship Program. I am from Galveston, Texas, studying as an undergrad at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

I will be working for the National Park Service in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for 11 weeks. As a Sequoia tree monitoring and demography intern, my work consists of conducting an independent research project on Sequoia tree demography under Dr. Christy Brigham. For the public service component of my position, I'll be working on a public education program for the visitors at the park and telling them about my research.

Even though it’s May, there is still snow up here, which will probably be melting in the following week or so. Once that happens, I'll be exploring more of the park and familiarizing myself with the area.

This photo stares down a small gully next to my living area. It's been really wonderful listening to this rushing stream everyday and having this view right outside my window.

I am so excited for this opportunity! Tune in to my blogs here at the LHIP website, which will be updated with new blogs every week!

Thank you!

 

Tuesday, 28 May 2019 17:50

Blog #2.1 Description of My Worksite

Greetings!

Let me tell you a little about the sites I have been working in for the past several days. My first day was spent at the Lodgepole subdistrict of Sequoia and Kings National Parks (SEKI). I attended the CPR training held that day at the Lodgepole visitor center auditorium, which is used for educational demonstrations for the public. Later that day, Nathan L. Stephenson, whose research has been affiliated with Sequoia trees and other conifers of the Sierra Nevada, came to speak with us about Giant Sequoias. The topic on current threats to sequoia trees stood out to me because the identification of the risks that these trees face is important for strategizing their mitigation. According to Stephenson, boundary transcending threats, such as climate change and air pollution, are being monitored for their effect on Sequoia trees. It was indicated that the greater of these two threats to Sequoias is climate change, which includes the consistently documented increase of global temperature. Higher temperatures result in earlier snowpack melt, which makes droughts last even longer than normal and subsequently puts the sequoias in danger. The most recent drought, occurring in 2012-2016, led to record-breaking tree decline. Though this certainly sounds depressing, Sequoia and Kings National parks have active ongoing efforts to monitor and protect the forests while educating the public on ways we can all contribute to Sequoia tree conservation.

 

My other worksite is at the Ash Mountain foothills subdistrict, which contains the Foothills Visitor Center, the SEKI education office, and other Ash Mountain facilities. Here I met with my research supervisor, Dr. Christy Brigham, and discussed my goals for my time here as an intern. One of my goals involves becoming more knowledgeable about the ecological interactions in the parks, and learning how to communicate that effectively to educate the public.

 

Another activity I took part in at the Ash Mountain Foothills was a discussion on Whitebark Pines, which are also declining due to numerous factors. A few of these stressors include non-native pathogen called white pine blister rust, the mountain pine beetle, and climate change. Luckily, there are similar efforts put in place for these trees as well, and public education is certainly a crucial component of this. If we want these beautiful landscapes to prevail, it is our responsibility to inform ourselves about nature conservation efforts wherever we are. There is no need to be discouraged about our seemingly small individual efforts in conservation, because it all adds up!

 

This blog’s photo shows two mule deer grazing in the grasses of the Ash Mountain Foothills Area!

 

See you later!

Hi Everyone!

My name is Citlali Villarreal, and I am an intern for the 2019 cohort of the Latino Heritage Internship Program. I am from Galveston, Texas, studying as an undergrad at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

I will be working for the National Park Service in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for 11 weeks. As a Sequoia tree monitoring and demography intern, my work consists of conducting an independent research project on Sequoia tree demography under Dr. Christy Brigham. For the public service component of my position, I'll be working on a public education program for the visitors at the park and telling them about my research.

My home for the rest of the summer will be at Lodgepole, where other park staff are also staying for the season. Even though it’s May, there is still snow up here, which will probably be melting in the following week or so. Once that happens, I'll be exploring more of the park and familiarizing myself with the area.

This photo stares down a small gully next to my living area. It's been really wonderful listening to this rushing stream everyday and having this view right outside my window.

I am so excited for this opportunity! Tune in to my blogs here at the LHIP website, which will be updated with new blogs every week!

 

Thank you!

Wednesday, 15 May 2019 13:59

Citlali Villarreal

As an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major at Rice University in Houston, Texas, I look at the various ecological relationships that exist in nature. I analyze the evolution, structure, and function of organisms and seek to learn more about anthropogenic effects on ecosystems and biological diversity. Other academic interests of mine include conservation biology and veterinary medicine. National parks hold a special place in my heart because they educate the public on nature conservation and help preserve ecosystems and breathtaking landscapes. I am in awe of nature’s beauty, and am committed to learning more about the environment so that I can help protect it. My fondness for the outdoors draws me to activities like hiking, bike riding, and camping. I also love traveling, eating food, dancing, and listening to music. My future plans are to become a doctor of veterinary medicine and work on learning how to operate my own small animal veterinary practice. I am thankful for the Latino Heritage Internship Program because it affords Latinas such as myself an opportunity to explore career interests and to help increase diversity in national park programs across the United States.