2022-2023 Lecture Series

Free lectures on the nature of our world

Lectures are facilitated by Dr. Chris Tracy, director of Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center. All events are held 6 p.m. Thursday evenings at UCR Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert, CA

Deep Canyon:  A lens for understanding plant species range shifts in a warming world

6 p.m. Thursday, January 12, 2023

Plant species are responding rapidly, albeit idiosyncratically, to warming and drying conditions worldwide.  Tesa Madsen-Hepp will discuss the long term dynamics of where plant species are found along the Deep Canyon Transect, and how consideration of plant form and function can help improve predictions of how communities of plant species will reorganize under changing climates.
Register now!   

California’s Elephants:  Mammoths and Mastodons, and other Megafauna

6 p.m. Thursday, February 9, 2023

Follow the strange evolutionary history of mammoths and mastodons from the ancient swamps of Egypt to the plains of California, and among the many extinct mammals of the Pleistocene Megafauna. Was their disappearance due to changing climates, or at the hand of humans?    Register now!

Next Generation Natural History: Using Technology to Understand Rattlesnake Behavior

6 p.m. Thursday, March 9, 2023

Rattlesnakes are fascinating animals, but what do they really do? In this presentation you will learn about how researchers and citizen scientists are starting to unlock the secrets of rattlesnake behavior by studying exciting footage from time lapse and live-streaming cameras on a den with hundreds of rattlesnakes. Register now.

Microplastic ingestion by baleen whales:  How big a threat are the smallest plastics to the largest animals?

6 p.m. Thursday, April 13, 2023

Baleen whales may be at extreme risk of exposure to microplastics, but neither the amount nor pathway of microplastic ingestion are well understood. My colleagues and I combined data from the California Current Ecosystem on density of micro plastics at different depths with tag deployments on blue, fin, and humpback whales to measure plastic ingestion rates and routes of exposure. We found that per day, a krill-feeding blue whale may ingest 10 million pieces of microplastic, while a krill-feeding humpback whale likely ingests one million pieces of microplastic. Register now.