Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Project Abstracts 2011-2012

By Stacey Vigallon, Director of Environmental Education, and the Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Interns 

On June 10, 2012 students participating in the Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Internship Program presented their research to the public at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park. Intern projects addressed real-world wildlife and habitat restoration issues, and the information obtained through their hard work will be used for the in-progress restoration of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park. We are extremely proud of the work they did during the 2011-2012 school year, and we’re looking forward to working with a new group of Interns and Restoration Leaders during the 2012-2013 school year. We are pleased to present the 2011-2012 project abstracts… 

Jessica Sosa

Can native plants from California help food plants grow?

For the third year of my companion planting project at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park (BHSO) I used California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) with chard. In 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years I used native perennials in a companion planting experiment, and this year’s experiment focused on an annual native. There were a total of three treatments and a control group. Treatments had both California poppies and chard planted together in 15-gallon pots, but they varied in planting dates; control was chard only. Results indicated that chard in control had the highest survival and growth rate, while chard in the treatments had very low growth rate over the course of the experiment. In addition, a similar project was set up at Leo Politi Elementary where students in the GATE program monitored and collected data from 6ft x 4ft beds where both poppies and chard were planted together. I conclude that California poppies and chard are not good companions in a small confined space. Gardeners that practice companion planting between natives and food plants may help provide wildlife corridors and provide highly nutritious food. 

Monica Anderson

What is the Relationship Between Bird Abundance and Human Abundance at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook?

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park (BHSO) is largely fragmented coastal sage scrub habitat, inhabited by approximately 166 bird species (Molina 2001), and surrounded by urban areas, like Culver City, and Outer Los Angeles. During my surveys at BHSO, I viewed 24 different bird species. From November 2011 to April 2012, I surveyed for bird and human abundance at BHSO, twice weekly between 1:30 and 5:30pm. I targeted five waypoints with a GPS for my surveys, spending 4-30 minutes surveying birds with binoculars and a field guide while also counting pedestrians, bikes, and cars that passed through my survey points. I hypothesized that bird abundance would vary with human abundance and vegetation type at BHSO, and my data supported my hypothesis. Within BHSO, bird abundance and species diversity appeared to be higher at the two sites with less human abundance and more established native vegetation. Whereas other sites, like along the trail, seemed to be more abundant with more pedestrians instead of birds. When surveying wildlife, future researchers should also consider more natural factors like the weather. 

Chelsi Carr

Can cameras capture mammal activity at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook?

From November 2011 to April 2012 I studied mammals in coastal sage scrub habitat at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park (BHSO). January 10th 2012, I set up my first camera on an oak tree behind the greenhouse to test if there was mammal activity that could be captured on video. Toward the end of four months of camera set ups and trail surveys, throughout various sites in the park, my experiment showed that mammal presence can be caught on camera. Cameras caught the best footage on video during the night, and seldom captured mammals during the day. Presence of mammals is easily determined by visual evidence, such as scat, burrows, and tracks (Alden and Heath 2007) and I found clear evidence of their existence within BHSO. For future interns, I recommend setting up cameras at sites that have the most scat, tracks, and mammal-made trails with the very least human presence in the area.

EJ Siufanua

The effects of roads and trails on wildlife mortality at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park is surrounded by a highly urbanized area, Inglewood, Culver City, and Los Angeles, California. The roads and the demand for building new trails may negatively affect wildlife at the park. November 2011 to April 2012, I surveyed roads and trails of the park for presence of roadkill from3:30-5:00 two days a week. I surveyed a portion of the main road and two different trails. I also counted pedestrians, cars, and bikes that were also using the same road and trails. I surveyed a trail next to the Greenhouse and one by the park’s Visitor’s Center. Contrary to my hypothesis, there was slightly more roadkill on the trails than on the main road. The roadkill mainly consisted of invertebrates rather than vertebrates such as snails, bees, a grasshopper, pill bugs, a ladybug, and beetles. There were always a high number of dead snails on the main road and both trails. Next year I will be tracking the effects of weather on roadkill by checking weather summaries online.

Published Western Tanager Vol. 79 No. 1 Sept/Oct 2012