Citizen Science

Documenting Changes in the Life of the Mountain

Over the past century of MMWD's stewardship, great changes have taken place in the types of plants that grow on Mt. Tamalpais and where those plants grow. We have seen species come and go and shift their locations or flowering times. In the coming century we will see even more changes.

To mark the district's centennial in 2012, we started a series of projects to create a snapshot cataloging current plant life on the watershed. We will use this snapshot to compare against past records as well as a baseline against which future change will be measured. 
Photo of bioblitzer holding flowers
To accomplish this, the district has partnered with the California Academy of Sciences, the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory, and the California Native Plant Society. We need your help! Please join us.
Botanical Bioblitzes
A bioblitz is a focused survey in a defined location that attempts to document all species present. With more than 18,000 acres of land and thousands of species in the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed, we know we cannot document everything at once. Taking a more targeted approach, we will focus on plant species in specific areas of MMWD lands. These surveys include systematic specimen collection, georeferenced photos, and observations for each specimen.
Photo of bioblitzer photographing plant life
Collections and associated data will be added to the California Academy of Science's research collections and will serve as the beginnings of a new baseline of Mt. Tamalpais botanic diversity. In addition, the new findings will be compared to historic collections in order to document any shifts in ranges or distributions.

The multi-year effort has brought together botanical experts from around the Bay Area and more than 100 volunteer Citizen Scientists. During four bioblitz survey days, participants recorded more than 1,400 observations comprising over 500 kinds of plants, over half of the estimated 900 plant species living on the watershed. We are optimistic that 2014 will provide us with another great year of bioblitzes, but we need your help!  

Plant Safaris

Stewardship has expanded beyond the weed wrench!

MMWD and the California Academy of Sciences have engaged with the public to document the plant biodiversity of Mt. Tamalpais. We have observed or collected about two-thirds of the 935 species of plants on the watershed. Can you help us collect the rest?

Through this project, participants deepen their relationship with the mountain, develop a better understanding of how science works, and help us build a baseline inventory that informs conservation measures.

The bioblitz model is an intense search in a predetermined, discrete plot. In order to find the remaining plants, we will need to map more locations and "safari" participants will need to visit more than one location per foray. We hope you can help! We will post more information about this exciting volunteer opportunity soon. Please check back!

Rare Plant Treasure Hunts

The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt (RPTH) is a volunteer program started by the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) that was designed to get people excited about rare plant conservation as well as to gather important data on rare plants around the state. Almost half of the rare plant populations in California have not been documented in more than 20 years, and recent data is needed to ensure their long term conservation. Volunteer botanists, both amateurs and experts, search for and document historical and new rare plant populations.

MMWD and CNPS are continuing their partnership with Rare Plant Treasure Hunts on Mt. Tamalpais. Come explore parts of the mountain that you've never seen before, learn about Mt. Tamalpais' unique rare plants and improve your botanical skills. Each trip starts mid morning and lasts four to six hours. Dates and trip descriptions are available on the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt event calendar, and more information can be obtained through email.
California Lady's Slipper Orchid
The California lady's slipper orchid has not been seen on Mt. Tamalpais in nearly 100 years.
lady slipper orchid, jepson herbarium