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The Mono-logue » Natural History

‘Natural History’ Category

#OptOutside at Mono Lake this year

Friday, November 24th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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This year for Black Friday, skip the craziness of the shopping mall and come enjoy the tranquility of Mono Lake.

#OptOutside at Mono Lake this Friday. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

As fall fades to winter, the air is chilly but invigorating, ice fog descends in the basin in the morning, the mountains are covered in a fresh coat of white, and streamside vegetation is covered in ice. It won’t be long before (more…)

New Mono Lake alkali fly research

Monday, November 20th, 2017 by Arya, Communications Director
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Last summer Floris van Breugel, who studies alkali flies at Mono Lake, stayed at the Mono Basin Field Station and gave a fascinating talk about his research at the Mono Lake Committee.

This mesmerizing video, posted by National Geographic upon the paper’s release, is a must-see:

Using a combination of high speed videography, force measurements, scanning electron microscopy, and manipulations of water chemistry he is working toward understanding what makes these flies so unique—research which, on top of being really neat, has implications in the world of multi-factorial data sets and their application to machine learning. And today, the research paper, “Superhydrophobic diving flies (Ephydra hians) and the hypersaline water of Mono Lake,” by Floris van Breugel and Michael H. Dickinson came out! You can find the paper abstract here. (more…)

The million-grebe question

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician
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More than 90% of all Eared Grebes in North America stop at either Mono Lake or Great Salt Lake to feed on brine shrimp before continuing their migration to wintering grounds in the southern United States and Mexico. Each year more than a million Eared Grebes depend on Mono Lake’s abundant supply of brine shrimp in order to successfully complete their southbound migration.

Aerial surveys are conducted each fall to estimate the peak population of Eared Grebes stopping at Mono Lake during their migration. Photo by Jess Horn.

Efforts to quantify the number of Eared Grebes at Mono Lake started in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until 1996 that a reliable methodology was developed. By flying over the lake in mid-October (when grebes were assumed to be at peak abundance) and using aerial photography, researchers were able to more accurately estimate numbers. Dr. Sean Boyd, a Research Scientist with Environment & Climate Change Canada, has coordinated grebe surveys at Mono Lake since 1996, which have provided invaluable data for understanding the Eared Grebe fall migration through Mono Lake as well as the overall health of the species in North America. Recognizing the value of this research, and our ability to help by being the local, on-the-ground coordinator of flights and volunteer photographers, the Mono Lake Committee began assisting Dr. Boyd with the Eared Grebe surveys in 2008. (more…)

Tioga Pass closed due to an incoming storm

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Caltrans closed the lower gate on Highway 120 West (Tioga Pass) today due to an incoming storm. From the Caltrans press release:

“The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed the lower gate on State Route 120 West (Tioga Pass) to the Yosemite National Park entrance gate today, Tuesday, November 14th at 11:00 a.m. due to incoming inclement weather. This closure is in conjunction with the closure of the Yosemite National Park gate also closed at 11:00 a.m.

“The partial reopening of SR 120 West is dependent upon favorable weather. Please check local highway conditions before planning to use SR 120 West.”

Leaving a legacy at Mono Lake

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Last spring, I sat down with Mono Lake Committee members Vern Gersh and Terry McLaughlin just before their retirement and talked with them about what Mono Lake means to them and why they decided to put the Committee in their estate plans.

As I talked with them, I was inspired by their passion and love for this place. They shared with me stories from their years of living in Lee Vining and working at the Committee, from enjoying beautiful evening walks to see the sunset to getting stuck in “Mono muck” after their first time paddling a kayak on the lake.

Over the past few months, I’ve put together a short video featuring Terry and Vern’s story. In the video, you’ll hear them reflect on the sublime beauty of the Mono Basin, the remarkable ecological productivity of Mono Lake, and the important role the Mono Lake Committee plays to ensure that this place continues to be protected and restored.

Vern’s parting words at the end of the video still resonate with me: “It’s not necessarily leaving things to the people that are on the earth, but it’s also leaving a portion of the earth to the people who are still here.”

Winter field seminars at Mono Lake

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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This coming winter we are pleased to offer three field seminars to take advantage of this very special season—one winter ecology and two winter photography seminars!

Poconip ice fog shrouds Mono Lake, with just a sliver of sun illuminating the base of Black Point. Photo courtesy of Joe Decker.

___________________________________________

Winter Ecology of the Mono Basin •
January 13–14, 2018 • Nora Livingston

Mono Basin Winter Photography •
January 26–28, 2018
 • Joe Decker

Mono Lake by Moonlight •
March 2–4, 2018
 • Joe Decker
___________________________________________

Registration will open on Wednesday, November 1 for Mono Lake Committee members only, and on December 1 for non-members. To sign up, call (760) 647-6595 or register online. (more…)

Tioga Pass temporarily closing tonight

Thursday, October 19th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Caltrans has announced that Tioga Pass (Highway 120) will temporarily close this evening at 5:00pm at the lower gate due to incoming inclement weather. The road will be reevaluated on Friday.

Additionally, State Route 108 (Sonora Pass) will close from Kennedy Meadows to the east side winter closure gate (west of Pickel Meadows) at 3:00pm today. State Route 4 (Ebbetts Pass) will close from Lake Alpine to gate #3 (west of Silver Creek campground) at 9:00pm today.

Tioga Pass will temporarily close today at 5:00pm due to an incoming storm. Photo from May 2017 by Bartshe Miller.

Always check current road conditions and weather before making a trip to the Eastern Sierra, and give us a call for the most current Tioga Pass information: (760) 647-6595.

Timelapse video: Watch Mono Lake rise before your eyes

Friday, October 13th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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So far in 2017, Mono Lake has risen an astounding 4.5 vertical feet before leveling off in the past month. About 3 feet of that total lake rise occurred from mid-May to mid-August. Watch below for a quick 20-second timelapse showing the incredible lake rise this summer, or scroll down and see the full two-and-half-minute timelapse video.

(more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Water law plus geology with Craig Jones

Sunday, October 8th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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This Wednesday, October 11 at 4:00pm is our last Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation of the year. Join us in the Mono Lake Committee gallery to hear from Craig Jones, a geologist at the University of Colorado, about the relationship between water law and geology at Mono Lake and how both have had significant effects on how the lake has evolved over time.

Geologist Craig Jones will talk about how the Sierra Nevada west of Mono Lake affect the climate in the Mono Basin. Photo by Ava Stavros.

Years ago, to acquire water exports from the Mono Basin, Los Angeles used California water laws that first emerged in the goldfields of the western Sierra. These laws allowed for (more…)

Fall splendor in the Mono Basin

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Color starting to creep in at Walker Creek on October 3, 2017. Photo by Nora Livingston.

The fall colors are really starting to happen in the Mono Basin! We offer Fall Color Foray half-day field seminars where we guide you to groves with peak color, plus discuss aspen ecology and the science behind changing colors. Don’t miss it—we have two seminars left.

Check out the itinerary for the October 12 seminar.

Check out the itinerary for the October 16 seminar.

Sign up for either seminar here! More fall color photos after the jump…. (more…)

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