Students to Present Ecology Study of Presidio's Mountain Lake
Thursday, May 9, 2002 at the
California Academy of Sciences

SAN FRANCISCO (May 1, 2002) - 159 middle school, high school and college students, veritable "citizen scientists," have spent the last school year tallying turtles and counting zooplankton as part of a study of the Presidio's Mountain Lake in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The results of this project will help provide useful information for the future of the lake. On Thursday, May 9, the students will present their findings to the public in the second annual Mountain Lake Research Project Symposium at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.

"This project offers a rare opportunity for students to participate in a long-term ecological monitoring project where students gain experience and skills that have real world applications," said Dr. Meg Burke, director of education at the Academy. "This student project is valuable, because it trains participants in techniques used in science and advances science literacy."

Mountain Lake is one of the only natural, fresh water lakes remaining in San Francisco and is the only one in the Presidio. The Academy partnered with the National Park Service, the Presidio Trust, and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department two years ago to launch the Mountain Lake Research Project. Students study the lake's condition by monitoring spatial distribution of organisms in and around the lake, seasonal change, indicators of water quality, and by identifying species. Last year, students found that native plants and trees hosted a larger population of birds than non-native eucalyptus trees. Their findings agree with the decision of the agencies to replace non-native eucalyptus trees with natives such as the arroyo willow, coffee berry, hazelnut and live oak.

Mountain Lake is a natural ecosystem heavily impacted by human activity. It suffers from increasing sedimentation, algae infestations, and invasions by non-native species. Historically the lake depth was up to 30 feet, but currently it is nine feet. Mountain Lake and its shores are home to native populations of plants and animals, despite its degraded state. In addition, it harbors migratory birds and is much loved by neighborhood residents.

Partners of the Mountain Lake Research Project include: the Presidio Trust, the National Park Service, Golden Gate National Parks Association, San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, Kittredge School, Galileo Academy of Science and Technology, George Washington High School, San Francisco University High School, and the City College of San Francisco Center for Habitat Restoration.
The Academy's education program at Mountain Lake is supported in part by the ChevronTexaco Corporation, the Dean Witter Foundation, IBM and the Laural Foundation.
This event takes place from 9 am to 3 pm and is free and open to the public.

Education and Research at The California Academy of Sciences
The Academy is an international center for scientific education and research and is at the forefront of efforts to understand and protect the diversity of the earth's living things. The Academy has a staff of over 50 professional educators and Ph.D.-level scientists, supported by more than 100 Research and Field Associates and over 300 Fellows. It has eight scientific research departments in the fields of anthropology, aquatic biology, botany, entomology, geology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology, mammalogy and ornithology.


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