Research News May 2010

RSABG Botanists at Whitewater Canyon Bio-blitz

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden staff, alumni of the Claremont Graduate University Botany Program at RSABG and an RSABG overseer were part of a group of 50 researchers and students surveying the wildlife inhabiting a scenic nature preserve north of Palm Springs, California.

The scientists and students offered their expertise to the "Whitewater Canyon Spring 2010 Bioblitz" on April 12 and 13, 2010.

The two-day survey accounted for insects, animals and plants across an expanse of 17 miles in the Whitewater Canyon Preserve.

Astragalus tricarinatusThe dedicated and enthusiastic RSABG crew included: Duncan Bell, field studies, field botanist; Joy England, Herbarium curatorial assistant; Naomi Fraga (M.S. 2005), field studies, conservation botanist; LeRoy Gross, Herbarium senior curatorial assistant; Jackie McConnaughy, Seeds of Success intern; Orlando Mistretta (M.A. 1988), botanist, RSABG overseer; Andrew Monks, Seeds of Success intern; Lucila Reccia, Herbarium curatorial assistant; Tommy Stoughton, Seeds of Success coordinator; Malia Volke, Seeds of Success intern; Gary Wallace (Ph.D. 1975), botanist, USFWS.


Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden was a partner for the bio-blitz along with Whitewater Canyon Preserve, San Bernardino National Forest and Southern California Botanists.

The RSA Herbarium is the primary repository for the plants collected and substantiating data collected during the Whitewater Canyon bio-blitz.

Read the Los Angeles Times article for more information about the Whitewater Canyon bio-blitz.,0,3271059.story

RSABG Botany Student Earns National Award

Jinyan GuoJinyan Guo, botany graduate student, has received a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG) from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The highly competitive grant offers more than $9,000 that is enabling Guo to conduct the field research necessary to complete her doctoral dissertation on crested iris.

Guo is traveling across the eastern and southern provinces of China this spring and summer collecting data on the diminutive relative of the bearded iris. With more than 270 species of iris only 58 have crests. She hypothesizes that some irises have a packing strategy (how flowers are nestled in the bud before they bloom) that enables the growth of the crest.

While writing her master’s thesis at the Beijing Botanic Garden Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Science, Guo came across a paper by Claremont Graduate University Research Associate Professor of Botany Carol Wilson. After reading Wilson’s paper, Guo contacted the professor about her research. With her master’s degree in hand, Guo was accepted to CGU’s Botany Program at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

She said it was the academic support in the Botany Program and funding she received from the American Iris Society and RSABG that enabled her to secure the DDIG.

“NSF grants require prior funding,” says Guo. “Thanks to the preliminary funding I received as a graduate student [at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden] I was able to apply for the NFS grant.”

Guo will assist Wilson, who serves as her adviser, when the professor travels to China to study bearded iris for a month in May.

The trip will not be all work for Guo. Her hometown is in the Shanxi province and she will be able to visit her family after she has concluded her field research before returning to Claremont later this summer.I. cristata (crested iris)

The DDIG were created by the NSF to assist students in selected areas of the biological sciences to help improve overall quality of research by providing financial support to participate in scientific meetings, conduct research in specialized facilities or field settings and to expand an existing body of dissertation research.