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Predatory open access journal wrap-up spring 2014

There has been a trend toward open access publishing that has been strengthened recently with a number of coincident efforts, for example Randy Scheckman's Nobel Prize talk, and the UC's Open Access policy for example. Some journals are opening up an open access component to their publishing - Remote Sensing of Environment for example now has an open access model as well as subscription model, and some new completely open access journals are coming on line. The open access model means the author pays the publisher for the costs of putting out an article, instead of the publisher charging universities subscription fees to allow access to the journal.

Open access publishing is a great idea, whose time is ripe: publically funded research should be easily assessed by the public; in general the cost of publishing an open access journal is less than that of a regular article. But the rush to open has opened the window to fraudulent enterprises out to make a fast buck. Thus the landscape of open access publishing is often confusing, and there have been a number of great discussion about how to navigate the stormy waters of open access. Here is my wrap up of some of the informative posts out there:

Other notes pointed out in the Nature article:

  • PLOS ONE, which charges a fee of $1,350 for authors in middle- and high-income countries (UC Berkeley gets a slight price cut), has seen the number of articles it publishes leap from 138 in 2006 to 23,464 last year, making it the world's largest scientific journal.
  • In the past year, the UK and US governments, as well as the European Commission, have thrown their weight behind some form of open-access publishing.

2014 Western Section of the Wildlife Society Meeting wrap-up

I recently attended the 2014 annual meeting of the Western Section of the Wildlife Society in Reno CA. The focus of the conference was on harnessing citizen science toward greater conservation.

I saw some interesting talks in my session (I was clearly the odd-talk-out in a session dominated by animal tracking (I spoke about our SNAMP website evaluation)). For example:

  • Peter Bloom discussed red-tailed hawk movements from banded bird recovery. The birds are banded as juveniles and observed by citizens and scientists. In this way their movements can be mapped: across southern California, across the Pacific flyway, and across the US.
  • Joe Burnett presented on the use of GSM transmitters to track California condor (the largest flying bird in north America) movement patterns. He caught us up on condor recovery and current threats (lead poisoning from foraging on wild game) to condors. He showed some very nice visualizations of wild condor flights between Ventana and the Pinnacles (including some stops for water and dead animal chomping) from the GSM transmitters and Google Earth. 
  • Shannon Rich looked at migration patterns of flammulated owls using light-level geolocators. "What is a flammulated owl”? you say: I will tell you. They are super cute tiny owls, with neat flame-like markings on their face and body. Geolocators are small (~1g) that record ambient light levels during the day, and from timing of sunrise and sunset, you can get latitude and longitude. These are not sending out signals, and you need to recapture the owl to download data. As always, I am stunned by the dedication and time it takes for wildlife biologists to gather their careful data on animal movement.
  • Russ Bryant talked about native honeybee habitat in North Dakota. He talked about the important services that bees give us: 95 agricultural plants benefit from pollination services (estimated at $15b). I did not know that ND is the top honey producer in the US. Colony collapse across the US has been profound. They used INVEST to explore the role of land cover and bee pollination to produce a pollinator habitat index, and a habitat connectivity for areas where bees had been captured. 

In the climate change session, I heard from a range of speakers on practical adaptation strategies, curriculum for climate change education (Whitney Albright), new tools and reports for grassland bird species conservation (Ryan Diguadio), landscape-scale conservation planning for bobcats in the San Diego area (Megan Jennings), and some neat genetics of the SF Bay’s salt marsh harvest mouse (Mark Statham). Also, Curtis Alling talked about local, regional and state climate preparedness planning, and dedicated a slide to Nice!

I also got to catch up briefly with ESPM grads Sarah Sawyer who is now at the Forest Service and Tim Bean, who is thriving at HSU. Alice, he suggested a trip up to Redwood State Park to check out the dark figure of crime in the tall trees. 


Cal Forestry turns 100 this year!

Forestry education at UC Berkeley began in 1914 with the “Division of Forestry” in the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Forestry was established in 1939 and the School of Forestry in 1946. Forest Summer Camp, the hallmark of the undergraduate program, began at Quincy, California, in 1915 and moved to Meadow Valley in 1917.

Today, alumni of Cal’s forestry program hold critical positions for the management of 95% of the industrial forestlands in California. The research of our alumni and faculty has grown knowledge in the areas of fire, remote sensing and GIS, ecology, climate change, forest economics, the social sciences, and numerous others.

Over the past 100 years, the Cal Forestry program has had an impact on every dimension of the field, and has produced the profession’s most influential thinkers and doers.

For more information, please see:


Using Social Media to Discover Public Values, Interests, and Perceptions about Cattle Grazing on Park Lands

“Moment of Truth—and she was face to faces with this small herd…” Photo and comment by Flickr™ user, Doug GreenbergIn a recent open access journal article published in Envrionmental Management, colleague Sheila Barry explored the use of personal photography in social media to gain insight into public perceptions of livestock grazing in public spaces. In this innovative paper, Sheila examined views, interests, and concerns about cows and grazing on the photo-sharing website, FlickrTM. The data were developed from photos and associated comments posted on Flickr™ from February 2002 to October 2009 from San Francisco Bay Area parks, derived from searching photo titles, tags, and comments for location terms, such as park names, and subject terms, such as cow(s) and grazing. She found perceptions about cattle grazing that seldom show up at a public meeting or in surveys. Results suggest that social media analysis can help develop a more nuanced understanding of public viewpoints useful in making decisions and creating outreach and education programs for public grazing lands. This study demonstrates that using such media can be useful in gaining an understanding of public concerns about natural resource management. Very cool stuff!

Open Access Link:


Barbara Laraia talks about links between stress, food and obesity

Our colleague Barbara Laraia was recently interviewed by PBS newshour on her work linking stress and obesity in children. Barbara is the lead on our OurSpace project, in which Sam and Paulina and others are examining the interaction between food availability, walkability and health outcomes.

A very interesting interview:


Job Opening: Informatics and Geographic Information Systems Program Coordinator

The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, a statewide program with local development and delivery, is seeking an Academic Coordinator to provide IGIS analysis, coordination and support to the Informatics and Geographic Information Systems (IGIS) team to the meet the IGIS mission.  IGIS is established to assist and advance research and extension activities by coordinating the development of Informatics and GIS tools and applications and make them available through an online web‐accessible portal.

The IGIS program coordinator will coordinate with the IGIS leadership team to advance ANR’s Strategic Vision of close partnerships between researchers, Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors, and the people of California by providing geospatial and informatics tools, data, training, consultation, and map products to the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The program coordinator will support IGIS interests and projects across ANR, encouraging collaboration across ANR operational units, and develop contacts within the University’s geospatial community.

Location headquarters: Davis or Berkeley, Calif.

Position description:

IGIS website:

ANR website:

UCOP web site:


California Water Blog talks about our future

Boat slips in Folsom Lake in a drought (1976). The reservoir was at 18 percent of capacity on Tuesday (Jan. 7, 2013). Source: California Department of Water ResourcesAs a follow-up to this disasterous news about California's water situation, here is a very thought provoking blog about California's water future. They list their 10 predictions for our changed future, including:

  • Parts of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will permanently flood.
  • The Tulare Basin and San Joaquin River regions will have less irrigated agriculture.
  • Urban areas will use less water per capita, reuse more wastewater and capture more stormwater.

Check out the California Water Blog - Resistance is futile: Inevitable changes to water management in California.


NASA Shows Just How Bad The California Drought Is and Jerry Brown declares a state of emergency in California

One image from NASA shows just how severe the California drought is click here for more about this image

Governor Jerry Brown officially declared a drought emergency in California, asking residents to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20 percent and committing to bolster the state's dwindling water supplies with better management and federal assistance. Read more here


Spring 2014 GIF workshop schedule

UC Berkeley's Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) is offering 10 training workshops this semester that use a hands-on approach to help you get started using spatial analysis to enhance your research.  

GIF workshops are available at a subsidized rate of $84 each for all UC students, faculty, and staff, and $224 each for all non-UC affiliates.  View the GIF website to learn more about the following workshops and to register.

  • 1/31, 12-4 pm. Intro to Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Environmental Science Focus
  • 2/7,  12-4 pm. Intro to Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Social Science Focus
  • 2/21, 12-4 pm. Intro to Global Positioning Systems (GPS): Working with Garmin receivers=
  • 3/7, 12-4 pm. Intro to Remote Sensing: Understanding digital imagery
  • 3/14, 12-4 pm. Intro to Remote Sensing:Pixel-based analysis
  • 3/21, 12-4 pm. Intro to Remote Sensing: Land cover change analysis
  • 4/11, 12-4 pm. Intro to Remote Sensing: Object-based image analysis (OBIA)
  • 4/18, 12-4 pm. Intro to Open Source GIS: Working with Quantum GIS (QGIS)
  • 4/25, 12-4 pm. Creating your own web maps
  • 5/2, 12-4 pm. Intro to species distribution modeling

Summary of IGIS Survey (from 2013)

In 2013, the IGIS team developed the Survey of Informatics and GIS Needs, Knowledge and Data Availability that ran from January 14 – March 15. It was a short and comprehensive survey that helped us to evaluate the level of Informatics and GIS expertise and use of geospatial tools and data in ANR. The results are assisting the IGIS team to design and provide tools, analysis, and training to ANR personnel.

Our conclusion from the survey is that IGIS can play a large and new role in training, analytical support, and databasing across ANR. We can fill a need with IGIS: 79% of respondents are not getting assistance from ANR, yet across the board, ANR personnel need Informatics and GIS assistance - over 70% of respondents need GIS work or analytical support on their projects. While 81% have not taken ANR provided GIS training, 80% would take ANR provided GIS training. Also, despite the ability for ANR personnel to use the UC Davis site license, nearly half of respondents do not think they have access to GIS software.

We received 112 unique responses from across ANR. Respondants came from across ANR, and included:

  • Academic Administrators    2
  • Academic Coordinators   2
  • Administrators    4
  • AES Faculty    6
  • Lab Staff    3
  • Office Staff    5
  • Other    10
  • REC Directors    2
  • UC Researchers    3
  • UCCE Advisors    32
  • UCCE Specialists    15
  • UCCE Statewide Program Staff    2

We are looking at doing another survey in 2014, to continue to understand GIS needs in ANR.

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