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California's Native Grasslands

CNGA GRASS Award Speaker Series: Leila Wahab, UC Merced

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2022
  • 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Online


  • Members attend for free!
  • Join CNGA and attend the complete series for free!
  • Free with Registration Code. Please email a copy of your student ID to

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California Native Grassland Association GRASS Award Speaker Series

Join us for the CNGA’s virtual speaker series which showcases the amazing work undertaken in California Grasslands by a few of our 2021 Grassland Research Awards for Student Scholarship Winners.

Talks are on Tuesdays from 7 PM - 8 PM PST featuring one 40-minute talk, or two 20-minute talks, with time for Q&A. 

Members: Free      Non-Members: $10       Non-Member Students: Free with Student ID

November 1, 7 pm – 8 pm

Leila Wahab, UC Merced

Aridification of California Grasslands: Implications for soil C, soil N, and plant diversity

Abstract: The lack of data on how organic compounds in soil respond to varying climatic conditions, such as additional precipitation and drought, has limited our ability to accurately determine how soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics are likely to respond to global change. This study will address a key question: how do changes in the amount of precipitation affect the stability and turnover of bulk SOM? We focused the study on organic matter composition across a precipitation gradient at three sites across California: Sedgwick, Hopland Research and Extension Center, and the Angelo Coast Range Reserve. We then determined changes in plant diversity and total elemental and stable isotopic concentrations of soil C, N, δ13C, and δ15N across the precipitation gradient. We measured two isotopic indicators of soil turnover and stability. Isotopic indicators suggested the greatest turnover (indicated by β) at the driest site, as well as the lowest stability. Soils at depth (>30cm) at the wettest site, Angelo, had the greatest stability. These results suggest that drought has the potential to destabilize C at depth in Mediterranean grasslands.

Bio: I am a 5th year PhD candidate at UC Merced studying biogeochemistry. I am originally from Houston, Texas, and got my BS in Earth Sciences from Rice University. I have studied and learned in grasslands from undergrad into my dissertation. My dissertation focuses on the impacts of changing precipitation, both amount and seasonality, on California grasslands. I hope to continue working on grasslands and soil C and N dynamics into the future. In my free time I love to hike and explore the natural beauty of California with my pup.

Contact Justin Luong ( with any questions.

GRASS Speaker Series Schedule (Tuesdays 7PM PST, Sept 20 – Dec 6, 2022)

Nov 1 – Leila Wahab (UCM)

Nov 8 – Nora Bales (Cal Poly SLO)

Nov 15 – Rebecca Nelson (UCD)



Dec 6 – Ernesto Chavez-Velasco (Point Blue) and Landin Nolan (UCD)

Help Support Student Research - Donate to the GRASS Program

CNGA's GRASS Program: 

  • Focuses student research on important grassland-related questions. 
  • Inspires students to become more involved in California Grassland Conservation and Restoration. 
  • Trains future employees for your agency or company.
  • Creates advocates for California Grasslands 
Learn More About GRASS - Applications Accepted Nov 1 - Jan 31

CNGA Communicable Disease Event Policy: This event will align with the current regional health guidelines. Please bring a mask and be prepared to wear it. If you do not feel well, please do not attend.

California Native Grasslands Association  is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization.                                                                                         © All rights reserved

This organization does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex, disability, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.

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