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California's Native Grasslands

CNGA GRASS Award Speaker Series: Rebecca Nelson, UC Davis

  • Tuesday, November 15, 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 15, 7 pm – 8 pm

Rebecca Nelson, UC Davis

The Effects of Invasion on California Grassland Plant-Pollinator Mutualisms

Abstract: Serpentine grasslands remain a critical refugia for California’s native plants and pollinators. Invasive species have decreased biodiversity in California’s grasslands. Although nutrient poor serpentine soils prevent many invasive plants from establishing in serpentine grasslands, invasive plants can affect serpentine plant-pollinator mutualisms through two main mechanisms: (1) invasive plants that tolerate serpentine soils and (2) invasive plants on nearby, non-serpentine grasslands that share pollinators with serpentine native plants. Here, I examine how these two mechanisms of invasion affect serpentine plant-pollinator interactions. First, I will explore how the serpentine-tolerant invader barbed goatgrass (Aegilops triuncialis) affects serpentine plants and their pollinators. I will then examine the extent to which two invasive wildflower species common in non-serpentine grasslands, hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) and yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis), affect serpentine native plants through shared pollinators. I will share findings from field research at the University of California McLaughlin Reserve and discuss implications for grassland stewardship.

Bio: Rebecca Nelson is a PhD Candidate in Ecology in the Harrison and Valdovinos labs at the University of California, Davis. Her research explores how invasive plant species and drought affect serpentine grassland plants and their pollinators. Her research interfaces between community ecology theory and applied stewardship of grasslands. She is a member of the leadership team for Hands on the Land, an organization that focuses on place-based restoration in California grasslands, and serves as a student liaison to the board for the California Invasive Plant Council. As a freelance science writer, she tells stories about bees, climate change, and environmental justice. She received her B.S. in Ecology and Evolution and a minor in Creative Writing from Stanford University.

Contact Justin Luong ( with any questions.

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

Nov 15 – Rebecca Nelson (UCD)



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

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