July 5, 2011
Today we had a second visit from our advisor Lisa Collins and this time she brought along some special guests; Lisa Chung a USC graduate student in the School of Animation and Digital Arts and Michelle a visiting international student in the same department. This was Lisa and Michelle’s second visit out to Catalina. As a part of one of their animation classes, they took a visit out to Wrigley and animated some of the ecosystems of Catalina. Lisa showed us her project from this trip and it is truly spectacular! (Check out Spontaneous Sea-mphony) The goal of their visit today is to begin an animation about the work we’ve been doing on the trail.
We began the morning by leading Lisa and Michelle up the trail and talking about our purpose for the project. They were so receptive to learning about all of the science! We taught them about how fennel grows into monocultures, and how you have to remove the entire root in order to keep the plant from growing back. As we continued talking, Lisa shared with us her goal for the animation: to help scientists illustrate a complex idea in a visual that is easy for the general public to understand. Often times it is difficult to bridge the gap between technical experts and the public, which is a unfortunate considering the general public is often affected by the actions experts. This is especially true in Catalina where the Conservancy is the manager of the land that local residents rely on for recreation and some for their livelihood. I hope that the animation Lisa creates can serve as a tool to share the work of the Conservancy with the community and help explain the science behind restoration.
Lisa asked us for some inspiration for the animation and two ideas came to mind. The first was an idea Charlie de la Rosa is always focused on- the future. Charlie often talks to us about points in time, how the island we are seeing today is only a snap shot of what the island has looked like and what it will look like. He often uses the phrase, if we don’t act now “what will this landscape look like in 50 years?”. When we remove fennel, our goal is not just for the landscape to look fennel free for the next year, it is so the island isn’t entirely taken over by fennel monocultures in 50 years. So we proposed this animation idea to Lisa- showing a landscape treated for fennel in a 50 year time-span versus a landscape not treated with fennel in fifty years. The second idea was comparing tactics for fennel removal, mowing (short term removal) and digging out the entire plant. In both animations we wanted to have the idea of a fennel monoculture versus a native, biodiverse landscape illustrated.
Both animators were really interested in getting some good photos of all of the plant parts of the fennel, so we spent some time taking them around and showing them different plants. I was truly impressed with their attention to detail. After we talked business, we all sat in the toyon grove and learned a little bit more about animation and the program that Lisa and Michelle are a apart of. The animation program is an extremely intense program that requires not only artistic talent but outstanding time management skills. These two traits are imperative considering 1 second of animation requires 24 drawings. I repeat 1 second of film requires 24 drawings! This truly amazed me, and I have a lot of respect for the work these women do. Lisa really seems like an expert and is super professional. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!
In the afternoon, we spent time with Lisa Collins discussing our plans for the research project. We talked as a group and decided to focus on the affect different disturbances have on the native plant communities and the growth of invasive species. Our plan is to sample soils in the area of the 2007 Avalon fire, and the 2011 Two Harbors fire and look at plant communities in each region. We will be analyzing the soil samples for total nitrogen and pH. I am really looking forward to working on this project! I have never had an opportunity to work with soil chemistry and I think our findings will provide knowledge that the conservancy can use to guide management strategies regarding fires.