Results from the UC Natural Reserve Resurveys

two people admire a racer

Small mammal surveyors stop 

to admire a racer at Younger Lagoon.

The UCNRS Resurvey project is an ambitious project to document every species - from mosses to mammals - currently present at each of the 40 UC Natural Reserves, starting with the four UCSC Natural Reserves.

For the UCSC Natural Reserves, all data, including photos, field notes and specimens, will be stored and available to the public at the Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History. Where previous data already exist, the Resurvey allows researchers to study how species richness has changed over time. Where the Resurvey data are the first of their kind, they will represent a crucial baseline to study future change.

The Resurvey represents a unique way for students to get experience collecting field data, learning to identify local organisms, and working in a natural history museum. The project is a true collaboration between natural history museums and the UC Natural Reserves: learning occurs in the field, and in the museum, training students as natural historians and museum scientists. 

Results From Younger Lagoon

The resurvey began in Spring 2019 at Younger Lagoon Reserve, and concluded one year later at the end of Winter Quarter 2020. The resurveys involved over 25 people - undergraduates, graduate students, community members and alumni - working in all four seasons, to document biodiversity at Younger Lagoon. Compared with the number of species vouchered since 1973 (the earliest recorded voucher from Younger Lagoon), the resurvey team accomplished a tremendous amount. 

Species Vouchered from 1973 - Winter 2019 Species Vouchered During the Resurvey Percent Increase Number of Students and Community Members Involved
Insects 18 413* 2194% 6
Lichen and Fungi 10 110 1000% 6
Reptiles and Amphibians 8 11 37% 3
Mammals 8 15 87% 5
Plants 168 98 0% 4
Birds 266 15 0% 1

*Insect species identified tentatively to morphospecies.

First-Ever Vouchers

The resurvey team documented a huge number of species for the first time ever at Younger Lagoon. These species might have been overlooked in previous surveys, never found previously, or might be new additions to the reserve since the previous survey. Additionally, the resurvey team documented numerous species for the first time in over 20 years, adding valuable data on which species are persisting at Younger Lagoon over the long term.


First Species Voucher in Over 20 Years First Species Voucher Ever
Insects 0 413
Lichen and Fungi 0 102
Plants 23 44
Reptiles and Amphibians 1 5
Mammals 0 6

Taxon Team Stories

Each taxon team had a different story, with a different history of knowledge at Younger Lagoon. Here are some of the details from each team over the quarter.


  • Thanks to dedicated eBird-ers and an ongoing bird banding station, birds are the best documented group of organisms at Younger Lagoon.
  • One intern worked with the bird-banding crew to make some of those data publically available. 
spring insect collecting team

The insect team (minus An-Ya Cheng) pinning,

identifying, and organizing the Younger Lagoon

insect collection.


  • Previous BioBlitzes documented at least 19 species of arthropods at Younger Lagoon.
  • The insect resurvey team vouchered 658 specimens of at least 400 species, the vast majority of which have not been documented before at Younger Lagoon.

Lichens and Fungi

  • Only 10 species of fungi were documented previously at Younger Lagoon.
  • Over three quarters interns documented 110 species of lichen and fungi at Younger Lagoon, a 1100% increase in the number of species known from Younger Lagoon!
  • All but 8 species had never been documented before at Younger Lagoon, and some represent new records for Santa Cruz County.


  • Teams of up to nine undergradutes conducted only eight nights of small mammal trapping at Younger Lagoon in the Spring, while two interns set and checked camera traps during the Fall.
  • Because few mammals from Younger Lagoon had been vouchered publicly or in a natural history museum, the teams added six species to the list of mammals officially documented at Younger Lagoon.


  • two people and some herbarium specimens

    The plant team puts the final touches

    on their herbarium specimens.

    Interns surveyed in the Spring, Fall and Winter at Younger Lagoon.
  • Previous work showed that while 200 species are known from Younger Lagoon, only 138 are associated with verifiable vouchers, and only 34 with an actual herbarium specimen.
  • The interns amazingly found 98 species at Younger Lagoon in one year, 44 of which were vouchered for the first time at Younger Lagoon, and 23 of which had not been vouchered in over 20 years.

Reptiles and Amphibians

  • Over three quarters, interns documented 11 species of reptile and amphibians at Younger Lagoon, including federally threatened red-legged frogs.
  • They increased the total number of vouchered species at Younger Lagoon by three, vouchered five species for the first time ever at Younger Lagoon, and vouchered one species that had not been vouchered in over 20 years.