Talk: Serpentine--Ecology and evolution on a strange soil
California's Central Coast has some amazing ecosystems, and one of them centers on serpentine. What is serpentine? It's the mineral class that makes up our state rock. It's formed where oceanic and continental plates collide. It's often green. It creates soils where specialized plants survive.
California has the largest exposure of serpentine rocks and soils in North America, and many of them occur in the Central Coast region. (One of the very largest serpentine outcrops is in San Benito County.) Where serpentine appears, the plants growing there contrast boldly with those covering the surrounding, non-serpentine areas. Some plants grow only in serpentine soils, and their presence contributes to California's ranking as one of the world's biodiversity hotspots
Find out about recent research on serpentine ecosystems from our speaker, Susan Harrison (Professor at U.C. Davis). She uses serpentine habitats as model systems for understanding whole-ecosystem responses to two different global changes: loss of biodiversity and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide.