Addressing the fate of the revered California Oak, Frank Davis, a distinguished professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UC Santa Barbara, will present a free lecture entitled, “California Oaks in a Changing Environment” on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. 

Davis will explore the question of whether these iconic trees will remain a significant part of the landscape in the future.

According to Davis, for thousands of years, California oak woodlands have provided a bounty of ecological goods and services to human societies, however, in the 250 years since European settlement, they have undergone significant changes.

He says some keystone species like the California grizzly bear have been eliminated, and the introduction of domestic livestock, exotic diseases, and invasive plants and animals have transformed oak woodland communities.

Fire, once a dominant force, is now suppressed.

In the lecture, Davis will summarize historical trends in the distribution and abundance of local oak species and present recent research examining possible oak futures under projected climate and land use change.

Davis is the director of the newly-established La Kretz Research Center at UC Sedgwick Reserve in Santa Ynez, and executive director of the Network Office of the National Science Foundation Long Term Ecological Research Network. 

The event is organized by the Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society, and will be held at St. Mark’s in-the Valley Episcopal Church, Stacey Hall in Los Olivos.

For more information visit www.syvnature.org, email the Nature Center at synature@west.net, or call (805) 693-5683.

Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News.