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Natural Sciences Education

Rare Flower Variant Discovered by Professor Offers Insight into Evolution

The discovery of a new, rare species of monkey flower by Professor Jason Sexton provides clues as to how new species are born.

Sexton, who researches the monkey flowers that grow wild throughout California, and are especially prolific in the Sierra Nevada, conducted this work with researchers Kathleen G. Ferris and John H. Willis, both from Duke University.

Professor’s Passion for Monkey Flower Leads to Genetic Discoveries

The environment affects the way genetic populations move, and similar environments likely play a bigger role in how a species develops than does geographic distance.

Those are just two of the discoveries Professor Jason Sexton has made while studying the monkey flower, a California native that is practically in his back yard, now that he has joined UC Merced.

Natural Reserve Earns Regents’ Approval

The protected land adjoining the northeast corner of campus is officially part of the UC Natural Reserve System now that the UC Board of Regents gave the proposed reserve final approval today at its January meeting.  

The Merced Vernal Pools and Grasslands Reserve is the 39th reserve in the statewide system, adding more than 6,500 acres to the more than 750,000 acres already being conserved and studied. UC Merced’s reserve, though, is the first one in the San Joaquin Valley, and the first one in the heart of the greater Central Valley.

National Science Foundation Grant Supports Biodiversity Research

MERCED, Calif. — A $1.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation will support a five-year investigation by University of California, Merced, researchers into environmental changes in marine lakes, including why some species adapt while others go extinct.

The grant also is helping spread UC Merced’s research and reputation across the Pacific.

“This research is an outstanding example of our faculty efforts to understand the links between the physical and the biological world,” said Sam Traina, UC Merced’s vice chancellor for research.

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