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California’s flightless duck Chendytes and our coastal lagoons, with Professor David Jacobs – Evening Meeting Reminder: Tuesday, 3 March, 7:30 p.m.

February 28, 2020

What is natural on our California Coast? How did the human-caused extinction of the flightless duck Chendytes lawi* change the ecology of our coast? What is the history of our small coastal lagoons, such as Malibu Lagoon: their hydrologic function, their endangered species, their potential for restoration?

It is well-known from the La Brea Tar Pits that not very long ago there were many different organisms in Los Angeles that are now gone, and consequently that there was a very different ecology.  What is less well-known is that human activity significantly impacted the marine realm over these last few millennia, changing the players in our local Marine fauna.  David will develop arguments relating to this theme centered around the extinction – about three thousand years ago – of California’s large flightless marine duck, Chendytes lawi.

We will then focus on the intriguing nature and function of our understudied coastal lagoons, which provide critical habitat for local endangered species.  Even the smallest of these systems provide services and merit our attention, and there are many opportunities to mitigate human impacts on these systems.

David Jacobs is a UCLA professor with a background in biology and geology.  He and members of his lab are interested in recent geologic, climate and anthropogenic processes and their influence on coastal landscape and biological evolution.  Much of this work seeks to understand the past in order to better preserve our environment and biodiversity. At UCLA Dave is a member of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, the Earth Planetary and Space Science Department, and The Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Flightless Sea Duck Chendytes lawi
(Apokryltaros at English Wikipedia)

*The flightless sea duck Chendytes lawi, originally thought to be related to mergansers but now recognized as related to the Anas genus of dabbling ducks (Mallard, etc.), disappeared about 2500 years ago. The duck had lived on the channel islands as early as 11,000 years ago and on the mainland 8,500 years ago. Humans exploited it for over 8000 years and eventually caused its extinction. This lengthy period of human exploitation has important implications concerning other North American Pleistocene megafauna extinctions. (From the abstract of a PNAS 2008 paper.) Also: Wikipedia article.

Article: Mitogenomics supports an unexpected taxonomic relationship for the extinct diving duck Chendytes lawi and definitively places the extinct Labrador Duck. Buckner, J.C.; Ellingson, R.; Gold, D.A.; Jones, T.L.; Jacobs, D.K.

Our meetings are at Christine Emerson Reed Park, 1133 7th Street. (between 7th St. & Lincoln Blvd., California Ave. & Wilshire Blvd.), Santa Monica. Previously known as Lincoln Park. If coming from outside Santa Monica, exit the #10 Fwy at Lincoln Blvd., turn north and drive 5 blocks north to Wilshire Blvd.

Link to Google Map

Meeting Room: Mid-park in Joslyn Hall, accessible from Lincoln Blvd, California Ave. and 7th St.  Its glass wall faces north towards St. Monica Church on California St. If you’re walking from Lincoln Blvd., it’s located directly behind (west) of the large Miles Playhouse building. Not accessible directly from Wilshire Blvd.

Meetings begin at 7:30 sharp with a little business, and then our main presentation. Refreshments are served afterward. Please leave your coyote at home, however much they whine to come.

Parking: The entire block between Wilshire Blvd. and California Ave, 7th St. and Lincoln Blvd., on the sides closest to the park, is metered. $2/hour meter enforcement (except on Wilshire) ends at 6PM, so free parking for the meeting! However, the local natives are engaged in a survival-of-the-fittest scramble for free parking, so the after-6pm free parking spaces disappear quickly.  We suggest that you arrive no later than 7:15 pm.

If all those spaces are filled, we found free parking as follows:
California Ave. between 6th and 7th
9th St. north of Wilshire Blvd.
10th St. north of California Ave.
Washington Ave. (next street north of and parallel to California)

If that fails, go south of Wilshire, not north of the park, as resident-only permit parking zones abound to the north. The east side of Lincoln Blvd. across from the park is by permit parking only. Spaces are more available on 7th St. or Lincoln south of Wilshire. Some of those are “until 9PM” meters also. You may need a flashlight to read & operate the meter. Wherever you park, please read parking signs carefully and avoid a big fat $40+ parking ticket.   [Chuck Almdale]

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