Thursday, April 26, 2018, 7:30 p.m.: Who knew? Floristic exploration of Griffith Park, the most driven-by park in the world, with Dan Cooper: Botanically, Griffith Park, at the far eastern edge of the Santa Monica Mountains, was fairly well collected during the 1900-1930 time period, with familiar names like Epling, Braunton, Davidson, and Detmers active in this era before the (human) population explosion of Los Angeles later in the century. With its rugged peaks and canyons discouraging all but the most adventurous selfie-seekers, the park provides a “living laboratory” on how our local flora has adapted to environmental change, including the survival of tenacious natives, and the invasion of even more successful non-native weeds. Ten years ago, Dan began active plant collection in the park, in an effort to completely (re-) document the existing flora – initially to follow the effects of a major wildfire in May 2007, and later, with the realization that someone needed to voucher its vanishing species before they were gone, the victims of weed-invasion, loss of pollinators, trampling, and other ills. Here he reviews the diversity of this “urban island”, focusing on some of the botanical surprises located among its 326 native species in the past decade. He also searches for patterns in the list of taxa believed extirpated from Griffith Park since 1960 (46 taxa), and discusses those that may soon join this list, known today from just one or two tiny populations here.
Daniel S. Cooper is a doctoral student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA and former California Director of Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society. He has been collecting and analyzing ecological data, and communicating findings to resource managers and decision-makers for the past two decades. He has published more than two dozen peer-reviewed papers on California natural history, and is the author of Important Bird Areas of California (2004) and Flora of Griffith Park (2015). He is a San Gabriel Valley native and now lives in Ventura County near Thousand Oaks with his wife and two children.