Vinecology researcher John Williams published a paper recently in the online journal Carbon Balance and Management. He and coauthors found that vineyard landscapes that include both vines and native vegetation provide more environmental benefits than vineyards planted solidly in grapevines.
The upcoming Vinecology workshop is a follow-up to the 1st International Workshop on Biodiversity and Vines, held in Stellenbosch, South Africa in 2007. That event came out of a collective recognition that vineyard conversion is a major threat to global Mediterranean ecosystems, but that within the winegrowing economic sector there is willingness and opportunity to effect positive change. Over the past 10 years a group of researchers and conservation practitioners have been investigating ecosystem services, sustainable vineyard practices and biodiversity conservation in these systems. At the same time, sustainable vineyard development and management approaches are becoming increasingly prevalent. The benchmarks of sustainability, however, remain somewhat unclear and are generally lacking in scientific basis. As a result, there is a need for the synthesis of scientific and economic data, climate change model results and best management practices in order to guide future vineyard development.
Along a 23 acre stretch of the lower Mokelumne River northeast of Lodi, Vino Farms Inc. is tackling a massive riparian habitat restoration project. The effort to root out invasive plants, increase the diversity of native species, and improve wildlife habitat has been made possible through grants from the Sand County Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Work began in the fall of 2007 while the grape trucks were still rolling through Lodi’s 90,000 acres of premium winegrapes. In this 3-part feature series, Vinecology follows the work of Vino Farms, contracted with the River Partners, through each step in the riparian restoration process.
East Bay Municipal Utility District conducted a survey of falcons, kites, hawks and owls in the lower Mokelumne River watershed in central California from April 1998 through April 2001 to determine species composition, relative abundance and habitat use. The survey consisted of day and night surveys of the lower Mokelumne River by boat and roadside surveys of the watershed by automobile. The 781 person-hours of surveying yielded 2,172 observations of 16 species. Red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis, American kestrel, Falco sparverius, Swainson’s hawk, Buteo swainsoni, white-tailed kite, Elanus leucurus, red-shouldered hawk, Buteo lineatus, northern harrier, Circus cyaneus, and osprey, Pandion halieatus, were the most commonly observed species. For these species combined, habitat selection indices were higher in Valley Oak Woodland than all other habitats, followed by Irrigated Hayfield/Pasture, Valley Foothill Riparian and Annual Grassland. All other habitats had combined selection indices of less than one. The combined distribution of these species among the watershed habitats was significantly heterogeneous. Distribution of each of the seven most common species among the watershed habitats was also significantly heterogeneous. Although habitat selection changed by season and year, the combined observations indicated that all species observed preferred Valley Oak Woodland except osprey, which preferred Valley Foothill Riparian.