Lecture Recordings

Zoom Webinar – Beavers: Return of the Engineer – Heidi Perryman

On Saturday, February 3rd at 7 pm, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Heidi Perryman, Ph.D., a child psychologist who became an accidental beaver advocate when she started filming the beavers that showed up in her hometown in 2006. She presented a lecture via Zoom entitled “Return of the Engineer.” Europeans decimated the beaver population in North America by the end of the 1800s. They hunted the animal for its water-resistant fur, used felted beaver fur for hats, and used castoreum in making perfumes. Heidi Perryman discussed the return of beavers (Castor canadensis) to our landscape, what it means to our creeks and infrastructure, biodiversity, and resilience to climate change. Even if it is possible, is it beneficial to coexist with an animal that can chew down the landscaping we use tax dollars to plant? Is there any value to sharing our streams with a creature that can block culverts and flood roads? Watch the video and find out.


Zoom Webinar – The Spectacular Plant Diversity of San Pedro Valley Park – Morgan Stickrod

On Saturday, January 13th, 2024 at 7 pm, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Morgan Stickrod, a botanist and plant ecologist with over 10 years of experience doing research and field work. He presented a lecture via Zoom entitled “The Spectacular Plant Diversity of San Pedro Valley Park.” Home to over 350 species of vascular plants, the ~1,052 acres of San Pedro Valley Park host an impressive diversity of plants and habitats, many of which are quite rare and have distributions barely exceeding the boundaries of the park. Morgan described the maritime chaparral, coastal scrub, riparian, and coastal grassland habitats of the park, with emphasis on the fascinating flora and plant communities associated with them.


Zoom Webinar – A Year with the Urban Gray Fox – Bill Leikam

On Saturday, November 11th, 2023 at 7 pm, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Bill Leikam, a researcher and author of a book on foxes “Road to Fox Hollow.” He presented a lecture via Zoom entitled “A Year with the Urban Gray Fox.” He gave us an overview of the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus townsendi), followed by the natural life cycle of the fox, how and when foxes pair-up, have pups, raise them through to adulthood and then disperse to find territory and mates of their own.


Zoom Webinar – The Fascinating World of Bats – Dr. Joseph Szewczak

On Saturday, March 25th at 4 pm via Zoom, Dr. Joseph Szewczak discussed his investigations into the extraordinary physiological capabilities of bats, from cold torpor to the intense demands of flight and high altitude and bat distributions. He also spoke about the need for software to study vocalizations both in birds and bats without having to resort to invasive techniques. To successfully accomplish this, Dr. Szewczak developed SonoBat and SonoBird software. He also discussed his new research that has led him and a team of colleagues to take samples from bats to evaluate food webs and trophic levels along the Merced and Tuolumne Rivers in Yosemite National Park.


Zoom Webinar – Vegetable Gardening 101 – Loretta O’Brien

The Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Loretta O’Brien, Co-founder and Director of Pacifica Gardens, who presented a lecture via Zoom on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 at 7 pm entitled “Vegetable Gardening 101.” She discussed how to start a vegetable garden and how best to maintain it. She talked about how to build a proper raised bed and how to take measures to keep out gophers. She discussed soils, the right time to plant, and which vegetables grow best on the coast. Loretta also added some helpful pointers about the benefits of home composting for the backyard edible garden.


Zoom Webinar – Antarctica Travelogue

On Saturday, February 18th, 2023, at 3 pm, J.R. Blair, retired lecturer from San Francisco State University, joined us on Zoom for his “Antarctica Travelogue.” From the comfort of your chairs,travel to the southern tip of South America, the Falkland Islands, and Antarctica to see and visit many of the places from which J.R. Blair has recently returned. He highlighted the birds and sea mammals of the southern hemisphere with excellent photographs and videos.


Zoom Webinar – Critically Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles

On Saturday, January 21, 2023, Catherine Kilduff from the Center for Biological Diversity graciously agreed to join us from the East coast via Zoom and talked to us about the Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle. This is a turtle that has survived in the ocean waters since the Cretaceous Period, the Age of Dinosaurs, and is still with us today. What are its migratory routes and where does it reproduce? How is it faring today? Some of these questions and more were addressed by the speaker.


Daylighting springs, creeks, and marshes: 20 years of wetland restoration in the Presidio of SF

Lewis Stringer – Saturday, December 10th, 2022

On Saturday, December 10th, 2022, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Lewis Stringer. He discussed the decades long effort to restore the Tennessee Hollow Watershed and Mountain Lake. Topics included ecological design, revegetation, invasive species control, water quality and ecological monitoring. Innovative wildlife reintroductions that help improve ecological function, such as the restoration of California floater mussels and Olympia oysters were discussed.


Animal to Human Infectious Disease Transmission: Present and Future

Dr. Shannon Bennett – November 12th, 2022

On Saturday, November 12th, 2022 , the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Dr. Shannon Bennett. She joined the California Academy of Sciences in 2011 as the institution’s first-ever Associate Curator of Microbiology, where she broadened the Academy’s research scope to include a dedicated focus on viruses and bacteria. Dr. Bennett’s specialty lies in infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. In her lecture, she focused on certain diseases that are with us at present and ones that may occur in the future.


In-Person Lecture – Manzanitas as a whole ecosystem; their place in the ecology of California

Dr. Tom Parker – October 15th, 2022

On Saturday, October 15th, 2022 at 4 pm, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed back Tom Parker, Professor of Biology, Emeritus, San Francisco State University for his presentation entitled, “Manzanitas as a whole ecosystem; their place in the ecology of California.”  Tom tells us: “While I’ve given a few talks on manzanitas, I’ve been impressed by how they seem to be the center of a lot of interconnected interactions. I’ll use this talk to pull all those previous ideas together with new information about how plants are the center of a world of interactions. Given that chaparral is rapidly becoming a despised vegetation just because it burns, I think it’s important to emphasize its critical role as a part of interacting systems. There are plenty of human benefits to this system, which along our coast and in the Sierra is dominated by manzanitas. Lots of pictures, and of their pretty relatives as well.”


Exploring the Night Sky

Bing Quock, June 14th, 2022

On Tuesday, June 14th, 2022, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed back Bing Quock, amateur astronomer from the California Academy of Sciences. The lecture is entitled “Exploring the Night Sky.” What’s up in the evening sky that can be seen with the unaided eye or with just a pair of binoculars? Amateur astronomer Bing Quock gave us a tour of the heavens, including seasonal constellations and asterisms, notable deep-sky objects, and a sneak peek at a few upcoming events, including meteor showers, interesting configurations of the Moon and planets, and notable space launches. Interested in purchasing a telescope for yourself or as a gift? What are some recommendations and affordable resources? He explored the heavenly hobby of stargazing!


Mammoth in the Artichokes

Mark Hylkema, April 19th, 2022

On Tuesday, April 19th, 2022, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed back the very popular Mark Hylkema in the program entitled “Mammoth in the Artichokes.” He discussed the remains of an Ice Age mammal found near Castroville in 2011 and the research team that investigated and recovered these remains. He connected the lives and diet of the first Native Americans with the huge animals that roamed this area at the time of the Ice Age, and uncovered a completely different landscape and a fascinating natural history of the Monterey Bay region.


The Extraordinary Diversity of Beetles

Dr. Stephanie Dole, March 22nd, 2022

On Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022 , the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Dr. Stephanie Dole with a beetle program entitled “The Extraordinary Diversity of Beetles.” All insects are critically important and in a severe decline, but her focus was specifically on beetles. She discussed these arthropods, their biodiversity, ecological roles, and their importance in the web of life. Dr. Dole is an eminent scientist who has traveled far and wide to conduct her research.  She is an excellent speaker and presented a program that inspired all of us to see insects in a new light.


Native Trees of California

Morgan Stickrod, February 22nd, 2022

On Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Morgan Stickrod for a lecture on “Native Trees of California.” He has previously given us lectures on the Farallon Islands and native plants of California. View this lecture for an informative and awe-inspiring talk on the beautiful native trees found throughout California.


Bobcats in the SF Bay Area: Biology and ecology of a native mesocarnivore

Zara McDonald and Alys Granados, January 25th, 2022

On Tuesday, January 25th, 2022, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Zara McDonald and Alys Granados, two researchers with Felidae Conservation Fund, for a lecture on “Bobcats in the SF Bay Area: Biology and ecology of a native mesocarnivore.” We heard about the research that has taken place over the span of many years, and the conservation efforts resulting from this research. Join us and our two very knowledgeable speakers for a lecture about a wonderfully fascinating cat.


“The ‘ribbit’ of Pacific chorus frogs: There’s more than meets the ear”

Dr. Alejandro Velez Melendez, December 7th, 2021

The Friends of San Pedro Valley Park were pleased to welcome Dr. Alejandro Velez Melendez from San Francisco State University as our December speaker on Tuesday, December 7th, 2021 at 7 pm. The topic was communication amongst animals, specifically Pacific chorus frogs. We communicate and so do they, so join us to discover what they are saying and how. It was a fascinating lecture. Don’t miss it.


Poisonous Birds and Chemical Defense in New Guinea Birds

Dr. Jack Dumbacher, November 9th, 2021

The Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Dr. Jack Dumbacher from the California Academy of Sciences. He presented his lecture Poisonous Birds and Chemical Defense in New Guinea Birds on Tuesday, November 9th, 2021 at 7 pm. Poisonous birds, you say? Never heard of such a thing! With the witches, ghosts, and goblins of Halloween night and longer darker nights ahead, this should be just the right time for some strange things that are found in nature. Dr. Dumbacher gave us a fascinating lecture on these amazing toxic birds, and who knows, these poisons may have something in them which will prove helpful to the medical world.


Biodiversity and the Extinction Crisis

Dr. Krista Kemppinen, October 12th, 2021

The Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Dr. Krista Kemppinen for a talk on “Biodiversity and the Extinction Crisis” on Tuesday, October 12 th, 2021 at 7pm. We hear the term biodiversity and use it, but do we really know what it means? Do we realize how many species we have lost and continue to lose? Do we understand the consequences of these losses? Join Dr. Kemppinen, a scientist in the Endangered Species Program at the Center for Biological Diversity clarified these questions and much more.


Where have all the Monarch Butterflies gone?

Kimberley Young, June 5th, 2021:

On Saturday, June 5 th at 4 pm, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcomed Kim Young, a Xerces Society Ambassador who discussed the Western Monarch butterflies, their migratory route and breeding habits. She discussed the severe decline in butterfly populations that has occurred in the last two decades and the various causes that have contributed to the collapse of the once large and healthy populations that were visible in their over-wintering clusters in forested groves in California.


The Return of the Wolf

Amaroq Weiss, April 17th, 2021:

On April 17 th at 4 pm, the Friends of San Pedro Valley Park welcome Senior West Coast Wolf Advocate Amaroq Weiss from the Center of Biological Diversity as she relates the current situation with wolves in California and the West Coast. With California as the latest frontier for wolf reestablishment, Weiss will discuss these remarkable animals and the politics, laws, social issues and science of wolf protection and recovery, and how you can get involved. Join us for a fascinating lecture.


The Botany of Spring

Dr. Nathalie Nagalingum, February 27th, 2021:

Spring is the time to look at and enjoy flowers. Dr. Nagalingum from the California Academy of Sciences takes a closer look at flowers. Different pollinators benefit from variations in flower parts and we’ll discover how and why. We will even discover how flowers in the Victorian age were used in the language of sending discrete messages in the eternal quest for love. Join us for this most illuminating program on form and structure of flowers.


The beauty and complexity of evolution: A focus on Arctostaphylos and its relatives

Dr. Tom Parker, January 23rd, 2021: January’s program brings the eminent Dr. Tom Parker to begin our 2021 life sciences series to discuss manzanitas and their relatives with an emphasis on evolution. The talk involves several quite different processes such as fire, drought, animals, and hybridization, among others. According to Dr. Parker, differences among species have a great deal to do with the climates they live in, how they respond to fire, and their interactions with animals and not with the shape or color of the flowers.


Habitat, Ecology, and Life Cycles of Fungi: “What is a Mushroom, Anyway?”

J.R. Blair, December 12th, 2020 – December’s program is for all those folks interested in fungi and mushrooms. These fruiting bodies pop up out of the ground during the fall and winter, and J.R. Blair from San Francisco State University will help us better understand what they are and what they do. Do not miss this fascinating and informative program.


Deep Forest Owls of the Pacific Northwest: A conservation dilemma

Dr. John Dumbacher, November 14th, 2020 – In this talk, Dr. John Dumbacher discusses the natural history and conservation concerns for Spotted Owls and Barred Owls, and research and potential actions that are being considered by different management agencies.


Solving the Coral Reef Crisis

Dr. Luiz Rocha, September 12th, 2020 – It’s no secret that corals and the ecosystems they build are declining worldwide. These beautiful and highly diverse habitats exist in a delicate balance between thousands of species, from tiny algae to giant fishes. Lose one link in the chain and you can throw the entire system out of balance. And this is what is happening today, as many human activities are negatively affecting coral reefs more than ever before. But is there hope for reefs? Dr. Luiz Rocha thinks so, and he explained why in this talk that took attendees on a tour of the most spectacular reefs in the world, shallow and deep.


Living With Mountain Lions

Zara McDonald, August 15th, 2020 – a talk about mountain lions in the Bay Area, their biology and the recent changes our study has uncovered about these shy and elusive animals living at the urban edge.


Wildlife Corridors

Dr. Tiffany Yap, June 27th, 2020 – a lecture on the importance of wildlife corridors and habitat connectivity for native animals.