2003-2004 Richmond High School

Sagehen Creek Field Station

Sagehen Creek Field Station is a research and teaching facility of the University of California, located just north of Truckee, California. It is at an elevation of 6,380 feet on the east slope of the northern Sierra Nevada. The roughly 8,000 acre watershed of Sagehen Creek includes yellow pine, mixed conifer, and red fir forests, brushfields, scattered mountain meadows and fens. Deep snow is typical of the winter season, and dry, warm weather is typical of the summer period.

A handful of students from Mr. Whartonís sophomore science class attended the weekend field trip to Sagehen Creek Field Station in November 2003. The students explored the plant and wildlife in these natural surroundings with the guidance of UC Berkeley Fellows. They also participated in a study on habitat and diversity amongst plants and invertebrates.

Tracking Mammals at Night

Sean shows students how researchers use phosphorescent powder to track mammals by covering himself in phosphorescent powder and running a trail through the forest. The students follow Seanís phosphorescent footprints through the dark forest with a blacklight and eventually find him hiding up an old pine tree!

Underwater Observation in the Fishhouse

An underground fishhouse with a glass window shows students world of Sagehen Creek below the waterís surface.

Rocio observes fish in their natural habitat through the glass window.

Trapping Mammals

Sean shows students how to bait mammal traps with peanut butter oat balls and cotton. The traps are set out overnight and checked early the next morning.

Students check traps they set out the night before. Dwayne weighs a mouse caught in one of the mammal traps.

Different traps are used to catch flying squirrels. Students bait traps with bacon and set traps on platforms raised five to six feet up the trunk of a tree. Traps are left out overnight when these nocturnal creatures are most active. Students must wake up early the next morning to check traps.


Sean and Dwayne set out flying squirrel traps.

Sean handles a flying squirrel that has been caught in one of the traps.

Habitat Study on Plants and Invertebrates

Students engaged in a study comparing plant and invertebrate diversity and abundance between coniferous forest and riparian habitats. Students collected plants and invertebrates inside plots set up in the two habitats. Using the data collected, they are able to observe the differences between the different habitats.


Dwayne uses a beating sheet to collect insects and spiders.

Sean and Jose take a closer look at an insect on a leaf.

Anna demonstrates how to press plants collected inside the plot to Dwayne and Jose.

Anna and Rocio take measurements on trees inside their plot.

Students and Fellows take plant and invertebrate samples from a riparian habitat.

Anna, Phil, and Juan take plant samples from the riparian habitat.

Dwayne takes a dip in the frigid waters of Sagehen Creek.

Other Resources

For more information about the Sagehen Creek Field Station, please see the park's website: http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~sagehen

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