SFNHS has had a long history, here’s a incomplete list of some of those who have given talks over the years:
Welcoming the Fungi Kingdom – Trent Pearce introduced us to the amazing world of fungi with particular attention to the intricacies of the mushroom here in the Bay Area.
River Otters: Back on the Bay Area Map! Robyn Aston introduced us to the River Otter and its life here in the bay area.
Kapalakiko: Hawaiian Migrant Workers in 19th-Century San Francisco – Gregory Rosenthal gave a daytime talk at the SF Public Library about the history of Hawaiians played in the early days of San Francisco.
Bay Area Caves – Bruce Rogers showed us around the underground realms of California, and the Bay Area in particular.
Dredging for Sand in the San Francisco Bay – Brenda Goeden and Ian Wren gave an overview of the sand found at the bottom of the bay, how it moves about on its own, what lives in it, and how it gets dredged and used by us.
San Francisco’s Seeps and Springs: Joel Pomerantz showed us San Francisco’s hidden water by introducing his Seep City project and map.
Marine Mammal Science: Lauren Rust introduced us to the animals that she and her organization research and take care of at the Marine Mammal Center, and the rougher side of their lives in California waters.
The Semi-Secret Lives of San Francisco’s Ravens: Adrian Cotter showed us bits of the lives of San Francisco’s ravens. From their nests with fledglings atop public and private buildings (and trees, signs, and more) to the raucous lives of raven youth.
The Art and Exploration of Creating a Bird Book: Keith Hansen showed us how he came to be illustrating birds, the places that have inspired him, and the process by which he creates his wonderful books.
The Most Extreme Storms Yet: Joel Pomerantz showing us bits of his research into the Great Flood of 1862. Not just a look at the disaster, but at the cultural reaction and long term effects of the flood.
Manage the Soil and Manage the Atmosphere: John Wick introduced us to the Marin Carbon Project, and effort to study how we can sequester carbon in the soil. The results of their efforts point to a way to offset the damage we have been doing to both our soil and atmosphere.
Plant Invasions in the Age of the Anthropocene: Lew Stringer gave us the history of three plant invasions: ice plant, wire weed, and english ivy, and an account from the front lines battling these plants here in San Francisco.
Sky Phenomena: Joe Jordan led us on a delightful romp through the sky and the physics behind the some of the glorious effects we see like rainbows, halos, glories, and more.
Living on the Plate Boundary: Tanya Atwater brought the geological plates upon which we live to life with animations.
SFPUC HQ as a wastewater treatment system: John Scarpulla talked about the Living Machine at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) building SF Headquarters.
Restoring Hetch Hetchy: Spreck Rosekrans talked us through SF could keep water flowing once Hetch Hetchy was restored to its former glories.
How Earthquakes are Measured: Julian Lozos. How they are taken and how they are used with an important distinction between measured and calculated data.
The Five Kingdoms of Lake Merritt: Constance Taylor brought us the five kingdoms of Lake Merritt — the biodiversity that can be found at this estuary in the East Bay.
Streams to Sewers: SF’s Natural and Un-natural Drainage: Greg Braswell & Joel Pomerantz showed us how one particular creek became the sewer system it is today.
Yerba Buena Island Natural and Cultural History: Ruth Gravanis showed us this hidden treasure of natural and cultural history that lays in plain sight.
Miniature Marvels – Portraits in Biodiversity: Photographer, David Liittschwager, shared some of his amazing photos from just one cubic foot of SF Bay.
Living with Mountain Lions: Mountain Lions are keystone predators and play a critical role in maintaining the health and biodiversity of our ecosystems. Zara McDonald, President of the Felidae Fund, discussed their ecology, history, and the challenges of sharing habitats with them.
Fog and the future of redwoods: Redwood ecologist Emily Burns described how climate change is affecting the growth of our ancient redwood forests. From less fog to warmer weather, the tallest and largest trees on Earth are responding to today’s novel climate.
World of the California Newt: Filmmaker Lance Milbrand previewed his video-in-progress encompassing all things a newt may see and experience in its twenty-year lifespan, filmed entirely in the Santa Cruz mountains. http://milbrandcinema.com
Bird Feathers and Bird Bones: Writer and naturalist David Lukas covered the anatomy of birds and how bones, feathers, and muscles work together to help a bird fly and live in its environment.
Ancient Monuments and Funerary Places in the San Francisco Bay: Perry Matlock, archivist for the Sacred Sites Preservation & Rights of Indigenous Tribes, talked about the shellmounds and the people who made them.
Past, Present, & Future of Presidio’s Mountain Lake: Jonathan Young & Brian Hildebidle talked about the historic/cultural aspects as well as the ongoing aquatic ecological remediation and restoration project.
Bay Area Natural Soundscapes – We celebrated World Listening Day with a surround-sound tour of 16 California Landscapes recorded and presented by Dan Dugan, sound engineer. We learned some of the theory of soundscape analysis and the National Park Service’s struggles for soundscape preservation.
Stories in the Sand – Author Lorri Ungaretti guided us through the quick development of the Sunset District from “inaccessible” sand dunes to a city suburb. Her talk was based on her book: Stories in the Sand: San Francisco’s Sunset District, 1847-1964.
Rethinking Invasive Species in San Francisco Bay – Could a new non-native mud shrimp be good for the sub-tidal ecosystem? Michael McGowan, fisheries oceanographer and aquatic ecologist, will discuss how an invasive species may actually be beneficial.
The Great Blue Heron Colony in GG Park – Nancy DeStefanis, Director of SF Nature Education, spoke on the 20th Anniversary of the first nesting pair of the Great Blue Herons at Stow Lake in GG Park. DeStefanis discovered the first nest in 1993, and has monitored and studied the behaviors of the herons since then.
San Francisco Under your Feet – Geologist Jean DeMouthe, took us through our local geologic history. Start with the big picture beginning in the Mesozoic Era (Dinosaurs) and ending with what lies under our city today.
Changing the Face of San Francisco Bay – Arthur Feinstein chair of the Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club, examines the largest wetland restoration effort on the west coast – the challenges of sea level rise, saving endangered species, and answering the question as to what we can do about it and how it will make a difference in our lives.
Everything Explained – Joel Pomerantz presented a selection of secret windows into San Francisco’s natural history and infrastructure, from rocks, to water, and trees.
The UNnatural History of San Francisco Bay – Journalists Ariel Rubissow Okamoto and Kathleen M. Wong answered a few burning questions from their new book Natural History of San Francisco Bay: How do you “make” a wetland if you’re not Mother Nature? If you throw a dead body of the GG Bridge where will it end up? Why splashing in the surf off Crown Beach might you give something like poison oak?
Bay Area Life Cycles – Photographer and naturalist Becky Jaffe discussed the Bay Area’s seasonal wildlife migrations and offered tips on the best local observation sites along with fascinating factual tidbits. She illustrated her talk with her photographs that unite a biologist’s curiosity with an artist’s sensibility.
Wild Foods Foraging, the Good, the Bad, and The Ugly – Foraging is making a comeback, with ever more people eager to find food in the wild. But with a growing population and diminishing natural resources, is it a sustainable practice? Jonah Raskin, author of books and articles about food, farming, and agriculture, discussed this issue.
San Francisco’s Thriving Ravens – Adrian Cotter started observing ravens after unexpectedly coming across a nest on a federal courthouse. Since then, he’s observed them in great roosts from San Bruno mtn. to the Golden Gate. He’s come to understand some of the challenges that they face, and that they create for us.
Above and Below San Francisco Streets – In Search of Eradicated Landscapes – Architect Glenn Lym spoke and showed off parts of the 3D CAD model he’s been working on of early SF topography, roughly 1850 through 1890. His talk also included a short video of the history of GG Park.
Saving San Bruno Mountain: Past, Present, & Future – David Schooley has been leading hikes focusing on the nature, history and native culture of San Bruno Mountain for thirty years. He talked about the current state of the mountain, its long and hard fought history, and the potential it still has.
Running Landscapes/Life Studies – A Year of Sketching San Francisco’s Wild Areas – SF Artists Nancy King & Mary Swanson showed their 16′ long panoramic drawing covering nine of San Francisco’s habitats with their birds, animals and plants. They shared their process of how they came to know each other, the city, its wild inhabitants, and the importance of knowing what’s around you.
Return of the Harbor Porpoises – Bill Keener, cofounder of Golden Gate Cetacean Research, has been using the Golden Gate Bridge as an observation platform and has learned more about Harbor Porpoises than any previous researcher.
The Sturgeon in San Francisco Bay: How critical can a 10,000 year old Bay be for a 100 million year old fish? – Michael McGowan, fisheries oceanographer and aquatic ecologist, discussed his research on how the ecology of the green and white sturgeon differ in their life history and in how they use the Bay.
The Golden Age of Mesopredators – Glen Martin, former environmental reporter for the Chronicle, recounted how mid-level predators are thriving in the Bay Area.
Reclaiming the Art of Natural History – John (Jack) Muir Laws lead us on a little excursion through the often surprising interactions of a bunch of species and explored a three-step process to help us see even the most common of species in a new light.
Keeping Nature in the City
Nature in the City’s founder Peter Brastow shared his vision of how we can more meaningfully interact with the wild in our city: restoring natural areas in our neighborhoods and backyards.
San Francisco’s Changing Landscape
Greg Gaar presented over 100 historic images of the evolution of SF’ s native plant communities over the last 200 years. Greg showed the transition of our oak woodlands, sand dunes, coastal prairies, tidal marshes, lakes and creeks and efforts to preserve our natural heritage.
The Farallon Egg War
Writer and illustrator Eva Chrysanthe re-examined the political and market forces that led to mass poaching on the Farallones and the bold and ultimately successful efforts by 19th & 20th century scientists to preserve the island’s ecology.
Vanished Waters and the History of Mission Bay
Chris Carlsson, Director of Shaping San Francisco, told the story of the gradual filling-in of a vast tidal cove. Mission Bay once was a tidal salt-marsh fed fresh water from meandering Mission Creek. We learned of the would-be settlers, speculators and visionary planners it attracted over the last 130 years.
Getting to the Bottom of the Bay – Subtleties of the Subtidal
Marilyn Latta, restoration ecologist, showed us a the long term vision of how we can restore and manage these still thriving habitats of sand waves, eelgrass and shellfish beds, rocky outcrops, shoals and channel banks.
Marine Biologist, Andrew Cohen, investigated the idea that the San Francisco Bay was once-abundant with native oysters and what might have been their demise. With excursions into history, biology, geology, and archaeology, Andrew Cohen found some surprises.
Trails of San Francisco
Ben Pease, freelance cartographer shared some of his favorite walks on SF trails, parks, and neighborhoods; and how his new map came about: the Walker’s Map of San Francisco.
The Islands of San Francisco Bay
James A. Martin discusses his book, the Islands of San Francisco Bay, documenting the wildness of their habitats, and the unique ecology of the Bay.
The Wild World of Frogs
Dr. Kerry Kriger, Founder of SAVE THE FROGS, introduces us to frogs, why they are disappearing worldwide and what can be done to save them.
What Are We Managing For? Restoration Strategies
Case studies in wildlife and habitat restoration by Consulting Ecologist, Josiah Clark, a brief how to in restoring ecosystem function and preserving native biodiversity : “the last of the least and the best of the rest”.
The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area
Professor Richard Walker of UC Berkeley, narrated for us the many stories of land preservation, saving the bay, and fighting toxics that have made the San Francisco Bay Area a global bastion of environmentalism.
Helping our Most famous Butterfly: the Mission Blue on Twin Peaks
In 2009 the Natural Areas Program of SF Rec & Park collaborated with US Fish and Wildlife to fulfill part of the 1976 recovery plan for the endangered Mission Blue butterfly. Leading SF lepidopterist Liam O’Brien, told the story of the Mission Blue in general, and the specifics of how 22 female butterflies from San Bruno Mountain came to be relocated and monitored on Twin Peaks.
The History and Prospects for the Western Pond Turtle – Our only Native Freshwater Turtle. Wildlife biologist and natural historian Matthew Bettelheim introduced us to our struggling terrapin and the future of turtle conservation
Twain’s Frog & the Beautiful Serpent Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute shared a vision to save these endangered species and build a better public park everyone can enjoy.
Historic Watercourses of SF ~ Focus on the Wiggle & the Panhandle
The Lower Haight once had lakes and streams. The valley had been the site of Spanish Mission trails and Ohlone trails before. Its zigzag of streets is known as the Wiggle by today’s bicyclists avoiding hills. Joel Pomerantz, local geography researcher, founder of Thinkwalks.org and co-founder of the SF bicycle Coalition, gave us a glimpse of the past and present of this fascinating urban valley.
May 20th Restoring the Wild Heart of the South Bay – the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project
John Bourgeois, the Executive Project Manager for South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, shared their exciting and challenging restoration work — a 50 year plan to restore 15,000 acres of salt ponds to tidal marsh.
April 22nd The Natural and Unnatural History of Yerba Buena Island and What Might Be Next
A panel of experts presented an illustrated overview of YBI’s history, ecological treasures, threats and what the future might hold. Speakers included Peter Brastow (Nature in the City founder), Liam O’Brien (lepidopterist), Mike Lynes (Golden Gate Audubon Society Conservation Director and General Counsel for Environmental Matters), Jake Sigg (CA Native Plant Society) and Ruth Gravanis.
February 18th Vance T. Vredenburg gave us a glimpse into the troubled world of amphibians. Amphibians: frogs, salamanders, and caecilians — mostly narrowly adapted and distributed species — are suffering major impacts globally from habitat destruction and diseases. Vance Vredenburg showed us some of the reasons why, with specific examples of the impacts of humans (and their fish) and disease on frogs of the Sierras.
January 28 Coyotes in Our Midst ~ Learning to Live with America’s Wild “Song Dog.“ Founding director of Project Coyote, Camilla Fox, covered coyote ecology and biology, coyote-human coexistence, conflict management, and the value of community-based conservation approaches.
November 19 If we build it, will they come? Professor John Hafernik speaking on research into whether or not the green roof of the California Academy of Sciences can provide habitat for native insects.
October 22 If You Knew Newts Like I Know Newts. A natural history of the California Newt (Taricha torosa) by Karen Goetz from egg laying in local streams to larval hatches and metamorphosis.
September 24 The Green Hairstreak Project is a conservation effort of the Nature in the City organization and Liam O’Brien to connect two of the last remaining populations of a rapidly disappearing butterfly from San Francisco – the Coastal Green Hairstreak .
August 20 Robin Grossinger a Historical ecologist Maps a Changing Landscape Drawing upon recent studies throughout the region, Robin illustrated the regional diversity and common themes of historical Bay Area landscapes, and potential restoration strategies they reveal.
July 23 Peter Pyle on the Great Transpacific Migrations From Albatross to Turtles, from Sharks to Shorebirds He shared recent satellite tag technology discoveries of some of the amazing ways animals migrate across the Pacific.
June 25 Mike Boom – Experience the Undersea World Beneath the Waves. Footage and perspectives of undersea life off our shores.
May 28 Saul Bloom – Past, Present, and Future of the Hunter’s Point Shipyard. The Executive Director of Arc Ecology, will share his expertise on the history, pollution, and promise of this important part of S.F.’s changing southeastern waterfront.
Leslie Saul – Insect Sex
Craig Dawson – Mount Sutro
Bob Battalio – Ocean Beach
Nancy DeStafanis – 1915 Pac Expo
Liam O’Brien – SF butterflies
Jim Mackay – SP Valley Park
Missi Peabody – Coyotes
Joe Morlan – Digiscoping
Craig Nikitas – Hawk Hill
Brent Plater – GGNRA
Rudy Gelis – Birds in Equador
Jose Rivera – Olompali
Scott Benson – Sea turtles
Josiah Clark – Birds
Kim Todd – Book reading Chrysalis
Jane Tollini – Zoo sex
Joelle Buffa – Farallones
Perry Matlock – Shellmounds
John Dobson – Cosmology
Chris Giorni – Tree frogs in SF
Victoria Wojcik – Garden bees
Doug Kern- Humpbacks
Ken Caldiera – Energy sources
Carol Keiper – Ocean trash
Kevin Clarke – Ants
Ken Lajoie – Bay geology
Greg Gaar – San Francisco History
Arthur Feinstein – SF bay changes
Alan Miller – Angel Island
Cynthia Fenter – Native bees
Amy Meyer – New Guardians of the Golden Gate
Darrell Ubick – Spiders
Philip Batchelder – San Bruno Moutain
Alan Hopkins – Gardening for birds
Thomas Wang – Mission blues
Ron Good – Hetch Hetchy
Peter Brastow – Nature in City
Nancy DeStephanis – Herons
Ruth Gravanis – Treasure Island
Dan Mulcahy – Amphibians & reptiles
Raymond Bandar – Marine mammals
Muir, John C. Shrimp boats
Joe Fitting – SF garter snakes
Darren Fong – SF garter snakes
Charles Griswold – Spiders
Peter Pyle – Albatross, migrants
Andy Galvan – Ohlone Native-americans
Quinn McFrederick – Bumblebees
Jack Laws – Sierra field guide
Harold Gilliam – Weather
John Dillon – Natural History
Graham Charles – Marine mammals
Dr. Douglas Bell -Peregrines
Bob Stewart – Insects and butterflies
Nancy DeStephanis – Herons
Patricia Winters – Bats
Allan Ridley – Bird flight
Ross, Dr. Edward Memories
Tom Chester – Beekeeping
John Dobson – Cosmology
Eric Larson – Herring fishery
Liam Reidy – Mountain lake
Pete Holloran – Nature in SF
Kim Todd – book
Nancy DeStephanis – Stow lake History
Alan Hopkins – Birds in gardens
Ted Kipping – Micorhiza
Josiah Clark – Birds
Mike Boom – Fungus
Neil Fahy – Snails and Newts
Michael Lampen – Geology
Mike Pechner – Weather
Peter Baye – Plants
Else Jensen – Farallones
Mia Monroe – Butterflies
Ruth Gravanis – Treasure Island
Joe Jordan – Atmospheric phenomenon
Boatwright, Jack Mechanics
JoAnn Ordano – Flowers
Pam Muick – Oaks
Tim Ramirez – Tuolumne watershed
David Schmidt – Env History
Nancy DeStefanis – Herons
Peter Baye – Endangered plants
Josiah Clark – Crissy field Birds
Jack Laws – Mountain Lake
Tom Daniel – New SF flora
Andrew Cohen – Bay invaders