Projects

Habitat Stewardship — Planting for the Second Hundred Years

In 1980, Mag­ic began work­ing in part­ner­ship with Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty biol­o­gy fac­ul­ty and land man­agers to regen­er­ate fail­ing oak pop­u­la­tions on the foothills which rise to the south­west of the cen­tral campus.

We pur­sue this work to enhance the eco­log­i­cal integri­ty of local open space used by hun­dreds of thou­sands of vis­i­tors annu­al­ly and to pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple who want to learn about ecol­o­gy by pro­tect­ing and restor­ing qual­i­ties of the envi­ron­ment on which all of us depend. Over decades, tens of thou­sands of vol­un­teers have estab­lished thou­sands of oaks and tens of thou­sands of oth­er native plants.

Mag­ic Junior Fel­low Harp­er Hug (in sun­glass­es) guides vol­un­teers in water­ing recent­ly plant­ed native oaks.

Habitat Stewardship — Monkeyflower Microbiome Research

For the past two years we’ve been part­ners with Stanford’s Fuka­mi Lab in plant­i­ng sticky mon­keyflower (Dipla­cus auran­ti­a­cus) along the “Dish” recre­ation­al route on Stanford’s Aca­d­e­m­ic Reserve lands. A hum­ming­bird-pol­li­nat­ed shrub native to Cal­i­for­nia and Ore­gon, sticky mon­keyflower was extir­pat­ed from the “Dish” by cat­tle that grazed this land for many decades.

Vol­un­teers enjoy a sweep­ing view and a beau­ti­ful autumn day plant­i­ng the first of 16 sites along the “Dish” recre­ation­al route.

In addi­tion to return­ing a native species to the “Dish” ecosys­tem, this work sup­ports cut­ting edge eco­log­i­cal research, as well as cur­ricu­lum improve­ments to allow stu­dents to engage authen­ti­cal­ly in fac­ul­ty research.

Monkeyflower Biome drawing
Mon­keyflower Nec­tar Bio­me Ecology

When hum­ming­birds feed on mon­keyflower nec­tar, they intro­duce microor­gan­isms such as bac­te­ria and yeasts that alter nec­tar chem­istry. Though tiny, this com­mu­ni­ty, the nec­tar micro­bio­me, can play a key role in per­sis­tence and expan­sion of a pop­u­la­tion of mon­keyflower by, for exam­ple, affect­ing how many seeds it produces. 

The nec­tar micro­bio­me is sim­i­lar enough to more com­plex ecosys­tems for us to use it to study basic eco­log­i­cal process­es includ­ing dispersal—movement of organ­isms to live and repro­duce else­where; niche pre­emp­tion and modification—how organ­isms that col­o­nize an envi­ron­ment influ­ence oppor­tu­ni­ty for lat­er arrivals; envi­ron­men­tal filtering—how envi­ron­men­tal attrib­ut­es pre­clude estab­lish­ment of some species; and species pool effects—results of the mix of species avail­able to col­o­nize a site.

4 Stanford Students planting Monkeyflower
Stan­ford under­grads learn anoth­er aspect of Fuka­mi Lab field research.

This project is key to expan­sion of a core biol­o­gy course, Intro­duc­tion to Research in Ecol­o­gy and Evo­lu­tion­ary Biol­o­gy, beyond Jasper Ridge Bio­log­i­cal Pre­serve to a loca­tion more acces­si­ble to the cen­tral cam­pus. In Jan­u­ary 2020, we con­duct­ed a small tri­al plant­i­ng, which we’ve main­tained and mon­i­tored since. In ear­ly 2021, we accept­ed respon­si­bil­i­ty for cul­ti­vat­ing hun­dreds of seedlings to be trans­plant­ed to the Dish in autumn.

Junior Fel­low Hilary Bay­er cares for Mon­keyflower seedlings at Magic.

In late Octo­ber, we began trans­plant­i­ng more than 500 seedlings to 16 sites of 32 each along the Dish recre­ation­al route. We antic­i­pate com­plet­ing trans­plant­i­ng by the end of 2021.

Over the com­ing year we plan to mon­i­tor rain­fall, plant devel­op­ment, pre­da­tion by rodents or insects, and a host of oth­er fac­tors. Depend­ing upon what we observe, we’ll irri­gate and oth­er­wise nur­ture the plants to increase like­li­hood that they’ll become estab­lished. Fuka­mi Lab fac­ul­ty and stu­dents will then use them to fur­ther their research.

volunteers with planting sign
Team lead­ers cel­e­brate com­ple­tion of plant­i­ng at the third of six­teen sites.

More than fifty vol­un­teers have con­tributed to this project, mak­ing new friends, learn­ing about local ecosys­tems, enjoy­ing the out-of-doors, exer­cis­ing, and work­ing for com­mon good. Please join us! Sign up here.

Silicon Valley Barcode of Life

A Mag­ic inten­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty res­i­dent guides a vol­un­teer dur­ing a Sil­i­con Val­ley Bar­code of Life bioblitz.

SVBOL is a cog­ni­tive activism project. We work with nature to change hearts and minds. We’re engag­ing peo­ple of Sil­i­con Val­ley in learn­ing why bio­di­ver­si­ty is impor­tant to human well-being, and in act­ing to pro­tect it.

We col­lect sam­ples of organ­isms present here, read spe­cif­ic small seg­ments of DNA to gen­er­ate iden­ti­fy­ing “bar­codes,” and upload find­ings to a pub­licly acces­si­ble data­base (BOLD) that can be used to doc­u­ment what exists and how it changes. SVBOL is one of many Inter­na­tion­al Bar­code of Life (ibol.org) ini­tia­tives worldwide.

Reduce Waste. Feed People.

We col­lect and process sur­plus food from retail­ers, farm­ers, home­own­ers, and oth­ers. In a typ­i­cal year, we receive, process, and trans­port more than twen­ty tons of nutri­tious pro­duce and pre­pared foods that we and our ser­vice agency part­ners make avail­able to thou­sands of deserv­ing peo­ple through pre­pared meals, nutri­tion and cook­ing edu­ca­tion class­es, and direct food distribution.

Mag­ic pub­lic ser­vice vol­un­teers col­lect sur­plus food for dona­tion to local charities.

Liveable City

Fel­low Jeff Hook advo­cates eco­log­i­cal­ly informed land use and trans­porta­tion plan­ning in a pub­lic hear­ing before the San­ta Clara Coun­ty Board of Supervisors.

We advo­cate for eco­log­i­cal­ly-informed land use, trans­porta­tion, and oth­er pub­lic poli­cies. We’ve suc­cess­ful­ly led cam­paigns to bring neigh­bors togeth­er, enhance safe­ty and con­ve­nience for pedes­tri­ans and cyclists, pro­mote local­ism, plant and care for trees in parks and along road­ways, lim­it use of debris blow­ers, reserve park­ing for res­i­dents on res­i­den­tial streets, address over-build­ing, improve ener­gy-effi­cien­cy, reduce ener­gy and oth­er resource use, increase and pro­tect parks and open spaces, and more.