CURes Partner, Dr. Edith Read, Publishes Standout Paper on Local Wetlands

Dr. Edith Read’s latest – A Flora of the Ballona Wetlands and Environs – has been published in the Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences. This comprehensive paper brings together information from many different sources into one document. Some of the sources are “grey” literature (i.e. reports by reputable botanists that were never published in the peer-reviewed literature and thus not previously accessible to the public).  Other sources consist of collection records available online.

Dr. Read commented: “Compiling all of this data was a daunting task and, once I started on it, I realized why no one ever tried it before.  Disappearance of villages such as ‘Alla’ and ‘Mesmer’ referred to in historical collections further complicated the task of trying to determine what should be considered part of Ballona. But I’m glad the paper is finally out in the public arena, at least as a baseline reflecting information available at the time of its writing.  I have no doubt botanists will add to the database  as time goes on and Ballona undergoes even more changes with sea level rise, restoration, and pressure for public access.”

In assembling, for the first time, a list of all known studies of the flora of the Ballona Wetlands, Dr. Read’s paper reveals how biologically diverse the wetlands were before the watershed was urbanized, and how relatively few native plants are left. Lisa Fimiani, Executive Director of the Friends of Ballona Wetlands, shared the following: “The challenge now is to decide what to bring back to the Ballona Wetlands, and what is sustainable considering factors such as climate change. For future restoration efforts, Dr. Read suggests we consider a palette of plants that includes rare and endangered species, and a range of habitats from wetlands to uplands such dunes. This paper is a great accomplishment and will be used as a benchmark going forward.”

To access the paper, click here.

About Dr. Edith Read:  Dr. Edith Read has been a professional biologist and restoration ecologist for 25 years since graduating with a Ph.D. in biology from UC Irvine in 1989. Born and raised in southern California, she inherited a passion for nature. Her grandparents met in India through their common interest in bird watching. Her mother was born in Sri Lanka and eventually the whole family settled in La Habra Heights in Los Angeles County, a semi-rural area where they fought successfully to permanently protect an area called Powder Canyon from development. Edith first became involved in the Ballona Wetlands in the mid-1990s when she conducted botanical surveys and served on a science advisory panel for restoration of the Ballona estuary. In 2003 she was asked by the Ballona Wetlands Conservancy to manage the Ballona Freshwater Wetlands, and in 2007 she formed her own company to employ people specially trained in the maintenance and management of native habitats. As if this isn’t enough to do, she continues to work on a wide range of projects that includes 20+ years of monitoring streams in the eastern Sierra Nevada affected by hydroelectric projects, and restoration of habitats impacted by illegal development in the Santa Monica Mountains. She volunteers as secretary of the Southern California Academy of Sciences and Board member of the Friends of Ballona Wetlands. She is currently working on another paper, this time based on her grandfather’s writings which document studies of birds and inheritance of bird song conducted in Pennsylvania in the early 1900s.