Forest Home

7-Year Summary for the Berry Creek Falls Loop in the Forest of Big Basin State Park [California redwoods, waterfalls, flowers, slugs, and newts]

For 7 years (2002-2008), rain and shine, J. Zimmerman and by Scott Peden surveyed the Berry Creek Falls Loop (BCFL) Trail in the Forest of Big Basin State Park (California):

The plans:

  1. J. Zimmerman's initial plan (starting January 2002 till December 2008): Count the number of banana slugs seen.
  2. Scott Peden's additional plan (starting January 2002 till December 2008): Count the number of flower species seen.
  3. Then (starting January 2003 till December 2008): Count the newts and salamanders.

The results:

Also see:
Flower are our stars Wildflower species calendar on BCFL Trail.
Flower are our stars Walk With Scott Peden in Big Basin State Park.
NEW AUGUST 2005 Paces calibration (Berry Creek Falls Loop Trail).
Redwoods are our stars Life History and Ecological Guide to the Coast Redwood by Daniel J. Miller.
Redwoods are our stars Big Basin S.P. OWCH hike: 15 miles, 1500 feet.

Goal 1: Count the number of banana slugs seen

Completely new banana slug information discovered!

  • Total number of Slugs counted = 6290 (in 7 years)
  • Huge variation between months:
    • Peak in May (averaging 201 slugs per month); minimum in September (averaging 18 slugs per month).
    • Bimodal variation: as well as peak in May, another peak in November (averaging 162 slugs per month).
  • Damper and warmer weather bring the slugs above ground.
  • Each additional person on a survey adds on average 10% to the total count.
  • Slugs seen on a bank sloping up from the trail number an order of magnitude more than those on the side sloping down from the trail.
  • Slugs are seen on many surfaces: in January 2006, half were on redwood duff and a sixth were on moss. Similar results for slugs in March 2006. We also see them grazing on mushrooms, lichen, and (to our surprise) bones of birds.
  • Formal correlation of counts with weather (rainfall and temperature records) to be made later.

Goal 2: Count the number of flower species seen

Flower data:

  • Smooth curve with single peak in June (averaging 55 flower species seen per month); minimum in December (averaging 3 flower species seen per month).

  • Correlation with temperature and rainfall remains to be studied.

Goal 3: Count the number of amphibians (mainly newts) seen

Amphibians include: Californian newt; rough-skinned newt; giant salamander. [Our stored detailed records show the information for later analysis.]

  • Total number of Amphibians counted = 889 (in the 6 years 2003-2008).

  • Peak in February (averaging 36 amphibians per month); minimum in September and October (averaging 4 amphibians each month).
Newt by Scott Peden
Newt by Scott Peden.
In December, newts are leaving the streams for the land.
Trees and Shrubs of California (California Natural History Guides) by John David Stuart et al.