San Francisco State University is dedicated to celebrating the diversity of species which can occupy the special ecological niche offered by an urban campus.
The San Francisco Bay region is regarded as one of the world's global biodiversity hotspots. These regions contain an exceptionally high number of unique species that are threatened.
A college campus is a unique environment to nurture life of all kinds. When we take time in our busy lives to take a close look, we will begin to discover the richness of our surroundings and strengthen our connection to the vast world of diversity around us.
- Pine Understory Garden
- Decomposers Garden
- Health Center Bee Garden
- Pollinator Perimeter (under development)
Pine Understory Garden
The Cycle of Nutrients
To establish this garden, woody debris and native plants were arranged in a grove of Monterey Pines (Pinus radiata). Allowed to decompose naturally, plant material such as logs and leaf litter provide food and shelter for fungi, salamanders, insects, and other invertebrates. These organisms in turn are food for foraging birds and small mammals, who are eaten by our campus birds of prey. After digesting a meal, owls regurgitate the bones and fur in the form of "owl pellets" that can occasionally be found under these pines. Although Monterey pine is one of our most common on campus, wild populations of this species are threatened by a fungal disease and habitat loss.
The Soil Food Web
Trophic levels describe the position that an organism occupies in the food chain. The first level consists of photosynthetic plants and bacteria that convert carbon dioxide into sugar. When these die, they are digested by decomposers such as earthworms, arthropods, fungi, and bacteria. Decomposers in turn are eaten by vertebrates such as birds, reptiles and small mammals.
Campus Grounds to the Classroom
Life on land is dependent on nutrient cycling in the top few inches of soil. Digestion by animals, insects, and fungi breaks down organic matter to release minerals into the soil. To create this garden, the grounds staff and campus mycologists selected woody debris to function as a substrate for fungi. This garden was established to encourage an ongoing supply of classroom demonstration material; please do not pick the mushrooms.
Health Center Bee Garden
Vital Connections of Campus Wildlife
This garden is one of the sunniest spots of our often fog-shrouded campus, and has been planted to attract wildlife such as birds, bees, and butterflies. The warmth of the sun is critical for many flying animals, as well as the plants that rely on them for pollination and seed dispersal. The surrounding trees, shrubs and leaf litter provide important cover for wildlife. Many of the plants that set seed provide food for songbirds.
Pollinator Perimeter (under development)
Increasing Urban Biodiversity and Reducing Water Consumption
The Grounds Department is designing a project to replant the entire perimeter of SF State's campus with California native plant species that will reduce the water consumption and increase urban biodiversity in our community. By providing forage and nesting site for Bay Area birds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators while reflecting the beauty and historic important of the adjacent Lake Merced, this project exemplifies SF State's commitment to urban greening.
The Pollinator Perimeter Project is planning to engage students from SF State, Lowell High School and other neighborhood schools, and a wide range of neighborhood organizations. The ultimate goal is that the perimeter of our campus is a demonstration of beautiful, climate appropriate landscaping that provides an educational reference for participants and residents of the Bay Area of appropriate biodiversity, resources management, and planting strategies – while providing an opportunity for us all to work together toward a common goal of environmental stewardship and education for our youth.