Douglas Alexander

Professor Emeritus

Department of Biological Sciences
California State University
Chico, California 95929-0515

dalexander@csuchico.edu

Activities:

  • When I retired in summer 1998 I planned to teach half time and continue my research for five years. I found that the teaching and some work on Department of Biology history as well as enjoying Chico State University performances did not allow enough time for research. As a result, my last semester of teaching was spring 2001. Although retired, I plan to maintain research activity.

Research Interests:

  • I enjoy the challenge involved with the field study of populations. I am especially interested in periodic environments and the interaction between population adaptations and community organization.
  • I have spent time considering California Vernal Pools. Initially, I chose these delightful ecosystems because they provided a release from world pressures and they represented a good system to support student research programs. California vernal pools are part of a naturally fragmented landscape that has suffered from increasing human destruction. These unique habitats have been lost and modified because of a variety of human activities. The loss of natural California vernal pool ecosystems and the listing of vernal pool species as endangered have reduced my tranquil enjoyment of these unique habitats. The inability of our civilization to preserve these unique systems is disturbing. We failed to develop an understanding of pool geography and the dispersal of populations between pools before so many were lost. The plans to develop a new University of California campus on the last large vernal pool landscape contributes further to this loss.
  • Much of my activity in these pools has involved class activities, directing undergraduate and graduate student research and supporting docent programs. I have been observing pools in the Vina Plains area since the 60's. I directed nine graduate students that considered invertebrates in Vina Plains California vernal pools between 1970 and 1997. After The Nature Conservancy purchased Vina Plains Preserve in 1982, I helped develop the initial management plan and establish the annual spring docent program. I have worked with a Fish and Wildlife Service sponsored attempt to develop a program to preserve California vernal pool ecosystems.
  • I am interested in invertebrate population adaptations to periodic environments and how these populations assemble into communities and influence ecosystem function. I have also directed graduate research on wildlife mitigation, creek invertebrates, bald eagles, woodrats, band-tailed pigeons, foothill yellowlegged frogs, and an early work on a computerized rare vascular plant data base. I also have a general interest in human interactions with natural populations especially the impact of urban growth on populations and landscapes. Although I will not sponsor graduate students, I would enjoy advising student research activities at any time.
  • I am very interested in the preservation of all natural ecosystems, especially California Vernal Pools. If you have an interest in the preservation of California Vernal Pool landscapes, especially in the Vina Plains area, send me an email message: (dalexander@csuchico.edu) and we can work together.

Department History:

The Department of Biological Sciences granted graduate degrees in Biology starting in 1950 and Botany starting in 1970. A brief history of graduate research in Biological Sciences over the last 50 years was presented at the fall 2000 Biology Alumni meeting on October 14. With the help of many of the faculty, the program I organized presented an overview of the strong support the Department of Biological Sciences has had for combining research and teaching. We had faculty presentations representing every decade from 1950 into 2000. I developed a booklet for the meeting that attempted to list all of the students that were granted graduate degrees by The Department of Biological Sciences. It also provided a chronological listing of students that were awarded degrees and a listing of students under their major professors. The department still has a few of these booklets. I will be glad to have the department send interested alumni these booklets. I also have a two hour video of the presentation and, if there is interest, I can make copies for interested alumni.