14 episodes

This is a podcast about asking questions and experiencing wonder. It’s a place to bring your curiosity about the natural world in California.

Golden State Naturalist Michelle Fullner

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 96 Ratings

This is a podcast about asking questions and experiencing wonder. It’s a place to bring your curiosity about the natural world in California.

    Mid-Break Updates AND Conversation with Michael Hawk on Nature's Archive

    Mid-Break Updates AND Conversation with Michael Hawk on Nature's Archive

    If you've been wondering what I've been up to or when I'll be back, this episode has your answers! 

    PLUS, just as a bonus because I love you, here's an intro to an amazing podcaster named Michael Hawk, who is the creator of both Nature's Archive podcast and a new nonprofit called Jumpstart Nature. In the episode, we discuss both of our podcasting journeys so far (with me at 10 episodes at the time of recording, and Michael a little past 50!), where we'd like to go next, and some behind-the-scenes info on what making a podcast is like. 

    Enjoy, and don't forget to check out Nature's Archive! 

    As always, some links! 

    Nature's Archive website: https://podcast.naturesarchive.com/blog/

    Jumpstart Nature website: https://jumpstartnature.com/

    My website: www.goldenstatenaturalist.com

    You can find me on Instagram or TikTok @goldenstatenaturalist

    The theme song is called "i dunno" by grapes, and you can find the link to the song and Creative Commons license here. 

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Beavers (Drought and Wildfire Superheroes!) with Emily Fairfax

    Beavers (Drought and Wildfire Superheroes!) with Emily Fairfax

    Scale a beaver dam with me and Dr. Emily Fairfax, beaver researcher, ecohydrologist, assistant professor at CSU Channel Islands, and science communicator extraordinaire who has been featured on NPR's Science Friday and All Things Considered. In this episode, you'll hear us discuss ecosystem engineers, what beavers eat, the best time of year to look for beaver dams, the North American Fur Trade, how beavers can permanently change landscapes, rodents of unusual size, what it means to be a keystone species, dam building, the fish that live in beaver ponds, what beavers do with those flat tails, natural infinity pools, the difference between a dam and a lodge, and why beavers are drought and wildfire superheroes. 

    Here are some helpful resources:

    Emily's amazing stop-motion video on beavers and wildfire

    Bay Nature article on human-beaver interactions in California

    USDA Factsheet on invasive nutria

    WorldAtlas on how beavers build dams

    Leave it to Beaver

    Emily's talk for California Naturalist's CONES speaker series

    You can find me on Instagram or TikTok @goldenstatenaturalist

    You can support me on Patreon at www.patreon.com/michellefullner

    My website is www.goldenstatenaturalist.com

    The theme song is called "i dunno" by grapes, and you can find it and the Creative Commons license here. 

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Conglomerate Mesa (Joshua Trees! Desert Ecosystems! Gold Mining!) with Wendy Schneider

    Conglomerate Mesa (Joshua Trees! Desert Ecosystems! Gold Mining!) with Wendy Schneider

    When I first heard about Conglomerate Mesa, located on BLM land right outside of Death Valley, I had no idea how much ground a single episode could cover. This one's got everything, including what makes a place a desert, a little bit of geology, Joshua trees, the General Mining Act of 1872, juniper pinyon ecosystems, the rain shadow effect, a very lovable, fuzzy-tailed rodent, a daisy that is only found on about one square mile of the entire planet, soil that is alive, the historic and contemporary importance of this mesa to Native people, and the fight to keep a Canadian gold mining company from quite literally digging the whole place up and spraying cyanide all over it.

    Some useful links: 

    Friends of the Inyo

    Center for Biological Diversity on Conglomerate Mesa 

    Cyanide Use in Gold Mining 

    National Geographic on Deserts

    1961 UC Berkeley Video on Native People Processing Pine Nuts 

    What is the Great Basin? 

    Smithsonian Article on Joshua Trees 

    Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands 

    "Big Four" American Deserts

    Conglomerate (Rock) 

    Sierra Club on Conglomerate Mesa 

    Inyo Rock Daisy LA Times Article 

    You can find me on Patreon at www.patreon.com/michellefullner

    Follow me on Instagram or TikTok @goldenstatenaturalist 

    My website is www.goldenstatenaturalist.com 

    The theme song is called "i dunno" by grapes and can be found here. 

    • 45 min
    Giant Sequoias (World's Largest Trees!) with Wendy Harrison

    Giant Sequoias (World's Largest Trees!) with Wendy Harrison

    Have you ever looked up at something much larger than yourself and felt teeny tiny, but in a good way? That's the feeling I get when I walk among giant sequoias. It is pure wonderment. Join me as I learn more about this spectacular species from Wendy Harrison, who spent 30 years as an interpreter at Calaveras Big Trees State Park and now leads the park's California Naturalist program. In our conversation, we discuss the ancient origins of these trees, what kinds of plants and animals live around them and depend on them, something called “sequoia blood,” how they spread their seeds, what’s going on waaaaay up high in their branches, their relationship with fire, the heartbreaking story of the mother of the forest, and where they can be found today so you can go experience them for yourself.



    Here are some relevant links from the episode:



    National Parks Service--"Giant Sequoias and Fire"



    Save the Redwoods--"Giant Sequoia and Fire" 



    Seed Viability 



    Calaveras Big Trees State Park Website 



    Canopy Soils 



    UCANR Page on Giant Sequoia Mycorrhiza



    Mother of the Forest Wikipedia page with photos 

     

    You can find me on Instagram or Tiktok @goldenstatenaturalist. 

    You can find me on Patreon at www.patreon.com/michellefullner 

    My website is www.goldenstatenaturalist.com 

    The theme song is called "i dunno" by grapes and can be found here.   

    • 50 min
    Entomology (Bugs!) with Ralph Washington Jr.

    Entomology (Bugs!) with Ralph Washington Jr.

    If you're here and you're like "ehhhhh, maybe I'll skip this one," don't! It's seriously so good even if bugs aren't usually your thing. Ralph Washington Jr. is not only a bug genius with a Master's in Entomology from UC Davis and more accolades than you can shake a stick at, but he's also insightful, passionate, and easy to listen to. You'll learn so much from him and may even walk away with new perspective on more than insects. 

    What do we talk about in the episode? Here's an incomplete list: cultivating curiosity, an insect that can see above and below the surface of the water at the same time, the limitations of the scientific method, a fire-detecting California native beetle, how racial justice and insects are related, mosquitoes' role in ecosystems, the very unfair bad wrap urban insects get, bug myths, a very self-compassionate approach to overcoming a fear of insects, how to help native bees, and how caring about things that are so very different us helps cultivate empathy. 

    Here are some links mentioned in the episode: 

    Smithsonian Video on Arthropods

    History of Oak Park

    "Climate Justice Can't Happen without Racial Justice" TED Talk  

    California Pitcher Plant (looks like a cobra!) 

    Ground Sloths

    My Instagram is @goldenstatenaturalist

    My website is www.goldenstatenaturalist.com

    You can support me on Patreon and get lots of extras at www.patreon.com/michellefullner 

    The theme song is called "I dunno" by grapes, and you can find the song and Creative Commons license here.  

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Coyotes with Sara Tabatabai

    Coyotes with Sara Tabatabai

    Have you ever been out hiking and heard an eerie chorus of barks, yips, and howls somewhere off in the distance? Or seen some scat that looked more like a bunch of smooshed up seeds and fur? You might have had a near brush with a coyote (or several!). 

    In this episode, I interview Sara Tabatabai from Effie Yeaw Nature Center, located right on the American River in Carmichael, California. Sara shows me around the nature preserve and helps me answer so many coyote questions, including these: How similar are they to wolves? Is one going to eat me? How can I tell if coyotes are living in an area where I’m hiking? Do they subsist on seed bits and hairballs? Did I see one downtown last week? What’s a coyote’s love life like? Can I have one as a pet? What is all this about coyotes and badgers being friends? How can you tell a coyote’s tracks from a dog’s?

    Here are some links/resources:  

    Effie Yeaw Nature Center 

    Coyote Yipps website 

    Coyotes as Neighbors Video 

    Smithsonian Article on Dog Domestication 

    Cats and Birds 

    Wolf-Dog-Coyote Hybrids 

    Coyote/Badger Relationship 

    My Patreon is www.patreon.com/michellefullner 

    You can find me on Instagram or TikTok @goldenstatenaturalist

    The theme song is called "i dunno" by grapes, and you can find it as well as the Creative Commons license here.  

    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
96 Ratings

96 Ratings

Sam_with_binoculars ,

Excellent show for lovers of natural history!

After listening to several episodes of this show, I’ve learned so much about California’s creatures and ecosystems. Michelle’s measured but enthusiastic tone is perfect for taking us through the nuances of the world around us, and placing us firmly in the mountains, wetlands, deserts and forests where each episode takes place. Add in the excellent roster of knowledgeable guests, and the show is like a field guide for your ears!

Rikki03 ,

Just all around informative and fun!

I just love this podcast! I listened to the Beaver one tonight. My favorite moment was when Michelle outed herself about having no idea where Ellesmere Island was and saying “wow” anyway during a conversation. It was a very relatable human moment. The podcast itself is great! I appreciate her humor and love how she asks and/or answers the really basic questions so that naturalist neophytes can follow along. The ability to make learning about nature and science approachable is a great skill. Awesome!!

BozieOzzie ,

Great!

I am a certified California naturalist, and I heard about this podcast from someone on Facebook. I’m so glad I found it. Michelle does a great job. I really enjoyed the salmon and beaver episodes. And the one about Sutter Buttes! It’s all great! Looking forward to future episodes.

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