Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve
Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory

With a fully equipped modern laboratory and computing facilities, the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL) serves as a major center for research for the eastern Sierra Nevada and Owens Valley. The site features a humanmade experimental stream system, consisting of nine meandering channels used for research on stream hydrology and ecology. Convict Creek flows year-round through SNARL, feeding the experimental system and providing a natural stream environment protected from grazing and other human impacts. Non-aquatic research is also supported and encouraged on the reserve's pristine habitats, which include Great Basin shrubland and grassland, high desert riparian woodland, and riparian meadow. Another nearby NRS site, Valentine Camp, joins with SNARL to comprise the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve (VESR).

Geologic monitoring

U.S. Geological Survey-funded scientists monitor seismic activity in the Long Valley Caldera and carbon dioxide emissions around Mammoth Mountain.

Public outreach

Environmental education programs for local elementary school students; K-12 summer school; public tours; short courses.

Regional field station

SNARL attracts users from all UC campuses, many outof- state colleges/universities, federal laboratories and research programs; reserve manager consults on regional resource management issues.

Field courses

University courses using site include botany, geology, environmental studies, snow science, and White Mountains Research Supercourse.

Selected Research

  • Ecology of Mono Lake: UC research since 1976 on Mono Lake influenced a 1994 decision of the State Water Resources Control Board to raise the lake level, helping to restore its ecosystem; ongoing projects there include physicallimnology modeling and monitoring of brine shrimp and alkali fly populations.
  • Sierran snowpack: SNARL scientists operate a snow laboratory on Mammoth Mountain; the National Science Foundation and NASA Earth Observing System Project fund ongoing studies of snowpack properties and snowmelt runoff.
  • Aquatic biology: Ongoing studies examine impacts of livestock grazing on stream ecology and effects of nonnative trout on Sierra Nevada lake ecosystems.

Special Research of National Significance

Microbial Observatory: Mono Lake, Collaborative Research: Microbial Observatory at an Alkaline, Hypersaline, Meromictic Lake (Mono Lake, California) /Ecology of Viruses in an Alkaline, Hypersaline Lake, Mono Lake, California

Contact Information
Daniel R. Dawson
1016 Mt. Morrison Road
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Phone: 805-893-5698

SNARL Website

Mono County, eastern slope of Sierra Nevada; 13 km (8 mi.) east of Mammoth Lakes just off U.S. Highway 395.
Google Map

Experimental stream complex; nine wet labs, controlled-environment room, radioisotope lab, offices, conference room; dormitory for 25, four houses with room for 20; classroom annex; database center with extensive computer facilities; storage for long-term researchers' equipment; Mammoth Mountain Snow Science Lab located nearby.

Plant List
Long-term flow/temp records for Convict Creek; climate data; maps; bibliography of on-site research; synoptic collections; aerial photos; regional geographic information system (GIS). Flora lists.

On-site staff reserve manager, stewards, database manager, environmental monitoring specialist, education coordinator.

22.6 hectares (56 acres)

Regional: 1,250 to 4,012 m (4,100 to 13,163 ft)
Site: 2149 to 2160 mi (7052 to 7116 ft.)

Average Precipitation
25 to 38 cm (10 to 15 in.)/yr, most as snow.

Average Temperature
Summer: 0º to 29ºC (32º to 84ºF)
Winter: -23º to 11ºC (-10º to 52ºF)

© Regents of the University of California.