Contact Us Search

CDFW Conservation Lecture Series Archive

Past Lectures

Statewide research informs regional conservation priorities for mountain lions in California - April 24, 2019, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Presented by Dr. Justin Dellinger

In 2015, CDFW began an effort to understand abundance, habitat use, genetics, and health of mountain lions across California. Though the effort is still well underway, great strides have already been made to increase understanding of multiple aspects of mountain lion ecology in California. This talk will detail the statewide efforts and findings to date as well as detail what is yet to come concerning CDFW’s role in conserving and managing mountain lions in California.

link opens in new windowPresentation materials (contains graphic images) (PDF)


Conserving California’s Bats Through Environmental Review and Permitting - December 6, 2018, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Presented by Greg Tatarian

The purpose of this lecture is to provide basic, critical information on bat biology and roosting ecology needed to understand appropriate and effective take avoidance and habitat mitigation measures. It will help participants better understand how to utilize the Lake and Streambed Alteration Program and CEQA processes for bat conservation, and to recognize and avoid potential problems. Participants will be given clear, effective, practical, field-proven strategies based on roosting ecology and bat behavior for take avoidance and impact minimization in buildings, bridges, culverts, and trees.


A Living Map for a Changing Landscape - fine-scale vegetation and habitat mapping in Sonoma County, CA. - September 25, 2018, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Presented by Mark Tukman

A recently completed fine scale vegetation map for Sonoma County showcases many of the most recent advances in landscape and habitat assessment. Based on high-resolution imagery and LiDAR data, mapping methods combined automated image classification, machine learning, traditional photointerpretation, and field work. The project was funded by a consortium led by Sonoma County’s Agriculture and Open Space District, and the Sonoma County Water Agency. The mapping classification was adapted from a classification developed by CDFW VegCAMP and based a field campaign led by CDFW. Trimble eCognition was used to develop a mostly automated lifeform map with broad floristic classes. Lifeform mapping was followed by machine learning, which used field validated stand data and a stack of predictor variables to produce map class predictions (generally at the alliance level) for each map polygon. Map labels were reviewed and edited by photointerpreters and field workers. Accuracy assessment was conducted using a combination of Fish and Wildlife/CNPS rapid assessment plots and accuracy assessment plots. The mapping classification, map specifications, and methods were informed by the needs of the County and the guidance of two advisory committees. The recently completed accuracy assessment supports the validity of the process. The map has a myriad of users, including the conservation community, water managers, planners, and others. The county is now in the process of developing protocols for map updates and map improvements.

link opens in new windowVIDEO

new-window-iconPresentation Materials (PDF)

Areas of Conservation Emphasis (ACE) version 3: A California Department of Fish and Wildlife conservation analysis tool - April 12, 2018, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Presented by Melanie Gogol-Prokurat

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Areas of Conservation Emphasis (ACE) project is a non-regulatory tool that brings together the best available map-based data in California to depict biodiversity, significant habitats, connectivity, climate change resilience, and other datasets for use in conservation planning. ACE compiles and analyzes information from multiple CDFW data products, including the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB), California Wildlife Habitat Relationships Program (CWHR), the Survey of California Vegetation, as well as other mapped information found in the Biogeographic Information and Observation System (BIOS) to create products that can help inform landscape-scale conservation decisions. The terrestrial data is summarized and displayed in a standardized hexagon (2.5 mi 2) grid, and the aquatic data is compiled by HUC12 watershed. All ACE datasets are available in an online map viewer or for download. CDFW has just completed ACE v3, a major revision and update.

ACE Biodiversity metrics are based on 1) species location information from CNDDB and other species survey datasets for 354 rare and/or endemic vertebrate species and subspecies, and 1672 rare and/or endemic plant taxa; and 2) species range or habitat distribution models for 791 common and rare native species of amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles, and 183 families of aquatic macroinvertebrates. ACE combines information on species occurrence locations and species habitat distribution models in a standardized way to show the distribution of biodiversity, species richness, rarity, and endemism across the state and in each ecoregion. ACE Significant Habitats brings together information on important habitats such as rare vegetation types, oak woodlands, wetlands, and riparian areas based on vegetation maps and other landcover datasets, as well as information on focal species key habitat areas. ACE Connectivity brings together information on natural intact lands, habitat linkages, and wildlife corridors. ACE Climate Change Resilience brings together information on locations expected to be relatively buffered by climate change impacts. These datasets provide an overview of the conservation elements potentially present at a given location based on best available data, and can be viewed together with State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) conservation targets, stressors, and juxtaposition to existing conserved lands in the ACE viewer to provide a broad overview of information important to conservation planning and ecological research. We will describe the data now available in ACE v3, and will present example use-case scenarios.

link opens in new windowVIDEO

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials (PDF)

Recent Advances in Effective Bat Mitigation in California - March 21, 2018, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Presented by Dr. Dave Johnston

Dr. Dave Johnston provides an overview of bat mitigation in California including assessing habitat for bats, determining the various types of potential impacts, and mitigating for impacts from mining, tree removal, bridge work, and roof replacement. Dr. Johnston discusses various steps for effective mitigation strategies and discusses how knowing the natural history of a species is often critical for success. Potential impacts to bats from noise and light pollution and the appropriate mitigation are also discussed.


Foothill Yellow-legged Frog: Genetics, Ecology, and Consumer Resource Interaction - February 15, 2018, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Presented by Dr. Sarah Kupferberg and Ryan Peek

The foothill yellow-legged frog, Rana boylii, is a stream-breeding anuran endemic to California and Oregon that has declined precipitously in recent decades. These frogs evolved in creeks and rivers flowing through a diverse set of bio-climatic regions, from relatively cool Pacific Northwest coniferous forests to warm Mediterranean scrub and oak/grassland savannahs of interior foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Thus they have a wide range of temperature tolerance and behavioral adaptations to local conditions. As grazers when tadpoles and insectivores when adults, these frogs are an integral part of algal based food webs in the region's rivers. At present, R. boylii occupies less than half its historic range and absence is significantly correlated with the existence of large dams upstream. Absence is pronounced in the southern half of the range where chytridiomycosis has also been implicated as a historic cause of decline. Dam associated threats include loss of habitat when rivers are converted to lakes, mortality when extreme aseasonal variation in stream flow causes stranding and scouring of early life stages, and predation by non-native species when dam-modified flow conditions allow them to invade and proliferate. This presentation will discuss long-term monitoring and population projection modeling which indicate that recruitment bottlenecks occur when early life stages have high mortality rates due either to natural or anthropogenic causes. Techniques regarding head-starting of tadpoles, along with avoidance and mitigation measures to decrease loss of early life-stages are are under development and will be discussed as approaches to conserve this species. This lecture will also discuss a new tool for addressing ecological genomics questions: restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RADSeq).


link opens in new windowPresentation Materials (PDF)   

White-nose Syndrome Surveillance Workshop - December 6, 2017. Presented by Dr. Anne Ballman 

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emergent fungal disease of hibernating, insectivorous bats that has caused massive bat mortality in the eastern North America. To date, WNS has been confirmed in 29 states (including the 2016 detection in Washington) and 5 Canadian provinces and continues to spread across the continent.  Given the widespread distribution of the causative agent P. destructans (Pd) and the unprecedented population declines in several affected North American bat species, national cooperation is critical for monitoring and managing this disease. In response to the recent emergence of this previously unknown disease, many agencies, institutions, and scientists have become involved in disease investigation, research, surveillance, and management efforts.  Coordination of these efforts following standardize protocols and sharing of acquired information will facilitate greater understanding of this disease and its significance for bat populations and the ecosystem.  This workshop will foster common understanding of WNS/Pd surveillance strategies, sampling techniques, diagnostic interpretation, and biosecurity recommendations to aid in the conservation of bats. The format of the workshop will be lectures followed by a laboratory session that will allow participants to practice various non-lethal sampling techniques, approved bat euthanasia methods, and decontamination procedures.

The lab session mentioned in this course description was not recorded.

link opens in new windowVIDEO

Canary in the Cannabis Field: How the Fisher Illuminated the Conservation Concerns from Cannabis Cultivation on California's Forest Lands - June 23, 2017. Presented by Dr. Mourad Gabriel

Prior to 2012 the discussion surrounding marijuana cultivation was charged politically, emotionally and sensationally. One point that was missing from debates was the environmental costs stemming from marijuana cultivation. Unfortunately, research, data or any outside knowledge describing the environmental impacts from marijuana cultivation on public lands prior to 2012 was extremely limited. It wasn’t until that year, when a foundational paper on exposure to and mortality from pesticides found at marijuana cultivation sites in a rare forest mesocarnivore, the fisher, brought this issue front and center in the main-stream conversations. This paper generated national and international media coverage which initiated and, in many instances, forced candid discussions within governmental agencies and communities on the topic of marijuana cultivation and its environmental footprint. Additionally, data gathering on the topic was slow due to the lack of supportive mechanisms to continue this work. It was not until a Section 6 grant by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service administered by California Department of Fish and Wildlife allowed the continuation of data efforts. These efforts not only indicated that cultivation threats to fishers were not dissipating, but clearly demonstrated water, soil, vegetation, ESA-listed and game species contamination from pesticides used at these sites. The collection of this data also fortified a more cohesive stakeholder discussion on the matter. Though the topic initially appeared to be polarizing, once additional scientific data demonstrated numerous affected factions, a common thread of engagement was directed towards wildlife conservation efforts.

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials (PDF)

cannabis plants - links opens video in new window

The Tanoak Tree: An Environmental History of a Pacific Coast Hardwood - September 14, 2016. Presented by Frederica Bowcutt

People's radically different perceptions of the tanoak tree (Notholithocarpus densiflorus) have ranged from treasured food plant to cash crop to trash tree. Having studied the patterns of tanoak use and abuse for nearly twenty years, botanist Frederica Bowcutt uncovers a complex history of cultural, sociopolitical, and economic factors affecting the tree's fate and discusses hopeful changes including reintroduction of low-intensity burning to reduce conifer competition for tanoaks, emerging disease resistance in some trees, and new partnerships among tanoak defenders, including botanists, foresters, Native Americans, and plant pathologists.

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials (PDF)

tan oak leaves - link opens video in new window

Morgan Post-Fire Study: A Framework for Fire Followers and Fleeting Abundance Speakers - July 13, 2016. Presented by Heath Bartosh and Brian Peterson

In August of 2013 the Morgan Fire burned approximately 3,000 acres of the slopes of Mount Diablo. For botanists the post-fire environment is an opportunity to explore places normally blanketed with impenetrable chaparral and see plant species that have not been seen in decades. We know that fire is a major driver of diversity dynamics and ecosystem structure in many California plant communities. In particular, there is a suite of annual or short lived perennial species that benefit from, or rely on, fire as a part of their life history cycle. This post‐fire flora represents a fleeting diversity and abundance, typically spanning 3 to 5 years after a fire and disappearing back into the soil seed bank until the next fire event. Nomad Ecology botanists Heath Bartosh and Brian Peterson used this opportunity to design and implement a study aimed at capturing diversity and short-term successional dynamics of the fleeting abundance of fire following plants. This talk will present an overview of the Morgan fire, their research, and preliminary results following two years of sampling...and they still have one more to go! See link opens in new windowan overview of the Morgan Fire as reported by Bay Nature writer Joan Hamilton.

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials (PDF)

hillside on fire - link opens video in new window

Monarch Butterfly Conservation in the Western United States - May 13, 2016. Presented by Sarina Jepsen and Samantha Marcum;

This webinar will provide an overview of the biology, life history, and conservation status of monarchs in the western U.S., including factors that may be contributing to the observed population decline at California overwintering sites. The webinar will also review current conservation efforts in the West, including habitat management and enhancement efforts, applied research, and citizen science programs in monarch natal, migratory, and overwintering habitats. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Xerces Society are partnering for monarch butterfly conservation on international, national, regional, state, and locale scales. We will discuss some high priority projects and ways that the California Department of Fish & Wildlife may be able to participate in ongoing monarch conservation, including a western states habitat suitability modeling project.

Monarch butterfly - link opens video in new window

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

Concerns Over Plant Pathogen Introductions in Native Plant Nurseries and Restoration Sites - April 19, 2016. Presented by the Phytophthoras in Native Habitats Work Group ‡

This presentation will review recent findings on the threats to California native vegetation posed by plant pathogens and management actions needed to prevent introduction and limit spread of exotic species. Plant diseases caused by species, such as sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum) have been an increasing concern as new species and hybrids are being discovered at an alarming rate. In California, dozens of Phytophthora species have been found in native plant nurseries, restoration sites, and native landscapes. The first detections of P. tentaculata in the US, ranked as a high priority threat by USDA, were in California native plant nurseries and restoration plantings. Various aspects of the problem will be explained: the impacts of Phytophthora species in California, pathways of spread - including local and global spread via infected nursery stock, current efforts to prevent introductions by clean nursery stock initiatives, the aftermath of introductions in restoration plantings and efforts to contain or eradicate introduced species from field sites. The panel is presented by the Phytophthoras in Native Habitats Work Group: Janice Alexander (UCCE Marin Co.), Ted Swiecki and Elizabeth Bernhardt (Phytosphere Research), Suzanne Rooney-Latham and Cheryl Blomquist (CDFA), and Janell Hillman (Santa Clara Valley Water District)

Video Unavailable

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

Predicting Current and Future Distributions of Rare Plants: Lessons From the Intersections of Science, Policy, and Management - March 15, 2016. Presented by Patrick McIntyre and Melanie Gogol-Prokurat, CDFW ‡

California is a global biodiversity hotspot with more than 2,000 endemic plant species and more than 1,600 rare plant species. Rare and endemic plants are of special conservation concern because of their risk of extinction, and they may be particularly vulnerable to climate change because of traits such as limited geographic range, small population size, high habitat specificity, and low dispersal ability. Understanding where these species occur in the landscape is the first step in determining necessary conservation and management measures. Species distribution modeling is a rapidly developing field which uses complex statistical and geospatial analysis to identify potentially suitable habitat in the landscape based on habitat values present at known occurrence locations. This information can also be used to extrapolate potential future habitat suitability under projected climate change scenarios. The rapidly changing nature of modeling methods presents challenges for applying models to policy and management. We will present several case studies of species distribution modeling for rare plants, highlighting conservation implications, caveats, and lessons learned for conservation practitioners.

Video Unavailable

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

Sacramento's Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Problem: What Are They Doing Here and How Do We Deal With Them?! - January 25, 2016. Presented by Chuck Ingles, UC Davis Cooperative Extension

The brown marmorated stink bug was introduced to the United States from Asia in the 1990s. The ability of the insect to hitchhike in vehicles and planes has allowed it to spread rapidly to new areas. Wherever the insect takes up residence, it causes severe crop and garden losses and becomes a nuisance to people. This insect has a propensity for migrating seasonally into homes and offices where large numbers aggregate to seek favorable overwintering sites. The invasive insect was first trapped in California in 2005, although its current establishment and distribution are not clear.

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

brown insect - link opens video in new window

Conservation In Our Brave New Environment: Climate Change, Nitrogen Deposition, and the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly - December 2, 2015. Presented by Dr. Stu Weiss ‡

The story of conservation of the Bay checkerspot butterfly over three decades illustrates many of the challenges posed by a novel 21st century environment. The butterfly is among the most well-studied natural populations in the world, and complex relationships between weather, topoclimate, phenology, and population dynamics have been untangled. The butterfly in its nutrient-poor serpentine grassland habitat has become a "poster child" for impacts of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on biodiversity, and the necessity of cattle grazing for maintaining habitat in the face of annual grass invasions. The newly adopted (2013) Santa Clara Valley HCP/NCCP promises to conserve and manage the remaining habitat. The broader implications of nitrogen deposition on California biodiversity will also be discussed.

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

brown, white and orange butterfly - link opens video in new window

Development of Multi-Threaded Wetland Channels and the Implications for Salmonids and Ecosystem Rehabilitation - November 19, 2015. Presented by Dr. Brian Cluer and Lauren Hammack ‡

The land clearing and draining industriousness of the early European settlers largely erased riparian wetlands and multi-threaded channels from the California landscape, as well as from our collective consciousness. Incised, simplified channels are the result of those efforts and what we tend to manage our waterways to be. The importance of multi-threaded channels for ecosystem function and biotic productivity is beginning to be understood and taken into account in restoration design. However, the preference for single-thread regime channels with sediment transport continuity runs deep in the stream restoration community. Dr. Brian Cluer will present the recently developed stream evolution model (SEM) (Cluer and Thorne 2014), which describes the complex habitat and ecosystem benefits associated with various channel types and their stages of evolution. The SEM framework shows that there are significant differences in these habitat and ecosystem values between incised, floodplain-connected, and multi-threaded streams. The implications for stream conservation and eco-hydrologic restoration will be explored. A case study on the transition from incised channel to multi-threaded wetland channel complex, and the resulting change in ecosystem benefits observed, will be presented by Lauren Hammack. The story takes place in Willow Creek, a tributary to the lower Russian River and a high-priority watershed for Coho salmon recovery and the Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program. The land use history of Willow Creek watershed, the channel management practices, and the restoration decision-making challenges are representative of situations throughout California.

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

juvenile salmon on cooler lid - link opens video in new window

Process-based Stream Restoration to Help Farmers and Fish: Why California Needs 10,000 More Dams - October 13, 2015. Presented by Dr. Michael Pollock ‡

Instream structures such as wood jams, living vegetation, beaver dams, certain geomorphic features and other obstacles that slow the downstream movement of water and sediment are essential to the restoration of streams. In particular, such ecologically functional dams or obstructions can accelerate the development of "stage zero" channels. The stage zero channel (sensu Cluer and Thorne 2013) is increasingly recognized as having intrinsic high value because of the multiple and synergistic ecosystem goods and services that such systems provide. Stage zero channels have well connected floodplains with elevated water tables, spatially variable hydrologic regimes and structurally complex aquatic and riparian habitat. As such, they provide incredibly valuable habitat for a suite of terrestrial and aquatic taxa, including several Pacific salmon species that are in decline. In this presentation, Dr. Pollock will provide an overview of how ecologically functional dams can be built to create zero order channels, the features and types of stage zero channels, where in the landscape they are likely to be found, and how they evolve under natural conditions. Dr. Pollock will compare the structure and function of stage zero channels to more traditional channel restoration targets. Dr. Pollock concludes that new approaches to stream restoration are needed that take into account society’s economic and ecological imperatives to create resilient, structurally complex and dynamic systems, and that the spatial scale of restorative actions should be expanded where possible to better recognize and integrate the interdependent nature of longitudinal, lateral and vertical linkages in stream systems.

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

aerial view of river winding near forest

San Joaquin Kit Fox: Eluding Recovery for Almost 50 Years and Counting! - October 6, 2015. Presented by Dr. Brian Cypher ‡

The San Joaquin kit fox was added to the original endangered species list in 1967. After almost 50 years, it still remains listed with no prospects in sight of being delisted. Indeed, the species likely has steadily declined since listing and continues to decline today. In this presentation, Dr. Cypher will (1) provide an overview of the biology and ecology of the San Joaquin kit fox, (2) discuss its current conservation status and continuing threats, (3) detail recent research and conservation efforts, and (4) describe future conservation needs and challenges. And when possible, Dr. Cypher will offer suggestions for actions and measures the CDFW might consider implementing to facilitate kit fox conservation efforts.

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

biologist holding small fox - link opens video in new window

Metrics and Approaches for Quantifying Ecosystem Impacts and Restoration Success - September 24, 2015. Presented by Dr. Zan Rubin ‡

The importance of evaluating restoration projects is now broadly accepted, though agreement on metrics and monitoring approaches is elusive. Unless being used to test specific hypotheses about the project, generic geomorphic, hydrologic, and biological monitoring programs are unlikely to answer questions about restoration success. In this talk I review and critique common approaches to river restoration and highlight our own research in: 1) quantifying the historical range of variability in geomorphic processes and forms as a context for channel and wetland restoration in Rocky Mountain National Park and 2) using prey availability as an intermediate metric linking habitat alteration and species-specific goals on the lower Colorado River.

Video Unavailable

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

American Badgers - August 6, 2015. Presented by Dr. Jessie Quinn

The American badger (Taxidea taxus) is a Species of Special Concern in California. Funded by a grant from the CDFW Resource Assessment Program (RAP) Dr. Jessie Quinn studied the population distribution, movement behavior, and pathogen and rodenticide exposure in collaboration with the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, with support from the OSPR Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center. She completed a Species Status Report for the American badger for CDFW in 2009, and more recently completed a book chapter on pathogens and parasites in American badgers that will be included in the upcoming text Badgers of the World. Dr. Quinn's lecture will discuss the natural history of the species in California, potential threats to populations, and results of her research.

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

badger - link opens video in new window

Design Validation Monitoring in the Klamath Watershed: Embracing Uncertainty and Learning from Progress - June 15, 2015. Presented by D.J. Bandrowski, Aaron Martin, and Rocco Fiori ‡

This lecture focused on three topics: 1) Designing with a purpose - linking quantitative goals, objectives, metrics, and models into the design process; 2) biological monitoring - integration of the salmonid habitat mapping and juvenile utilization into design effectiveness; and 3) physical monitoring - learning from geomorphic process of fluvial evolution between the interaction of wood and gravel.

Video Unavailable

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

Right Under Our Noses: Dogs Moving Conservation Forward - June 12, 2015. Presented by Dr. Deborah (Smith) Woollett and Aimee Hurt ‡

Obtaining crucial data on wild species can be extremely challenging, and a variety of problems may prevent finding cryptic animals in diverse environments. The unparalleled abilities of canine olfaction offers a way to increase proficiency in non-invasively collecting information on endangered, rare and hard to find species and detect and remove threats to wildlife. More than 80 publications detail how canines have been employed to locate wildlife sign, live animals, and plants, and in the past two decades alone the use of trained dogs as a survey tool has increased dramatically. At the forefront of the conservation dog field, Working Dogs for Conservation (WDC) has been selecting, training and deploying dogs that ‘live to work’ for projects worldwide, using and refining current methods and developing new approaches to address present and future challenges. Collaborating with agencies, NGOs, researchers, students and grassroots community groups since 2000, WDC dog-biologist teams have detected nearly 40 species in 18 states and 16 countries. Dog-collected data has enabled a host of incredible conservation achievements ranging from developing eradication techniques for a highly invasive weed in Montana to determining the whereabouts of the world’s most endangered primate - the Cross River gorilla - in West Africa to identifying occupied San Joaquin kit fox habitat where partners armed with these survey results leveraged over $2.5M for its purchase and permanent protection in California.

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

scientist and black dog in forest - link opens video in new window

Black Swans, Brown River: How a Levee Failure Transformed Floodplain Restoration and Management in California's Central Valley – May 21, 2015. Presented by Dr. Joshua Viers ‡

Transformative events shaping human histories, perceptions, and modalities can be considered to be of the Black Swan variety. Black Swans, in this context, are unanticipated events with significant impact, yet in hindsight appear perfectly predictable. Flood events and ensuing social-ecological transformations are an archetype Black Swan. In this paper, we illustrate how a Black Swan event transformed not only a riverine floodplain, but also initiated a paradigm shift in thinking and approach to riverine floodplain restoration. In 1986, a relatively routine levee failure along the banks of the Cosumnes River led to the establishment of an “accidental” forest. The forest was not the surprise, rather it was the shift in thinking. In retrospect, of course, it was perfectly predictable that following the levee failure, floodplain restoration approaches would focus on initiating hydroecological processes, rather than on mimicking biological composition and pattern. Subsequently, the transformation in thinking has led to a scientific focus on ecological effects of hydrological process, including intentional levee breaching and promotion of flooded floodplains. We explore the role of Black Swans at the interface of ecosystem disturbance and human reaction within this emergent paradigm with a new focus on the use of setback levees and levee breaching to promote process-based restoration of Central Valley floodplains for multiple social-ecological benefits.

Presentation Materials Unavailable

aerial view of broad muddy river - link opens video in new window

White-Nose Syndrome in Bats – April 14, 2015. Presented by David Wyatt ‡

White-nose Syndrome (WNS) has killed millions of bats in the eastern half of North America. It was first discovered in 2006 affecting hibernating bats in New York and since that time the disease has spread to 25 U.S. states and 5 Canadian provinces. Seven species of bats (including two Endangered Species) have had mortality due to WNS and an additional five species have tested positive for the causal agent (a fungus). This causal agent is Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) and is directly responsible in causing mortality in hibernating bats due to WNS. Three additional states have had detections of this fungus but WNS has not been confirmed from those three states (yet!). Dr. David Wyatt, professor at Sacramento City College, will provide an overview of Pd, how it causes mortality in bats, why only hibernating bat species have exhibited mortality, what are current estimates of mortality, what is the current known distribution of WNS in North America, what efforts are being made to combat this disease, and the difficulties inherent in detecting and addressing this disease in western North America bat species. Please join us in this fascinating discussion of a wildlife disease that has such devastating impacts on numerous species in this ecologically and economically important group of mammals.

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

flying bat - link opens video in new window

Invasive Watersnakes - March 12, 2015. Presented by Dr. Brian Todd ‡

Non-native watersnakes are among the newest threats to California's native freshwater biodiversity. Dr. Brian Todd, an Associate Professor at UC Davis, will describe his work with these species over the past several years. Dr. Todd will present an overview of the ecology and invasion history of watersnakes in California and will describe the potential risk these non-native species pose to many of California's amphibian and fish species of conservation concern. He will discuss his ongoing research and efforts to facilitate management and eradication of these non-native species.

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

snake eating frog on lilypad - link opens video in new window

Tricolored Blackbird - February 26, 2015. Presented by Dr. Robert Meese ‡

California's blackbird, the tricolor, Agelaius tricolor, is a near-endemic passerine that forms the largest breeding colonies of any songbird in North America. Originally almost exclusively a marsh-dweller, the tricolor now inhabits landscapes that differ fundamentally than the ones in which it evolved. Due to its gregarious nature and insect-dependence during the breeding season, the tricolor places huge demands upon lands within 3 miles of its breeding colonies. Through a multimedia presentation that includes still images, videos, and digital sound files, Dr. Meese will explore the tricolor’s natural history, field identification, history of research, and population trends. Drawing on his decade of work with the species, Dr. Meese will illustrate the tricolor’s extraordinary breeding and foraging habits, the relationship between insect abundance and reproductive success, discuss the results of the 2014 Statewide Survey, and the prospects for the species’ future. Photo by Robert Meese.

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

black bird with red and white shoulders - link opens video in new window

Bighorn Sheep; February 6, 2015. Presented by Dr. Jeff Villepique

Dr. Jeff Villepique, Wildlife Biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Inland Deserts Region, will speak about the natural history and legal status of bighorn sheep in California, along with factors driving their population ecology. His talk will cover the unique adaptations of these rare mammals and distinctions among populations in the mountains and deserts of California; some designated Fully Protected, others Federally Endangered. Jeff will also discuss his research into influences of wildfire, drought, and predation risk on habitat selection by bighorn sheep in the Transverse and Sierra Nevada ranges. Diverse factors may limit bighorn populations, however, all may be imperiled by disease and, to a greater or lesser degree, by impacts of drought.

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

bighorn sheep on rocky hillside

Vegetation and Flora of a Biodiversity Hotspot: Pine Hill, El Dorado County, California – January 22, 2015. Presented by Dr. Debra Ayres ‡

Pine Hill lies near the center of a volcanically-derived gabbro intrusion in the foothills of the Sierras in western El Dorado County containing fire-prone chaparral, oak woodland, and grassland communities. Over 10% (741 plants) of the flora of the entire state of California, including seven rare plant species, occurs within this 30,000 acre gabbro island. Dr. Debra Ayres has been studying the rare plants in this area for over 20 years. She will present new analyses showing that two chaparral communities are present here. Recognition and preservation of both types of chaparral will be necessary to conserve this diverse flora.

Presentation Materials

fire burning trees and shrubs - link opens video in new window

Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog; From Algal Food-Web Ecology to Dam Management: Connecting the Dots One Tadpole at a Time – December 3, 2014. Presented by Dr. Sarah Kupferberg ‡

California’s river breeding foothill yellow legged frog (Rana boylii), is in decline, especially in the southern part of its range and where it occurs near large dams. Several physically-based factors influenced by dam operations as well as natural variation in streamflow may impair the ability of populations to produce new recruits. To inform flow management that can reduce mortality agents, in association with engineer Scott McBain, Dr. Kupferberg developed a model to predict the hydrologic and thermal mechanics of breeding timing, embryonic and larval development. When applied to three different regulated rivers in California (Trinity, Tuolumne, and Alameda Creek), the model revealed cooler summer temperatures on tadpoles may have more profound impacts than spring flow fluctuation effects on clutches of eggs.

link opens in new tab or windowPresentation Materials

view of reservoir dam

Spartina and California Clapper Rails – November 17, 2014. Presented by Dr. Donald Strong ‡

In the San Francisco Bay, CA a complicated situation continues to play out from the purposeful introduction of the Atlantic Spartina alterniflora, which hybridized with native California cordgrass, Spartina foliosa. The hybrids spread rapidly into the open mud where migratory shorebirds forage. This led to a large-scale herbicide campaign that is a success in saving shore bird habitat, but that also brought collateral damage to the endangered California clapper rail, which had apparently flourished in hybrid Spartina. The US Fish & Wildlife Service curtailed the herbicide campaign in 2011. The state of the situation is in flux as hybrid cordgrass is again spreading at the sites where spraying was curtailed, funding for the campaign is not assured, and the clapper rail is yet to recover over 2010 numbers.

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

aerial view of marsh - link opens video in new window

Mohave Ground Squirrel – November 6. Presented by Dr. Phil Leitner ‡

Dr. Phil Leitner had his first encounter with Mohave ground squirrels in Inyo County back in 1979 and has spent a lot of time since then trying to get to know them better. This species was listed as rare under the California Endangered Species Act in 1971 and was then re-designated as threatened in 1984. Mohave ground squirrels are restricted to a small portion of the western Mojave Desert and have a well-deserved reputation for being hard to find and study. Dr. Leitner describes their annual cycle, food habits, reproduction, and dispersal as background to a discussion of conservation strategy. Projected climate change and renewable energy development may affect the western Mojave Desert in ways that will be challenging for this unique California animal. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan will be critical for its conservation.

Photo: Mohave ground squirrel – by Dr. Phil Leitner

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

squirrel with small tail - link opens video in new window

Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat – October 7. Presented by Dr. Dave Johnston ‡

Townsend's Big Eared Bat by Dr. Dave Johnston

The Townsend's big-eared bat is a candidate species under the California Endangered Species Act. Dr. Dave Johnston, an Associate Ecologist and Bat Biologist at H.T. Harvey & Associates has worked with bats since 1992. Dr. Johnston presents an overview of the life history of the species, population status, current threats because of fire suppression and mine closures, and discusses management and ongoing research.

Photo: Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat – by Dr. Dave Johnston

Video Unavailable

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

California Red-Legged Frog and California Tiger Salamander – September 9. Presented by Jeff Alvarez ‡

Biologist, Jeff Alvarez, has been working with sympatric populations of California tiger salamanders and California red-legged frogs for nearly 20 years. These apparently disparate species have many similarities and differences, yet aquatic and upland management techniques that support one species appear to support the other. Since the range of red-legged frogs and tiger salamanders overlap over a large area in California, species' management can impact or benefit both species. Jeff will present a lecture that includes discussion about the benefits of grazing, silt and vegetation removal, ground squirrel management, as well as habitat associations, rate of sympatry, inter-annual variability in observed breeding, and more, time permitting.

Video: California Red-Legged Frog - by Jeff Alvarez

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

tadpoles in palm - link opens video in new window

Rearing Salmon in the Yolo Bypass – August 25, 2014. Presented by Carson Jeffres ‡

Carson Jeffres, field and laboratory director for the UC Davis Center for Watershed Science, will discuss recent research on use of harvested rice fields as potential salmon nurseries. Frequently inundated large floodplains are functionally extinct in the Central Valley; many of the ecological benefits have been lost to riverine species. Since 2012 Jeffres has been studying whether flooded post-harvest rice fields can act as a surrogate for this lost habitat. Jeffres found that juvenile Chinook salmon on flooded rice fields grow at some of the fastest freshwater growth rates (.95mm/day) of juvenile salmon ever found in California. This talk will focus on what makes this surrogate floodplain productive and how inter-annual variation in weather dictates when and where conditions are suitable for the rearing juvenile Chinook salmon.

Video Unavailable

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

White Abalone – July 22, 2014. Presented by Dr. Kristin Aquilino

In 2001, white abalone became the first marine invertebrate to be federally listed as endangered, after intense over fishing in the 1970s severely depleted their population. Enhancement of the wild population through captive propagation was identified as the primary avenue for reversing the population's current trajectory toward extinction. In 2012, the Bodega Marine Laboratory celebrated the first instance of captive white abalone reproduction in nearly a decade, and small successes in captive reproduction have continued. Dr. Aquilino will discuss overcoming challenges in broodstock reproductive conditioning and increasing the survival of newly settled animals, which will help accelerate captive propagation and the recovery of wild white abalone populations.

Video: White Abalone. Photo by Sammy Tillery

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

woman holds small and large abalone - link opens video in new window

Amargosa Vole – June 9, 2014. Presented by Dr. Janet Foley and Dr. Robert Klinger ‡

The Amargosa vole is an endangered species with the possibility of extinction without immediate and on-going recovery actions. The presenters discuss population dynamics, habitat selection, occupancy patterns, and relationship of water to the distribution of the vole's habitat.

Video: Amargosa Vole. Photo by Dr. Janet Foley, UC Davis

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

small gray rodent held in gloved hand - link opens video in new window

Desert Tortoise – May 22, 2014. Presented by Dr. Becky Jones ‡

Rebecca Jones has been working with CDFW in the desert area since 1992 and is the Department lead for desert tortoise. In her presentation, Becky will be discussing desert tortoise biology, populations, threats, translocation and permitting.

Video: Desert Tortoise. Photo by Melanie Day, CDFW

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

tortoise among desert shrubs - link opens video in new window

Shasta Crayfish – April 29, 2014. Presented by Dr. Maria Ellis ‡

Dr. Ellis has been studying the ecology of aquatic species in northeastern California since 1990. She wrote the Shasta crayfish draft recovery plan for CDFW and assisted USFWS in the preparation of the final recovery plan for the Shasta crayfish. Dr. Ellis helped to develop a Safe Harbor Agreement for Shasta Crayfish. In her presentation, Dr. Ellis discusses the ecology of the species, threats, and management activities that encourage recovery of the species and restoration of its habitat.

Video: Shasta Crayfish Lecture

gold and black crayfish - link opens video in new window

Video: Visit to the field site

rocky creek - link opens video in new window

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

California Tiger Salamander – April 28, 2014. Presented by Dr. Chris Searcy ‡

Dr. Searcy presents an overview of the natural history of this species. Dr. Searcy addresses seasonal activity and responses to weather patterns as well as migration distances and density distribution throughout the habitat. Dr. Searcy describes his most recent study results on hybridization with the invasive barred tiger salamander.

Video: California tiger salamander. Photo by Margaret Mantor, CDFW

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

black salamander with white spots - link opens video in new window

Alameda Striped Racer – April 24, 2014. Presented by Karen Swaim ‡

Karen Swaim presents current scientific information on Alameda striped racer. Her lecture focuses on the life history of the species, including biology, habitat use, and behavior. Karen addresses conservation and management issues.

Video unavailable

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

Cactus Wren – April 17, 2014. Presented by Dr. Kristine Preston

The coastal cactus wren has declined precipitously in southern California over the last twenty years as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation due to urbanization and catastrophic wildfires. Dr. Preston discusses results of a regional collaborative partnership that has worked to address key questions critical to developing effective management actions to halt the wren’s decline.

Video: Cactus wren. Photo by Steve Brad, USGS

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

two birds atop a cactus - link opens video in new window

Sierra Nevada and Sacramento Valley Red Foxes – April 11, 2014. Presented by Dr. Ben Sacks ‡

Dr. Sacks discusses research on Sierra Nevada red fox and the Sacramento Valley red fox. Historically, Sierra Nevada red fox were present throughout the subalpine zone of the Sierra Nevada range in California but over the last century, their abundance and distribution have declined dramatically. The Sacramento Valley red fox was recently shown to be a second native subspecies confined to the northern Central Valley. Dr. Sacks presents findings on biogeography, ecology, and conservation issues in the context of previous and ongoing research.

Video: Sierra Nevada and Sacramento Valley red fox. Photo by Dr. Ben Sacks

link opens in new windowPresentation Materials

orange fox with white tipped tail - link opens video in new window

Yellow Starthistle – March 17, 2014. Presented by Dr. Joseph DiTomaso ‡

Dr. DiTomaso discusses the life history of yellow starthistle, an invasive weed, including the biology of the plant, why it is a problem, and how it affects the landscape. Dr. DiTomaso discusses management strategies including herbicides, burning, and hand removal and how these strategies can be best applied to minimize non-target species damage. Dr. DiTomaso includes an overview of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies that can be used to address yellow starthistle.

Video: Yellow Starthistle. CDFW photo by Jeb Bjerke

yellow flower with long, thin thorns - link opens video in new window

Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog – February 24, 2014. Presented by Dr. Vance Vredenburg ‡

Dr. Vredenburg provides an overview of the natural history of this species. Dr. Vredenburg addresses past and current threats to this species, focusing on Chytrid fungus and his most recent research results on this topic.

yellow frog with black mottling - link opens video in new window

California’s Endemic Fishes – February 11, 2014. Presented by Dr. Peter Moyle ‡

Dr. Moyle presents his research on how native fishes of California and the ecosystems on which they depend can persist into the future, given the growing impacts of human use of the planet and climate change. Dr. Moyle discusses the large data sets he has developed on the status, distribution, and ecology of native and non-native fishes of California. He has used these data to quantify the potential impacts of climate change on each species.

large salmon in shallow water - link opens video in new window

Northern Spotted Owl and Barred Owl – December 17, 2013. Presented by Dr. Lowell Diller ‡

Dr. Diller presents a two-part lecture. During the first half of the lecture, Dr. Diller focuses on northern spotted owl life history, including biology, habitat use and behavior. During the second half of the lecture, Dr. Diller focuses on barred owls and their interaction with northern spotted owls. Dr. Diller presents current scientific information on both species.

flying owl - link opens video in new window

Giant Gartersnake – October 30, 2013. Presented by Dr. Brian Halstead

Dr. Halstead is a Research Wildlife Biologist with the USGS. His research has focused on giant gartersnake habitat suitability and conservation in the Sacramento Valley. In this lecture, Dr. Halstead provides an overview of the life history of this species including habitat selection and use, threats, and management options.

head and neck of small striped snake - link opens video in new window

Pacific Fisher – October 24, 2013. Presented by Dr. Mourad Gabriel

Conservation perils from illegal marijuana cultivation in California

Dr. Mourad Gabriel is a wildlife disease ecologist whose research focus is to investigate and understand threats to wildlife of conservation concern. This lecture focuses on the recent proliferation of illegal marijuana cultivation in California and the impacts it is having on sensitive species, including the Pacific fisher.

Pacific fisher - link opens video in new window

    Habitat Conservation Planning Branch
    1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814
    (916) 653-4875

    Videos and Past Lectures

  • Statewide research informs regional conservation priorities for mountain lions in California (Dr. Justin Dellinger)
  • Conserving California’s Bats Through Environmental Review and Permitting (Greg Tatarian)
  • A Living Map for a Changing Landscape - fine-scale vegetation and habitat mapping in Sonoma County, CA. (Mark Tukman)
  • Areas of Conservation Emphasis (ACE) version 3: A California Department of Fish and Wildlife conservation analysis tool (Melanie Gogol-Prokurat)
  • Recent Advances in Effective Bat Mitigation in California (Dr. Dave Johnston)
  • Foothill Yellow-legged Frog: Genetics, Ecology, and Consumer Resource Interaction (Dr. Sarah Kupferberg and Ryan Peek)
  • White-nose Syndrome Surveillance Workshop (Dr. Anne Ballman)
  • Canary in the Cannabis Field (Dr. Gabriel)
  • The Tanoak Tree (Bowcutt)
  • Morgan Post-Fire Study (Bartosh and Peterson)
  • Monarch Butterfly Conservation (Jepsen and Marcum)
  • Concerns Over Phytophthora Plant Pathogen Introductions (Phytophthoras in Native Habitats Working Group)
  • Predicting Current and Future Distributions of Rare Plants (Dr. McIntyre and Dr. Gogol-Prokurat)
  • Sacramento's Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Problem (Chuck Ingles)
  • Climate Change, Nitrogen Deposition, and the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly (Dr. Stu Weiss)
  • Development of Multi-Threaded Wetland Channels (Dr. Cluer and Hammack)
  • Process Based Stream Restoration (Dr. Pollock)
  • San Joaquin Kit Fox (Dr. Cypher)
  • Metrics for Quantifying Ecosystem Impacts and Restoration Success (Dr. Rubin)
  • American Badgers (Dr. Jessie Quinn)
  • Design Validation Monitoring Klamath Watershed (D.J. Bandrowski, Aaron Marin, and Rocco Fior)
  • Dogs Moving Conservation Forward (Dr. Deborah (Smith) Woollett and Aimee Hurt)
  • Black Swans, Brown River (Dr. Viers)
  • White-Nose Syndrome in Bats (Wyatt)
  • Invasive Watersnakes (Dr. Todd)
  • Tricolored Blackbird (Dr. Meese)
  • Bighorn Sheep (Dr. Villepique)
  • Vegetation and Flora of a Biodiversity Hotspot (Dr. Ayres)
  • FoothillYellow-legged Frog (Dr. Kupferberg)
  • Spartina and California Clapper Rails (Dr. Strong)
  • Townsend’s Big-eared Bat (Dr. Johnston)
  • California Red-Legged Frog (Alvarez)
  • Salmon in the Yolo Bypass (Jeffres)
  • White Abalone (Dr. Aquilino)
  • Amargosa Vole (Dr. Foley)
  • Desert Tortoise (Jones)
  • Shasta Crayfish (Dr. Ellis)
  • California Tiger Salamander (Dr. Searcy)
  • Alameda Striped Racer (Dr. Swaim)
  • Cactus Wren (Dr. Preston)
  • Sierra Nevada and Sacramento Red Fox (Dr. Sacks)
  • Yellow Starthistle (Dr. DiTomaso)
  • Mountain Yellow-legged Frog (Dr. Vredenburg)
  • California's Endemic Fishes (Dr. Moyle)
  • Northern Spotted Owl (Dr. Diller)
  • Giant Gartersnake (Dr. Halstead)
  • Pacific Fisher (Dr. Gabriel)

  • TWS Training Certification

    Training hours from the Conservation Lecture Series may be used towards The Wildlife Society (TWS) Category I of the Certified Wildlife Biologist Renewal/Professional Development Certificate Program (up to 8 hours)

    CDFW Staff Video Credit

    CDFW employees must log-in for video credit information.