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Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community


Saving California’s White Abalone

Saving California’s White Abalone

live abalone in the ocean, covered with marine organisms
three men and one woman on aft deck of small research vessel

California’s coastal waters are home to seven species of abalone, and all but one are endangered or listed as species of special concern. The white abalone in particular has been nearly decimated by overfishing and disease, and scientists can find no evidence that the remaining population is reproducing in the wild. In order to avoid loss of the entire species, CDFW and partner agencies have formed the White Abalone Recovery Consortium, which will employ captive rearing and restoration stocking efforts and extensive public outreach in order to save these animals from extinction. It will be an ongoing, long-term project, but all signs point to future success – already there are more white abalone thriving in the captive breeding program than the entire population living in the wild.

Read more about the efforts to restore California’s white abalone – and learn what you can do to help! – on the CDFW Marine Management News Blog.


Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse Survey

Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse Survey

sunrise over a California salt marsh
two young women in a marsh, one holds a tiny mouse

Deep in the pickleweed in the San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun Bays, the tiny salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris) tries to avoid predators and compete with other species for prime habitat. Food and cover are abundant, but its overall habitat is shrinking as humans encroach upon its home range. In south San Francisco Bay alone, 95 percent of the historic salt marsh has been lost to industrial parks and subdivisions. Annual flooding in the winter can be perilous, too -- when vegetation is topped by rising tides, the mice must scramble to find taller vegetation or into upland habitat (grasses around the wetlands that don’t get flooded by the tides).

As part of the effort to monitor and conserve this state- and federally-listed endangered species, biologists conduct annual surveys of the salt marsh harvest mouse. The effort involves setting up traps stuffed with cotton batting and baited with birdseed and walnuts, taking measurements and collecting other data on the subjects that are captured. In some studies, the mice are fitted with GPS collars for tracking, or ear tags to help identify them upon recapture. In other studies, the biologists simply clip away fur on the mouse’s flank or neck – another method that helps them determine whether a mouse in a trap has crossed paths with them before.

Once a mouse’s measurements have been recorded, they are set loose to scamper back into the pickleweed. The data that’s been collected will later be entered into a larger database that will be accessible to researchers from multiple state agencies (CDFW, the Department of Water Resources), federal agencies (US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Geological Survey), educational research institutions (UC Davis, CSU San Marcos, San Francisco State) and private industry.

By comparing population fluctuations and other data throughout the range, scientists hope to identify threats and increase their understanding of this rare rodent’s biology and behavior – ultimately helping to better inform future decisions on habitat management, restoration and enhancement efforts.



Recent Posts

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    California tiger salamander larvae from a Sparling Ranch pond, temporarily held in a bucket during a monitoring survey. USFWS photo by Steve Rottenborn A large California tiger salamander larva is measured during a monitoring survey on Sparling Ranch. USFWS photo ...
  • Bringing the Paiute Cutthroat Trout Home Posted last week
    CDFW Scientific Aide Aimee Taylor prepares electrofisher to harmlessly catch Paiute cutthroat trout in North Fork Cottonwood Creek. The extremely rare Paiute cutthroat trout (PCT). Photo by William Somer for CDFW. Aimee Taylor and Senior Environmental Scientist Jeff Weaver electrofish PCT ...
  • Enhancement Projects Weed Out Invasives in Marin County Posted 2 weeks ago
    Native to the California coast and the California/Nevada state line, the Myrtle’s silverspot butterfly feeds on the nectar of the monardella flowers. One of 33 species of birds listed as threatened or endangered by the State of California or the ...
  • Stacking the Odds to Stock California’s Waters Posted 3 weeks ago
    Working late, Mojave River hatchery staff apply FDA-certified epoxy coating to hatchery rearing ponds. CDFW fish transportation truck at Fillmore Hatchery Acting Mojave River Hatchery Manager Forest Williams at work A hatchery crew releases trout into the Feather River A fishy view of ...
  • Science Spotlight: Studying a “Foundation Species” in the Shadow of Mount Shasta Posted last month
    CDFW Environmental Scientist Brian Ehler measures the hind-foot length on a fawn captured near Medicine Lake for a mule deer study. CDFW Environmental Scientist Brian Ehler measures the hind-foot length on a fawn captured near Medicine Lake for a mule ...
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