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Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community


Surveying the Sacramento River and Delta

Surveying the Sacramento River and Delta

Since 1959 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has used a combination of scientific techniques to better understand fish populations and the general health of Northern California waterways. Examples include tagging sturgeon, trawling the Delta for smelt, and counting salmon carcasses. CDFW uses data from these strategies and others to help influence operations of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project, ultimately helping decision makers determine water flows. link opens in new windowThis short video highlights these operations along the Sacramento River and into the Delta, including a smelt survey conducted by Environmental Scientist Felipe la Luz.

a man and a woman on the aft deck of small vessel on a river a woman and man prepare a fish-catching net


California's White-footed Vole

California's White-footed Vole

Arborimus albipes, a CA Critically Imperiled Species of Special Concern

The white-footed vole is one of the least-studied (and most difficult to catch!) mammals in North America. CDFW Environmental Scientist Dr. Scott Osborn, his collaborator Dr. Tim Bean of Humboldt State University’s Wildlife Department, and a small team of field biologists know that better than anyone – they spent the summer of 2014 setting traps for them in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Designated a Species of Special Concern by CDFW, only nine records of the species were known in California prior to their study, which was aimed at determining how environmental conditions, such as climate (and future climate change), might affect their distribution.

Habitat modeling by Bean (based on the previous records) identified areas with high habitat suitability for the white-footed vole. Ten study sites were chosen along the North Coast for the field study, including three where voles had been successfully trapped in the 1990s. Using live traps (both pitfall traps made of two coffee cans taped together and Sherman live traps baited with oats and peanut butter), the team successfully trapped three voles. Notably, one of these was the first recorded capture of a white-footed vole in Del Norte County. All three voles were returned unharmed to their capture site after basic measurements and assessments of food plant preferences were made.

Although three voles might not seem like a large return on the investment of many hours of field work, the team actually had one of the highest capture rates of white-footed voles of any small mammal study in its geographic range, which includes coastal Oregon and the North Coast of California. Vegetation plots suggest that white-footed voles are tightly associated with stands of red alder trees – so now the biologists know that’s a likely place to find them. The habitat modeling work indicates that suitable habitat may currently exist as far south as Mendocino County, which is outside the known geographic range of the vole. On the other hand, it is possible that this species’ range may contract northward in a warmer and drier future. link opens in new windowOpen the Full Report (PDF)

bucket sunk into ground under shrubs   A tiny brown vole sits on green leaves in a metal bucket



Recent Posts

  • Ridgway’s Rail Release Posted last week
    Staff of several wildlife agencies carry light-footed Ridgway’s rails (previously known as light-footed clapper rails) to Batiquitos Lagoon Ecological Reserve. A light-footed Ridgway’s rail is banded before release into Batiquitos Lagoon Ecological Reserve. The Ridgway’s rail is a grayish-brown, chicken-sized ...
  • How Aquaculture will Shape the Future of Olympia Oysters at Elkhorn Slough Posted last month
    Kerstin Wasson is leading the Olympia oyster restoration at Elkhorn Slough. Kerstin Wasson photo. Scientists are working hard so that a new generation of Olympia oysters may one day line the mudflats at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve. Volunteers Ken Pollak and ...
  • Banking on a Future for California’s Natural Resources Posted 2 months ago
    A California red-legged frog sits motionless at the edge of McClure pond at the Sparling Ranch Conservation Bank. Photo by Ashley Spratt/USFWS McClure pond is one of the most productive California red-legged frog ponds at the Sparling Ranch Conservation Bank. ...
  • Bringing the Paiute Cutthroat Trout Home Posted last month
    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 last month
    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 ...
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