CDFW Conservation Lecture Series Archive

Past Lectures

Adaptation Checklist for Climate Smart Natural Resource Management Projects - June 27, 2023
Presented by James Hansen (CDFW)

Climate change has implications for both the effectiveness and hazard risk potential of many projects and activities undertaken or reviewed by natural resource managers. Failing to evaluate the potential vulnerability of a project or action prior to implementation or approval can lead to missed opportunities to improve design, optimize siting or otherwise reduce risk. The “Adaptation Checklist for Climate Smart Projects” is a tool that can be used by conservation practitioners across agencies and organizations to help determine how climate change might impact a given project, and which adaptation options may be most appropriate to apply. While this tool is most easily used in evaluating a place-based project, it can be used to assess the climate savviness of many types of natural resource management-related actions as well as policies

VIDEO link will be provided soon

Utilizing High-Resolution Genetic Markers to Track Population-Level Exposure of Migratory Birds to Renewable Energy Development - May 26, 2023
Presented by Dr. Ryan Harrigan (UCLA)

An increased demand for renewable energy, sparked by both public consciousness and recent government mandates, makes it imperative that the impacts to wildlife of associated activities be investigated and mitigated when possible. Migratory birds represent a particularly vulnerable group to renewable energy development, due to their potential exposure to facilities (both wind and solar) along migratory routes. Prof. Harrigan will describe newly-developed genetic identification methods for migratory birds in a hotspot of renewable energy development (the California Desert Southwest) that can allow us to better understand the effects to migratory birds of renewable energy activities, and that can help inform future management and siting strategies.

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Prioritizing Postfire Restoration Opportunities by Leveraging the Environmental Evaluation Modeling System and Community Science - April 18, 2023
Presented by Dr. John Gallo (Conservation Biology Institute)

Habitat restoration and the management of invasive species are important strategies for conserving biodiversity, especially in recently burned areas which are especially vulnerable to invasion. To help managers prioritize restoration locations, Conservation Biology Institute, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, and United States Forest Service collaborated to create a new, replicable tool and approach for better combining field data with decision science. Because the data needs for this approach are high, especially in scaling it up to all fires, we experimented with tapping into the vast potential of community scientists (i.e. citizen scientists) and compared the resulting data with those collected by professionals. We then converted the research grade point data into population polygons, and combined with region-wide GIS data in a logic model that includes three criteria branches (sub-models): invasive species, erosion risk, and natural species regeneration capacity. For the invasive species branch, we programmed the Weed Heuristics Invasive Population Prioritization for Eradication Tool (WHIPPET) into an extension of the Environmental Evaluation Modeling System (EEMS), along with some additional, optional criteria, then looped it so it analyzes every species in a single model run and combines their results together. We also evaluated the community science contributions compared to professional expert contributions, and evaluated the decision support system with an expert-opinion based field assessment.

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Multiple-Benefit Conservation in the Delta: Quantifying multidimensional impacts of landscape change - March 13, 2023
Presented by Dr. Kristen Dybala (Point Blue Conservation Science)

Conservation efforts and other land management decisions are often intended to result in multiple benefits, but real or perceived trade-offs between goals, such as ecological and economic benefits, can contribute to conflict. To support knowledge-sharing across sectors and more informed decision-making, and with funding from the Proposition 1 Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Program administered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Grant Agreement Number–Q1996022), we developed a flexible framework for evaluating multidimensional impacts of future landscape change in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. With input from local agencies and conservation organizations, we identified two major drivers of landscape change to evaluate: meeting habitat restoration objectives and continued expansion of perennial crops. We developed three scenarios representing the forecasted change resulting by 2050 from each driver independently, as well as a combination of the two, and we integrated multiple data sources and models to forecast the net impact of each scenario on metrics representing multiple categories of benefits: agricultural livelihoods, water quality, climate change resilience, and biodiversity support. We found that each scenario produced a mix of benefits and trade-offs, and the direction and magnitude of the projected impacts on each metric varied across scenarios. Our results provide a multidimensional understanding of the potential impacts of these scenarios to support more informed conservation and policy decision-making, while our framework is designed to be flexibly updated to incorporate additional metrics, data, and models, and to evaluate new scenarios.

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NOAA Fisheries presents their Guidance to Improve the Resilience of Fish Passage Facilities to Climate Change - January 25, 2023
Presented by Jean M. Castillo - P.E. (NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region) and Jeff Brown - P.E. (NOAA Fisheries)

Since 2016, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has been working to include methods to incorporate future climate change into engineering designs of fish passage facilities and stream crossings. The results of these efforts are detailed in this document titled NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region Guidance to Improve the Resilience of Fish Passage Facilities to Climate Change subsequently referred to as Improving Resilience. The intended users of Improving Resilience are NMFS engineers and biologists, along with applicants and their consultants. One of the goals of the document is to assist parties in satisfying NMFS regulatory authorities and NMFS’ policy on the treatment of climate change in Endangered Species Act (ESA) decisions. Improving Resilience provides the processes and tools needed to incorporate climate resiliency into the design of fish passage facilities and represents the first in a series of documents applicants should use when designing a fish passage project in the West Coast Region (WCR), which encompasses California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

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Bats in Swallow Nests - December 20, 2022
Presented by Jill Carpenter (LSA Associates, Inc), Dr. Dave Johnston (H. T. Harvey & Associates), and Leila Harris (UC Davis)

Year-round occupancy of cliff swallow mud-nests by several bat species has been observed throughout California, but formal documentation of these observations is limited to project reports. Bats roosting in cliff swallow mud-nests will be subject to direct impacts if they are present when these nests are removed to prevent swallows from nesting. In 2022, the California Bat Working Group compiled records from working group members and provided recommendations for take avoidance, including nest inspections and habitat modification to discourage occupancy. Here we'll discuss those records and share information on bat roosts in cliff swallow mud-nests.

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Western Snowy Plover: The Importance of Resilient Landscapes in Species Management and Recovery - October 28, 2022
Presented by Kriss Neuman (Point Blue Conservation Science)

Most threatened and endangered species face an uphill battle to recovery, and managers must contend with multiple limiting factors. Adding to this is the looming threat posed by climate change. The federally-listed Pacific coast population of the western plover is on the front lines of climate change, with respect to rising sea levels, which are expected to dramatically reduce available sandy beach habitat over the next several decades. In order to improve our understanding of climate threats, we developed a conceptual framework of predicted climate impacts, secondary effects, and species and habitat vulnerabilities. To test the predictions in the framework, we analyzed long-term spatially-explicit data from Monterey Bay and Point Reyes National Seashore to determine the relationship between plover productivity and multiple climate and habitat variables, and then projected future productivity across the landscape. The original conceptual framework is effective at predicting threats, which is corroborated by the analysis. Moreover, we identified probable causal mechanisms underlying climate-productivity relationships, which provide a strong foundation for future management to improve the resilience of the species and the beach ecosystem.

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30x30 California and Community Science - September 06, 2022
Presented by Dr. Jennifer Norris (CNRA), with panelists Jose Esparza (CNPS), Rebecca Johnson (CA Academy of Sciences), Miguel Ordeñana (LA County Natural History Museum), and Merav Vonshak (BioBlitz Club)

In April 2022, the California Natural Resources Agency released its Pathways to 30x30 strategy for conserving 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030 to protect and restore biodiversity, expand access to nature, and mitigate and build resilience to climate change. Public participation and input were critical in helping the state identify strategies that reflect local and regional conservation priorities. Continued collaboration and learning will be key for successfully implementing Pathways to 30x30. Utilizing community science and the collective observations of plants and animals is an opportunity to expand our understanding of biodiversity in California and best identify important places to conserve. Join us in a conversation with community science champions to learn more about how we can work together to achieve California’s 30x30 goal.

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A life cycle model for evaluating estuary residency and restoration potential in Chinook salmon - August 30, 2022
Presented by Emily Chen (UC Berkeley)

Life cycle models generate predictions at scales relevant to conservation and are an advantageous approach to managing and conserving anadromous salmon that use multiple habitats throughout their life cycle. This presentation will walk through how life cycle monitoring data throughout Redwood Creek was integrated into a life cycle model to evaluate restoration potential in different habitats.

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AIMS for Wildlife: An Automated Interactive Monitoring System to Address Wildlife Management and Conservation Needs - July 19, 2022
Presented by Michael Casazza (USGS)

The “AIMS for Wildlife” concept builds upon technological advances in wildlife monitoring, cloud computing and artificial intelligence to deliver powerful wildlife monitoring data in real-time. Advances in telemetry techniques such as GSM based transmitters utilizing the cellular networks to transmit data and which collect precise (GPS quality) location data at high frequency and accessible in real-time. The AIMS approach uses cloud based computing resources to integrate remotely sensed data (weather, habitat, etc.) with animal movement data and provide it to a variety of end users (refuge managers, species biologists, etc.) in near real-time.

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Mapping climate-change refugia for species conservation - May 26, 2022
Presented by Dr. Julia Michalak (University of Washington)

Climate-change refugia are locations that species can retreat to and persist in to escape or reduce the impacts of declining climatic suitability. As such, refugia have a critical role to play in protecting species from climate-change impacts. In this seminar, I review practical strategies for mapping climate-change refugia to support species conservation, covering tools and approaches that wildlife managers can start using today to incorporate refugia into their wildlife conservation strategies.

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The Resist-Accept-Direct (RAD) framework as a guide for strategic natural resource conservation in a fast-changing world - April 26, 2022
Presented by Gregor Schuurman, Ph.D. (National Park Service)

Natural resource stewards are increasingly confronting the limits of a conservation and management paradigm that relies on ecological baselines to guide protection, restoration, and other management actions. Intensifying climate change—including accelerated warming, changing disturbance regimes, and more frequent and intense extreme events—combined with effects of more longstanding stressors, is making restoration of past conditions or even ‘holding the line’ in the face of inexorable human-caused change ever more difficult and costly. In response, managers are increasingly expanding their toolkit to include explicitly and strategically accepting or even directing human-caused ecological trajectories. New thinking in the National Park Service along these lines is expressed in several related new guidance documents including a report on the Resist-Accept-Direct (RAD) framework. The RAD framework, the culmination of years of collaboration among a diverse set of conservation partners, helps managers make informed, purposeful choices about how to respond to the trajectory of change. This presentation will describe the challenge of ecological transformation, introduce the RAD framework, discuss how applying it is shaped by a range of social factors, and share real-world examples.

Presentation PDF available upon request.

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Eucalyptus - The naturalized invasive from down under - March 30, 2022
Presented by Dave Feliz (CDFW)

The Elkhorn Slough Reserve is actively engaged in the removal of about 1,200 eucalyptus trees, an invasive species from Australia that was planted through much of coastal California about 100 years ago. This is not without some public opposition; in fact, many people consider these trees to be “naturalized” and an integral part of the ecology of California. One grove was left due to its sporadic use by monarch butterflies. The removal of these trees has resulted in an impressive transition to native coast live oak woodlands and landscape views that are reminiscent of pre-contact conditions.

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Refining species distributions through dynamic and participatory ecological modeling - February 23, 2022
Presented by Dr. Healy Hamilton (NatureServe)

One of the most fundamental questions underpinning biodiversity conservation is: Where do species and ecosystems occur? Common decisions in conservation, including land and water acquisition priorities, the location and approach for restoration projects, and the degree of protection conferred to a species or habitat rely on accurate spatial depictions of the range-wide distribution of species and ecosystems. Through advances in dynamic ecological modeling, cloud-based computing, and innovative workflows that leverage community science, refined maps of species distributions can dramatically improve the basis for effective and strategic conservation actions, from local to landscape scales. Dr. Healy Hamilton, Chief Scientist at NatureServe, will demonstrate an iterative and collaborative ecological modelling process for producing refined species and ecosystem distributions, and provide example applications for their relevance to conservation actions.

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Wetland Responses to Restoration and Management - January 25, 2022
Presented by Dr. John Durand (UC Davis)

Focusing on Suisun Marsh and the north Delta, Dr. Durand discusses a few different types of wetlands and management strategies, including restoration, managed and abandoned sites, and evaluate the responses of food webs and fishes.

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Conservation of endangered Buena Vista Lake Shrews (Sorex ornatus relictus) through investigation of taxonomic status, distribution, and use of non-invasive survey methods - December 20, 2021
Presented by Erin Tennant (CDFW) and Dr. Brian Cypher (CSU Stanislaus)

The Buena Vista Lake shrew (Sorex ornatus relictus) formerly inhabited the interconnected seasonal and permanent lakes, wetlands, sloughs, and marshes around historic Tulare, Kern and Buena Vista lakes in the Tulare Basin of the San Joaquin Valley. Approximately 95% of riparian and wetland habitat in the San Joaquin Valley has been lost, leaving only isolated remnants of suitable habitat where shrews still persist. Our objectives were to (1) complete a taxonomic review of shrews in the San Joaquin Valley via genetic analyses, (2) evaluate the status of BVLS on sites where it was previous detected, (3) conduct surveys and habitat assessments on previously unsurveyed sites, (4) investigate non-invasive detection techniques, and (5) develop conservation recommendations based on our results.

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Nature's Best Hope - September 10, 2021
Presented by Dr. Doug Tallamy (University of Delaware)

Recent headlines about global insect declines and three billion fewer birds in North America are a bleak reality check about how ineffective our current landscape designs have been at sustaining the plants and animals that sustain us. Such losses are not an option if we wish to continue our current standard of living on Planet Earth. The good news is that none of this is inevitable. Dr. Tallamy discusses simple steps that each of us can- and must take to reverse declining biodiversity, why we must change our adversarial relationship with nature to a collaborative one, and why we, ourselves, are nature’s best hope.

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Building Resilience in a California Coastal Salt Marsh Ecosystem with a Collaborative Science Based Approach - August 23, 2021
Presented by Monique Fountain (Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve)

Over the past 150 years, human actions have altered the tidal, freshwater, and sediment processes that are essential to support and sustain Elkhorn Slough (Monterey County). Large areas of tidal marshes were diked and drained in the 20th century. This caused subsidence and when dikes failed, the areas were too low to support healthy marsh. In these previously diked areas the salt marsh habitat is almost entirely gone with just sparse fringing marsh in narrow bands along the shoreline. In addition to this habitat degradation, modeling suggests most of Elkhorn Slough’s remaining marshes will be lost within 50 years due to sea-level rise. The 122-acre Hester marsh restoration project is the first large scale restoration of its type, in this estuary. Over 400,000 cubic yards of soil brings the marsh up to a sustainable elevation, high in the tidal frame. The project used cutting edge drone technology to track implementation and incorporated a large ecotone planting experiment. Restoring this degraded habitat took many hands from planning to planting and highlights the importance of a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to restoring sustainable habitat for the future.

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CDFW Statewide Cannabis Program: An Overview - July 27, 2021
Presented by Cori Gray (CDFW)

Please join us for an overview of the CDFW statewide Cannabis Program. Since its inception with a small enforcement team in the Emerald Triangle in 2014, the cannabis program has rapidly expanded with the legalization of cannabis in California. The Cannabis Program is unique, in that it encompasses all of the Department’s varied roles, such as permitting, outreach, wildlife monitoring, grants, enforcement, and land management. Please join us to learn about the history of the program, the regulations guiding it, how it is funded, why it exists, how it operates, and why it is so important for protecting California’s natural resources.

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Restoring Habitat and Engaging Community Scientists in Pollinator Conservation throughout California - June 22, 2021
Presented by Hillary Sardiñas (CDFW); and Leif Richardson (Xerces Society)

Pollinators are critical to ecosystem function, yet some populations have declined precipitously in the past 20 years. We discuss trends in pollinator decline, focusing on the monarch butterfly and CA SGCN bumble bee species. Then we review actions CDFW is taking to support their recovery, including engaging community scientists to collect data to fill in knowledge gaps and enhancing habitat throughout our properties to increase resources for pollinators.

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Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat Rangewide Management and Monitoring Plan - April 28, 2021
Presented by Princess Hester and Brian Shomo (Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency); and Wayne Spencer and Deanne DiPietro (Conservation Biology Institute)

The newly-released Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat Rangewide Management and Monitoring Plan synthesizes information about the endangered Stephens’ kangaroo rat (SKR; Dipodomys stephensi, a rare mammal endemic to western Riverside County and northern San Diego County), presents a comprehensive, rangewide species management and monitoring strategy, and outlines specific next steps for collaborative implementation of the strategy across more than 30 organizations. It is intended to help agencies responsible for SKR conservation to manage threats and track changes important for SKR recovery more efficiently and effectively. It will also support these agencies in coordinating strategically to promote rangewide species conservation goals so that local SKR conservation actions within particular reserves or Habitat Conservation Areas can contribute to SKR conservation at the broader rangewide scale. This project was spearheaded by Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency (RCHCA) and funded by the Bureau of Land Management. The SKR Rangewide Management and Monitoring Plan was prepared by Conservation Biology Institute (CBI) working closely with Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency (RCHCA), Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and a working group of over fifty species experts and land managers responsible for SKR conservation.

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Elephants, Ivory, and Trafficking: How the CDFW Forensics Laboratory is Helping to Combat the Illegal Ivory Trade - March 30, 2021
Presented by Kelly Carrothers (CDFW)

Illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking is the fourth largest transcontinental crime, worth an estimated $20 billion each year. In an effort to curb ivory trafficking in California, a law was enacted in 2015 (AB 96, codified as Fish and Game Code section 2022) that prohibits the purchase, sale, offer for sale, possession with intent to sell, or importation with intent to sell of ivory from elephant, mammoth, and mastodon as well as other non-proboscidean species. The CDFW Forensics Lab has developed an assay that can distinguish between the 4 proboscidean taxa protected under California’s ivory law and are required to either be identified or excluded from casework consideration - African elephant (Loxodonta spp.), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), mammoth (Mammuthus spp.), and mastodon (Mammut spp.). Kelly discusses this assay and its utility, as well as her efforts to geolocate African elephant ivory to its source country using a combination of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, thereby increasing the utility of this assay in law enforcement situations.

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Ruminations on fire and vegetation trends in California - February 24, 2021
Presented by Dr. Hugh Safford (USDA Forest Service)

Dr. Hugh Safford summarizes historical, current, and projected future patterns and trends in fire and vegetation in California. Burned area is increasing rapidly in California (and principally in northern California), but in most years it is still notably below pre-Euroamerican settlement averages. The real issue is the way that fires are burning, not their area. Huge increases in the amount of forest fire area burning at high severity (aka “stand-replacing”) are leading to issues with forest regeneration, vegetation type conversion, ecosystem services, and loss of key habitat for important wildlife species of conservation concern.

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The Changing Nature of Fire and its Impacts on California Birds - January 28, 2021
Presented by Dr. Morgan Tingley (UCLA)

Fire is both a widespread natural disturbance that affects the distribution and abundance of species and a tool that can be used to manage habitats for species. Knowledge of temporal changes in the occurrence of species after fire is essential for conservation management in fire-prone environments. Despite the evolutionary importance of fire in California, we are entering an unprecedented period where the dominant nature of fire is rapidly changing, disrupting both human and animal lives. In this lecture, Morgan Tingley discusses the myriad ways that fire shapes the ecology of birds in California and what we know and don’t know about what our flammable future may hold.

Recording is no longer available.

Conservation applications of vegetation climate vulnerability and refugia data in California - December 15, 2020
Presented by Dr. Jim Thorne (UC Davis), Dr. Melanie Gogol-Prokurat (CDFW), and Sandra Hill (CDFW)

Understanding the potential stress of climate change on vegetation can help guide conservation and land management decisions. Climatic stress varies across the distribution of each vegetation type. Vegetation refugia are areas where climatic stress is expected to remain within the tolerance level of a given vegetation type—areas where the vegetation and the species that depend on these habitats might find refuge in the face of climate change. We discuss a vegetation vulnerability and refugia dataset that was developed for California, how this data has been applied to the habitat maps of 522 terrestrial vertebrate species, and other conservation applications of the data.

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Iterative niche modeling and adaptive sampling resulted in the discovery of seven novel locations of the threatened Ivesia webberi - November 19, 2020
Presented by Israel Borokini (University of Nevada, Reno)

Niche models were fitted iteratively between 2015 and 2020 followed by field validation of the predicted suitable sites with focus on suitable sites adjacent to the known locations of Ivesia webberi. True absence points and new locations discovered during field validations were added to the spatial datasets for subsequent niche modeling iterations. This resulted in a significant improvement in the predictive accuracy of the niche models and resulted in the discovery of novel locations and expansion of the range of the threatened plant species.

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The California Conservation Genomics Project - October 29, 2020
Presented by Dr. Brad Shaffer (UCLA)

The California Conservation Genomics Project is a three-year initiative that will identify species, ecosystems and communities that together can summarize natural genetic variation across the 18 terrestrial ecoregions and entire coastline that comprise California. By collecting genomic data in a consistent way across taxa, we can combine and analyze data from 225 species and ~20,000 fully-sequenced genomes to create the first comprehensive genomic map of the state. We will use this map to identify healthy and at-risk regions of the state, define barriers for management units across species, and guide activities that range from the placement of solar installations to the repatriation of confiscated plants and animals.

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Natural History Training: Science, Stewardship, and the New Naturalist - September 29, 2020
Presented by Greg Ira (UC Naturalist Program)

As natural history training has declined in formal education, it has increased among lay audiences. While it continues to address traditional practices and topics, such as field observations of organisms and their behavior, it is increasingly tackling a wide range of issues and topics, including conservation and restoration, climate change, traditional ecological knowledge, and environmental justice. While the rise in citizen science has dramatically increased the number of ways in which the public can engage, significant challenges remain, including large gaps in participation from Black and Indigenous people, and a perennial lack of funding. This lecture describes the unique collaborative approach the California Naturalist program uses to deliver natural history training in this complex milieu and answers the questions: Why are people interested in natural history training, and how does it relate to the work of CDFW?

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Leveraging species genomes to support climate change adaptation: Case studies of blue oak, valley oak and sugar pine - August 25, 2020
Presented by Blair McLaughlin (Hampshire College), Patricia Maloney (UC Davis), and Jessica Wright (USFS)

This lecture features three talks, covering ongoing studies targeting species' genetics, to support their adaptation to climate change. Dr. Blair McLaughlin and Dr. Jessica Wright discuss the potential for assisted migration and dispersed field gene banks in various California species, and Dr. Patricia Maloney discusses the use of local and diverse seed sources to create drought-resilient restoration projects in Sierra Nevada Conifers.

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Central Valley Salmon: Reintroduction as a recovery tool, with an emphasis on efforts above Shasta Dam - July 30, 2020
Presented by Jon Ambrose (NOAA)

Listed salmonids in the Central Valley are blocked from high quality habitat, due to the presence of very large dams. In the Central Valley, there are no fish passage programs at any these dams. However, efforts are underway to evaluate the feasibility of reintroducing salmon and steelhead to historical habitats blocked by rim dams. This talk emphasizes the importance of reintroduction for the long-term viability of listed salmonids and provides an overview of current efforts above Shasta Dam.

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Genes, Genetics, and Genomics: Leveraging new technology to solve old problems - June 24, 2020
Presented by Dr. Jeff Rodzen and Dr. Kristen Ahrens (CDFW)

Dr. Rodzen delivers a brief overview of Genetics 101 and conservation genetics topics, followed by a description of some of the latest technological and statistical tools that can be leveraged to provide new answers to fisheries management questions. Dr. Ahrens discusses environmental DNA (eDNA) and its potential role in supporting conservation efforts. Dr. Rodzen is CDFW’s state fisheries geneticist and the lead of the fisheries genetics program. Dr. Ahrens is a Research Scientist II in Microbiological Sciences with CDFW.

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Taking Photos of Nature for Science & Conservation: Utilizing Technology to Scale Community-Collected Biodiversity Data in California - May 20, 2020
Presented by Alison Young and Dr. Rebecca Johnson (California Academy of Sciences)

The Citizen Science program at the California Academy of Sciences engages tens of thousands of volunteers in California and beyond to document biodiversity, since understanding when and where species occur at scale can only be done by mobilizing people everywhere to make observations of their local nature. In this talk, Rebecca Johnson and Alison Young, Co-Directors of Citizen Science at the Academy, highlight how they work with partners and communities to do this work and discuss the resulting science, conservation, and stewardship outcomes.

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The Conservation Lands Network: A bold regional vision and tools to increase the pace and scale of conservation in the SF Bay Area - April 23, 2020
Presented by Tom Robinson (Tom Robinson Consulting) and Dr. Stuart Weiss (Conservation Lands Network)

The Conservation Lands Network ("CLN"), recently updated to version 2.0, is a trusted regional conservation vision designed with local input to increase the pace and scale of terrestrial biodiversity conservation and landscape resilience action in the 10-county SF Bay Area. It sets a bold new goal of 2.5M protected acres (or about half the Bay Area) by 2050, and provides geographic priorities based on quantitative habitat goals set by local experts. CLN 2.0 data are freely accessible via an easy-to-use interactive web map where users can create custom biodiversity and climate reports for their areas of interest.

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Mapping California's Important Plant Areas - February 24, 2020
Presented by Sam Young (California Native Plant Society)

California is a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot with more than 6,500 native plant taxa, over a quarter of which are found nowhere else in the world. The California Native Plant Society's Important Plant Areas (IPA) Program seeks to map areas critical for maintaining the integrity of California's botanical diversity. Please join Sam Young, IPA Program Manager, to hear how the IPA program engages regional experts and conservation stakeholders to create a map of California's IPAs, and how this can be implemented for preserving our State's irreplaceable plant diversity.

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Wildfires and Water Quality - January 28, 2020
Presented by Lorna McFarlane (Caltrans)

Catastrophic wildfires devastate not only the landscape, but also the surrounding surface water quality. In an effort to help address the State's impaired water bodies, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) hopes to help reduce the frequency and severity of catastrophic wildfires through collaboration with other state agencies.

Due to a technical issue, no recording is available for this lecture.

Integrating the California Biodiversity Initiative into California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Efforts - December 9, 2019
Presented by Dr. Kimberly Tenggardjaja, Dr. Melanie Gogol-Prokurat, and Martha Volkoff (CDFW)

Launched in 2018, the California Biodiversity Initiative is a statewide effort to secure the future of California's biodiversity. Such a large undertaking entails improving our understanding of California's biodiversity, protecting and recovering California's native species and ecosystems, and engaging participation by many partners. This talk will provide an overview of the California Biodiversity Initiative and the history of its development and will share initial efforts to implement the Initiative that are underway at California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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CNDDB Looks At 40: The Past, Present, and Future of the California Natural Diversity Database Program - November 4, 2019
Presented by Misty Nelson (CDFW)

CNDDB Lead Scientist Misty Nelson will present an overview of the rich history of the California Natural Diversity Database program, highlighting milestones and accomplishments from the past forty years. She will also examine some of the challenges associated with managing data for the most biodiverse state in the U.S., and will discuss upcoming changes and opportunities to keep the program relevant and regarded for decades to come.

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The ecology and conservation of ungulate migrations in the American West - October 9, 2019
Presented by Dr. Arthur Middleton (UC Berkeley)

In recent years, wildlife ecologists have made major strides in understanding how ungulate migrations evolve, why they are important, and what causes them to decline. At the same time, storytellers have been using advances in digital photography and videography to increase interest in wildlife migrations amongst the general public and policymakers. This talk will review major science and policy developments with insights and case studies from the diverse migratory ungulates of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where Arthur Middleton and his group at UC Berkeley have done much of their work on the topic.

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Report from a Russian River field station in the heart of the 2017 wildfire zone: Pepperwood's integrated approach to evaluating and advancing landscape resilience - September 10, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Presented by Dr. Lisa Micheli (Pepperwood Foundation)

In October of 2017 more than 90% of Pepperwood’s 3200-acre research reserve was burned in the Tubbs Fire, providing an incredible opportunity to leverage nearly a decade of weather, hydrology and ecology data collection to improve our empirical understanding of fire in California’s Coast Ranges. While the organization regroups to rebuild critical facilities lost in the inferno, their ecologists are inventorying the impacts of the fire and scaling up what they are learning to inform resilience strategies across California as a whole. This presentation will highlight some early findings, share how Pepperwood will serve as a living laboratory for fire recovery and habitat restoration, and highlight successful collaborations focused on building a knowledge base to support climate and fire resilience strategies in California’s inner Coast Ranges and beyond.

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Drought Stressor Monitoring: Summary of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Statewide Drought Response - August 27, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Presented by Kristine Atkinson (CA Department of Water Resources)

To understand the status of California's at-risk aquatic species and habitat conditions during the historic 2012-2016 drought, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) responded by collecting information on stream temperature and dissolved oxygen, the status and extent of habitat fragmentation, and impacts on aquatic species. Collection of this information was critical as a baseline understanding for management actions taken during and post-drought.

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The Perfect Storm: Multiple Climate Stressors Push Kelp Forest Beyond Tipping Point in Northern California - July 18, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Presented by Laura Rogers-Bennett, PhD (CDFW)

Extreme climatic events have recently impacted marine ecosystems around the world, including foundation species such as kelps. We quantify the rapid climate-driven catastrophic shift in 2014 from a previously robust kelp forest to unproductive urchin barrens in northern California. Bull kelp canopy was reduced by 93% along >350 km of coastline. Twenty years of kelp ecosystem surveys reveal the timing and magnitude of events, including mass mortalities of sea stars (2013-) and red abalone (2017-), extent of nearshore ocean warming (2014-2017), and the sea urchin population explosion (2015-). These stressors led to the unprecedented and long-lasting decline of the kelp forest and the ecosystem services is supports such as the red abalone and sea urchin fisheries.

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CDFW Monitoring of the Salton Sea - June 19, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Presented by Nasseer Idrisi, PhD (CDFW)

California Department of Fish and Wildlife monitoring of the Salton Sea has revealed concurrent declines in the tilapia population in the Sea and piscivorous birds that feed on the tilapia. Other fish surviving in the Salton Sea include desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius) and sailfin molly (Poecilia latipinna). The piscivorous birds that use the Salton Sea as feeding grounds and are impacted by the decline in the fish population include American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), and double crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auratus).

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New Zealand’s Biodiversity Crisis: The Role of Behavioral Science to Stop the Decline - May 21, 2019 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Presented by Edy MacDonald, PhD

Like California, New Zealand’s biodiversity continues to decline. New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna has been severely impacted by introduced mammalian predators and modified landscapes. Utilizing behavioral science research, New Zealand’s Department of Conservation is focusing on the role people can play in mitigating the decline. Case studies will include human-animal conflict, domestic cats and dogs, forest visitors spreading pathogens, and activating urban residents.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Dr. 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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 an overview of the Morgan Fire(opens in new tab) as reported by Bay Nature writer Joan Hamilton.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 (PDF)

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.

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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.

Presentation Materials (PDF)(opens in new tab)

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Video: Visit to the field site

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Habitat Conservation Planning Branch
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(916) 653-4875

Videos and Past Lectures

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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)

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