CNDDB News Blog

  • November 6, 2020

Closeup of a moist Shasta sideband snail on pavement

Every type of organism deserves our respect, especially those who were already ancient before the dinosaurs first arrived on the scene.

When hearing "snail" most people think of a typical non-native garden snail. Nature is much more interesting than that. California boasts at least 240 named species of land snails, some of which are known only from a handful of field collections. 71 of these snails are considered imperiled and are tracked by CNDDB. Each of these species survives using staggeringly complicated biochemistry and carries along with it a long history of evading extinction by adapting at a snail’s pace.

Since snails are often found in cool, moist environments, many of these species will face increased pressures in the coming decades due to climate change. Some of California’s snail species will likely go extinct before ever being described. The people who are remembered as the legends in a given field of science are often just the first people who decide to investigate a topic in detail. New snail discoveries are made by curious amateurs. If you want to do some cutting-edge conservation science, you may find delving a bit into malacology quite rewarding.

The Shasta sideband snail (Monadenia troglodytes troglodytes) was originally known from a set of shells found in a cave with ice age fossils of extinct creatures such as the Shasta ground sloth. The 1933 publication that first described the shells said they belonged to an extinct species. Later research determined these snails are very much alive. They are restricted to limestone outcroppings in the vicinity of Shasta Lake. The US Forest Service now includes M. t. troglodytes on its list of sensitive species and NatureServe categorizes it as Critically Imperiled.

The Shasta sideband shown here was found in 2017 only a few steps away from a paved public road. The next time you’re in snail country, walk slow and keep your eyes open. You never know what you might find! If you spot anything rare, be sure to share your findings with CNDDB through our Online Field Survey Form.

Categories: Education and Awareness
  • September 28, 2020

Please join our next Conservation Lecture Series talk that focuses on natural history training. 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’s increasingly tackling a wider range of issues and topics including conservation and restoration, climate change, traditional ecological knowledge, and even the environmental justice. In addition, the rise in participatory science has dramatically increased the number of ways in which the public can meaningfully engage in science, yet 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 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife?

Gregory “Greg” Ira is the Director of the UC California Naturalist program based at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources office in Davis, California. After completing his Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from Prescott College in Arizona, and Master’s in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii (through the East-West Center’s Environment and Policy Institute), he worked for six years in the Philippines integrating conservation into the context of rural development. From 2000-2015 he served as the Director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Environmental Education, where he established a statewide environmental education program (Learning in Florida’s Environment) for middle school students in Florida’s State Parks.

Science Institute logoDate: Tuesday, September 29, 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Register to view online.

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Categories: Education and Awareness
  • September 2, 2020

September 7th marks the second annual celebration of California Biodiversity Day, an event set to celebrate our beautiful and species-rich state. Biodiversity refers to the variety of life at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level, and as the state with the most species of plants and animals in the U.S., we have a lot to celebrate!

Biodiversity Day is not only about celebrating our wildlife; it is also about protecting it. On September 7th, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown launched the California Biodiversity Initiative to integrate biodiversity protection into the state’s environmental and economic efforts in order to keep species secure and protect them from climate change and other threats. This initiative was the origin of California Biodiversity Day.

An American black bear with a fish in its mouth.
American black bear (Ursus americanus). Photo by Jan Dawson.

Along with being the state with the highest number of species, California is also one of the most biodiverse regions in the world and is classified by Conservation International as one of 36 Global Diversity Hotspots. California is home to over 30,000 species of insects, 6,500 plants, 650 birds, 220 mammals, 100 reptiles, 75 amphibians, and 170 species of fish and marine mammals. This species richness is likely due to our rich Mediterranean climate as well as our state’s complex geology and geography, allowing for the existence of many different habitats and biomes for a variety of different species to live in.

A field of California poppies and lupines at North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve.
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica). Photo by Laura Shaskey.

This year, several partners will be hosting both virtual and in-person events from September 5th through September 13th in celebration of California Biodiversity Day 2020. These events include bioblitzes on iNaturalist, lectures highlighting various California species, and online arts and crafts activities for kids. For more information about this year’s events, please see the California Biodiversity Day 2020 web page.

We encourage you to get outside and celebrate the wonderful biodiversity that our state has to offer! If you happen to find a rare California plant or animal, be sure to submit your sighting through our Online Field Survey Form.

Categories: Education and Awareness