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    • July 1, 2020

    Tiny Castle Crags harebell flowers growing in rock crevices.

    Campanula shetleri – Castle Crags harebell
    Submitted by Steve Matson

    This California endemic was found by Steve Matson in Siskiyou County. Campanula shetleri was originally listed in 1974 and was considered to occur in small numbers or in restricted populations. It is currently ranked as 1B.3 (rare or endangered in California and everywhere else, but not very endangered in California) in the California Rare Plant Ranking system. It is found in rock crevices in Lower montane coniferous forests within the Klamath Ranges. It blooms from June through September bringing some color into the late summer. The flower can range in color from a pale blue to completely white, with the one pictured here falling on the blue end of the scale. Thank you, Steve, for sharing this amazing find, and everything you do to protect our California rare plants!

    Yosemite toad resting in a grassy meadow.

    Anaxyrus canorus – Yosemite toad
    Submitted by Noah Morales

    Noah came upon a large group of Yosemite toads and was able to catch this one relaxing in a grassy area near Sardine Meadow in Mono county. Yosemite toads are one of four true toad species the CNDDB tracks. They are endemic to California and reside in high elevations throughout the Sierra Nevada in forest borders and moist mountain meadows. The Yosemite toad takes on the classic toad appearance with its stocky body and warty skin. They are slow moving with motions limited to crawls and short hops. Because of this less than ideal movement efficiency, Yosemite toads secrete poison from their parotoid glands and warts to defend themselves! These toads have faced many factors contributing to their decline such as habitat degradation, invasive fishes, drought, and disease. Studies show Yosemite toads are no longer present in about half of their native range and populations are declining. In 2016, the USFWS designated almost 1.8 million acres of protected critical habitat for the Yosemite toad and other high elevation amphibians in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Currently, the CNDDB has 223 mapped occurrences for Yosemite toad spanning through the Sierra Nevada. A big thank you to Noah for snapping a photo of this tiny, but mighty species!

    Do you have some great photos of rare plants or wildlife detections? Submit them along with your findings through our Online Field Survey Form and see if your photos get showcased!

    Categories: Contributor Spotlight
    • June 1, 2020

    Two juvenile loggerhead shrikes perched on branches.

    Lanius ludovicianus – loggerhead shrike

    Submitted by Ross Wilming

    These juvenile loggerheads were observed looking quite regal atop this bare tree branch in Contra Costa County near Doolan Canyon. Young loggerhead shrikes have more brown coloring than adults with more prominent brown on the chest. When these birds are fully mature, they will have developed a thick hooked bill as well as whiter coloring. The loggerhead shrike is a California Bird Species of Special Concern and is present mostly year-round here. Its range spans throughout most of California, excluding the Sierra Nevada and the northwest portion of the state. Even though population numbers are large for this species, they are still declining. Large clutch sizes as well as natural habitat preservation will hopefully allow this species to rebound in California. Loggerhead shrikes snack on insects and smaller vertebrates such as reptiles, rodents, and birds. Though small and cute, loggerhead shrikes have a nickname of "butcherbird" and impale their prey on sharp thorns or barbed wires. Currently, the database has 110 loggerhead shrike occurrences mapped throughout its California range. Many thanks to Ross for capturing such a great photo!

    Closeup of the small white and pink flower clusters of the robust spineflower

    Chorizanthe robusta var. robusta – robust spineflower

    Submitted by Ryan Carle

    This eye-catching California endemic was found by Ryan Carle in Santa Cruz County. Chorizanthe robusta var. robusta was originally listed in 1980 and was considered rare, but found in sufficient numbers and distributed widely. It is currently ranked as 1B.1 (rare or endangered in California and elsewhere; seriously endangered in California) in the California Rare Plant Ranking system. It is found in sandy or gravelly areas of maritime chaparral, openings of cismontane woodlands, coastal dunes, and coastal scrub. Chorizanthe robusta var. robusta ranges along the Central Coast into the San Francisco Bay Area. It blooms from April to September, perfect timing for those summer trips to the beach. Thank you, Ryan, for this great photo and all of the great work you do helping to conserve our rare plants!

    Do you have some great photos of rare plants or wildlife detections? Submit them along with your findings through our Online Field Survey Form and see if your photos get showcased!

    Categories: Contributor Spotlight
    • May 26, 2020

    CNDDB recently caught up with Dr. Gage Dayton, UC Santa Cruz faculty and Administrative Director of the UCSC Natural Reserves. Dr. Dayton was a tremendous help when our staff updated CNDDB records for Santa Cruz kangaroo rat.

    Could you describe your role at UCSC?
    I oversee the link opens in new windowUCSC Natural Reserves. My role is to support education and research on our natural reserves. This includes teaching, supporting and conducting research and monitoring, and stewarding the reserves to ensure flora and fauna are protected on our reserves.

    What brought you to pursue a career in field biology?
    I was exposed to the natural world at a young age through camping and exploring outside. I developed a curiosity about lizards when I was 5 and haven't stopped being intrigued about the natural world since!

    Is there a project or study you’ve been a part of that you’re particularly proud of?
    That is a hard question. I am most proud about helping provide students with an opportunity to learn about Natural History and how to become a scientist and conservationist. This involves exposing people to nature and teaching them to be critical thinkers.

    Do you use CNDDB, if so, how?
    Yes, we add data to it and use it to better understand the distribution of rare species in our region.

    Any advice for aspiring biologists?
    Get out there and observe! The world is an incredible place and understanding and appreciating the natural history of organisms is the first step in asking relevant questions, becoming a conservation biologist, and developing studies that can help us better understand and protect our natural resources. Plus, it is fun! Try to get involved in internships, studies, etc. so that you can gain skills and, importantly, figure out what you are passionate about.

    Do you have a favorite plant/animal/natural community you’ve worked with?
    Frogs and toads, especially ones that live in drier habitats.

    Why should we care about biogeographic data?
    Biogeographic data, along with collections, provide a glance at current and historic distributions. This information is important for understanding where species currently exist, where they occurred historically, and where we might be able to reintroduce them in the future.

    Many thanks to Dr. Dayton for the interview! We concur, “get out there and observe,” and submit your observations of rare species on our Online Field Survey Form!

    Gage Dayton posing along the coast.

    Categories: Contributor Spotlight