Science Spotlight

Science Institute News

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Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community


Saving California’s White Abalone

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California’s coastal waters are home to seven species of abalone, and all but one are endangered or listed as species of special concern. The white abalone in particular has been nearly decimated by overfishing and disease, and scientists can find no evidence that the remaining population is reproducing in the wild.

California Fish and Game Journal, Issue 103-1

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The latest issue of California Fish and Game, CDFW’s scientific journal, is now available online. This century-old quarterly journal contains peer-reviewed scientific literature that explores and advances the conservation and understanding of California’s flora and fauna.

Suisun Marsh Study Seeks to Unlock Mysteries of Western Pond Turtles

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Does the Western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata), a freshwater species native to the Pacific Coast, hold secrets to survive climate change and adapt to rising sea levels? CDFW biologists want to know and have partnered with UC Davis and the Department of Water Resources to conduct a long-term study in Solano County’s Suisun Marsh to better understand the aquatic reptiles.

How Harvest Numbers Help Biologists Plan for the Future

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As California deer hunters head to the fields, forests and mountains this summer and fall, their experiences will provide wildlife biologists with key data on the health of the state’s deer herds.

CDFW Completes 2017 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual waterfowl breeding population survey.

Survey Says: California Marine Anglers Help Scientists Collect Data

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If you’re an avid marine sport angler, you have most likely seen the smiling faces and brown polo shirts of California Recreational Fisheries Survey (CRFS) samplers. Since its inception in 2004, CRFS has grown into one of the state’s largest and most important survey efforts. Survey samplers are tasked with collecting data about both recreational fishing catch and effort.

Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse Survey

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

Deer DNA Study in the Sierra Nevada and Central Coast Ranges

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Deer population estimates are an important element of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) management decisions regarding the species – including setting quotas for deer-hunting seasons, acquiring land and identifying habitat improvement projects. Historically, CDFW has relied upon helicopter surveys to obtain these population estimates, but such surveys can be problematic. While they are effective in open and largely flat areas, they are less so in tree-laden areas where deer are hidden from sight. They can also be extremely expensive.

The Long Journey of Heenan Lake’s Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

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For generations, anglers in California’s eastern Sierra Nevada mountains fished for one of the most cherished fish in the west, the Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT). These native beauties are prized for their size, with some growing as large as 40 pounds in the Tahoe Basin.

Amargosa Vole Study

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A tiny, endangered mammal is the subject of an extraordinary conservation effort near the communities of Shoshone and Tecopa in Inyo County.