Science Spotlight

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Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community


California’s Missing Monarchs: Scientists Work to Reverse a Worrisome Trend

Dangling tree branches covered in orange monarch butterflies
For residents of many coastal California towns, the colorful Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) migration has been a welcome wintertime sight for generations. The beautiful and distinctive orange-and-black patterned insects have historically congregated at more than 400 known sites in the Golden State.

Habitat Study Shows How American Pikas Fare in Warming Temperatures

Closeup of small brown and gray rodent atop rocks chewing on leaves
CDFW staff recently conducted a study to determine whether American pika in California are able to find sufficient refuge from elevated temperatures in their natural habitat. Previous CDFW collaborative research and related work has suggested that pikas in California and Nevada have been declining in warmer areas, but some scientists contend that underground temperature refuges will protect pikas from warming temperature trends.

California Fish and Game, Issue 104(3) and Issue 104(4)

Scientific journal cover with photo of lizard on branch
The latest two issues of California Fish and Game, CDFW’s long-running scientific journal, are now available online.

CDFW Herring Surveys

hand holding aquatic plant material covered in tiny clear balls
On a drizzly winter day in San Francisco Bay, you might find CDFW Environmental Scientist Ryan Bartling surveying the shoreline on the research vessel Smoothhound in search of Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii) eggs.

Iron Gate Hatchery

Short-haired woman in yellow rain jacket and black gloves holding fish on side of metal basin along side man in yellow rain jacket, black gloves, and camo hat holding fish over metal basin as dark orange liquid streams out of fish into metal basin.
At Iron Gate Hatchery in Hornbrook, the fall 2018 spawning operation has just concluded. Iron Gate spawns both Fall-Run Chinook Salmon and Coho Salmon from the Klamath River. For Chinook, the hatchery staff manually collect the eggs and mix it with the milt immediately after the fish come into the facility.

Conserving the Short-eared Owl: An Opportunity for Citizen Scientists

Woman, boy, and girl holding and looking through binoculars in direction of field from road. Sunset in background.
A team of raptor biologists is working on a study of western populations of the Short-eared Owl – and are inviting members of the public to help collect and contribute important data as “citizen scientists.”

Fisheries Biologists Showcase Delta Bass at International Sportsmen’s Expo

Man wearing blue and beige foul weather gear and orange life vest holding net with long pole leaning over boat railing on boat on water. Shipwreck in background.
Among the more popular attractions at the Sacramento International Sportsmen’s Expo each January is the Western Bass Aquarium Demo Tank.The 6,000-gallon aquarium displays dozens of trophy largemouth bass collected by CDFW biologists from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Science Spotlight: “Upcycling” Christmas Trees to Create Fish Habitat

Christmas trees submerged in body of water
Christmas can be the gift that keeps giving -- to anglers and fish alike. In the north state, CDFW fish habitat technicians oversee the collection of discarded Christmas trees, which will be used to build underwater habitat structures for local waterways. Long after they’ve brightened holiday homes, these trees will provide shelter for juvenile warmwater fish species -- and ultimately will create better fishing opportunities for anglers.

Crime Fighters in Lab Coats: Meet CDFW’s Wildlife Forensics Team

Four women wearing white laboratory coats standing next to each other.
If they weren’t so busy or their work wasn’t so mission-critical, you might find CDFW’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory team on loan to the California Department of Education. The four-person scientific team is all women with undergraduate and advanced degrees in biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology and forensic science.

Science Spotlight: New Issue of Fish and Game Scientific Journal Now Available

Image of journal cover depicting a mallard duck taking off out of the water
California Fish and Game, Volume 104, Issue 2, is now available online! California Fish and Game is CDFW's official, quarterly, scientific journal devoted to the conservation and understanding of the flora and fauna of California and surrounding areas, and the eastern Pacific Ocean.