Science Spotlight

Science Institute News

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Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community


Roosevelt Elk Collaring Effort Seeks to Reduce Conflicts Along North Coast

A tranquilized Roosevelt elk is tagged and collared by two CDFW staffers
Despite their massive size and majestic appearance, Roosevelt elk have proved an elusive research subject because of the dense forests they inhabit. CDFW recently initiated one of the largest Roosevelt elk capture and collaring efforts in state history.

New research shows climate change may harm migratory songbirds

Hermit Thrush perched on a tree branch. Long-distance Neotropical migrants like the Hermit Thrush may be more vulnerable to climate change than other types of songbirds.
New research by CDFW Wildlife Ecologist Dr. Brett Furnas shows that Neotropical migrant songbirds are shifting their summer ranges to higher elevations in response to climate change.

DNA testing of tusk, bone, teeth

2 female forensic specialists crouch, looking at tusk
In Southern California, there are two facilities that offer fascinating looks at the types of animals that roamed the land millions of years ago. The Western Science Center in Riverside County is home to 100,000 fossils and artifacts, all unearthed during construction of a nearby reservoir. The La Brea Tar Pits in neighboring Los Angeles County serves a similar purpose, storing a staggering 35 million prehistoric specimens discovered in and around the natural pits that continue to seep asphalt in the area.

San Mateo Lagoon Steelhead Restoration Shows Early Promise

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist holds a healthy juvenile steelhead from Pescadero Creek Lagoon Complex in coastal San Mateo county.
There’s a dichotomy in the way Pescadero Creek Lagoon Complex in coastal San Mateo County has both supported—and been detrimental to—steelhead trout for much of the past 25 years.

Pulse Flows Expected to Boost Brown Trout Fishery in Owens River Gorge

Two people laying on dirt ground looking into small white tray filled with water and unknown items while holding forceps. Also on ground nearby are a small cooler, metal clipboard, orange toolbox, cylindrical bottle with liquid, backpack, and ice tray.
From boom to bust to decades of angler indifference, few California fisheries have experienced such wild swings of fortune as Mono County’s Owens River Gorge.

Endangered Shasta Crayfish Have New Refuge in Rock Creek

Stream surrounded by trees and grass. Two divers head down in water of stream. One man wearing beige clothing and hat stands on streambank. One man in beige clothing sits on rock along streambank with pad of paper and writing utensil. Another person in a blue windbreaker, gray pants, and beige hat kneels next to open ice chest filled with water.
A 20-year, multiagency effort to find a safe haven for California’s only remaining native crayfish culminated recently with the release of 28 Shasta Crayfish (Pacifastacus fortis) into a restored section of Rock Creek in Shasta County.

Saving the Amargosa Vole

Man in dirty brown pants, blue jacket, and headlamp on forehead kneeling with jug of water pouring into small metal dish next to white drawer. Tall grass in foreground and fence immediately behind man.
Wildlife veterinarians recently hit an important milestone in their collective efforts to conserve a tiny endangered mammal native to the Mojave Desert. The population of Amargosa voles (Microtus californicus scirpensis), restricted to one small town in Inyo County, is now perilously small, due to habitat destruction, climate change and water diversions created to benefit humans.

California’s Disappearing Kelp Forests: What Scientists and Divers can do to Reverse this Trend

Abalone attached to top of kelp stalk underwater.
The view of northern California’s beautiful coastline has historically been pristine and breathtaking. With dense kelp forest canopies blanketing the surface of the nearshore areas and protecting the abundant rockfishes, red abalone, sea stars and red urchins that lived below, it was a healthy, natural ecosystem rich with thriving inhabitants. Unfortunately, the ocean is now changing, and this idyllic scene is no more.

CDFW Documents Statewide Impact of Recent Drought on Fish and Aquatic Species

Collage of three different images. Top image is rocky, barren dirt area in front of small lake amongst trees and mountains. Bottom left photo is two women on rocks in front of water and large walls of rock. Bottom right photo shows three people pulling and pushing metal boat over shallow riverbed with trees in background.
One silver lining to emerge from the severe drought that impacted California earlier this decade was that it whetted an appetite to study the event and compile data designed to help fish and aquatic species better weather future droughts.

Junction Reservoir Back to Raising Backcountry Trout

Concrete structure in stream with slatted metal gates and chutes. Man wearing camo waders, beige long sleeved shirt, gray call cap and black rubber gloves standing behind gate holding hammer.
Junction Reservoir in Mono County is CDFW’s brood lake for the Kamloops rainbow trout, a hard-fighting strain originally from the Kamloops region of British Columbia.