Science Spotlight

Science Institute News


Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community

California Fish and Wildlife Journal, Vol. 106, Issue 3

two orange and black monarch butterflies
The summer 2020 issue of the California Fish and Wildlife Journal is now online! This issue contains a number of excellent articles, including a couple on taxonomic groups that are often under-represented in the Journal — invertebrates and raptors.

Mapping Wildlife Habitat with VegCAMP

five scientist standing in a field of yellow flowers with a river and mountain in the back with blue sky in the horizon
California is home to more than one thousand animal species – a diversity that would be impossible to support without the rich habitats in which they live, and specifically, the wide variety of plant species (more than 6,500) that provide sustenance and shelter.

Wildlife Collars Offer Valuable Conservation Data

deer standing on rocks with trees with a tracking collar
For years, California Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists were trying to locate dens for California’s Sierra Nevada red fox — a rare and threatened species whose population has decreased substantially. Scientists had a general idea that some of the foxes denned at high elevations in the Lassen Peak area, but aside from vague descriptions written in the 1920s, the den locations had never been documented.

CDFW Drone Program Provides a Bird’s Eye View for Environmental Scientists

two scientist and a drone flying in the air with the ocean and blue skies in the background
In March 2019, there was late winter flooding at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in Yolo County near Davis. Wildlife area supervisor Joe Hobbs wanted to check a series of old railroad trestle mounds to make sure there was no wildlife stranded there. In previous years when there had been flooding, staff went out on a boat to check the trestle mounds. But that approach had downsides: From a boat, it could be difficult to see exactly what was on the mounds, and the sound of the boat’s motor could potentially spook the animals.

Creating a New Fishery at Mountain Meadows Reservoir

Scientist, Monty Currier, holding a small green fish (perch) on a lake with tall trees and cloudy grey sky
Monty Currier’s heart sank when an excited angler told him recently of catching trophy-sized crappie at Mountain Meadows Reservoir in Lassen County.

Fish Tags Identify Spring-Run Chinook Salmon Broodstock

Feather River Fish Hatchery staffer inserts two fish tags on either side of a Chinook salmon's dorsal fin identifying the fish as a spring-run Chinook salmon before returning in to the Feather River
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Feather River Fish Hatchery in Butte County recently completed the tagging of 2,746 spring-run Chinook salmon in May and June.

CDFW’s Balancing Act to Restore Native Frog Habitat While Preserving Backcountry Fishing Opportunities

CDFW scientist Isaac Chellman works out of a float tube to fill net non-native trout from a lake to restore native frog habitat
In the Tahoe National Forest, California Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists are working to balance native species restoration with recreational fishing. This summer, for the first time in the Tahoe National Forest, CDFW will begin work to restore Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae) habitat by removing introduced trout from four alpine lakes and four small ponds within the Five Lakes Basin area. The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog is listed as threatened under California’s Endangered Species Act and endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

CDFW’s Science Institute: Providing Our Scientists with the Tools for Success

Large butterfly with orange and black with white spots on wings and a black and white spotted body with dirt and blue sky in background.
CDFW is a department with about 1,200 employees in scientific classifications, spread from Yreka in the north to Blythe in the southeast. Their expertise spans a broad spectrum of subjects – wildlife management, fisheries management, marine issues, habitat conservation and restoration, veterinary science, pathology, genetics, invasive species and so much more.

Wildfire shapes diversity of hermit warbler songs in California

small gray bird with yellow head with black beak in a tree with branches and bushes
New research shows that fire history seems to be shaping the diversity of bird songs throughout the state. The new paper, published in leading bird journal The Auk: Ornithological Advances, addresses the diversity of song dialects sung by hermit warblers – birds which get their name because they are rarely seen and spend much of their time in forest canopy. They are, however, very vocal and easily heard.

Saving Endangered Coho Salmon in Central California

wide view of a fish hatchery building with a river trees mountain and sky in distance
Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), also known as silver salmon, have lived in California’s coastal watersheds for thousands of years. Today their populations have declined to just a fraction of historical levels, endangered by a wide range of factors. In Central California in particular, the situation is dire, with the species listed as endangered under both the state and federal Endangered Species Acts. Many populations are in danger of declining to the point of local extinction.