Science Spotlight

Science Institute News


Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community

New Issue of CDFW’s Scientific Journal Reviews Environmental Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation

cover of the scientific journal of cannabis plants
The fall 2020 issue of California Fish and Wildlife (PDF), CDFW’s quarterly scientific journal, features a series of scientific articles on the environmental impacts associated with legal and unpermitted commercial cannabis cultivation. Once primarily hidden deep in the forests of the Emerald Triangle, cannabis cultivation activities are now occurring all over California.

Endangered Fish Get a Lift to Safety After Wildfires

fish next to a rule
Of the many large wildfires that destroyed millions of acres around California during the 2020, one blaze in particular threatened to wipe out years of fishery conservation efforts. The Lake Fire in Los Angeles County burned more 31 thousand acres and it illustrated – for the second time in four years – what lengths dedicated biologists will go to in order to preserve California’s Unarmored Three Spine Stickleback (UTS). The UTS, Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni, is a state and federally listed endangered species and a State of California Fully Protected Species.

The Value of California’s Market Squid

two squid mating in ocean
Arriving on the heels of the farm to fork movement, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains and altered product demand, which has inspired businesses to restructure and Californians to pay particular attention to where their food comes from. Many understand that almonds, artichokes or lettuce are grown in their own backyard, mostly in the Central or Salinas Valleys. But when residents are asked about wild-caught food sources coming from the ocean, tuna, salmon or perhaps rockfish might immediately come to mind. While those are indeed popular fisheries, the largest of California’s commercial fisheries actually target invertebrates, not fish!

The Wildlife Disaster Network is Created to Meet a Burning Need

bottom of a bear paw that is burned from wildfires
In early December 2017, wildlife veterinarians from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and CDFW teamed up to try to save the life of a black bear that sustained third-degree burns in Southern California’s Thomas Fire. The innovative treatment involved the use of tilapia skins as natural bandages for the bear’s paw pads while she recovered from her injuries at CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory (WIL) in Rancho Cordova.

Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve and Back Bay

person on a paddleboard on Newport Bay, Pacific Ocean
When you learn there’s a popular piece of property on the Southern California coast taking up more than 750 acres, you wouldn’t be faulted for imagining a marina, a golf course, a resort – or all three.

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.