Science Spotlight

Science Institute News

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Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community


CDFW’s Annual Bighorn Sheep Count

About 30 men and women who volunteered to help department conduct sheep survey
On March 1, 2020, about 160 volunteers gathered near the rugged terrain for the annual sheep count. Their goal was to use spotting scopes and binoculars to locate sheep, and determine and record their gender and approximate age.

CDFW Unveils New Tool Allowing Public to Report Seeing Tule (And Other) Elk

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CDFW wants to know if, when and where you’ve seen an elk in California – and they’ve just created a new online reporting tool that makes it easy for members of the public to share this information.

The Challenges of Studying Roosevelt Elk

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For residents of Humboldt and Del Norte counties, the majestic Roosevelt elk is a common sight. Although Roosevelt numbers were dwindling in California by the 1920s, conservative management strategies and limited hunting opportunities have helped them to rebound. Today, researchers have identified more than 20 distinct groups of elk in these two counties, many of which consist of well over 50 animals.

Study of Songbirds’ Calls Provides Important Climate Insight

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Two avian researchers recently completed a groundbreaking study on the effects of climate change, based on the calls of California’s songbirds. By recording the sounds made by eight different songbird species, and tracking the dates they are most vocal and how frequently they sing, the scientists were able to develop a method to measure how the birds are adjusting to climate change.

Science Spotlight: Studying a “Foundation Species” in the Shadow of Mount Shasta

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In this rugged region of the Golden State, mule deer are an iconic species, valued by recreationists and required by wild carnivores who prey upon them for nourishment. Mule deer are considered a “foundation species” because the large landscapes that are necessary for their survival can also be home to a vast array of other wildlife and plant species.

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.

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.

CDFW and Oregon State University Researchers Estimate the Population Size of Fishers in Northern California and Southern Oregon

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Scientists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and Oregon State University recently published the results of a population study on fishers (Pekania pennanti) in northern California and southern Oregon. Led by CDFW Wildlife Statistician Dr. Brett Furnas and three coauthors, CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Richard Callas, CDFW Research Analyst Russ Landers and Dr. Sean Matthews of Oregon State University, the study produced the first-ever robust estimates of density and size of the fisher population in northern California.