UPDATE: Restoring habitat for the endangered Amargosa vole (Pt. 1)

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Habitat where voles are trapped.   Voles almost exclusively utilize bulrush habitat in the Mojave Desert. Photo credit: Austin Roy (CDFW)

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Staff from WIL processing an Amargosa vole. Animals are handled for less than 5 min before being released where they were captured. Photo credit: Stephanie Castle (CDFW)

WIL just completed its one-year followup to last year’s emergency efforts to rescue Marsh 1, one of the largest and most important habitat patches for the endangered Amargosa vole. That effort included raising water in the marsh, clearing out debris, and translocating voles into nearby marshes during the restoration. In February 2017, researchers from CDFW-WIL and UC Davis with the help of the Amargosa Conservancy trapped the release marshes and conducted sign surveys to determine if voles were still present. They collected fecal and tissue samples from voles for genetic testing to detect if translocated voles might have reproduced in their new homes. Additionally, the team successfully trapped five new voles and one recapture in Marsh 1, indicating that voles survived the habitat restoration activities and potentially may have immigrated from nearby marshes.  As Marsh 1 habitat quality improves and the size of the marsh expands, our hope is that the vole population in the marsh will also grow.

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An Amargosa vole captured during field work. Photo credit: Stephanie Castle (CDFW)

The successful progress of this project highlights how productive partnerships between agencies, universities, and communities can positively benefit the conservation of endangered species.

The translocations and restoration were funded by the BLM (NCLS funds also), and Drought Response Implementation Program funds (DRIP) from CDFW.