Andrew Di Salvo, DVM, the inaugural Free-Ranging Wildlife Health Veterinary Resident with the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Laboratory and the UC Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, shares a photo from each month of his first year…
For the past 5 years, the WIL and it’s partners the Endangered Species Recovery Program (ESRP), UC Davis, CDFW-Region 4, USFWS, and the California Living Museum (CALM), have been working together to help San Joaquin kit foxes living in Bakersfield gain the upper hand during a fatal epidemic of sarcoptic mange.
WIL environmental scientist and UC Davis graduate student, Jaime Rudd, was recently featured in a story about some of the ongoing work and it’s challenges. More about the research can be found on CDFWs Science Institute’s “Science Spotlight” website:
Additional information about the outbreak, including a recent publication, can be found by following the link.
WIL and our partners at USFWS, UC Davis, CDFW-Region 6, BLM, Amargosa Conservancy, and Shoshone Village are continuing to restore historic vole habitat in Shoshone, CA. The Amargosa vole was first discovered in Shoshone in the late 1800s, but a myriad of habitat changes resulted in its local extinction from the northern part of its range.
Over the past year non-native vegetation was cleared, soil was contoured and irrigation installed in select areas to more evenly distribute water throughout the fledgling marsh. The team’s goal was to have a light touch on the land and let the marsh do much of the work regenerating itself.
The beginnings of a marsh capable of becoming vole habitat are appearing!
This restoration project is made possible due to the dedication of local private landowners, volunteers and a community nonprofit. The effort is funded by a Traditional Section 6 grant and a Partners for Fish and Wildlife grant through the USFWS, funds from CDFW WIL and private matching funds. Once the marsh is fully restored, we hope to bring voles back to Shoshone and create a new population of voles which will aid in reducing the chance of this species becoming extinct.
Since 2014, CDFW-WIL has partnered with UC Davis in order to create and maintain a breeding colony of Amargosa voles essential to the recovery of the species. If interested in learning more about the history and progress of the colony, please read more here. Below is a video showing a few of the vole pups bred in captivity (Credit: Janet Foley).
In the Spring of 2016, CDFW (WIL and Region 6), UC Davis, BLM, USFWS, and many volunteers partnered to restore a key habitat patch utilized by the Amargosa vole. This habitat patch used to sustain the highest density of Amargosa voles in the world, but in 2010 it began to deteriorate due to changes in hydrology. The Amargosa vole team worked diligently to restore the water supply and reinvigorate vegetation growth at the marsh. Learn more about the Amargosa vole project.
Recent work from Amanda Poulsen (UC Davis) in partnership with researchers at CDFW-WIL has been published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases. This work examined the prevalence and potential impacts of toxoplasmosis in the wild Amargosa vole population. To access the paper abstract, click here.
Full reference: Amanda Poulsen, Heather Fritz, Deana L. Clifford, Patricia Conrad, Austin Roy, Elle Glueckert, and Janet Foley (2016) Prevalence and Potential Impact of Toxoplasma gondii on the Endangered Amargosa Vole (Microtus californicus scirpensis), California, USA. Journal of Wildlife Diseases In-Press.
By Austin Roy (Scientific Aid)
Reintroductions, translocations, and augmentations are methods of restoring or increasing wildlife populations. These actions require a lot of planning and are often expensive. These methods involve removing animals from a source population and placing them in another location. The goal of these efforts are usually to establish a sustainable population where one did not previously exist, provide new individuals to a site with a low population in hopes of increasing the population, and providing new or rare genes to a population that may need genetic rescue, among other reasons.
This summer our University of California, Davis and California Department of Fish & Wildlife (WIL) research team conducted a population augmentation for the endangered Amargosa vole (Microtus californicus scirpensis). Our goal was to supplement a very small population of voles in one marsh with new individuals and genes from a larger population in another marsh.
We placed radio collars on 3 voles at the source site, 4 voles that we removed from the source site and relocated to the recipient site, and 3 individuals at the recipient site. By collaring both relocated voles and resident voles at source site and the recipient site we could monitor how relocated animals utilized the new site and whether or not resident individuals were impacted by the presence of new individuals in their habitat.
The data we collected will greatly benefit vole recovery and inform how we conduct future releases.
In addition to the augmentation efforts this summer we also continued to study the population cycles of voles and predators in the area. These studies allow us to better understand how voles and predators use the area how the predators may be affecting vole populations. We have also been studying the vegetation and water levels to better understand the needs of the Amargosa vole. These efforts will help us better understand how to restore and improve vole habitat.
The research this summer would not have been possible without the support from our partners at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, CA Department of Fish & Wildlife (Region 6), Integral Ecology Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Shoshone Village, Inyo County Roads Department, and the Amargosa Conservancy.