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01/31/2017




Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout Spawner Update

01/31/2017

Counting coho salmon redds (nests) like this one in the gravel of Redwood Creek in Muir Woods help biologists estimate the number of spawners that have returned to the stream. Photo by Jessica Weinberg/NPS
Counting coho salmon redds (nests) like this one in the gravel of Redwood Creek in Muir Woods helps biologists estimate the number of spawners that have returned to the stream. Photo by Jessica Weinberg/NPS.

While recent storms have been a welcome relief for humans and fish alike, they have also hampered regular coho salmon and steelhead trout monitoring efforts. Nevertheless, nine coho redds, one steelhead redd, and three redds that could not be identified to species have been found in Olema Creek.

Redwood Creek has four coho redds, one steelhead redd, and 10 redds in which species could not be determined, as well as live adult coho that do not appear to have spawned yet.

At the end of the season, unknown redds will be classified as either coho or steelhead using timing, redd dimensions, and the species of the nearest live adult. Contact Michael_Reichmuth@nps.gov with questions.

Also, check out this new video showing last month’s exciting and inspiring release of hatchery-raised coho salmon into Redwood Creek.




Scat Detection Dogs Help Reveal Endangered Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Needs

01/31/2017

A male <em>Gambelia sila</em>, also known as the blunt-nosed leopard lizard. Photo by Michael Westphal/BLM
A male Gambelia sila, also known as the blunt-nosed leopard lizard. Photo by Michael Westphal/BLM.

Federally endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizards (Gambelia sila) are found at Panoche Hills in the San Joaquin Valley, on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands east of Pinnacles National Park. Typically cryptic, the lizards blend in with the surrounding sand and are quick to escape observers. Over the last four years, surveys using dogs trained to detect blunt-nosed lizard scat have increased researchers’ ability to detect their presence, and have helped them estimate how the lizards use the site’s different habitats.

Thanks to this new survey technique, researchers have confirmed for the first time that these lizards depend on a native shrub, California jointfir (Ephedra californica, otherwise known as Mormon Tea) as a form of shelter—either to avoid the desert heat or escape from predatory raptors. The lizards were also found to avoid dense invasive grasses that made it difficult for them to move. Therefore, adding shrubs to the desert landscape and removing invasive grasses through grazing could help to preserve the remaining habitat of this species and other San Joaquin natives.

Graduate students and faculty from York University in Toronto along with biologists from BLM's Central Coast Field Office, Pinnacles NP, and Working Dogs for Conservation collaborated on this project. Results from this study are published online in Basic and Applied Ecology or you can contact Brent_Johnson@nps.gov for additional details.




Cross-boundary Invasive Plant Management Gets a Boost in the Redwood Creek Watershed

01/31/2017

The Redwood Creek Vegetation Team in action salvaging ferns in Muir Woods. Photo by Tom Reyes/NPS
The Redwood Creek Vegetation Team in action salvaging ferns in Muir Woods. Photo by Tom Reyes/NPS.

The patchwork of old-growth redwood forest, native perennial grassland, coastal scrub, serpentine grassland, and coastal dunes ecosystems of the Redwood Creek Watershed cross over both National Park Service and California State Parks lands. Even though invasive plants do not observe political boundaries, land managers have been required to, making it extremely difficult to tackle invasive plant issues at a watershed scale.

Thanks to the Redwood Creek Vegetation Program, national and state park staff can now work collaboratively to implement landscape-level invasive plant management strategies. Their focus is on eradicating high priority target species throughout the watershed and increasing the capacity for revegetation efforts in and around Muir Woods.

This winter, the program took a huge step towards implementing these shared goals by hiring Elliot Gunnison to lead a dedicated vegetation crew. Elliot and his team will bring much needed additional capacity to the program as they work towards a healthy and diverse Redwood Creek Watershed.

For more information about the Redwood Creek Vegetation Program, contact Redwood Creek Natural Resource Specialist Tom Reyes at Thomas_Reyes@nps.gov.




New Surveys Provide Snapshot of Bacterial Loads in Olema Creek Watershed

01/31/2017

A patch of malfurada (<em>Hypericum grandifolium</em>)at Point Reyes National Seashore was found and removed during early detection surveys. Photo by Eric Wrubel, NPS.
For the first time, simultaneous water quality monitoring (otherwise known as a "synoptic survey") took place at 13 sites in Olema Creek. Photo by Aaron Peretz/NPS.

The SFAN I&M Hydrology Team and the Point Reyes National Seashore Range Crew conducted the first synoptic water quality sampling event in the Olema Creek watershed during a storm on December 15th. Three teams collected fecal coliform bacteria samples from eight sites in Olema Creek and from sites in five of its tributaries. This type of survey provides a broad view of current conditions by sampling across a particular geographic area at the same time.

This synoptic sampling event was repeated on January 10th, kicking off the five-week water quality sampling series for the Tomales Bay Watershed Pathogen TMDL Program, managed by the State Water Board. Contact Katie_Wallitner@nps.gov for additional information.




Complexities in Modeling the Link Between Drought and Fire

01/31/2017

Does a hotter and drier future climate necessarily equal more fires? The authors of a recent Ecological Applications paper “Climate change and the eco-hydrology of fire: Will area burned increase in a warming western USA?” say maybe not.

The authors looked at ecosystems across the western US along a moisture gradient from desert to temperate rain forest. They found that while models show the correlation between drought and fire seems particularly strong in ecosystems in the middle of the gradient, it does not hold as well outside of that range, or it is dependent on fuels and/or the previous year’s rainfall and climate. They argue that influence humans have, through fire ignition and suppression, will also impact the scale of future fires. Read more in the full article available here.




2017 Science Symposium - Presentation and Poster Proposals Due February 20th

01/31/2017

On May 11th, the San Francisco Bay Area Network of national parks will host its 7th Science and Natural Resources Symposium. This day-long event will bring together park staff, volunteers, and partners from a wide range of disciplines to share science-related research, management, and outreach efforts taking place in support of the National Park Service mission.

 

Presentation and poster proposals are being accepted from now until February 20, 2017 in the following formats:

  • 3-minute “lighting talks”
  • 10-minute presentations
  • A 30–45-minute interactive session, panel, or workshop
  • 24” x 36” (max) posters

Please see http://www.sfnps.org/science_symposia for submission guidelines.




Wintering Monarchs Return to Rob Hill

12/22/2016

Cluster of monarch butterflies at Rob Hill. Photo by Liam Obrien.
Monarch butterflies overwintering at Rob Hill. Photo by Liam Obrien.

Presidio wildlife ecologist Jonathan Young and local butterfly expert Liam O’Brien were treated to the sight of over 200 wintering monarch butterflies at Rob Hill during a recent Xerces Society butterfly survey. Once common at this site, overwintering monarchs were last seen there sometime in the last century.

Coastal California provides critical overwintering habitat for monarch butterflies as they undertake their epic migration between Mexico and Canada; however, scientists estimate that their populations have declined by 74% in these areas since the 1990s.

You can learn more about monarch butterflies and the possible causes of their decline on the Xerces Society website, or contact Jonathan Young to find out more about the butterflies of the Presidio.




Coho Spawners Released into Redwood Creek

12/22/2016

A team of biologists lower a net with an adult coho towards the water of Redwood Creek. Photo by Amelia Chong, NPS.
Biologists transfer a hatchery-raised adult coho salmon back to Redwood Creek where it was captured as a juvenile in 2014. A total of 106 adult coho were released into Redwood Creek this month. Photo by Amelia Chong, NPS.

A combination of drought, changing ocean conditions, and historic habitat loss have brought Redwood Creek’s coho salmon to the brink of extinction. Recent restoration efforts have improved habitat conditions for this species, but their numbers remain perilously low. For three consecutive years starting in 2014, biologists have been raising juvenile coho salmon from the creek to adulthood at the Warm Springs Hatchery a part of a short-term rescue mission to try to prevent their loss.

This month, the rescue program achieved the first major release of 106 adult spawners back into Redwood Creek. A small group of seven mature adults was released last December, and two more large groups of adult coho will be released in Redwood Creek in December 2017 and 2018. Hopefully some of the released fish will spawn successfully, and their offspring will come back as adults in three years to continue the natural cycle of coho salmon in the stream.

A Golden Gate news release has more on the recent release. Additional details about the Redwood Creek coho salmon rescue mission are also available from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.




2017 Science Symposium - Request for Presentation and Poster Proposals

12/22/2016

On May 11th, the San Francisco Bay Area Network of national parks will host its 7th Science and Natural Resources Symposium. This day-long event will bring together park staff, volunteers, and partners from a wide range of disciplines to share science-related research, management, and outreach efforts taking place in support of the National Park Service mission.

Presentation and poster proposals are being accepted from now until February 20, 2017 for the following formats:

  • 3-minute “lighting talks”
  • 10-minute presentations
  • A 30–45-minute interactive session, panel, or workshop
  • 24” x 36” (max) posters

Please see http://www.sfnps.org/science_symposia for submission guidelines.