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Screenshot of WERC Biweekly Update --Photographer: USGS
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WERC Biweekly Update: Apr. 1-15, 2012
FRIDAY APR 13 2012

WERC research roundups are now in a biweekly format, complete with PDF version. Check back every two weeks for a run down of new research and events from the USGS Western Ecological Research Center. To add your name to the email distribution list for the PDF newsletter, please contact

Download the current issue (1.06)


Photographing Hollywood's "Nightlife"
USGS scientist Erin Boydston has been collaborating with Dan Cooper and Miguel Ordeñana of Cooper Ecological Consulting on the Griffith Park Wildlife Connectivity Study. The project uses motion-sensing cameras to study the landscape connectivity of the Griffith Park region with other wildlands of greater Los Angeles, and whether wildlife could move freely among them. The study has yielded photos of deer, bobcats and then a surprise in February 2012 — a mountain lion. That lion is likely the same male captured by the National Park Service in March 2012 in the nearby area. Park biologists released “P-22” with a GPS collar to further study its movements.


Zug, GR, RN Fisher. 2012. A preliminary assessment of the Nactus pelagicus species group (Squamata: Gekkonidae) in New Guinea and a new species from the Admiralty Islands. Zootaxa 3257: 22-37.

Halstead, BJ, GD Wylie, PS Coates, P Valcarcel, ML Casazza. 2012. Bayesian shared frailty models for regional inference about wildlife survival. Animal Conservation 15(2): 117-124. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1795.2011.00495.x

Halstead, BJ, GD Wylie, PS Coates, P Valcarcel, ML Casazza. 2012. ‘Exciting statistics’: the rapid development and promising future of hierarchical models for population ecology. Animal Conservation 15(2):133–135. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1795.2012.00540.x

Casazza, ML, PS Coates, MR Miller, CT Overton, DR Yparraguirre. Hunting influences the diel patterns in habitat selection by northern pintails. Wildlife Biology 18:1-13. doi: 10.2981/09-099


van Mantgem, PJ, JD Stuart. 2012. Structure and dynamics of an upland old-growth forest at Redwood National Park,California. in Standiford, RB, TJ Weller, DD Piirto, JD Stuart (editors). Proceedings of coast redwood forests in a changing California: A symposium for scientists and managers. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PSW-GTR-238. Pacific Southwest Research Station, Albany, CA, pp. 323-333


Hunting Influences the Diel Patterns in Habitat Selection by Pintail Ducks

In a study published in Wildlife Biology, USGS and California Department of Fish and Game biologists investigated the effects of hunting disturbance on pintail habitat selection in the Suisun Marsh of California. Mike Casazza and colleagues found a difference in diel patterns in pintail habitat selection between pre-hunting versus hunting seasons.

Survival of Adult Female Giant Gartersnakes in the Sacramento Valley
A study in Animal Conservation demonstrates the use of “Bayesian shared frailty models” analyze survival probabilities for wildlife, even with small sample sizes. Brian Halstead and colleagues apply the model on their data on threatened giant gartersnakes (Thamnophis gigas) in the Sacramento Valley, and present the results and implications.


The National Park Service Pacific West Region has bestowed the 2011 Regional Director’s Award for Natural Resource Research on WERC’s Nathan Stephenson. NPS Region Director Christine Lehnertz says the winners “have dedicated themselves to protecting and managing natural resources within our parks and throughout the region.” It is the second such award given to Stephenson, who will be considered for national NPS awards.

The journal Animal Conservation has selected Brian Halstead’s study as the Featured Paper of its April 2012 issue. “Bayesian shared frailty models for regional inference about wildlife survival” was accompanied by three independent
commentaries praising the research by Halstead, Glenn Wylie, Peter Coates, Patricia Valcarcel, and Mike Casazza.


April 3-5, 2012 (Menlo Park, CA) WERC scientists Kathryn McEachern and Mary Ann Madej participated in the first-ever Pacific Coastal Fog Workshop, hosted by the USGS Western Geographic Science Center.

April 20-23, 2012 (Zzyzx, CA) WERC scientist Kristin Berry will present at the 26th annual Desert Symposium, on the populations of the desert tortoises Gopherus agassizii and G. morafkai.

May 19-20, 2012 (Menlo Park, CA) WERC scientists will be participating in the upcoming USGS Open House family science festival in Menlo Park.


South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project (KPFA Radio)
was the topic of the April 9 edition of the “Terra Verde” show. WERC scientist and South Bay Restoration lead scientist Laura Valoppi spoke at length about the benefits of the
restoration and the research and engineering feats required to continue its progress.

Seabird and Mammal Surveys Off California, Oregon, and Washington (USGS Sound Waves) highlights the research of Josh AdamsJohn Takekawa and Jonathan Felis, who have been conducting aerial surveys of marine habitat use by marine mammals and seabirds in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), a sister agency within the Department of Interior. These “PaCSEA” transects surveys have documented marine life such as whales,
dolphins and common murres.


“Duke” Leaps to Freedom in San Diego
On April 2, WERC scientist Lisa Lyren helped released a young male bobcat back to the hills of Ramona, California. Lyren and Erin Boydston are collaborating with doctoral student Megan Jennings of San Diego State University to study landscape connectivity in suburban San Diego County, using bobcats as an indicator species. The team trapped Duke in March and found the animal severely malnourished and affected by notoedric mange. Duke was rehabbed by the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center back to a healthy 17 pounds.

This Biweekly Update is produced as a service to USGS/WERC staff, colleagues, partners and the interested public. To add your email address to the mailing list or to report errors/suggestions, please contact Download the current issue (1.06)

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