Whisper - Volume 10 - April 2020

whisper-10-01w.jpgDear Friends,

Happy Spring and welcome back to our virtual spring quarter!

In this issue you'll find two entries by our fairly recent graduates - both doing wonderful work at the Sacramento Zoo and on the Channel Islands respectively. Our Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology Give Day challenge is up and running, and we're inviting you to view the fund early.

Keep in touch by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Sadly the spring quarter seminars have all been postponed, but we are looking forward to start fresh coming Fall quarter.

Stay healthy and strong,

Nann Fangue and Pernille Sporon Bøving

whisper-10-02w.jpgStudy finds new population of rare deer - but in Brazil’s Arc of Deforestation

“The fact that we didn’t know until recently about the occurrence of the pampas deer, a large mammal, in some of these savannah enclaves suggests that we may not know what we’re losing,” said study co-author Rahel Sollmann, assistant professor at the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology at the University of California, Davis.

whisper-10-03w.jpgNatural Habitat Around Farms a Win for Strawberry Growers, Birds and Consumers

“Our results indicate that strawberry farmers are better off with natural habitat around their farms than without it,” said lead author Elissa Olimpi, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Daniel Karp, assistant professor with the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology.



News From The Field

whisper-10-04w.jpgNatural Habitat Around Farms a Win for Strawberry Growers, Birds and Consumers

“Our results indicate that strawberry farmers are better off with natural habitat around their farms than without it,” said lead author Elissa Olimpi, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Daniel Karp, assistant professor with the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology.
By Alison Ke, PhD student in the Karp Lab.

Every time I go for a hike, I can’t stop seeing cavities! That is because last summer, my labmates and I spent hours searching for tree holes, or cavities, in a tropical forest in Ecuador. Over 60 bird species at our field site nest in cavities, so we wanted to understand if these bird populations are limited by the number of available cavities. First, we found that the density of cavities was over 4x higher in forest than in agriculture. Next, over two trips to Ecuador, I put up 100 nest boxes in forest and agriculture. If many nest boxes are used, it could mean that birds lack natural nesting habitat and that nest boxes could be used for conservation. So far, there are five bird species using the boxes!

Congratulations to PhD students Alexandra McInturf and Leah Mellinger each being awarded a Sea Grant Fellowship.

whisper-10-05w.jpgAlexandra will be using the support of the Delta Science Fellowship to build on her current work with collaborator Ken Zillig (PhD candidate, Fangue Lab). They are exploring the effect of temperature on predation risk in juvenile Chinook salmon at a variety of scales. To do so, they are first assessing how temperature influences physiological performance (anaerobic and aerobic capacity) of the salmon and their common predators - bass and pikeminnow. This will allow them to identify a predicted thermal optimum for each species. They will then examine whether these thermal optima predictions translate to an ecological setting, by assessing predator success in mesocosms at various temperatures - those designed to physiologically favor salmon, a predator, or neither. Alex, Ken, and the Delta Science Fellowship panel are excited by the multifaceted dataset that will result from this study, which will be collected from swim tunnels, burst tunnels, accelerometers, and high-speed cameras. In its entirety, this study will ideally inform local management strategies by elucidating the mechanisms that underlie increased predation risk for juvenile salmonids in the Delta system. Alexandra G. McInturf is a PhD Student in Animal Behavior.

whisper-10-06w.jpgLeah's project will compare the disease progression and outmigration survival of young Chinook salmon in the Klamath River to better understand C. shasta’s effects. Researchers will test salmon from both the Iron Gate and Trinity hatcheries under ecologically realistic conditions, by running simulated challenges that reflect the temperatures and salinities experienced by salmon during outmigration.
This project has been guided by the concerns and questions of tribal biologists and agencies in the area. By assessing the fitness of different fish stocks and their resistance to C. shasta infection, the results can guide these tribes and agencies in selecting brood stocks for seeding the upper Klamath river. Identifying salmon with a stronger resistance to these parasites can assist in recovery efforts.
Leah Mellinger is a PhD student in Animal Biology.

whisper-10-07w.jpgCongratulations to Dr. John Eadie upon receiving the California Waterfowl Association The Waterfowlers Hall of Fame Award. This is an important award in the duck hunting/conservation community.

whisper-10-08.jpgCongratulations to Dr. Nann Fangue upon being awarded The California-Nevada chapter of the American Fisheries Society Distinguished Professional Achievement Award for Dr. Fangue's contributions to fisheries science in California.

whisper-10-09.pngMuseum of Wildlife and Fish Biology Experiential Learning Challenge

The Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology is dedicated to education, outreach, conservation and research. The specimens housed in the museum serve a role unique among research collections in that they are also used to provide a variety of experiential learning opportunities for our students. Support experiential learning today by supporting this challenge! When 5 donors give to this fund, $5,000 will be activated for the Museum. When another five donors give to this fund, the remaining $5,000 will be activated.

whisper-10-10w.jpgA Student's Perspective - Spotlight on a WFCB Major

Name: Danielle Fradet Class of 2020
Describe your job/internship with or via the WFCB department and who are you working with?
I work with Andy and Irene Engilis in the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology. I started working there spring quarter of my Freshman year as an osteo preparator, or someone who cleans skeletons. Eventually I switched to prepping bird study skins and conducting field work for ongoing research based out of the museum. I have gotten hands on experience in many field methods such as checking nest boxes, banding birds, mist netting, small mammal live trapping, audio recording, collecting specimens, and have prepared over 75 museum specimens.

What has been your “take away” from being part of the project?
My biggest take aways from working at MWFB have been the importance of networking and getting field experience. Through working at the museum, I have gotten to go to events where I meet people from all different organizations such as USFW, DU, and CWA. Being able to establish networks and connect with people in a professional setting has not only shed light on what jobs are available, but have given me people to contact when I graduate from UCD. I am so grateful to have found my way to the museum because I have really developed my field skill set and know that working in the field is something that I really enjoy. Having these tools has opened up other opportunities for me and made me stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs and internships.

Please tell us one of your “aha” and your “wow” moments as a WFCB student.
My “wow” moment was when I finally started to take upper division classes from professors in the WFCB department. I really do believe that WFCB is one of the strongest departments in UCD because of the caliber of the professors and how willing they are to make personal connections with the students and share their advice and experience. I feel fortunate to be able to learn from people who are not only experts in their field, but who are also so willing to be mentors and help you along with your journey.

If you had a line of advice for current WFCB students, what would it be?
Try as many things as you can! Try field work, try lab research, try environmental education—anything to help you determine what you will want to do after you graduate. I think getting experience in the wildlife field before graduation is so important in helping people make connections and find jobs. Although I do acknowledge that not everyone has the privilege to be able to volunteer their time or be able to work unpaid in order to do so, which I think is something that can definitely be improved.   

What would be your dream job after you graduate?
Any job that gets me outside and working with birds where I can impact wildlife and people in a positive way! I know at some point I want to go back to school to get a graduate degree related to ornithology/ecology/climate change.

Where Are They Now? - Spotlight on two WFCB Alumni

whisper-10-11a.jpgMelissa Marshall

Bachelor of Science in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology. Class of 2018

What is your current job?
I currently work as a terrestrial vertebrate monitoring technician within the natural resource division with the Channel Islands National Park Service.

Could you describe one of your typical work days?
There really isn't a "typical" work day for me. I assist in the monitoring of island endemic species across all five NPS islands, so my daily tasks vary depending on the time of year and which island I am on. Most work days start early at sunrise, and I either drive or hike to our field sites for island fox or island spotted skunk trapping, island deer mouse trapping, herpetofauna monitoring via coverboards, or landbird point counts. When we aren't trapping animals, we are conducting VHF telemetry on our collared foxes and skunks. Those days would consist of hiking or driving across the islands to check in on as many foxes as possible and/or walking into the denning locations of our skunks. During a single 8-day "tour" (our work "weeks" are 8 days on an island followed by 1 office day and 5 days off), about 75-90% of my time is spent in the field, and the rest of the day I am back at housing entering the data I gathered that day.

What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
On a day-to-day basis I have to know how to use GPS devices, how to locate animals with VHF telemetry, how to use Tomahawk and Sherman traps for small mammal trapping, how to safely operate 4WD vehicles and ATV's, and how to safely handle and take biological samples from small mammals and herpetofauna.

What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
Probably the most challenging part of my job is the logistical planning. A lot can go wrong with transportation to and housing on the islands, specifically with unpredictable weather. This also leads to un-conventional work weeks and inconsistent schedules, which can be difficult to work around a personal life. But I've just had to learn to be flexible and go with the flow when things go awry...as I am sure everyone is having to do right now with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
It is hard to pick the most enjoyable part...but two of my top picks would be the people that I work with, and the location where I work. I started out as a volunteer on this project when I was still an undergrad, so I have known the women I work with for about 5-6 years. They make it the best work environment, and in general the island community is so friendly and welcoming and interested in each other's research. And the islands are an incredible and beautiful place to work. I think that any wildlife conservation job with a field component is exciting because you get to explore these remote, incredibly beautiful areas, and the islands are no exception to that. Also, holding foxes and spotted skunks is extremely enjoyable as well.

What advice do you have for current WFCB students?
I would definitely advise students to volunteer, intern, or get a field job while you are an undergrad. It not only gets you great connections for the future but also can help you figure out what you are interested in and what path you might want to head down. Summer field seasons have lots and lots and lots of projects going on, so take advantage of that! And, as always, make sure to get to know faculty, professors and graduate students in the WFCB major, because they are great connections and experts in their fields. Take the time to get to know your graduate student TA's, they are a great resource for advice and are great mentors. Oftentimes, they have recently been in your shoes and can relate to your struggles or concerns.

whisper-10-12w.jpgBailey Higa

Bachelors of Science in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology Class of 2017

What is your current job?
I am currently an Education Specialist at the Sacramento Zoo. This position works with animals and people and combines the typical titles or roles of an educator, zookeeper, animal trainer, teacher, and media staff. Additionally, I am a volunteer for the USGS Giant garter snake translocation and head-starting project and a Blogging Intern for Respect the Fin.
Could you describe one of your typical work days?
Fortunately, no day in my position is ever the same! My job focuses on animal care and husbandry, public speaking, educational programs, and training of interns, docents, and zoo teens. The animals in my care are the ambassador animals. Ambassador animals are education animals in the zoo that have had a background providing them with the demeanor of being a great example for hands-on work, education, traveling, and programs. There are just over 40 animals in my team’s care at the Sacramento Zoo. Daily, I administer any daily medications, prepare diets for the animals, complete a morning cleaning routine, and then spend the day preparing for programs, traveling to schools with animals to present programs, training with animals using operant conditioning, participating in daily shows and keeper talks, and taking animals out to exercise, sun, or meet guests around the zoo. Depending on the season and amount of zoo guests, my schedule varies day to day, but there is always something new!

I am an animal care technician for the Giant garter snake project and volunteer my time to help with the husbandry and care of the neonates. This involves data collection, feeding, cleaning, and organization of the snakes’ exhibits.

As a blogging intern for Respect the Fin, I write a few blogs each month focusing on marine wildlife and conservation. Respect the Fin is a clothing company that focuses on shark conservation and awareness and donates part of its proceeds to marine conservation.
What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
Various different skills are required in my position. There is definitely a background requirement of animal behavior and biology. I use my knowledge from almost every single WFCB course daily. Additionally, I have to be able to think on my feet, have a strict attention to detail, maintain a positive attitude, and be able to teach guests about conservation, endangered species, and animal biology. This job requires skills of public speaking and communication skills with coworkers, volunteers, docents, interns, and guests of all ages and backgrounds. I use skills of creativity, writing, and teaching science to write shows, programs, and media presentations. I utilize skills with Microsoft office to create training programs and educational presentations and organize animal records.

My job is physically demanding and requires that I am outside or on my feet for most of the day. There are skills with animal training and husbandry that I use every day to determine training sessions, animal welfare, and positive reinforcement to teach animals new behaviors so that they can actively participate in their health care as well as display natural behaviors for the public to perceive and learn from. I use my skills of time management and organization to keep my work as efficient and thorough as possible.

What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
The most challenging part of my job is definitely when an animal passes away. Spending every day working with these animals and dedicating my career to their welfare and conservation creates a bond with them and when they pass away, it is very difficult. Additionally, I find it challenging to engage with guests that do not understand the conservation work that wildlife non-profits do and always try to find new ways to explain the inner-workings of zoos and species survival plans.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
The most enjoyable part of my job is being able to make a difference (big or small) for animals and conservation every single day. It is extremely rewarding to watch animals grow in their comfort and confidence and watch people interact with them. It is also rewarding to watch children get excited about wildlife and conservation, and truly take away positive messages that will stick with them as they grow up and develop a love and care for the world around them. I also enjoy being able to work with raptors and develop flying programs for some of our ambassador birds and watch them fly.

What advice do you have for current WFCB students?
The advice I would offer current WFCB students is to get as involved as much as possible both on and off-campus. During my undergraduate career, my involvement in on-campus leadership organizations, student jobs, and internships made a difference when it came to finding a job and finding out what I wanted to do after I graduated. I believe that the more involved you can get and the more you put yourself out there with internships, interviews, and professional development as an undergraduate, the better!

whisper-10-13w.jpgYour Car is Decreasing the Sex Appeal of Male Frogs
- Student Conservation Corner Blog

Could you speeding down a scenic country road in your Honda Civic possibly affect frog sex? It’s more likely than you think!
The concept of noise pollution having an effect on wildlife is not a new one in any sense. Studies concerning the effects of noise pollution on animal acoustics and communication are widespread, and alterations of animal behavior due to anthropogenic, or man-made, noise have been well-documented. But scientists in Lyon, France were interested in building on these ideas and seeing how noise from heavy traffic affected frog stress levels… and their sex appeal ... Read the story here

whisper-10-14w.jpgBirds in Pairs - From The Putah Creek Nestbox Highway Blog

The field crew and I have started checking nestboxes for any early nests. We’ve been seeing bluebirds and tree swallows in pairs hanging out near some of our nestboxes already, though the time for building up most nests has yet to come. We’ve been able to ID some previously banded birds by watching pairs that are starting to stay near boxes... Read the story here

whisper-10-15w.jpgMegalopolitan Water District of California Proposes Overarching Delta Solutions - From California WaterBlog

Today the Megalopolitan Water District of California (a consortium of southern California and Bay Area urban water suppliers) proposed building a new aqueduct to take water from the Sacramento River to Bay Area and southern California cities... Read the story here

whisper-10-16w.jpgDepartment Seminars

What: WFCB seminar series where graduate students, research staff, post docs, alumni and faculty showcase their latest work. The seminar features 15 minute presentations by 3 people, each followed by a 5 minute Q&A. It's a great way to learn about all the research within WFCB.
When: In collaboration with invited speakers the seminar committee have chosen to postpone all spring seminars due to COVID19. We are looking forward to Wednesday September 30th 2020 for the first seminar of the Fall season.
Where: 1138 Meyer Hall (aka Foster Room) on UC Davis Campus

whisper-10-17w.jpgAnnouncing dates for the Great Causeway Bat Counts!  Join in on a day of community science and camaraderie by taking part in the third annual count of the Yolo Causeway bat colony. Pre-pup count: Sunday May 31, 2020 (May be postponed - email Leila for clarification). Post-pup count: Saturday, August 22, 2020. Interested? Email yolobatcount@gmail.com. Contact: Leila Harris, PhD Student, GGE, Kelt Lab. Supported by the Yolo Basin Foundation.


Your gifts provide the extra support that enables our students and faculty to reach their fullest potential. Your gifts support experiential learning opportunities, allow scientists to be especially innovative in their research, and keep undergraduate and graduate training financially accessible.

Please contact Pam Pacelli, Sr. Director of Development pmpacelli@ucdavis.edu 530.867.3679 or department chair Nann Fangue nafangue@ucdavis.edu for more information or to discuss impactful gift opportunities. Giving is also easy online.

Connect With Our 2019/20 Advising Team

Brian Todd (Master Adviser)
Jessica Chalfin (Interim Staff Adviser)
John Liu (Peer Adviser)
Trinity Pineda (Peer Adviser)

Contact them here: wfcbadvising@ucdavis.edu