Whisper - Volume 11 - June 2020

whisper- Dear FriendsDear Friends,

Congratulations to our graduates and to all our continuing students for all that you’ve accomplished and contributed to our program and our discipline.  We know you will continue to do great things!  

In this issue we are especially excited for the opportunity to highlight the work of Cathy Brown and Nikki Roach. Check out Cathy's recent publication on the Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged frog and WFCB alumni Nikki's work in the Columbian Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on amphibian communities - which includes a beautiful short video.

Keep in touch by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Stay healthy and strong,

Nann Fangue and Pernille Sporon Bøving

whisper - Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana sierrae) in StreamsDemography, Habitat, and Movements of the Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana sierrae) in Streams

WFCB graduate student Cathy Brown had her paper chosen as the Best Paper in Herpetology for the journal Copeia by the publishing society the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. ASIH is perhaps the most illustrious of the major societies in the herpetology world and has deep roots stretching back to include many luminaries in both ichthyology and herpetology. Her study published among the first of its kind information on an extremely rare, state- and federally endangered Sierran frog and its ecology in almost completely unknown lotic systems (actively moving waters).

whisper - Erica Cefalo Welcome Erica Cefalo - Our new undergraduate advisor.

Erica comes to us from the University of Maryland, College Park where she served as advisor and lecturer for the French program for five years. Advising at UMD just sort of fell in my lap but through it I learned a lot about myself and ultimately decided that I enjoyed the advising part of my job even more than being in the classroom. One on one interaction, problem solving, the personal nature of it is really satisfying for me. My work as an instructor helped me understand the student experience from a variety of perspectives so it was a winding path but I couldn’t be more thrilled with where I ended up. Now I wake up excited and amazed every day that I get to be an advisor for such an important program at UC Davis, supporting all of these talented wildlife students.

The biggest challenge? Starting a new job online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students have been wonderfully kind and patient in some of those awkward work-from-home moments when my 4-year-old wanders in to make faces in the corner of the Zoom screen. And there is an impressive network of support provided by the university, CAES, and WFCB. But I seriously just can’t wait to get into the office and work with all of you in person, wave at you in the hallway, and enjoy this charming little fairytale of a town to the fullest. In the DC area, I commuted on the beltway for an hour each way. All I want to do now is walk to work through your gorgeous arboretum.

And, yes, she said “walk to work.” Top on her list of goals here in Davis is to finally learn to ride a bicycle. I somehow never learned to ride a bike. I feel a little bit like an impostor moving to the bicycle capital of the world. I know I’m a few decades too late but if anyone feels up to the task of teaching me, let me know!

Congratulations Class of 2020 - Wildlife Majors and Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology Interns and undergraduates assistants! Thank you for working with us to get through our current challenges.  Our faculty and staff have moved mountains to deliver a Spring online curriculum, and we are working hard to prepare our Fall program.  Good luck with final exams, have a fabulous summer, and keep up the great work.

whisper-11-04 whisper-11-05

Congratulations to PhD student David Ayers (Rypel Lab) and Dr. Denise Colombano (previous Moyle Lab, now UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher) each being awarded a Delta Science Fellowship.

whisper - David AyersDavid Ayers investigates how different restored tidal wetlands function as refuge from predation and serve as rearing habitat for fishes.

whispe - Denise ColombanoDenise Colombano The goal of Denise's research is to better understand how climate change will affect fishes with different life histories and habitat associations across the San Francisco Estuary.

Where Are They Now? - Spotlight on WFCB Alumni

We're excited to highlight

whisper - Nikki RoachNikki Roach

Twitter: @niksroach
Website: nroach.weebly.com
Bachelors of Science in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology Class of 2010

whisper - Conserving Colombia's Frogs in the Heart of the WorldWhat is your current job?

Currently finishing my PhD at Texas A&M in the Applied Biodiversity Science program (graduate August 1!) in the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology.

Could you describe one of your typical work days?

Well, this really ranges on if I am in the field or not. I have spent the last three years working on conservation and sustainability projects in the tropical coastal mountain range of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. My PhD research (Fulbright Colombia 2017- 2018) was about examining how land use and climate change impact amphibian communities. During my field work, we would drive from the coastal city of Santa Marta up to the mountain usually starting work around 1,000 m. We spent nights hiking in the forests and on farms and walking pre-determined transects looking for amphibians. Any amphibians (frogs or salamanders) we encountered we would pick up, measure, take photos, record environmental data, and release the individuals. We would be out at night from sundown for about 4 -8 hours and camp or stay in local peoples homes. During the daytime we would organize datasheets, equipment, and mingle with the property owners. I also worked with coffee farmers and spent a lot of time on coffee farms, drinking tinto (basically black coffee sugar water) and playing dominoes with the kids (they're so good!). During the day, I conducted surveys with coffee farmers to learn more about their livelihoods and perceptions of biodiversity.

When not in the field, I was back in my apartment in Santa Marta writing and analyzing data and reformatting tables and figures. I make sure I do yoga/something active most days, and go for walks along the beach. I spent weekends taking trips with friends to the mountains or coastal jungles where we would camp, hike, explore, and swim in the many rivers or beaches. Most nights were spent dancing (if possible!). Colombia is a beautiful and diverse country and the Colombian people are so kind and welcoming, working there has been a life-changing experience.

What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?

The skills most needed in my position are patience, resilience, and adaptability. Things change really quickly in conservation projects, especially when working abroad. One needs to be capable to change plans (that they may have had for months) on a moments notice. It can be really frustrating working abroad, but also very rewarding. Trying to find the good in each situation or reframe things as a learning experience helped me to build my resilience when things would go wrong. You also need to be a good communicator and make sure everyone involved in a project is aware of what's going on and receives the results of your work.

What parts of your job do you find most challenging?

That you are in charge of every aspect of your work. From being a part-time car mechanic, to travel planner, secretary and finance keeper, mentor, researcher etc...it is a lot! Graduate students have a lot on their plate and balancing it all can seem overwhelming. I make sure to take time each day for myself, at least 30 - 60 minutes, to do whatever I like. I think finding work-life balance is critical because otherwise you will burn out really quickly.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?

The people I get to meet and work with and the amazing landscapes I've been lucky enough to visit. I have been so fortunate to work with really wonderful people who have become friends and family. This is the most rewarding part of research is the relationships formed and the growth of projects and people.

What advice do you have for current WFCB students?

We are living through unprecedented times as students and soon to be graduates. I think most importantly, this is a time to consider what you truly care about and what would make your life feel fulfilled. Reach out to people you're interested in working with, ask questions, read, learn, maintain your creativity, and do what makes you feel good. Build a network and keep in touch with folks. Try not to worry about rejection - it will come and so will success. Growth is a constant process and goes way beyond the halls of academia.

whisper - Endangered Hawaii’an CrowsHow Studying Neophobia Can Save Endangered Hawaii’an Crows - Student Conservation Corner Blog

Are you someone who’s afraid to step out of their comfort zone? Does the thought of adventuring into the unknown give you a sense of dread? If so, you’re more like a crow than you thought! Turns out that the idea of novelty is anxiety-inducing for Hawai’ian crows — and this information can actually be used to help them... Read the story here


whisper - Nestlings and BandingNestlings and Banding - From The Putah Creek Nestbox Highway Blog

We’re in the middle of the busiest part of the nesting season. Lots of nestlings are hatching, growing, and fledging right now, meaning we have to keep track of boxes to band and boxes to leave alone. Once chicks are big enough, we give them metal and/or color bands, and then wait a couple of weeks for them to leave the nest undisturbed. Even though there’s a lot to keep track of, this is my favorite part – seeing lots of baby birds growing up.... Read the story here

An Introduction to State Water Project Deliveries - From California WaterBlog

Most people in California receive some of their drinking water supply from the State Water Project (SWP). The SWP also supplies water to over 10% of California’s irrigated agriculture... Read the story here


whisper-11-13.pngDepartment Seminars - All Are Welcome

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: Wednesday September 30th 2020
Where: 1138 Meyer Hall (aka Foster Room) on UC Davis Campus



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)
Erica Cefalo (Staff Adviser)
John Liu (Peer Adviser)
Trinity Pineda (Peer Adviser)

Contact them here: wfcbadvising@ucdavis.edu