Whisper - Volume 12 - September 2020

whisper-12-01.jpgDear Friends,

Happy Fall quarter! Welcome back everyone and welcome aboard to our new students.

In this issue we are thrilled for the opportunity to welcome Rob Furrow, Maria Manuel, congratulate our newly graduated doctoral and master degree students, and highlight the work of alumni Caitlin Kroeger. The top photo shows Caitlin and her favorite research species - the Albatross. Take notice that our fall seminar series will run entirely remote via zoom - which could be a great opportunity for you all to tune in and see what our faculty, grad students and alumni is working on (find zoom meeting ID towards the bottom of this letter).

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

Stay healthy and safe.

Rob FurrowWelcome Rob - Our new Assistant Professor of Teaching.

Rob Furrow joined WFCB as an Assistant Professor of Teaching (LPSOE) this July. In this position he is focused on teaching wildlife courses that use active learning and engage students with contemporary wildlife research practices. His background is in evolutionary and ecological modeling, but his current research and teaching focuses on building students' quantitative and science literacy skills, as well as on best practices for creating equitable learning environments that promote success for all students. Outside of teaching and research, Rob is an avid naturalist (with a particular passion for birds) -- he loves leading public nature walks and teaching community classes on natural history.

whisper-12-03.jpgWelcome Maria - Our new peer advisor

Maria Manuel is an incoming senior in the WFCB department with an interest in birds, specifically birds of prey with a soft spot for owls. She plans to become an animal ambassador or wildlife rehabilitator after graduation in hopes of spreading awareness and working closely

with wildlife. When she is not sleeping, studying, or working with birds, she enjoys drawing, playing tabletop games, and writing poetry.

Congratulations to our latest graduate students upon their degree

Dr.Aviva Rossi with her dissertation entitled "Niche, Variability in Habitat Use, and Spatial Response to Climate Change by Montane Mammals in the High-Elevation Sierra Nevada". Dr. Rossi is now teaching at the University of San Francisco, in their Environmental Management graduate program. 

Dr. Jaclyn Aliperti with her dissertation entitled: "Behavioral and Spatial Dynamics in a Fluctuating Population of Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels (Callospermophilus lateralis)".

Ellie Bolas M.S. with her dissertation entitled "Ecology and conservation of island spotted skunks: Understanding microhabitat associations and techniques for monitoring." Ellie's next step is earning her PhD with Justine Smith. 

Dr. Mikaela Provost with her dissertation entitled "The Effects of Life History on Time Scales of Variability in Fish Populations, And the Effects of Epistemological Scales on Fishing Community Responses to Climate-Driven Shifts in Fish Distributions"

Dr. Provost is now a postdoc at Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, CA working with a team of scientists, fishers, and resource managers based in Baja California, Mexico. We are studying abalone and identifying habitat that is buffered against climate change. Knowing the extent of these 'safe spaces' will help support abalone fisheries and promote population persistence in the future.

Dr. Amy Collins with her dissertation entitled "Conservation Strategies That Address Habitat Loss and Fragmentation: Implications for Forest Cover Change and Wildlife Behavior".


The Post lab has launched a new project monitoring seasonality in Lassen National Park using a network of automated cameras to create time lapse videos of snow and vegetation dynamics. The videos will also be used in the APPLES project to engage K-12 students across the U.S. in climate change research. Watch 10 months of weather and green-up in the park in this video


This video was produced for the Karp lab - the short story is based on their research in the Central Coast and featuring their postdoc researcher Elissa Olimpi, PhD in Avian Agroecology.o

Where Are They Now? - Spotlight on WFCB Alumni

We're excited to highlight

whisper-12-06.jpgCaitlin Kroeger, Ph.D

Bachelors of Science in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology Class of 2007
Ph.D UC Santa Cruz
A 3-minute Grad Slam talk Caitlin gave last year on her albatross research

What is your current job?

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Farallon Institute (a nonprofit organization) where I work as a data analyst in the field of marine ecology.

Could you describe one of your typical work days?

Workdays are a little less typical lately since I am working from home due to the pandemic—and although working from home comes with many perks, I miss being in the presence of my brilliant, helpful colleagues and morale-boosting office dogs! My workday currently consists of a Zoom meeting with my colleagues, then lots of data analysis and/or writing grant proposals. I spend a lot of time on data exploration (e.g., plotting seabird and zooplankton survey data to visualize spatial and temporal patterns for different species or communities), writing scripts to model and find relationships in the data (the best part!), and making pretty figures to present results. Lately, I have also been reading up on the latest scientific literature and working on peer reviews for manuscripts.

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

My job requires excellent writing skills, a strong statistical background, and a high proficiency in computer programming (I primarily use R statistical software, but hope to learn Python soon). Even with my skillset, I am perpetually learning new tools and techniques to analyze and visualize data..

What parts of your job do you find most challenging?

The most challenging part of my job is sitting at a computer all day. I spent many years working on remote islands with all kinds of creatures from seabirds to seals, and I love being outside! So, maintaining the discipline to sit at a computer each day has been an adjustment. That said, I’m very grateful during this pandemic to have a job in which I am able to work from a computer at home.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?

TDespite its challenges, coding is actually super fun! On many days, I get to be a detective AND a graphic artist. I also love that I work with an interdisciplinary team of people with physics and biology backgrounds, that have the shared goal of producing science that will inform ecosystem-based management practices and policy decisions. For example, I recently worked on a project that was part of a larger effort to provide seabird density estimates that will be used for oil spill risk assessment. And currently, I’m working on modeling how changing oceanographic processes (like sea surface temperature) impact the structure of biological communities in the Gulf of Alaska.

What advice do you have for current WFCB students?

Try to get as much internship experience as possible to figure out what you enjoy (or don’t enjoy) doing. Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs that you might not feel 100% qualified for (because you are probably more qualified than you might think). If you don’t get the job, it’s still beneficial that you got experience and practice with the process of applying/interviewing. If you’re considering graduate school as a next step, first make sure the jobs you’re most interested in actually require the degree you’re after! So many fulfilling careers don’t require more schooling (and it’s even possible to become over-qualified for positions you really want). But if you are planning on some additional years in academia, try to find opportunities that are fully (or mostly) funded—graduate school without funding can be tough—and make sure you talk to potential graduate advisers about the expectations you will have of them, and the expectations they will have of you.

Congratulations to Kiva Oken for being selected to the inaugural cohort of Leaders for Sea Change program. Kiva says, "I'm so excited to be a part of and learn from this amazing group of people and work together to solve ocean sustainability challenges in the California Current."

whisper-12-07.pngIt's All Flame To Me - Student Conservation Corner Blog

Australia is home to many famous things: the Sydney Opera House, Vegemite, kangaroos, the boomerang, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney, the Outback. Recently, its claim to flame on wildfires has grown in prominence. In 2019 alone, an area the size of West Virginia burned in the southeast region of Australia (Tarabay 2020). The fires have killed dozens of people, hundreds of millions of animals, and destroyed thousands of homes (Tarabay 2020). This is just another example of the increasing frequency and severity of fire occurrences happening around the world, including in the Amazon rainforest and on the west coast of the United States...Read the story here

whisper-12-08.jpgNestlings and Banding - From The Putah Creek Nestbox Highway Blog

The nestbox season is well over, and I’ve been spending time organizing and looking at this year’s data. This year, about 974 birds fledged our nestboxes, which is 145 more than last year! 476 of this year’s birds were tree swallows, and 385 were western bluebirds. We also had 83 house wrens, 25 ash-throated flycatchers, and 5 white-breasted nuthatches that fledged from the boxes.....Read the story here

whisper-12-09.jpgCrawdads: Naturalized Californians - From California WaterBlog

Crayfish, crawdads, crawfish: whatever you call them, they are everywhere in California’s waters and are as tasty as their lobster relatives. They are especially familiar to anglers who peer into the maw of a bass or pikeminnow or flush their stomachs to see what prey caused the bulging belly... Read the story here

whisper-12-10.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, 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM

Where: Synchronous via Zoom.

Zoom Meeting ID: 946 4271 8535

Passcode: wildlife

Need to call in: +1 669 900 6833 (passcode: 94512365)


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)
Maria Manuel (Peer Adviser)

Contact them here: wfcbadvising@ucdavis.edu