Whisper - Volume 8 - September 2019

whisper-8-01.jpgDear Friends,

Happy first week of Fall quarter! Welcome back everyone and welcome aboard to our new students. Please take a moment to scroll through our Fall edition of the quarterly newsletter highlighting the Department of Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology.

The photo, by Daniel Rocha, is of Pampas deer in an Amazonian savannah patch - see the story below for more details.

Next time you’re in Academic Surge, check out our new touch screen in the lobby. The information screen can help you find faculty, information on upcoming events, advising deadlines, news and much more.

Keep in touch by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, sending us an email, or dropping by one of our department seminars. We hope to celebrate beginning the 2019-20 academic year with you at the WFCB Fall Welcome, on Monday, October 7th, from 4-6pm in the Mathematics Courtyard.


Nann Fangue and Pernille Sporon Bøving

whisper-8-02.jpgFrom Daniel Rocha in the Rahel Sollmann lab.

In collaboration with protected area managers, we have recently published two short communication about the discovery of unexpected populations of Pampas Deer and Crowned Solitary Eagle in Amazonian savannas.

You can also read the short blog written by Daniel in Oryx here - accompanied with additional beautiful photos.


From Justin Nowakowski in the Brian Todd lab.

How does a Strawberry Poison frog in Costa Rica adapt to hotter climate? - As a collaborative team of researchers we are trying to understand what happens to species when we transform forests for human land uses.

Dwell into the entire story here

Congratulations to Peter Moyle for winning the 2019 Fly Fishers International's Leopold Conservation Award. The award honors Peter's long-term research on stream fishes and consequent benefits to stream trout fisheries.

Does The Law Protect Climate Change Researchers?

Three presentations followed by a panel discussion with time for Q and A. Our presenters are:

Lauren Kurtz, Executive Director of The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund;

Claudia Polsky, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Director Environmental Law Clinic,
UC Berkeley Law;

Eric Post, Professor of Climate Change Ecology and Director of the Polar Forum,
UC Davis.

Tuesday October 15th 12:10pm – 1:45pm
UC Davis School of Law
1301 King Hall in the Wilkins Moot Courtroom.

The event is free and open to all. Registration is Required Here

Co-sponsored by UC Davis School of Law, The California Environmental Law & Policy Center, and The John Muir Institute of the Environment.

whisper-8-04.jpgNews From The Field

By Christian John - Ph.D Student in the Post Lab

This summer was dedicated to checking on time-lapse cameras I had deployed last year, downloading data, and validating imagery. I'm using these cameras to monitor snow conditions and plant growth around the year, in places too remote for regular foot traffic and too barren for satellites to be reliable forms of data collection. It was a field season of trials: malfunctioning sensors, broken boots, and one particularly nasty sunburn. With the late snow season, the first two trips to the field had to be completely repeated since high-elevation cameras were still inaccessible in mid-July. On the positive side, beautiful views, vibrant flowers, and some magnificent hikes made for an excellent second half of the summer.


Population Dynamics for Conservation

by Louis W. Botsford, J. Wilson White, and Alan Hastings.

Oxford University Press.



A Manual Of The Mammalia - An Homage To Lawlor's “Handbook To The Orders And Families Of Living Mammals

by Douglas A. Kelt and James L. Patton.

University of Chicago Press.


whisper-8-07.jpgA Student's Perspective - Spotlight on a WFCB Major

John Liu and Trinity Pineda are the 2019-20 WFCB peer advisors. They look forward to meeting you this year! Stop by their office, 1088 Academic Surge, to say hi.”

Describe your job/internship with or via the WFCB department and who are you working with?

Trinity: I just wrapped up a summer internship with the Yosemite aquatic ecology program. I’m currently working as an ICC agriculture and environmental science peer advisor, a campus tour guide, and WFCB peer advisor!

John: Intern at Fangue Lab, Student Researcher with Animal Behavior Grad Group, peer adviser with WFCB, Student Technician at California Nation Primate Center, Building Supervisor at Memorial Union

What has been your “take away” from being part of the project?

Trinity: Take a chance and go for opportunities that you are interested you never know what can happen!

John: Most people are always willing to help you reach your goals so never be afraid to reach out!

Please tell us one of your “aha” and your “wow” moments as a WFCB student.

Trinity: Taking WFC 101 was a great glimpse into what the wildlife work looks like and I loved being in the desert.

John: In my career development class, we were encouraged to find others in fields and positions that we aspire to be in one day and conduct an informational interview with them. I found so many awesome people with amazing stories and I can't wait to see what I end up doing in the future.

If you had a line of advice for current WFCB students, what would it be?

Trinity: Take advantage of all the resources and opportunities you can while here, but also make sure that you are taking care of yourself.

John: Try as many new things and experiences as you can because chances are you will find passion in something you may not have even knew existed.

What would be your dream job after you graduate?

Trinity: Working as a biologist in a National Park!

John: Public outreach and education for a public zoo or aquarium!

whisper-8-08.jpgTaking It To The Next Level - Spotlight on a WFCB Graduate Student

Leah Mellinger. Ph.D Student in Fangue Lab and Todgham Lab

Project Title: Assessing brood stock fitness of Ceratonova shastainfected Chinook salmon’s (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) survivability during lab simulated Klamath River out-migration  

Describe your project with the WFCB department and who are you working with?

Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in California are unique in the fact that they have several distinct runs: Spring-run, Fall-run (including late-Fall) and Winter-run (Yoshima et al. 1998; Thompson et al. 2012). All runs of Chinook salmon have been steadily declining in numbers since the commercial fishery started in the 1850’s in the San Francisco bay, the San Joaquin Delta and Sacramento rivers (Yoshima et al. 1998). For many people, Chinook salmon are a source of income, sustenance and identity. The communities that rely heavily on the salmon from the Klamath river (or Ewksiknii) are the Modoc, Yahooskin band of Snake Indians, Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley Tribes (Hamilton et al. 2016; Magagnini & Sabalow 2017). One environmental stressor that is of increasingly high concern in the Klamath river,  and exacerbated by climate change and the dams, is a prolific parasite, Ceratonova shasta(C. shasta). C. shasta is an intestinal parasite of salmonid fishes and has an indirect life cycle with two obligate hosts which include the polychaete worm Manayunkia speciosaand salmonids (Atkinson & Bartholomew 2010; Hallet et al. 2012; Bjork et al. 2014). What remains unknown is how successful are C. shastainfected Chinook salmon in out-migrating Klamath river, making the transition from freshwater to ocean, and smoltification. It is hypothesized that if Chinook salmon parr are infected with C. shasta, then the infected individual’s resulting immunological response would hamper out-migrate success and smoltification (Yoshima et al. 1998; Moyle 2002; Atkinson & Batholomew 2010; Thompson et al. 2012; Bjork et al. 2014). The goal of this study was to simulate the outmigration of Chinook salmon in the Klamath river to assess the success and survivability of infected versus uninfected parr. Considering that the dams on the Klamath river will come down in 2020, assessing which existing hatchery stocks of Chinook salmon have a resistance to C. shastaand would be more likely to complete the outmigration while infected will be vital information when choosing brood stocks for the upper Klamath. Working with: Yurok Fisheries Department, Yurok Educational Department, OSU Bartholomew Lab, USFWS, ODFW, CDFW

How did you get involved in the project? What has been your “take away” from being part of the project?

This project was started as an internship paid for by the NSF funded Sustainable Oceans NRT Program. With the help of OSU, the Yurok Tribe, USFWS, ODFW and CDFW; it has blossomed into an important project assessing brood stocks of Chinook salmon for reintroduction to the upper Klamath river. My biggest take away is how complex and large-scale projects can be feasible and enhanced with the help of many entities (in this case agencies, academic labs and tribes).

Please tell us one of your “aha” and your “wow” moments as a graduate student.

One of my “wow” moments as a graduate student was being able to attend a Yurok Tribal Council meeting where my Yurok interns presented their take-aways from the Klamath study thus far. It was amazing for me to see how this study is so meaningful to the tribe as well as how rewarding it is to mentor undergraduate students in this important work.

If you had advice for current WFCB undergraduate students/prospective graduate students, what would it be?

My advice is to not be shy about reaching out to different agencies, non-profit organizations, tribes or different labs for collaboration. Some of the most rewarding work I have done is because of the partnerships earned by just contacting experts in their field.

What would be your dream job after you receive your graduate degree?

My dream job would be to work for a tribe as a tribal biologist or to work for the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission as a fisheries biologist. My experience working with multiple tribes in my educational career thus far as been extremely rewarding and I would love to continue working towards sustainable fisheries management with Pacific Northwest Tribes.

whisper-8-09.jpgWhere Are They Now? - Spotlight on a WFCB Alumni

Name: Amanda Culpepper
Bachelor's of Science in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology. Class of 2011

What is your current job?

I work as an Environmental Scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in the Timberland Conservation Program. My job is multifaceted and can involve anything from coordinating and facilitating meetings among various agencies and stakeholders, to reviewing and analyzing proposed state laws for their potential to impact the environment, to researching a specific species in order to identify potential impacts from timber harvest operations and how to avoid them. I am also a member of a grant committee that reviews project proposals and awards funds to projects that will assess the effectiveness of current timber harvesting practices and regulatory requirements. While most of my time is in the office, I occasionally assist with fieldwork and review projects on the ground.    

Could you describe one of your typical work days?

Typically I’m in the office reviewing proposed laws or practices that may impact fish and wildlife and coordinating with various agencies and stakeholders. This requires researching species’ ecological needs, collating best management practices, and coordinating with internal and external experts. For example, I often work on issues pertaining to the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). I have to be familiar with the basic biological needs of the owl, the typical survey methods used to locate owls, and the regulatory framework involved when activities may impact the owl. Any time a change in practice is proposed, I review that change and coordinate my colleagues’ reviews. I also work with other agencies and stakeholders to understand how the changes will affect them.         
What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?

Critical thinking is a must in my position. The ability to envision worst case possible scenarios and how to avoid them takes in-depth analysis and a comprehensive understanding of species ecology and management impacts. Just as important are communication skills, both verbal and written. Whatever issues or recommendations I identify must be communicated well both internally (to my managers and colleagues) and externally (to the public and other agencies). Lastly, perseverance is an extremely helpful skill. Sometimes it is necessary to repeat things or be the self-appointed champion of a specific issue if it is ever to be addressed.
What parts of your job do you find most challenging?

Working in the government means working in a complex and comprehensive bureaucracy. Often my biggest challenge is navigating that bureaucracy and explaining it to others. This could be related to regulatory requirements and permitting or basic travel reimbursement. Usually there is a good reason behind the requirements that are in place, but that does not make them any less of a challenge!  

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?

Influencing laws and practices so that they better address fish and wildlife needs. It is extremely satisfying to represent California’s diverse natural resources and advocate for their protection. I also understand the need to balance human requirements with environmental protections and I enjoy working in that complicated arena.
What advice do you have for current WFCB students?

Take more statistics courses and an in-depth botany course. This is the knowledge that will come in handy no matter where you end up in the wildlife field. Botanical knowledge in particular will help you the most when you’re trying to identify potential habitat or preferred habitat for terrestrial species.
I also strongly recommend getting field experience while you are still in school. Whether it is volunteering during the quarter or obtaining a summer technician position, this will help build your resume and guide your future career decisions. Often these volunteer and technician positions are extraordinarily fun!
Lastly, be open to trying new things. You never know where you might find an unlikely passion or receive the training that gets you your dream job.  


The US Bat Decline: What is going on? - Student Conservation Corner Blog

Bats are very unique, mysterious, and underrated mammals. Through evolution, their forelimbs have been modified for flight making bats the only mammals capable of true, sustained flight. They come in a variety of sizes and morphologies...Read the story here

whisper-8-11.jpgFall Migrations - From The Putah Creek Nestbox Highway Blog

Migratory birds have started to make their travels from their breeding ranges to their winter locations. It’s a good time to keep an eye out for uncommon birds passing through and welcome the winter residents back to California...Read the story here

whisper-8-12.jpgProviding Flows For Fish - From California WaterBlog

A reality in California and the American West is that people are competing with fish for water. We humans are winning the competition...Read the story here


Department 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: Wednesdays 9/25, 10/16, 11/6 and 12/4, @ 4:10 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Where: 1138 Foster Room in Meyer Hall on UCD 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)
Danielle Huddlestun (Staff Adviser)
John Liu (Peer Adviser)
Trinity Pineda (Peer Adviser)

Contact them here: wfcbadvising@ucdavis.edu