Congratulations to the winners of the 2012 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Science Awards!
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Science Awards recognize outstanding efforts by scientists and technical staff. “As we all face increasingly complex challenges in wildlife management and conservation,” says Service science advisor Gabriela Chavarria, “innovation and excellence in science are crucial to improving the Service’s knowledge and management of fish and wildlife resources.”
Baron Horiuchi has received the Rachel Carson Award for Scientific Excellence. As the Service’s only horticulturalist, his work has been critical to recovery of rare native plants at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on Hawai'i Island. Horiuchi propagates plant species never before propagated, and actively experiments with new ways to germinate, propagate endangered and common native plant species. Native forest birds have returned to an area that was open pasture from cattle grazing just 20 years ago. Many of the common bird species, such as 'apapane, 'i'iwi, 'elepaio, and 'amakihi, are seen regularly within the replanted areas.
Horiuchi has also spearheaded a program with many conservation partners and organized volunteer groups over the past 16 years in the management of the Hakalau Forest Refuge greenhouse operation; volunteer weekends are fully booked a year in advance. Learn more.
Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Staff received the Rachel Carson Award for Groups. Linda Welch, Sara Williams, Michael Langlois, Beth Goettel , James Fortier, Brian Benedict, Teressa Cultrera have been collaborating to better protect and manage the migratory birds of the Gulf of Maine. Many of their focal species breed nowhere else in the United States; climate change and offshore energy development threaten the long-term viability of such species as the Atlantic puffin, razorbill and Arctic terns.
Changes in the marine ecosystem are already having dramatic effects on the reproductive success of these birds. Unfortunately, understanding threats and limiting factors for these birds presents special challenges; they forage in the ocean and little is known about their migration patterns and wintering areas. Refuge staff and partners have monitored Maine’s seabird nesting colonies for 25 years.
Refuge staff also gathered data to help guide offshore development of wind energy away from the areas considered most valuable for these birds. By 2020, the State of Maine plans to establish five gigawatts of wind power capacity, with a portion of that coming from large offshore wind facilities.
Harris has developed studies to assess the role of mountain lions in bighorn sheep mortality, led the way for novel techniques to monitor wildlife through camera trapping, and helped revamp whooping crane surveys. He has pioneered new techniques to estimate the abundance of animals without marks, techniques that can be applied to endangered animals worldwide. Learn more.