Surveying for Endangered Species

March 11, 2014

Staff members from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Sacramento Field Office have been surveying the tidal portion of the Military Ocean Terminal Concord (MOTCO), a military base in Concord, CA, for the presence of California tiger salamanders (CTS) and California red-legged frog (CRLF).

Slender Salamander in Bucket
Caption: Pictured is a slender salamander in one of the pit fall traps on the tidal side of the base. Once each species is identified they are measured, weighed, and then placed away from the fence line. This species of salamander is the one most often captured on the tidal side of MOTCO.

Currently, there are three sites where pit-fall trap lines have been installed to survey for CTS. Additionally there are numerous aquatic features throughout the base where staff members have been conducting eye-shine surveys for CRLF. Although they have not encountered either species, they have seen many slender salamanders, arboreal salamanders, chorus frogs, and western toads. They have also seen a large variety of wildlife while hiking to the CTS sites in the hills, including coyotes, owls, eagles, rabbits, and a skunk or two!

Western Toad
Caption: Here a California toad is seen in one of the pit fall traps. Many toads have been trapped and are a staff favorite.

Although Service staff members have not encountered CTS in the tidal area of the base so far, they did when they were able to observe trapping efforts conducted by an environmental consulting firm on an unrelated project. The captured CTS was photographed so that if it is recaptured it can be identified by its spot pattern.

Inland California Tiger Salamander
Caption: This California tiger salamander was captured this spring. It is too immature to know if it is male or female but each individual has spot pattern that is unique. If is it recaptured later scientists will be able to identify it.

Service staff will be closing the pit-fall trap lines by the 15th of March, and will then conduct larval surveys per protocol guidance using dip nets. CRLF breeding surveys will be completed every other week through the end March, with one last set of non-breeding surveys that will be completed in the middle of July or later.

For a chance to see more pictures of the animals they find, follow the Pacific Southwest Region on Facebook and the Sacramento Field Office on Twitter.


by Amber Aguilera / USFWS.