VFWO Research Needs In Support Of Species Recovery

The Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office is responsible for the recovery of more than 100 federally listed species over a vast area of California.  To help us achieve our goal of species recovery, we have identified research needs for some of the species in our area.  We will be adding to this list periodically as we identify other research questions for other listed and candidate species.  We also welcome research on other species as long as findings are applicable to the conservation and recovery of listed species.  Click here to see a full list of species that fall within our office’s jurisdiction.

We hope to encourage faculty, staff, and graduate students affiliated with academic institutions, botanic gardens, and other entities and agencies that have an interest in the conservation and recovery of these species to partner with us on these efforts.  Although limited funding may be available, the inclusion of a research need here does not imply availability of funding.

Examples of Research Needs

Research needs vary by species.  Life history studies, determining habitat requirements, evaluating the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic variables on the viability of the species, and gene flow studies (pollination and dispersal) are examples of research that are needed.  In addition, we are interested in studies regarding the effects of climate change on species and the habitats they depend on.

Contact Information

If you are interested in one of the research needs below, please contact the individual identified for each project.  If you have general questions about plant research, contact Connie Rutherford at 805-644-1766 x 306.  For animals, contact Michael McCrary at 805-644-1766 x372.

Wildlife Species
Amargosa vole (Microtus californicus scirpensis)

Task: Is cat predation from free-roaming domestic cats a significant threat to Amargosa voles?

The Amargosa vole recovery plan has suggested that predation by domestic cats may be a potential source of mortality for this species due to the close proximity of the town of Tecopa and Tecopa Hot Springs. However, there have been no anecdotal observations or empirical support for these assertions. Research into this question is needed to determine if it is a significant threat that requires focused management.

Contact: Brian Croft (909) 382-2677

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis californiana)

Task: How will future climate change affect habitat changes for the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep?

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are primarily dependent on visually open habitats on or in proximity to escape terrain. Future climate change in the Sierra Nevada has the potential to affect open habitats due to changes in the amount and distribution of forested areas. Development of modeling tools that could help predict these changes and map potential future habitat scenarios would help inform current management of lands that may be required for Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep in the future.

Contact: Brian Croft (909) 382-2677

Tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi)

Task: How are population characteristics affecting metapopulation viability?

Narrative: Research is needed on dispersal mechanisms, rates, and distances, and the numbers of populations needed for long-term persistence. Data is needed to conduct metapopulation viability analysis. Data should include: presence/absence data; population estimates; observed rates of extirpation and natural recolonization; effects of exotic predators or habitat degradation; results of introduction efforts to new localities and reintroduction to sites of known or suspected extirpations; and the relationships between climate variation and extinction and recolonization probabilities. This data should help provided the basis for evaluating the sizes, numbers, and distribution of populations necessary for the recovery of the species.

Contact: Chris Dellith (805) 644-1766 ext. 227

Plant Species
Purple amole (Chlorogalum purpureum)

Task: What is the relationship between purple amole and cryptogamic crusts?

The purple amole (Chlorogalum purpureum) is a bulbous perennial lily endemic to central California. Two varieties are recognized: C. purpureum var. purpureum, purple amole; and C. purpureum var. reductum, Camatta Canyon amole. Chlorogalum p. var. purpureum is known only from Fort Hunter Liggett (southern Monterey County) and Camp Roberts (northern San Luis Obispo County). Chlorogalum purpureum var. reductum is known primarily from Los Padres National Forest in central San Luis Obispo County. The species grows in open areas with a light cover of native plants in grassland, oak savanna, and woodland habitat. Chlorogalum purpureum is sometimes associated with cryptogamic crusts (cyanobacteria, lichens, mosses, and fungi on the soil surface). Cryptogamic crusts are important elements of arid and semiarid ecosystems because they can stabilize the soil against wind and water erosion, fix atmospheric nitrogen, contribute to soil organic matter, retain soil moisture, discourage weed growth, and provide favorable sites for growth of native vascular plants. Understanding the relationship between C. purpureum and cryptogamic crusts would enable land managers to better manage the habitat where this species occurs.

Contact: Chris Kofron, (805) 644-1766 ext. 303

Coastal dunes milk-vetch(Astragalus tener var. titi)

Task: What are the tolerance levels for coastal dunes milk-vetch in regards to soil salinity, cobble and gravel deposition, ocean spray, and salt water inundation?

The 5-year review for coastal dunes milk-vetch notes that a severe storm event during the winter of 2007-2008 resulted in large cobble and gravel deposition as a result of storm surges. The deposition of cobble and gravel signifies that this portion of the coastal terrace was inundated by salt water. This area currently supports the species and the Service is interested in discovering how the deposition of cobble and ocean water may affect the species. Research into this question is needed to determine if it is a significant threat that requires focused management.

Contact: Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (805) 644-1766

Monterey clover (Trifolium trichocalyx)

Task: Determine extant populations of Monterey clover within potential habitat.

Monterey clover is a classic fire follower that establishes itself during the first few years after fire within its habitat. The species appeared both after a fire in 1901 and 1987 in this area suggesting that the seed bank is capable of surviving for more than 85 years. A focused effort is needed to survey areas that are disturbed as a result of fire (or other ground disturbance) to determine current extent of the species range. Coordination with the Del Monte Forest Foundation (DMFF) and Pebble Beach Company (PBC) is necessary as the species is known to occur on these lands. It is preferable to develop a project (in coordination with DMFF and PBC) that would incorporate prescribed fire, as this would present a "natural" method that would presumably allow re-establishment of the species, thus permitting identification.

Contact: Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (805) 644-1766

Conejo dudleya (Dudleya parva)

Task: What are the species' life history and specific habitat requirements?

Research the precise habitat conditions needed for germination and establishment of Dudleya parva (i.e. specific soil types/moisture content/etc.) and limiting factors that preclude the expansion of this species range. Research unknown life history characteristics for this species, in-situ, such as how long-lived this species is (on average) or how likely this species is to hybridize with other Dudleya in the vicinity. Once life history for this species is better understood, we may be able to better pinpoint the some of the specific threats and limiting factors hindering recovery of this species. Initiate studies to better understand the ability of this species to survive large or frequent habitat disruptions and degradation (i.e. fires, erosion due to mountain biking/hiking/etc.). Better understanding specific unknown life history elements for this species will also aid our understanding of the likelihood that it will adapt and survive through changing precipitation patterns and temperature fluctuations that may occur as a result of climate change.

Contact: Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (805) 644-1766

Chorro Creek bog thistle (Cirsium fontinale var obispoense)

Tasks: How are seeps that support this plant affected by underlying hydrology and human activities that affect the hydrologic regime?

Many of the populations of this plant are protected by land use designation and/or fenced enclosures. However, because this species is dependent upon seep habitats, fluctuations in the water sources for the seeps may be caused by off-site activities. Conducting a hydrologic analysis to determine the water source that feed these habitats/populations would assist us in making long term projections on the status and recoverability of this species.

Contact: Nic Huber (805) 644-1766 ext. 249

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Last updated: February 25, 2014