Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse

The salt marsh harvest mouse is a tiny rodent species endemic to the San Francisco Bay Area. It has suffered heavily due to habitat loss and fragmentation due to urbanization and conversion of land for other uses, which has contributed to the species being listed under the endangered species act. We are conducting genetic research on the species to aid conservation efforts.

We recently received a mouse that was recovered during ongoing monitoring efforts by management agencies. Luis Hernandez and I used this unfortunate event to improve our scientific understanding of the species.

Salt marsh harvest mouse
Salt marsh harvest mouse. That’s right, those are centimeters
salt marsh harvest mouse
Salt marsh harvest mouse

We dissected the animal to recover tissue and organs for our genetic analyses, as well as to store for future study. Hopefully this work will improve our understanding of adaptations associated with coping with differences in salinity in diet and water source throughout the Bay Area. This is particularly important in view of anticipated sea level rise, and precipitation changes associated with climate change.

Post organ recovery
Post organ recovery
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Mammalogy Field Course

We were lucky enough to have our Mammalogy Field course this year at Quail Ridge Reserve. This beautiful site is covered in Chaparral and Oak woodland, and is located near Lake Berryessa in California’s coastal range.

The view south of base camp
The view south of base camp
Looking out over Lake Berryessa
Looking out over Lake Berryessa
Happy campers
Happy campers
Tent cabins
Tent cabins

The students got practical experience using noninvasive mammal monitoring techniques such as track plates, remote cameras, and radio tracking. The cameras picked up multiple gray foxes and black tailed deer. The track plates and bait worked very well to attract and detect gray foxes. At night groups of students were able to successfully locate three individual gay foxes using radio telemetry.

On the way to set up track plates
On the way to set up track plates
A young black-tailed deer buck
A young black-tailed deer buck
Gray fox
Gray fox
Gray fox
Gray fox
Success. Fox prints
Success. Fox prints
Dusky footed woodrat nest in an old tuck
Dusky footed woodrat nest in an old tuck
Madrone or manzanita tree
Madrone or manzanita tree
Found under a herp board
Found under a herp board
Taken by Davis Bui
Taken by Davis Bui