We have recently been experimenting with trying to obtain DNA from lizard environmental samples. The initial aim of which is to be able to identify the presence of lizard species based on fecal samples collected in the field. Currently we are using this work to identify the presence of the endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizard in the San Joaquin desert and the coastal range.
Today for first time we generated DNA sequence data from Lizard fecal samples collected in the field. This is no mean feat considering the harsh conditions (including high UV inundation). We hope to build on this success to aid in monitoring and mapping of the species as well as other conservation efforts.
We just had a really productive meeting of the salt marsh harvest mouse (SMHM) working group at Mare Island near Vallejo. Personnel were present from multiple agencies including DWR, USFWS, DFW, USGS, as well consulting groups and universities. It was particularly good to have Howard Shellhammer (the godfather of the salt marsh harvest research) there.
The first item on the list was a discussion of issues associated with the morphological identification of harvest mice collected in the field. Throughout much of the SMHM range the species is sympatric with the non-endangered western harvest mouse (WHM). The two species are morphologically very similar and there is a high % miss-identification rate, especially in south San Francisco Bay. If mice are incorrectly identified in the field this has obvious negative effects on required monitoring efforts, as well as any associated research. My research group are currently working to develop an improved morphological key (based on animals genetically identified to species), and we used this opportunity to solicit input from the group.
Next up was we were given a look at the new central database for storing all trapping data on the SMHM from across its range. This database is intended for use by all agencies should prove really useful for storing data, as well as making accessible, for example to mine information on SMHM demography.
Finally, we set up subcommittees (such as SMHM Research and Recovery needs) that will provide recommendations to the Tidal Marsh recovery group.