FIVE-YEAR STATUS REVIEW FOR THE SANTA BARBARA COUNTY DISTINCT POPULATION SEGMENT OF THE CALIFORNIA TIGER SALAMANDER, AMBYSTOMA CALIFORNIENSE
|Andrew J. Dennhardt; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; email@example.com;
Five-year status reviews give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the opportunity to periodically review the best available scientific information about a listed species and assess its progress toward recovery. Inhabiting rangelands along the central coast of California, the Santa Barbara County Distinct Population Segment of the California Tiger Salamander is managed across six metapopulation areas. A final Recovery Plan was published in 2016, which outlined both quantitative criteria and priority actions to help recover the species. Here, I present findings from an evaluation of population status and threats to the species, progress made toward achieving recovery criteria, and future recommended actions to advance recovery of the species. After reviewing the best available scientific information, we concluded that the California tiger salamander remains an endangered species in Santa Barbara County, with increased threat from climate-induced drought and inbreeding depression. Five-year status reviews assist the Service and its partners in identifying conservation needs and enhancing prioritization of conservation efforts for listed species.
NAVIGATING A PATH TO RECOVERY FOR KIWIKIU: A HAWAIIAN FINCH IN PERIL
|Laura K Berthold; Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project/Research Corp of UH; firstname.lastname@example.org; Hanna L. Mounce, Chris C. Warren, Hillary M. Foster, Lainie Berry
The kiwikiu (Pseudonestor xanthophrys) is an endangered Hawaiian finch endemic to the island of Maui. With little prior known about the species, we started to study kiwikiu in 2006. We used color-banding, resighting, and nest searching to monitor density, productivity, and survivorship to illuminate the limiting factors for the species. Unfortunately, their population is still in decline, with 108–202 individuals left. In 2019, we attempted to establish a second population of kiwikiu. Over ten years in the making with steps including fencing, ungulate and weed removal, and forest restoration, 14 kiwikiu were translocated. All but two died from avian malaria, a non-native disease spread by invasive mosquitoes that had expanded into higher elevations due to climate change. The translocation awakened the possibility that kiwikiu may have few years left before extinction. Fortunately, recent population assessments found that disease has not covered the entirety of the current range yet and kiwikiu are still persisting. Their recovery is now dependent on landscape-level disease control, a tool still under development. Until mosquito control is implemented and other management tools become available, we are monitoring disease abundance, controlling non-native predators, establishing a viable population in captive care, and evaluating the possibility of translocation to another island.
ASSESSING AVIAN MALARIA AT THE LANDSCAPE SCALE IN HAWAI'I
|Cara M Thow; Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife ; email@example.com; Lainie Berry, Hanna Mounce, Lisa Crampton, Alex Wang
Avian malaria is a primary cause of native Hawaiian honeycreeper declines and extinctions. Without control or elimination of the malaria’s vector, the southern house mosquito, several endangered honeycreepers will become extinct within the next 5-10 years, and other remaining species will continue to decline. Additionally, climate change is contributing to the spread of mosquitoes and malaria into previously unaffected habitats through changes in temperature and rainfall patterns. The Incompatible Insect Technique (IIT) and translocation of birds to refugia with lower disease prevalence provide hope for these critically endangered birds. Up-to-date data on the prevalence of avian malaria is essential to make informed decisions about implementation of IIT and feasibility of translocation efforts. To this end, Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project, Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project, and Hawai’i Island Division of Forestry and Wildlife collaborated to obtain an unprecedented and comprehensive landscape-level snapshot of avian malaria in Hawai’i in 2022 by concurrently sampling birds and mosquitoes in key native forests on each respective island. We will present the current rates, intensity, and distribution of avian malaria in Hawai'i as well as updates on the progress of the on-ground efforts to address the extinction crisis in Hawaiian forest birds.
THE FUTURE IS HERE: RECENT DECLINES ACROSS MULTIPLE TAXA IN THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS RAISE ALARMS REGARDING POTENTIAL TIPPING POINTS CAUSED BY MULTIPLE THREATS, INC
|Melissa R Price; University of Hawai'i; firstname.lastname@example.org; Chauncey Asing, Lainie Berry, Lisa Crampton, William Haines, Matthew Keir, Cynthia King, Paul Krushelnycky, Lucas Fortini, Hanna Mounce, Molly O'Grady, Eben Paxton
Climate change impacts, which are often modeled as "end-of-century", are currently resulting in climate-induced stress to species within their historical range, affecting their ability to both survive and reproduce effectively. However, given diverse threats such as invasive plants and animals, disease, and habitat loss, it can be difficult to discern whether population declines are due to climate change or other threats. We will present the most recent data on declines in Hawaiian forest birds, plants, arthropods, seabirds, and snails that have raised alarms across taxonomic groups regarding the role of climate change and how to manage for changing conditions alongside other threats. The severity and cross-taxon nature of the recent declines call attention to the likely impacts of climate change on plants, animals, and ecosystems long before the end of the century, and suggest the potential importance of translocations outside the historical range for the persistence of climate-sensitive species. Given the multiple threats across taxonomic groups, timely, coordinated and collaborative actions across the Pacific are critical to prevent extinction and achieve recovery.
DESERT TORTOISE WEEK 2022
|Kent M Kowalski; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; email@example.com;
Establishing and sustaining an environmental education program is a high priority as described in the Mojave Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan. The goal of the education program is to build public support for, and involvement in, desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) recovery. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) organized and hosted a public outreach campaign to inform the public about desert tortoise conservation issues, change learned behavior, and encourage responsibility for public actions that affect the species. The campaign called ‘Desert Tortoise Week 2022’ occurred within the first week of October. The Service encouraged conservation partners to develop and host educational events, also advertised on social media, to promote conservation and recovery actions for desert tortoises. Conservation partners hosted a series of desert tortoise talks, guided tours, and presentations. The Service also developed social media presence that challenged the public to engage in desert tortoise awareness events by posting photos of desert tortoise habitat during recreational activities. Conservation partners also developed educational virtual lesson plans, hosted webinars, recruited volunteers to remove invasive plants, and established scavenger hunts for the public to enjoy and learn more about the species. Overall, Desert Tortoise Week 2022 was a successful education recovery action.
LOSS AND IMPENDING RECOVERY OF PANOCHE PLATEAU BLUNT-NOSED LEOPARD LIZARDS (GAMBELIA SILA)
|Rory S Telemeco; Fresno Chaffee Zoo; RTelemeco@fresnochaffeezoo.org; Mark Halvorsen, Lynn Myers, Steven Sharp, Michael Westphal
Panoche Plateau supported a robust, genetically distinct population of federal- and CA-endangered Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizards (Gambelia sila) prior to 2014. However, following a drought in 2013-2014, the population declined and was extirpated by 2021. In 2020, our collaborative team from Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Fresno State University, and the US Bureau of Land Management began intensive monitoring of G. sila in the Panoche Hills, investigating multiple potential contributors to G. sila decline such as warming temperatures, predation pressure, pathogen pressure, and water availability. The bulk of evidence suggests that extirpation resulted from reproductive failure in 2014 followed by demographic collapse, potentially exacerbated by heavy recreational use of Panoche Plateau during the early part of the spring reproductive season. Delayed collapse following an extreme climate event could be common and suggests G. sila populations should be carefully observed both during and following the current drought. Otherwise, Panoche Plateau appears to still represent high-quality habitat for G. sila, with low predation pressure and parasite load paired with high-quality thermoregulatory habitat. In spring 2023, we will begin repatriating G. sila produced by the captive colony maintained by Fresno Chaffee Zoo to Panoche Plateau. Animals will be radio-monitored for their entire lives to estimate survival and reproductive output, and these data will be used to better understand habitat features that facilitate population persistence in G. sila.
PROTECTING ENDANGERED RIPARIAN BRUSH RABBITS FROM EMERGENT RABBIT HEMORRHAGIC DISEASE IN CALIFORNIA, USA
|Deana L Clifford; California Department of Fish and Wildlife; firstname.lastname@example.org; Megan Moriarty, Jaime Rudd, Fumika Takahashi, Eric Hopson, Kim Forrest, Robin Russel, Colleen Kinzley, Alex Herman, Tristan Edgarian, Beate Crossley
Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus serotype 2 (RHDV2), the cause of a highly contagious and fatal lagomorph disease, rapidly spread through the western United States and Mexico. In response, an ad hoc interagency/zoo/academia/non-profit team implemented emergency conservation actions to protect California’s Central Valley endemic, endangered riparian brush rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani riparius, RBR) from RHDV2. RBRs have lost over 90% of historic habitat, and remnant habitat is fragmented and prone to flooding and wildfire. The team first implemented a vaccine safety trial by administering Filavac VHD K C+V® vaccine (Filavie, France) to 19 wild RBRs captured and temporarily held in captivity. Rabbits were monitored for adverse effects and serum collected prior to, and at 7-10-, 14-20-, and 60-days post-vaccination for antibody response determination. No adverse vaccine effects were documented; therefore a large-scale effort to reduce extinction risk by vaccinating ~15% of the estimated wild population began in September 2020. Population estimation via remote camera transects coupled with predictive modeling informed vaccination goals. To date, 674 RBRs have been vaccinated at least once. In Spring 2022, RHDV2 deaths were confirmed in unvaccinated RBRs and sympatric desert cottontails (Sylvilagus audubonii). Vaccination, disease surveillance and population monitoring are continuing to detect possible disease-related population change.
20 YEARS OF PROGRESS IN CALIFORNIA: ADVANCES IN STATE AND FEDERAL PERMITTING AND CEQA REVIEW FOR WILDLIFE HABITAT RESTORATION AND MULTI-BENEFIT PROJECTS
|Erik Schmidt; WRA, Inc.; email@example.com;
Beginning in 2002 with a state report, 20 years of efforts have been made in California to address permitting challenges that impede work to restore fish and wildlife habitat and recover imperiled species populations. In recent years, leaders of state and federal agencies have collaborated to break new ground in developing innovative regulatory tools that represent a sea change in the permitting and environmental review of beneficial projects. The state’s Cutting Green Tape Initiative has ensured the completion of crucial statewide programmatic permits and exemptions, while the Governor and legislature have provided funding and staff for efficient, coordinated review and approval of restoration and multi-benefit projects. Federal regulatory agencies implementing the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act – USFWS, NOAA and the Army Corps Regulatory Division – have partnered to create broad, far-reaching biological opinions that set a new standard for ensuring swift yet effective permitting oversight of habitat projects. Together, with the support of restoration proponents throughout the state, agencies have shifted the regulatory role from limiting restoration to accelerating it, providing project proponents with clear design guidance and general and species protection measures to ensure appropriate usage. Project examples are presented to highlight successful use of these regulatory processes.