Projects

-----------------------------2013--------------------------------

Title: Elephant Seal Diving, Tracking, and Physiology 

Institution: UC Santa Cruz 
Contact: Daniel Costa (costa@ucsc.edu
Website: http://bio.research.ucsc.edu/people/costa/ 
Project summary: 
The Costa lab seeks to continue the ongoing elephant seal diving, tracking, and life history/demographic research program. We will attach satellite tags and time-depth recorders to adult female seals during both the breeding and molting seasons. We also will gather data to quantify diet, contaminant accumulation and stress markers. 

Title: Elephant Seal Population Biology
Institution: UC Santa Cruz 
Contact: Pat Morris (pamorris@ucsc.edu) & Rick Condit (conditr@gmail.com
Project summary: 
We intend to continue monitoring the population of northern elephant seals at Año Nuevo regularly, including full censuses of the population, tag-resight studies of individual animals, and body mass of weaned pups. Our goal is to note changes in population size promptly, and to predict population trajectory based on environmental conditions. 

Title: Elephant Seal Stress Hormones, Oxidative Stress, Toxics, & Glucose Metabolism
Institution: Sonoma State University
Contact: Daniel Crocker (crocker@sonoma.edu
Website: http://www.sonoma.edu/users/c/crocker/ 
Project summary: 
We will measure a suite of stress hormone markers in male, female, and juvenile seals throughout the year. We will also attach dive recorders to newly weaned pups to measure the amount of time spent in the water and development of breath-hold ability. 

Title: Bioacoustics of Northern Elephant Seals
Institution: UC Santa Cruz 
Contact: Colleen Reichmuth (coll@ucsc.edu
Website: http://pinnipedlab.ucsc.edu/ 
Summary: 
The primary aim of this project is to collect acoustic, behavioral, GPS, and photometric data from marked males in the North Point mainland colony at Año Nuevo State Reserve. Acoustic research activities with northern elephant seals at the Año Nuevo mainland will continue to involve background ambient noise recordings and recordings of vocalizations and associated behavior (all age/sex classes). This is a “limited –contact” project that comprises visual observations, acoustic recordings, and acoustic playbacks to be made near the rookery. 

Title: Observation of branded California sea lions on Año Nuevo Island
Institution: National Marine Mammal Laboratory
Contact: Patricia Morris (pamorris@ucsc.edu
Website: http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/nmml/california/ 
Summary: 
We observe and record tagged and branded California sea lions on Año Nuevo Island three days each week during the months of June and July (approximately 1000 observations each year). These data are important for understanding juvenile survivorship, which appears to be declining in recent years. 

Title: Using wild-caught and stranded sea lions to understand the population-wide dynamics of leptospirosis in California sea lions 
Institution: UC Los Angeles 
Contact: Katie Prager (kcprager@ucla.edu) & Denise Grieg (denisejgreig@gmail.com) 
Website: https://www.eeb.ucla.edu/Faculty/lloydsmith/index.php 
Summary: 
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection routinely observed in California sea lions, but characterized by outbreaks (every four to five years) when large numbers of affected sea lions come ashore along the coast of California. Among those that are admitted to rehabilitation for this disease, mortality is quite high (~70%), suggesting that this disease may affect population numbers. We propose to sample apparently healthy sea lions on Año Nuevo Island and test them for Leptospira. These data will provide an important piece of information to aid in efforts to model the disease dynamics of Leptospira within the sea lion population and to understand the affect of this pathogen on the California sea lion population. 

Title: California sea lion scat collection – Dietary Analysis 
Institution: 
Contact: Jason Hassrick (hassrick@gmail.com
Summary: 
Prey composition and temporal changes in diet of California sea lions in Central California will be obtained through the examination and identification of prey hard parts found in fecal samples. Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge researchers have access to Año Nuevo State Reserve and are specially equipped, trained, and permitted to access Año Nuevo Island for sample collection. The collaborating facility at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) will provide technician support, equipment, and storage facilities to support this research effort. Farallon Institute will coordinate processing of sea lion fecal samples, dry samples, and ship them to MLML for prey identification. 

Title: Collection of dead pinniped material 
Institution: UC Santa Cruz 
Contact: Patricia Morris (pamorris@ucsc.edu
Summary: 
We will opportunistically collect dead pinnipeds for various studies or permanent collections. Skulls of known age California sea lions will be collected for the National Marine Mammal Lab for calibration of tooth growth rings. Tissue samples from pinnipeds necropsied on site will be collected for further study by CDF&W, TMMC and the veterinary school at UC Davis. Whole carcasses of smaller pinnipeds may be collected for full necropsy at Long Marine Lab or other universities. 

Title: Domoic Acid in California Sea Lions 
Institution: UC Santa Cruz 
Contact: Don Smith (smith@etox.ucsc.edu
Summary: 
The overall goal of our research is to characterize the neurological effects that arise from low-level exposure to the harmful algal bloom toxin domoic acid. Domoic acid has been linked to several mass mortality and stranding events in seabirds and marine mammals, including sea lions, and is well-known to be neurotoxic in high doses, triggering seizures and the formation of brain lesions. We will examine markers of neuroinflammation in the brains of freshly dead (aborted or abandoned) sea lion pups from Año Nuevo Island. The results from this project will ultimately help us elucidate the more subtle neurological consequences of low-dose domoic acid exposure. 

Title: Surveying Año Nuevo Island for salmon PIT tags deposited by fish predators 
Institution: UC Santa Cruz & the National Marine Fishery Service 
Contact: Sean Hayes (sean.hayes@noaa.gov
Summary: 
Since 2006, our research group at the NOAA fisheries lab in Santa Cruz has recovered 438 passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags and two temperature loggers on Año Nuevo Island (ANI). These tags were originally inserted into threatened and endangered juvenile salmonids in central California streams, and were subsequently deposited by adult Western gulls that consumed a tagged salmonid and either regurgitated or excreted the tag on ANI. Therefore, recovery of PIT tags on ANI can provide minimum estimates of predation by western gulls on local juvenile salmonid populations. 

Title: Use of Novel Egg Loggers to Assess Seabird Incubation Behavior
Institution: San Jose State University 
Contact: Scott Shaffer (scott.shaffer@sjsu.edu
Summary: 
Egg turning in seabirds is vital to hatching and breeding success, but has not been researched rigorously. With recent discoveries in microtechnology, it is now possible to record egg turning behavior by placing a novel egg logger inside a surrogate egg. During March-July 2013, these surrogate eggs will be placed in naturally occurring Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) nests on Año Nuevo Island, CA to examine incubation behavior. 

Title: Western gulls and urban foraging behavior
Institution: San Jose State University 
Contact: Scott Shaffer (scott.shaffer@sjsu.edu
Summary: 
This study proposes to assess the time activity budget of breeding Western gulls on Año Nuevo Island and Southeast Farallon Island by 1) attaching GPS data loggers to breeding adult gulls to obtain high resolution, GPS-quality movement patterns that will allow us to characterize habitat use and time-activity budgets, 2) collecting samples to establish body burdens of contaminants and potential bacterial loads, and 3) collecting morphometric measurements from the same adults to compare body condition of gulls with differing foraging habits. This data can be used to inform management decisions that affect the health of foraging seabirds in or near urban habitats. 

Title: Dietary Ecology of Coastal Coyotes (Canis latrans): Marine-Terrestrial Linkages from the Holocene to Present 
Institution: UC Santa Cruz 
Contact: Rachel Brown (rbrown@ucsc.edu) 
Summary: 
We propose to quantify terrestrial versus marine resource use by California coastal coyotes using the stable isotope composition of modern coyote scat and Holocene coyote bone collagen. The temporal dynamics of marine-terrestrial linkages have been little studied. This research will therefore be instructive in evaluating the potential long- and short-term impacts of a rapidly expanding species on newly colonized coastal ecosystems. 

Title: California Central Coast Small Mammal Communities
Institution: UC Santa Cruz 
Contact: Rachel Brown (rbrown@ucsc.edu) 
Summary: 
We will assess coyote predation on small mammals by pairing calculations of coyote consumption rates based on scat contents with estimates of small mammal abundances. 

Title: Marine biotoxin monitoring along the California coast 
Institution: CDHS 
Contact: Gregg Langlois (glangloi@dhs.ca.gov
Website: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/environhealth/water/Pages/Shellfish.aspx 
Summary: 
The California Department of Health Services manages the oldest established marine biotoxin monitoring in the U.S. Traditional shellfish monitoring for the paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins was augmented with a unique, volunteer-based phytoplankton monitoring program in response to the 1991 domoic acid (DA) event that killed hundreds of seabirds in Monterey Bay. Since that time, volunteer based phytoplankton samples have allowed our Department to detect and track potentially toxic blooms. 

Title: Analysis of the thermal habitat available to potential Alligator lizard inhabitants of Año Nuevo Island 
Institution: UC Santa Cruz 
Contact: Barry Sinervo (lizardrps@gmail.com
Summary: 
We have set out 5 permanent dataloggers to measure the environmental operative temperatures of various regions of the Año Nuevo Island. This provides temperature data that simulates the internal body temperature of an alligator lizard if it occupied that location and orientation. We then analyze this data to determine if a population of alligator lizards could be sustained for a possible translocation experiment, given the thermal environment.