Delta Wildlife Monitoring

Delta Wildlife Monitoring

Michelle and Irene
Junior Specialist Michelle Mah (left) and Collections Manager Irene Engilis surveying mammals in the field

Starting May 2020, museum biologists started the initial data collection to develop the baseline data to address long-term monitoring of terrestrial wildlife in the California Delta, a three-year research project funded by and partnered with the state Department of Water Resources.  The Bohart Museum of Entomology is conducting complimentary insect surveys. The aim of the research is to assess how multiple vertebrate taxa – birds, small and medium mammals, reptiles, and amphibians – are responding to habitat management and restoration at various sites across the Delta. Also known as the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the Delta is an expansive freshwater tidal estuary in Northern California with its northern end bordering south of Sacramento in the Cosumnes River Preserve down past Stockton to San Joaquin River Valley and reaching towards the Bay east of Suisun Bay. It is a critical habitat for migratory and residential wildlife as well as provide water to California residents and farmland.

Sherman Island
One of our monitoring sites are these restored wetlands on Sherman Island.

One main goal is to plot out how species composition changes over time from an unrestored site to a matured restored habitat. Through data collection and sampling, this biomonitoring project will help in determining species richness, diversity, abundance, and occupancy during habitat restoration and management. The research aims to do this by studying predetermined sites in various stages of restoration, ranging from unrestored untouched sites to sites undergoing restoration efforts, just newly restored, and some that were restored 5-6 years ago. These locations include Cosumes River Preserve, McCormack Williamson Tract, and Sherman Island, to name a few. Furthermore, these sites are being restored for various reasons such as habitat reversal, flooding prevention, or to support wildlife broadly as well as being restored to different habitats such as freshwater marsh, upland grassland, and riparian forest. The overarching question is to examine how these types of restoration and current management in these landscapes impact biodiversity across multiple taxa. The hope is that this information can inform future restoration projects.

2020 Annual Report