Flyway Nights is a monthly speaker series highlighting environmental issues, current research topics in conservation, and natural history of Northern California.
Talks are scheduled on the first Thursday of the month from November through April at 7 p.m.
2019-20 Flyway Nights Schedule
Thursday, November 7 at 7 p.m.
Yolo Bypass: Current Research on Bat Diets, Cyanobacteria, and Community Bat Counts
Graduate Student Fellowship Recipients
Join us on a journey through the Yolo Bypass as three local scientists discuss their research delving into questions such as what is the cuisine of choice of the bats of the Bypass; have cyanobacteria and associated toxins been identified in the Wildlife Area; and how many bats actually live under the Causeway? The Yolo Basin Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship supports graduate students who are conducting research in the areas of environmental education, public use, environmental sciences, or environmental/conservation policy related to the 16,800-acre Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area or the 60,000-acre Yolo Bypass.
Examining bat diets in the Yolo Bypass using DNA – Ann Holmes, UC Davis Graduate Group in Ecology
Bats eat a lot of insects, particularly during the summer when females are lactating. Bats likely provide a valuable service to agriculture by eating crop pests. However, bat diets in the Sacramento Valley have not been studied recently using up-to-date methods. This summer, bat guano was collected in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area to analyze bat diets using DNA. DNA from the bat guano was sequenced to determine how feeding patterns change throughout the summer. Ann uses genetic methods to address research questions in conservation biology. She has used DNA to study plankton feeding and fish distributions in the San Francisco Bay and Delta.
Cyanobacteria and Cyanotoxins in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area – Melissa Bolotaolo, UC Davis Aquatic Health Program
The Yolo Bypass is a biologically diverse environment thriving with many species of unique flora and fauna. However, harmful cyanobacteria blooms have the ability to create toxins which may contaminate the Yolo Bypass. Water, sediment, and plant samples were collected from the Yolo Bypass during July, August, and September of 2019 and analyzed for harmful cyanobacteria species and their associated toxins. Melissa’s research interests focus on developing methods for detection of cyanotoxins in the environment as well as the dynamics of cyanotoxin toxicity in fish species.
Causeway Counts: Developing a community science population-monitoring program for one of the largest bat colonies in California – Leila S. Harris, UC Davis Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology
What may be the largest colony of any species of bat in California inhabits the long freeway bridge between Davis and Sacramento. This colony of Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) are virtually unstudied from a scientific standpoint, and the most basic demographic data—a reliable current estimate of population size—is missing. Leila Harris will share results of the pilot Great Causeway Bat Count, a biannual event to bring members of our community together to tackle population monitoring for a roost site that defies typical counting methods. She will also discuss how data from this community science event may dovetail with technological approaches to tracking wildlife populations. Leila has worked on bat food webs in Yosemite, a statewide roost assessment for Townsend’s big-eared bat, and echolocation survey methodology. Her research interests are grounded in applied bat ecology, with her main motivation being management-relevant science to improve regulatory compliance outcomes.
Thursday, December 5 at 7 p.m.
Why We Care about Sandhill Cranes
Paul Tebbel, nationally renowned crane expert
Paul Tebbel combines video footage and photos with research results and personal anecdotes to introduce you to Sandhill Cranes and to help you understand how their physical and behavioral characteristics and their life history make them special. Paul is a nationally renowned crane expert and has spent over 40 years of his life watching, researching and learning about cranes. This program is suitable for all age audiences, especially those just learning about cranes.
Born 1955, Paul Tebbel grew up in southern Michigan. He received his B.S. in Biology from Northern Michigan University studying Sandhill Cranes in the Hiawatha National Forest, MI. Paul earned his M.S. in Zoology from the University of Western Ontario where he focused on the status of Sandhill Cranes in central Ontario. He worked for Great Pacific Iron Works and Patagonia in Ventura, CA from 1983 to 1995, and then was hired by National Audubon to manage 1,400 acre Rowe Sanctuary on the Platte River in Nebraska for Sandhill Cranes and other water birds from 1995 to 2006. He served as Executive Director of three conservation or nature education-based nonprofits in New Mexico and California from 2006 until retiring in March 2018. Since 1995, Paul has given presentations and conducted workshops on Sandhill Cranes throughout the western United States, including 23 years of presenting at the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache NWR in San Antonio, New Mexico.
Thursday, January 2 at 7 p.m.
Current Status of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area
Joe Hobbs, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Manager
The nearly 17,000 acre Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is situated within the historic Yolo Basin of the Sacramento Valley, between Davis and West Sacramento. Area Manager Joe Hobbs will give an overview of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area along with its current management status. In 2020, a few large scale projects are set to take place within the Bypass. In coordination with Ducks Unlimited, a drainage project is in the works within the Wildlife Area near where the Davis Drain comes in. Additionally, Joe will briefly discuss the Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project (“the notch”) at the Fremont Weir and its effects on the Wildlife Area. Joe will provide some background information and speak about plans for these projects. He will also give an update on the agricultural leases held in the Wildlife Area.
Joe Hobbs has been the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Manager since early 2018. Previously, he was the Statewide Elk and Pronghorn Coordinator. During his 18 years with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, he has worked in the wetlands program, timber harvest review, and the private lands management program. He also worked for the Department from 1992 to 1997 in Wildlife Management as a student assistant while going through undergrad and graduate school at California State University, Sacramento. Joe completed his M.S. on the Fall and Winter Distribution and Habitat Use of the Tule Greater White-fronted Goose in the Sacramento Valley, California.
Thursday, February 6 at 7 p.m.
Wildlife Corridors for Flood Escape on the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area
Heather Nichols, Executive Director, Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Within the Yolo Bypass, flood waters rise from east to west. Wildlife including deer, furbearers, and ground nesting birds lack adequate cover to move out of lower areas or to escape aerial predation. Wildlife in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA) are regularly stranded in winter flood events. Since 2016, the Yolo County Resource Conservation District (RCD) has been leading a project to improve flood escape for wildlife, implement agriculture-compatible restoration, and engage the public. This effort will create five miles of cover for wildlife escaping flood events, enhance year-round habitat for migratory birds, pollinators and other wildlife, provide a public-access demonstration planting, and increase awareness and appreciation of the YBWA and its values and functions by holding high school field days and community volunteer stewardship events.
Heather Nichols has been the Executive Director for the Yolo County RCD since 2014. She oversees the project management of the Wildlife Corridors project and has been working with CDFW and the agricultural lessees in the Yolo Bypass for the past five years. She has been planning and managing conservation projects on Yolo County farms and ranches for over 10 years.
Thursday, March 5 at 7 p.m.
White-Nose Syndrome in California Bats
Bronwyn Hogan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease of hibernating bats that has emerged as a significant threat to bat populations in North America. The fungus (Pseudogynoascus destructans or Pd) and the disease it causes has been moving west; and in 2018 and 2019, the fungus was detected in very low levels at one location in California. Here in the west, we do not know whether the disease will have the same impacts as it has in the east, partly because we do not have as much information about what our bats do in the winter.
Bronwyn Hogan, a US Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist, will discuss the history and progression of the disease, what is known about it, what we are doing to respond, and what a “low level” detection of the fungus means. She will also discuss some of the other efforts, including the North American Bat Monitoring program and other large scale survey projects, underway to better understand our bat fauna and to be able to detect impacts to the bats in our area.
Bronwyn Hogan is a wildlife biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Office in Sacramento. She is the Pacific Southwest (CA and NV) Regional White-nose Syndrome and North American Bat Monitoring coordinator for the Service. Prior to the USFWS, Bronwyn worked for 10 years at the (then) California Department of Fish and Game, working on renewable energy issues and the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. She has been working on and off with bats for many many years, after she first saw one “in person” in Costa Rica during a study abroad program.
Thursday, April 2 at 7 p.m.
Peaks, Valleys, and Farms: Insights into the complex heritage of Western red foxes
Sophie Preckler-Quisquater, UC Davis Mammalian Ecology and Conservation Unit
The Sacramento Valley red fox (SVRF, Vulpes vulpes patwin) is endemic to the northern Central Valley of California. It is considered a State Species of Greatest Conservation Need due to its decline in abundance from historical levels and restricted distribution. While its closest relative, the Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator) occupies high elevation, subalpine habitat, the Sacramento Valley red fox appears to be uniquely adapted to the semi-arid, lowland region that is its namesake. Along with habitat loss, hybridization with nonnative red foxes of fur-farm origin has been identified as a threat to the genetic integrity of the Sacramento Valley red fox along the southern edge of its range. Sophie uses a combination of traditional wildlife monitoring techniques and “next-generation” genomic tools to characterize the ecology and evolution of this endemic subspecies, and address the potential consequences of continued hybridization with the nonnative red population.
Yolo Basin Foundation offers Flyway Nights on the first Thursday of the month from November to April. The talks are held at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters at 45211 Chiles Road. A $5 donation to support the Foundation’s wetland education programs is suggested. Yolo Basin Foundation members are free. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis: capacity 70 guests. For more information, call Yolo Basin Foundation at (530) 757-3780.