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.
2018-19 Flyway Nights Speakers
Thursday, November 8, 7 p.m.
Native American Ethnography of the Central Valley, Specifically of the Patwin
Roshanne Bakhtiary, Ph.D. Candidate, UC Davis Dept. of Anthropology and President of Center for Archaeological Research at Davis
*NOTE: second Thursday of the month, November only!
Ethnography is the branch of anthropology that focuses on the study of people and culture. Roshanne Bakhtiary will take us back in time to the Central Valley before the Gold Rush and the Spanish missions to discover the native people that lived here. How did they live? What did they eat? And, how do anthropologists learn this information? Zooming in from the Central Valley as a whole, Roshanne will focus on the Patwin who lived west of the lower Sacramento River, in the historic Yolo Basin and along Putah Creek.
Roshanne is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in Archaeology at the Department of Anthropology at UC Davis. Her dissertation focuses on the shifting food choices of ancient hunter-gatherers living in the San Francisco Bay area throughout prehistory. Generally, her academic interests include human behavioral ecology, experimental archaeology and stable isotope analysis. She received her bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2013 and worked in professional archaeology for two years before going to graduate school.
Thursday, December 6, 7 p.m.
Current Research Studies in the Yolo Bypass
Kulakow-Julian Graduate Student Fellowship Recipients
Jennifer Harfmann, UC Davis Ph.D. student, will present “Terrestrial plant detritus as a food resource for zooplankton.” The detrital remains of terrestrial plants are a substantial source of organic matter to the San Francisco Bay-Delta (SFBD), but the significance of this material to pelagic food webs remains largely unknown. Jennifer uses chemical and DNA processes to demonstrate that terrestrial plant detritus is consumed by zooplankton in the SFBD. Furthermore, this plant material can enhance their survival under certain conditions, indicating that terrestrial plant detritus can be a vital supplementary energy source for the lower aquatic food web and may help explain higher zooplankton populations in tidal wetlands of the SFBD.
Paige Mundy, UC Davis Ph.D. student, will discuss her research on “Glow with the flow: Utilizing a fluorescent bioassay to monitor contaminants in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area during an altered flow regime.” The goal of Paige’s study is to identify estrogenic compounds in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area before, during, and after a flow augmentation event. To do this she utilizes a transgenic zebrafish which responds by fluorescing green when in contact with compounds that activate estrogen receptors. Utilizing the transgenic fish as a screening tool in combination with analytical chemistry, this project will serve to inform contaminant presence in a habitat that is vital for native fish species.
Miranda Tilcock, UC Davis Masters student, will present her research on “Within the Eyes of Fish: How fish eyes can identify floodplain use in juvenile Chinook salmon.” Previous research shows that juvenile salmon and other native fishes that gain access to floodplains like the Yolo Bypass grow faster than those that remain in the river. This is due to a relatively productive food web created by a longer residence time of water, lower water velocities, and the decomposition of plant matter compared to the extremely channelized Sacramento River. Yet, little is known about how floodplain rearing may contribute to greater in-river or early ocean survival. Miranda explores how isotopes can be used as habitat fingerprints to identify fish that use floodplains like the Yolo Bypass, so that we can better understand the long-term benefits floodplains provide for our native fish populations.
The Yolo Basin Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship Fund 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.
Thursday, January 3, 7 p.m.
Elk of California – History and Current Overview
Joe Hobbs, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Manager
There are three subspecies of elk (Cervus canadensis) in North America. Three occur in California, of which one is endemic to the state. Prior to non-indigenous settlement, it is estimated that the elk population in California was more than 500,000 animals. Elk inhabited most parts of central and northern California extending into Oregon. Non-indigenous settlement decimated California’s elk populations, especially tule elk (C. c. nannodes) which inhabited only California. By 1872, only a few tule elk remained in the San Joaquin Valley. With the financial support of hunter tag fees, the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act – excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition) the Department of Fish and Wildlife, conservation organizations, and hunters were able to restore elk to the landscape across California. Through the conservation of suitable, connected habitats and active management including translocation, elk populations have rebounded and are now extending their range into previously occupied areas and beyond. Elk population growth since 1970 has been significant and California now supports approximately 5,700 Roosevelt elk (C. c. roosevelti), 1,500 Rocky Mountain elk (C. c. nelsoni) and 5,700 tule elk.
Joe Hobbs is the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Supervisor. 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 7, 7 p.m.
Native Bees of the Central Valley: Biology, Conservation Status, and the Role of Climate Change
Angela Laws, Ph.D., Monarch and Pollinator Ecologist with The Xerces Society
California is home to 1600 species of bees which provide valuable pollination services in agricultural lands, natural areas, and our parks and home gardens. Join Angela Laws from The Xerces Society to learn more about the biology of native bees in the Central Valley. She’ll talk about the conservation status of native bees in the Central Valley, and discuss reasons why native bees are declining. In particular, Angela talk about the many ways that climate change can affect native bees. Finally, she’ll discuss what actions you can take to help protect native bees, including ways to make our cities and towns more climate friendly for pollinators.
Based in Sacramento, Angela Laws is working on habitat restoration for pollinators and monarch butterflies in the Central Valley. Angela has over 15 years of experience studying arthropods in grassland habitats, including studies of how climate change can affect species interactions. She received a M.S. in Ecology from Utah State University, and a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Notre Dame.
Thursday, March 7, 7 p.m.
The Yolo Bypass: A Key Link in the State’s Water and Flood Picture
Pete Bontadelli, Analytical Environmental Services
In years with high rainfall, water from the Sacramento River enters the Yolo Bypass at the Fremont Weir north of Sacramento. Floodwaters flow through the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and ultimately reconnect with the Sacramento River near Rio Vista.
The Yolo Bypass is central, both geographically and in importance, to California’s water supply and flood protection system. However, proposed modifications to the Yolo Bypass to enhance habitat for out migrating endangered winter and spring-run young salmon means the Yolo Bypass will be key to the continued pumping of water south for agriculture and urban users. Pete will dive into the existing biological opinion for salmon, describing what it means for the current operations of the pumps of both state and federal water projects. Take a look at the now century-old role that the Bypass plays in the flood protection system for the Central Valley and particularly for safeguarding the State Capitol. Pete will take us on a journey of the Yolo Bypass of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Pete Bontadelli is the immediate-past Board Chair of Yolo Basin Foundation. Pete served as Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife when the original acquisition of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area was established. He is an avid birder and frequently visits the area. Pete currently is an Environmental Consultant at Analytical Environmental Services (AES) in Sacramento and lives in Rescue, CA (El Dorado County) with his wife Marylu.
Thursday, April 4, 7 p.m.
Nutria in California: Current Status and Response
Martha Volkoff, Invasive Species Program Manager, CDFW
Nutria (Myocastor coypus) is a species of aquatic rodent native to South America. Previously thought to have been eradicated from California, a population of nutria was found in Merced County in 2017, and since found in five other Counties in the San Joaquin Valley. Nutria can degrade the integrity of levees due to burrowing. They also are intensive herbivores that can destroy native plant populations and wetland habitats leaving behind exposed soils and open water. Martha Volkoff will provide details of the current status and extent of the nutria population in California as well as what steps are being taken to control this destructive invasive.
Martha Volkoff is the Invasive Species Program Manager at the California Department of Fish and Wildilfe. Martha has a B.S. and M.S. in Conservation Biology.
The Yolo Basin Foundation offers Flyway Nights 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.