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125 years of science for America 1879-2004
Sound Waves Monthly Newsletter - Coastal Science and Research News from Across the USGS
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Scientists Come to the Point to Talk About Snakes and Birds at Cabrillo National Monument

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San Diego gopher snake.
Above: San Diego gopher snake. For information about this species and other reptiles and amphibians of coastal southern California, visit the Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Coastal Southern California. Photograph by Christopher W. Brown, USGS.

Greater roadrunner
Above: Greater roadrunner, photographed by Mark Mendelsohn. Mark’s Master’s thesis research highlights the importance of maintaining large open spaces for this species, which is negatively affected by habitat fragmentation in San Diego County. More information about the greater roadrunner is available at the Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter.

On August 2, 2004, Carlton Rochester, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist working at the Western Ecological Research Center (WERC) in San Diego, CA, presented the third annual "Snake Talk" for 8 members of the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) and 30 members of the California Conservation Corps (CCC) at Cabrillo National Monument, located at the tip of Point Loma peninsula, San Diego. The presentation included three live snake species. A San Diego gopher snake was presented as an example of a common native species that the two workgroups might encounter within the park. Two coastal rosy boas were shown as examples of a snake species that is present but not common within the park, where just one individual has been detected. Finally, a California glossy snake represented a species that is suspected to have lived on Point Loma peninsula historically but has not been detected in more than 7 years of USGS reptile and amphibian research in the park.

From 1995 through 2002, the USGS conducted pitfall-trap sampling at 17 points throughout Cabrillo National Monument. These efforts resulted in 1,900 reptile and amphibian captures, representing 13 species. Since 2002, the National Park Service has continued these pitfall-trap efforts. The USGS supports the National Park Service by providing tools and resources needed to collect the data, such as digital data forms used to collect field data on handheld computers.

On July 8, 2004, another WERC scientist, Mark Mendelsohn, gave a brief presentation for eight YCC members on studies of the local bird community at Cabrillo National Monument. His presentation included an interactive discussion of graduate research on the greater roadrunner in San Diego County, contrasted with other bird species that currently inhabit the peninsula. The enthusiastic YCC members were exposed to the data-collection step of the scientific method, including field techniques of using vocalizations played from a portable device to entice birds to respond and thus facilitate detection, and the important skill of writing a species account while observing wildlife. A full year of surveys of the greater roadrunner at Cabrillo National Monument and many other sites across the county has been completed, and analysis begun, in an effort to reveal the causes of declining roadrunner numbers in the region.

Related Web Sites
Western Ecological Research Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Coastal Southern California
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Cabrillo National Monument
National Park Service

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in this issue: Fieldwork
cover story:
Eelgrass in Puget Sound

Microbial Ecology of Deepwater Corals

Big Sur's Landslide Hazards

Research Manatee Population Analysis

Gulf of Maine Mapping Portal

Outreach Third Annual "Snake Talk"

USGS Partners with Elementary School

USGS Participates in Teacher Training

Meetings Upcoming AGU Conference on Salt Marshes

Marine Educators Conference

Scientific Community Diversity Initiative

Staff & Center News Oceanographer Joins USGS

Publications September Publications List

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