Deming Creek Electrofishing

The week before last, we all got our first practical introduction to electrofishing, a technique that allows you to capture fish by sending an electric pulse through the water, momentarily stunning them at the right settings. Our primary goal was to quantify how efficient and skilled we were at electrofishing. Alongside that we took down species, length, and weight and marked the fish by clipping a small portion of the upper or lower caudal fin based on the size of the fish. We set of block nets on either end of a 200 meter section of stream a total of four separate times to close the population and keep fish inside each section. In our first pass we marked each fish we caught and in a second pass we checked to see what percentage of captured fish were recaptures from the first pass. With this data we can make some more sophisticated estimates of our capture efficiency and the stream population and make up. Deming Creek is a beautiful and varied tributary of the North Fork Sprague River partially inside the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness near Bly, Oregon. We even had a chance to camp out by the creek to reduce our footprint, enjoy a camp meal, and get a view of the stars!

Marked native great basin redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss newberrii) from Deming Creek
Marked native bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) being weighed
A block net spanning Deming Creek to block off a 200 meter section to fish movement

                Last week was all about writing, researching, and data visualization. I was particularly invested in learning how to use R Studio to visualize data we took down about brook trout fecundity. I wasn’t expecting to love R Studio as much as I did – I’m definitely eager to work with it more. We learned all about the Endangered Species Act (thank you Elizabeth!) and the fascinating ways it dictates conservation policy and also scouted an unnamed tributary of the Sprague River as possible bull trout habitat, an endangered trout that also inhabits nearby Deming Creek.

Had a blast over the last few weeks, can’t wait to see whats in store!

Jenny

Klamath Falls FWS Field Office

Bats!

              On 7/9 we all went on a staff excursion to Lava Beds National Monument in Tulelake, Northern California. This trip, in combination with the trip down to Camp Tule Lake to assist in bat surveys, has awakened in me a deep love of bats and their ecology! I have decided to dedicate this blog post to interesting facts about one native bat species in particular, Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii).

We had a chance to tour two caves, Valentine Cave and Skull Cave. There was something magical about descending into the depths and feeling the air cool rapidly. We had a chance to learn about cave features, the history of the caves, various cave monitoring efforts at the monument, and how this all relates to bat monitoring and ecology at Lava Beds.

Valentine Cave, Lava Beds National Monument

On to the bat of the hour:

  • Townsend’s big-eared bats fold one or both of their comically large ears against their head during torpor and hibernation, forming coils like a ram’s horn
  • The longest-lived Townsend’s big-eared bat on record was over 21 years old! It could have grabbed a drink at its local pub. Interestingly, they live shorter lives in captivity than in the wild
  • Bats play an amazing role – they are the only night-time consumers of flying insects, so thank your local Townsend’s big-eared bat for being a great camping buddy
  • Townsend’s big-eared bats love cavernous structures; caves, mines, lava tubes, and abandoned buildings all across the upland Western United States suit them fine. They also utilize deciduous and coniferous forests on the Pacific coast and have been recorded roosting in the hollows of redwood trees!
Townsend’s Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) Photo Credit – Ann Froschauer/USFWS

All facts are cited from:

Gruver, J., D. Keinath. 2006. “Townsend’s Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii): a technical conservation assessment.” (On-line pdf). Accessed July 14th, 2019

Besides caving, we’ve been finishing up some work associated with milk-vetch surveys, studying brook trout fecundity, researching beaver-trout interactions and implications for bull trout management, gathering information on endemic sculpin, and getting ready to embark on electrofishing excursions in the coming weeks. Til next time!

Valentine Cave Entrance

Cheers,

Jenny

Time flies when you are sampling Astragalus applegatei

I can’t believe we are already 2 months into this adventure!

We finished up our turn at larval fish collections the week of 6/3 and have moved on to surveying a rare plant endemic to the Klamath Basin called Applegate’s milk vetch (Astragalus applegatei).

I miss the baby fish and the day-to-day of our fish hatchery life. When we left, the fish were growing and changing rapidly. I have to admit, one of my favorite parts of hatchery work is watching the way the fish feed and how their bellies turn bright orange after eating. Over the course of our time doing larval collections from the Williamson River our collection numbers went from a peak of almost 10,000 fish larvae to less than 100. Just a conspicuous reminder that timing is crucial to a project’s success in this line of work.

Here is one of the 2018 fish from the outdoor ponds. We took weight and length of fish sampled from separate ponds to assist in determining the effects of different feeding regimes —

Sunrise on the road to the fish hatchery after larval collections.

And Jessie on one our drives from site to site–

In the week between larval collections ending and plant surveys beginning, Brianne, Jessie, and I packed up and headed to Chicago for the official CLM training at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It was a treat to get an introduction to the amazing work happening there and to meet our fellow interns! It is fortunate timing that we get to use the training we got in plant sampling techniques so quickly after getting home–

Jessie and Brianne taking a look at the GPS before we set out to census a population of Astragalus applegatei

Our target rare plant is Applegate’s milk vetch (Astragalus applegatei), a member of the Fabaceae plant family- I will forgo a description, the picture below will do a better job! This week we have focused on censusing the smaller populations, but we’ll get a chance to do some honest to goodness population sampling next week on the larger populations. This has been a fantastic opportunity to work through the process of designing and implementing our own sampling methodology.

Our plant only occurs on about 8 different sites that FWS knows of. It has really felt like a treasure hunt trying to pick it out from in between the rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) and squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) – particularly after it’s been chomped on by cattle.

Our target rare plant species! Cutest little plant in the west

We also got a chance to take down wolf fladry (electrified fencing with red flagging) from the perimeter of a local ranch. This was a great opportunity to see the kinds of nonlethal techniques that are employed to deter wolves from livestock and to meet Oregon wolf experts. Huge thank you to Jeanne S. and Elizabeth W. for showing us the ropes! Soon, we’ll get a chance to check some wolf cameras that are up in the Wood River Valley – this is a dream come true and a chance to catch a glimpse into the life of the Rouge Pack!

Mt McLaughlin in the distance

Made some friends on the ranch

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) eggs on one of the ranch alley ways

Cheers!

 

Jenny

USFWS Klamath Falls – The Beginning

Southern Oregon is as spectacular as always! I am excited, nervous, and humbled to be a 2019 CLM intern working for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Klamath Falls, Oregon. It has been a long while since I have spent any significant time away from the Seattle area and I couldn’t ask for better circumstances under which to fly the coop. We will be assisting the office with primarily fisheries projects for two, listed, endemic suckers. The list of wildlife species the field office is in charge of is impressive and includes icons like Oregon spotted frogs, grey wolves, bald eagles, spotted owls, bull trout, and fishers. We can certainly tell that there are growth opportunities (career and otherwise) available to us everywhere here.

Klamath Falls is surrounded by designated national monuments, parks, forests, recreation areas, refuges, and sanctuaries. We can see Mount Shasta and Mount McLoughlin most days from our work sites! Our first day we had the chance to see endangered Lost River suckers (Deltistes luxatus) spawning in the Williamson River and along the rocky shoreline of Upper Klamath Lake. Cold springs feed into the lake, making the water beautifully clear at certain spots. A particular spot called “Sucker Springs” was clear enough to take great pictures of the suckers at the shoreline. It was a fantastic introduction to the endangered species work we’ll be doing here.

USGS Survey Site

USFWS Klamath Falls Hatchery Pond

Jessie, Brianne, and I have varied school and work experience we bring to this internship and we are tackling each new thing together. During our first two weeks we:

  • Met our stellar coworkers and got a feel for the USFWS Klamath Falls Field Office
  • Learned the history and geography of the area and our primary work sites
  • Assisted in processing Lost River sucker and Shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris) juveniles for Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tagging
  • Took the research skiff on Upper Klamath Lake to stock and then released PIT tagged endangered sucker juveniles
  • Helped construct tank plumbing and shrimp brine tanks at the USFWS fish hatchery
  • Started 2 am larval collections from the Modoc Rd. bridge over the Williamson River. Lost River and Shortnose sucker larvae that we collect will be raised at the FWS hatchery and eventually released. We get to see the sunrise on Mount Shasta, the foothills, and fields around Klamath Falls afterwards. Brianne caught some epic photos of a flock of pelicans taking off in the morning light
  • Joined for bat surveys with the National Park Service at the Camp Tulelake site to check for the presence of White Nose Syndrome. I loved seeing the process for identifying the first bat caught, learning how bat surveys are conducted, and assisting with mist net set up and take down! Hopefully we’ll be joining again in a few weeks. Camp Tulelake is a set of historic buildings that were built originally for the Civilian Conservation Corps and later, tragically used as an internment camp for Japanese Americans during WWII. It was extremely humbling to work there

5am Post-Larval Collection Drive to Hatchery

Bat Surveys – Myotis volans

We are all excited about the opportunities available to us at this field office. It has been great getting to know everyone’s work style and the path they have taken to get to where they are now. I miss my fiancé Jordan but we both agree the natural beauty of the area and the endless list of career building opportunities available to me here lessens the sting of leaving home for the next 4 ½ months.

I have been warming up my drawing hand and have worked on illustrations every work day during these first two weeks. I’ll continue to work on this skill as the internship goes on. There is so much material to work from. I’m surrounded by migrating birds, mountain views, flowering plants, and fascinating fish.

 

Till next time!

Jennifer Ginn

USFWS Klamath Field Office