Anticoagulant Rodenticides in the Forest Food Web

In 2009, a Pacific Fisher was found dead of rodenticide poisoning, in a remote area where no such poisons should have been used. Dr. Mourad Gabriel  of the Integral Ecology Research Center began investigating, finding more and more animals poisoned by anticoagulant rodenticides.  For years the source of the poisons remained a mystery – until law enforcement personnel took him to trespass marijuana grow sites. Dr Gabriel tells that story and much more about the spread of poisons in areas far from human habitation or agriculture, and how the entire food web is being affected.

Lots more information is available at the IERC Website, including open-access publications and videos. This is an area of emerging research in a rapidly-changing landscape with social, political and economic implications. IERC also has a Facebook page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Plastics in the Oceans

On The Ecology Hour tonight, we talk with Dr. Sean Anderson, Chair & Professor in the Environmental Science and Resource Management Program, California State University Channel Islands.  Our topic will be “Plastics in the Oceans,” and we will hear about the sources, extent, and effects of plastics contamination on marine life.

Dr. Anderson is both a teacher and researcher, employing innovative methods to learn about our world and to transmit that learning to the next generation of scientists.  The “Pirate Lab” website includes a great deal of information about the work he and his associates and students are involved with.

He also provided the inspiration for a namesake character in the movies “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.”  That’s kind of unusual for an ecologist.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coastal Geology

Our guest for the September 12 show was Thomas Cochrane, Professional Geologist and author of “Shaping the Sonoma-Mendocino Coast: Exploring the Coastal Geology of Northern California.”   We had a lively and informative discussion, which you can listen to HERE.

Cochrane cover artwork, WEB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

North Pacific Ocean conditions

Tonight we bring back Dr. William Sydeman of The Farallon Institute for an update on ocean conditions in the North Pacific.  Dr. Sydeman was our first interview guest on The Ecology Hour – Science Edition, describing how the ocean currents and upwelling affect the food-chain and nearshore marine productivity.  That was three years ago, when oceanographers were predicting an El Nino event, possibly a powerful one… A lot has happened in the ocean since then, with profound ramifications throughout the ecosystem.  That El Niño exceeded expectations, merging with the unforeseen phenomenon called “The Blob” to produce something called, according to Dr. Sydeman, “El Blobiño!”

We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did.  The interview was recorded in July 2017 and can be heard or downloaded HERE.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Butterflies in California

Note: This program was recorded in advance and broadcast on Tuesday, July 11.

Dr. Arthur Shapiro, Distinguished Professor of Evolution and Ecology at the University of California – Davis, has been monitoring butterfly populations across central California at two-week intervals for 45 years.  This is the longest butterfly population study in North America, and one of the two longest in the world (the other, in the UK, began almost simultaneously).

In the course of that work and related research and teaching, he has become extraordinarily knowledgeable about butterfly population dynamics, evolution, and a wide range of related subjects.  We could talk with him for hours…

Dr. Shapiro also authored the “Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions” (illustrated by Dr. Timothy Manolis, a previous Ecology Hour guest).  (Amazon link here.)  Much more than just a guide to identification, it presents a lot of information about butterflies, their life cycles and habitats, conservation, tips on gardening, and even how to raise them.

For this program, Dr. Shapiro discusses his monitoring project, some of the many findings, and its historical context.  He also updates us with specifics about the status of the Monarch butterfly in California and elsewhere, and how the use of different Milkweed species in urban gardens is affecting their life history.   We also hear about some of the myriad other butterfly species, native and alien, whose populations and ranges are changing as the California climate changes.  Some of the findings are counter-intuitive and may surprise you!

The interview can be heard HERE.

The North American Butterfly Association offers more information about butterflies, including the July 4 Butterfly Count.  Next year we will try to schedule another interview with Dr. Shapiro for June, so you can all prepare for the Count!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mountain Lions


Reports of mountain lion sightings, including attacks on livestock or pets, have occasioned much commentary in the Mendocino area lately – so this is a timely topic.  Our guest, Dr. Winston Vickers, is one of the top lion researchers in this country.  He is an Associate Veterinarian and leads research under the Mountain Lion and Bobcat Project at the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center.  Much of his work is in the field, tracking the movements of individual lions, as described in this article from the Mountain Lion Foundation.

General background information about mountain lions

Free online book: Cougar, the American Lion

Articles by Dr. Vickers:

Isolation effects on genetics of Southern California mountain lions (2014)

Survival and Mortality of Pumas in a Fragmented, Urbanizing Landscape (2015)

A Single Migrant Enhances Genetic Diversity… (2017)

Pumas as a case study in conservation planning (2017)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Environmental Oceanography

Our guest on The Ecology Hour, Dr. John Largier, is Professor of Coastal Oceanography at the University of California Davis and a pioneer in the emerging field of environmental oceanography – linking traditional oceanographic study to critical environmental issues.  His research includes field studies of small west coast estuaries, focusing on water movement and water-borne transportation of plankton, larvae, contaminants, pathogens, heat, salt, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and sediment.

Some Mendocino County streams empty into the sea through small estuaries that are seasonally blocked by sand bars.  The Navarro River in particular often receives attention in late fall and early winter, when the lagoon behind the barrier bar can rise to flood Highway 128, prompting some to call for efforts to artificially breach the bar.  Dr. Largier’s research may help us understand how and why these bars form, how the lagoon functions ecologically, and what environmental effects could result from artificial breaching.

(image from Nicholas Wilson, via Facebook)

Complete interview HERE

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment