The Conservation Fund supports wildlife and habitat conservation projects beyond the zoo – whether on the North Coast, or across the globe. One dollar of each membership goes into this fund, as well as donations from our free days. Generous folks buying day tickets also donate their quarters to the cause – thank you! Besides our small grants program, funds also supported the Red Panda Network’s Forest Guardian program in Nepal.
Improving Estimates of Shorebird Abundance on Humboldt Bay (2018 – $1,300)
Humboldt Bay is the largest estuary along the U.S. Pacific coast between Coos Bay, OR and San Francisco Bay, CA. As such, it is vital for migratory and wintering waterbirds, especially shorebirds, and it is a site of International importance under the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN). Diverse habitats, including rocky jetties, sandy ocean-fronting beaches, and expansive intertidal flats, offer foraging opportunities for a rich shorebird assemblage. At any one time between August and May, the bay supports 20-25 species of sandpiper and plover. And while the community of shorebirds is diverse, we know less about the population sizes of individual species, and this deficiency affects conservation. With the help of a conservation grant from Sequoia Park Zoo, Dr. Mark Colwell, Professor of Wildlife at Humboldt State University, plans to 1) conduct a series of coordinated high-tide surveys of shorebirds at roosts around Humboldt Bay during spring (Mar-May) migration; 2) collect data to provide an estimate of abundance for individual species; and 3) communicate these results to conservationists seeking to enhance recognition and protection of bay habitats. The expectation of this project is that these surveys will provide improved estimates of abundance for individual shorebird species visiting Humboldt Bay during the spring migration, and solidify the bay’s importance to the assemblage of shorebirds that rely on its diverse habitats year-round.
Primate Inventory and Conservation in Ikpa River Basin, Southern Nigeria (2018 – $1,000)
Sclater’s guenon (Cercopthecus sclateri), Putty-nosed monkey (Cercopthecus nictition), Mona monkey (Cercopthecus mona) and Red-capped mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus) are four isolated populations of endangered primate species occurring within Ikpa River basin in Akwa Ibom State, Southern Nigeria. Ikponke Nkanta, of the Tropical Research & Conservation Center, plans to use the funding provided by a conservation grant from Sequoia Park Zoo to aid the in-situ conservation of these four species. The main aim of the project is to restore degraded habitat while facilitating community adoption of attitudes and actions favorable to the primates’ continuous survival within the locality. If successful, the center hopes to prevent the local extinction of these globally important primate species occurring within the locality.
Recolonization of Coho Salmon on the Klamath River Above the Iron Gate Dam (2018 – $1,500)
California’s anadromous fish populations are increasingly threatened by climate change, increased agriculture activity, infrastructure development, and habitat degradation. Dam removal has become an important riverine habitat restoration technique. Major dams installed as part of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project (KHP) have influenced the Klamath River watershed and its fisheries. Four major dams (Iron Gate, Copco 1 & 2, and J.C. Boyle) block all fish passage past 190 river miles. Historically, four anadromous fish species (Coho salmon, Chinook salmon, Steelhead trout, and Pacific lamprey) utilized habitat above the KHP. Dam removal slated for 2020 will restore access to critical habitat for all four of these fish populations. In anticipation of dam removal, Max Ramos, a graduate student at Humboldt State university, will assess the three largest Klamath River tributaries upstream of the dams as well as one reference tributary below the dam (Dry Creek) representative of unrestricted anadromous fish movement. The project, partially funded by a conservation grant from Sequoia Park Zoo, has two primary objectives: 1) Assess the potential of these streams to support the return of Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and 2) Provide the baseline data necessary for determining the impact of anadromous fishes on resident species richness and abundance in tributary systems.
Temporal Roost Selection and Strategy of Hoary Bats (2018 – $1,500)
Hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus) are a tree-roosting bat species known to migrate long distances from their summer range to winter range. In the summer, hoary bats are found widely across the northern United States and southern Canada. Coastal California is considered to be the core of the species winter range, especially for individuals from western North America. The nocturnal activity patterns, cryptic roosting, and migratory behavior of hoary bats pose challenges to their study and has left open questions regarding this species’ life history, temporal thermoregulation, and roost selection strategies. Few hoary bats have been captured or observed at any location during the months of November to April. The extent of winter range has not been clearly defined, nor has their preferred winter roosting habitat. In this study, partially funded by a conservation grant from Sequoia Park Zoo, Skye Salaganek, a graduate student at Humboldt State University, plans to use long-duration radio transmitters to model seasonal residency period and roost selection of hoary bats in redwood forests fall to spring. This study may also provide insight for migrational patterns and thermoregulatory strategies and help to establish the importance of redwood forest refugia to sustaining this species.
Save the Giants (Giant otters) of Guyana (2018 – $1,500)
Giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) are not only endangered, but they are also poorly studied throughout much of their range. Population estimates are limited and distribution-wide management plans have been implemented in only a few countries. In Guyana, where conservation planning is underway, the giant otter is recognized as an important umbrella species and there is great interest in protecting this species – along with many other rare “giants” (jaguar, anteater, river turtle). However, few Guyanese have ever seen a giant otter in the wild, and many of those who have, particularly people living in Amerindian (indigenous Guyanese native) communities, view this animal as a competitor for fish. The goal of this project is to advance giant otter conservation in Guyana by involving as wide and diverse a group of people as possible in field research that generates the information needed to make management decisions. With the help of the conservation grant from Sequoia Park Zoo, SavetheGiants.org will accomplish this goal by bringing local communities and scientists together to participate in a series of training workshops, followed by river surveys for giant otters. The collected population data will be used to create an interactive, online database. Ultimately, this project will add to our collective knowledge of giant otters in Guyana while simultaneously generating awareness and support for their protection.
Seasonal Movement and Winter Diet Selection of Porcupines in Coastal Northern California (2018 – $800; 2017 – $1,000)
North American porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) were historically abundant on the north coast of California however, recent findings indicate a dramatic decline in porcupine populations from the southern Sierras to the north coast region. In many parts of their range, porcupines are important prey for the Pacific fisher (Pekania pennanti), a proposed threatened species in California. Further, porcupines are a culturally significant species to local Hoopa, Karuk, and Yurok tribes. This project, which is a continuation of the project begun in 2014 by Assistant Professor of Wildlife at Humboldt State University, Tim Bean, will fill a gap in current knowledge on porcupine ecology in California and coastal areas in general, which is needed to inform future research and conservation practices for both the porcupine and the fisher. Using the funds provided by a conservation grant from Sequoia Park Zoo, Professor Bean and his team hope to determine which habitat variables influence porcupine foraging decisions during winter and to collect baseline data on the mechanism by which porcupines are obtaining this information. Upon completion of this project, the team will produce an updated educational brochure for distribution at the zoo highlighting new results from their research.