“Lake Earl River Otter Study”, Phillip Johnston, Humboldt State University undergraduate- awarded $500.
Phillip Johnston, a wildlife undergraduate at Humboldt State University, conducted scat-collection and on-foot tracking of North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) in order to assess the diet, latrine-use patterns, and latrine-site fidelity at Lake Earl in Del Norte County. Using funds provided by a conservation grant from Sequoia Park Zoo, Johnston followed and expanded on a study of the same nature conducted at Lake Earl in 1964 and documented how latrine sites have shifted over the past 50 years and what purposes they may serve. Previous research has shown that river otters can help maintain or create refugia for smaller fish species by hunting larger piscivorous fish. Therefore, Johnston also attempted to determine the degree to which river otters support the declining Lake Earl tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) population by suppressing predators through their own feeding habits.