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Western Pond Turtle Workshop: Ecology and Conservation

image002Western Pond Turtle Workshop: Ecology and Conservation

This fall the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of The Wildlife Society is organizing a revival of the Western Pond Turtle Workshop: Ecology and Conservation at Sonoma State University on Saturday, October 24, 2015. The western pond turtle is an aquatic turtle native to the Pacific states. Although the range of the turtle is widespread north to south, the species is in decline in many areas. Turtles in Washington are endangered and in Oregon they are considered Critical Species. In California the turtle is a Species of Special Concern. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering protection under of the federal Endangered Species Act.

The Western Pond Turtle Workshop is designed to provide professional biologists with a background on conservation issues of the western pond turtle, recent research findings, and practical understanding of field methods. Participants will learn how to identify turtles, their life history and habitat requirements, taxonomy, potential causes of declines, survey techniques, regulations and permits, and management plans. The workshop will include presentations by expert researchers, and introduction to the Handbook on the Ecology, Conservation, and Management of Western Pond Turtles, and a short field trip to an on-campus pond where turtle identification, handling techniques, visual surveys for basking turtles, and trapping techniques will be demonstrated. A tentative schedule is provided below.

To learn more about the event and to register, please visit the chapter website at:

Discounted registration fees are available to S.F. Bay Area Chapter members, and to early registrants (by September 24th). Registration fees include morning coffee, lunch, and afternoon snacks.

Time Topic Presenter
8:00 Check-in Registration
Introduction Dave Cook
History & Natural History
Natural History, Ecology and
Conservation of Western Pond
Turtles: A 50-year Odyssey
Bruce Bury
Ecology of the Western Pond
David Germano
Rangewide Molecular Analysis
of the Western Pond Turtle
(Emys Marmorata): Cryptic
Variation, Isolation by Distance,
and their Conservation
Phillip Spinks
To “Turtle”: The Extent of the
Historical Terrapin Harvest in
California (1863-1931)
Matthew Bettelheim
Western Pond Turtle Conservation
Issues, Efforts, and Needs: A
California Department of Fish
and Wildlife Perspective
Laura Patterson
Federal Listing Status of the
Western Pond Turtle
Arnold Roessler
Head-Starting Pond Turtles in
Northern California and the Role
of Zoos in Conservation Action
Jessie Bushell /
Margaret Rousser
Survey Techniques
Handbook on the Ecology,
Conservation and Management
of Western Pond Turtles
Bruce Bury,
Hartwell Welsh,
David Germano,
and Don Ashton
Threats to the Species
Ulcerative Shell Disease in Western
Pond Turtles in Washington – A
Review of What We Know, What We
Don’t, and Where We’re Going
Katherine Haman
Ecotoxicology of Western Pond
Erik Meyer
Advances in Natural History
Nesting Behavior, Nest Site
Fidelity, and Temperature Dependent
Sex Determination in a Northern
California Population of Western
Pond Turtles
Nicholas Geist
Drivers of Nesting Behavior in
Emys marmorata
Wendy St. John
Effects of Natural Incubation
Temperatures on the Viability and Sex
Determination of Western
Pond Turtles (Emys marmorata)
Nicole Christie
The Enigma of Few Juveniles in
Turtle Populations: Is it lack of
recruitment or our inability to
detect them?
Gwen Bury /
Bruce Bury
Turtles on the Trinity River:
Research Update
Don Ashton
Basking Behavior and Thermal
Profiles of the Western Pond Turtle
(Actinemys [Emys] marmorata) on the
Free-flowing South Fork and Regulated
Main Fork Trinity River, California.
Jamie Bettaso
Field trip/survey techniques (SSU pond)  
5:30 End

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Practical Applications – CalTIP

CalTIPLogoOverlooking the fact that we should be immersing ourselves in Nature – not our mobile phones – when we’re outdoors, in January the California Department of Fish and Game released a new app to “give Californians an opportunity to help protect the state’s fish and wildlife resources”. CalTIP (Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters), first introduced in 1981, is a confidential secret witness program to help the public report poaching or polluting incidents or any fish and wildlife violation.

CalTIP’s toll free telephone number – 1(888) 334-CALTIP / 1 (888) 334-2258 – is an anonymous 24/7 tip-line. But for those that are app aficionados, the CalTIP app pilot program offers a new, simple visual reporting platform with the ability to include photographs. This is an improvement on (but does not replace) the previous ‘tip411’ option that allows the public to text message anonymously with CDFW wildlife officers by texting 847411 (tip411).

What’s reportable? Poaching, polluting incidents, and any fish and wildlife violations, including hunting or fishing out of season, exceeding bag limits, illegal commercialization (selling) of wildlife, trespassing, hunting or fishing in closed areas like Marine Life Protection Areas or Game Reserves, habitat destruction, transporting and introducing certain non-native species, agricultural pollution, dumping of household waste, industrial spills, and illegal marijuana gardens.


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The Wildlife Confessional

image003Call for Submissions

The Western Section of The Wildlife Society is excited to announce a call for submissions for consideration in The Wildlife Confessional, an anthology of stories by wildlife professionals about their adventures, misadventures, revelations, reflections, mishaps, and pivotal experiences in the field.

In its finished form, The Wildlife Confessional will serve three primary purposes: (1) to record the oral histories, memories, and experiences of wildlife professionals in a way that promotes collegiality and camaraderie, (2) as a recruiting tool to educate and attract students to enter the field of wildlife biology and join The Wildlife Society, and (3) to apply money raised through book sales to support student involvement in the society by funding scholarships, grants, and training opportunities.

The Wildlife Confessional will endeavor to show the humor and poignancy in the day-to-day adventures that sometimes define and enlighten us or that, sometimes, we’d rather forget.

Submissions Guidelines

Who Can Submit: Anyone in the wildlife profession (wildlife biologists, game wardens, land managers, researchers, students) with a good wildlife story to tell. If you’ve told – or been told – a good yarn over a campfire or a cold beer or a long car ride… yep, *those* are the stories we’re looking for. Now’s the time to put your story on paper, or to nudge that old-timer collecting dust in the corner office to tell theirs…

Subject Matter: Submissions can be humorous, reflective, poignant, inspirational, but should ultimately embody professionalism and a respect for the natural world; submissions should be non-fiction, but should *not* be technical or how-to in nature.

Submittal Deadline: Submissions must be received no later than May 15, 2015.

To Learn More:

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Yosemite in HD: The Star Spangled Banners of Heaven

If ever there was cinematic footage that left me feeling awestruck, humble, and infinitesimally insignificant at the same time, this is it. If you haven’t already had the pleasure of watching Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty’s Project Yosemite’s Yosemite in HD (Part I), prepare to be amazed.


Although it is curious how much like spiders we resemble when pinned to a cliff face with carabiners and rope (time – 1:52) or how prolific are the numbers of satellites and planes challenging shooting stars for supremacy in the night-sky (time – 2:34) –  personally, the fireworks kick off when the sun drops and the stars pierce the night sky (time – 2:27), leaving me dizzy and reminding me of my precarious place on this swiftly tilting planet.

The buzz about Yosemite in HD Part II suggests a collaborative effort between Project Yosemite and The Muir Project, taking the cameras further afield to capture Yosemite in winter: more snow, more waterfalls, more remote. More awesome?

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All Your Eggs in One Basket?

On a short hike this weekend into the East Bay Hills, we came across a shallow pond harboring a lone Pacific tree frog and several amphibian egg-masses. Among the assorted jellies in the water were those of Pacific tree frogs (Hyla regilla), western toads (Bufo boreas), and California red-legged frogs (Rana draytonii).

Egg-masses like these are a reliable calling card for the pond’s other inhabitants. Pacific tree frog eggs are usually deposited in small, thumb-sized clusters (not pictured). Western toads leave behind jelly streamers filled with what look like little chocolate sprinkles (at a distance, these streamers always remind me of an unwound Walkman cassette tape). California red-legged frogs, however, deposit large, grape fruit-sized clusters of eggs resembling transparent tapioca pearls (like the kind you find in boba bubble teas).

With the poor rainfall we’ve been experiencing, some of these eggs have a better chance of survival than others. In the topmost photo, the red-legged frog’s eggs (at center) are draped with ropes of toad eggs, all suspended loosely in the tules, free to move as the pond swells and drains into late spring. In contrast, the red-legged frog eggs in the lower photo are affixed to the tule stalk, leaving the uppermost eggs stranded in this anything-yet-but-wet-year’s dry spell.

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