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The Conservancy posts research and education papers on its web site for public consumption. The purpose of these papers is to promote better understanding of the biological and scientific issues associated with the implementation of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP) and the Metro Air Park Habitat Conservation Plan (MAPHCP). The Series seeks to serve as a resource for students, educators, the media and those interested in wildlife and the creation of habitat in the Natomas Basin of California. Series reports will be published on a periodic basis.

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Giant Garter Snake Monitoring Update
October 2012

By Brian Halstead and Michael Casazza
USGS Western Ecological Research Center

Executive Summary

The giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas) is a large, aquatic snake threatened by habitat loss. !e historic occurrence of rice agriculture in the Natomas Basin allowed the snake to persist there, and conservation and monitoring programs outlined in the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan are designed to ensure its continued existence in the Basin. Sex ratios and size distributions of the giant gartersnake in the Natomas Basin in 2011 were consistent with a healthy giant gartersnake population. The giant gartersnake was broadly distributed throughout Natomas Basin Conservancy reserves in 2011 as well. Demographic monitoring suggested that the giant gartersnake was most abundant in restored marshes in the North and Central Basins, less abundant in rice in the Central Basin, and persists at low abundance in the Fisherman’s Lake Area. To learn more about USGS giant gartersnake research, visit: www.werc.usgs.gov.

Biography

Brian Halstead is a Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center and is based at the Dixon Field Station. His formal experience with gartersnakes began in 1999 with surveys and research on the Butler’s Gartersnake. Brian has been studying the Giant Gartersnake and San Francisco Gartersnake with the USGS since 2008. Brian’s primary research interests are population ecology, conservation biology, herpetology, and Bayesian statistics.

Michael Casazza is a Research Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center and is based at the Dixon Field Station. He has been studying the ecology and conservation of the Giant Gartersnake since 1995, and developed current survey protocols for the species. In addition to his expertise on the Giant Gartersnake, Michael studies the ecology and conservation of waterfowl, Greater Sage-Grouse, California Clapper Rails, Band-Tailed Pigeons, and Sandhill Cranes.

Research & Education Series, #1201, Giant Garter Snake Monitoring Update (.pdf, 86.00 Kb)

Swainson’s Hawk Status Report
November 2011

An overview of the status of the Swainson’s Hawk in the Natomas Basin, California
By Jim Estep

Executive Summary

The Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni) is a state-listed threatened species in California and is a Covered Species under the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan and the Metro Airpark Habitat Conservation Plan. As part of the implementation of both HCPs, the Swainson’s hawk nesting population is monitored annually throughout the entire Natomas Basin in order to assess the status of the population and the effectiveness of the HCPs. To date, monitoring has indicated a fairly stable nesting population with the number of active nesting territories ranging from 43 to 62 between 2001 and 2011 Reproductive effort has also remained relatively stable during this period ranging from 1.38 to 1.67 young per successful nest. In 2011, 62 nesting territories were confirmed active, representing the largest number of active territories since monitoring began. However, due largely to inclement spring weather and possibly disturbance from levee construction and other disturbances in the Basin, only 23 of these successfully produced young for a reproductive effort of 0.60 young per occupied nest.

Biography

Jim Estep is a wildlife biologist who has monitored populations and conducted research on the Swainson’s hawk for over 25 years. He is a member of the NBHCP Technical Advisory Committee and a member of the NBC biological monitoring team. He has conducted the monitoring of the Swainson’s hawk population in the Natomas Basin since 1999.

Research & Education Series, #1202, Swainson's Hawk Status Report (.pdf, 64.00 Kb)

Trees of the Natomas Basin Conservancy
June 2011

An Overview of the Trees in the Natomas Basin Conservancy Lands
By the Sacramento Tree Foundation

Executive Summary

The monitoring data demonstrates the positive changes gained through tree planting and active restoration of this important natural resource. This data is vital to determining the long term stewardship actions of these properties. The data sets collected and maintained by the Sacramento Tree Foundation are unique in that all nine years of the collection and analysis has been conducted by a single individual, Ms. Joni Ramirez. This allows for a high-level of consistency as well as a deeper understanding of how the landscapes and tree resources have changed over time.

Overall, the TNBC data demonstrate how organizational partnership, consistent land stewardship, and adaptive management produce positive results in the conservation of critically important lands such as the wetlands and riparian forests of the Natomas Basin.

Research & Education Series, #1001, Trees of the Natomas Basin Conservancy (.pdf, 127.00 Kb)

Swainson’s Hawk Status Report
December 2010

By Jim Estep

Executive Summary

The Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni) is a state-listed threatened species in California and is a Covered Species under the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan and the Metro Airpark Habitat Conservation Plan. As part of the implementation of both HCPs, the Swainson’s hawk nesting population is monitored annually throughout the entire Natomas Basin in order to assess the status of the population and the effectiveness of the HCPs. To date, monitoring has indicated a fairly stable nesting population with the number of active nesting territories ranging from 43 to 59 between 2001 and 2009. Reproductive effort has also remained relatively stable during this period ranging from 1.38 to 1.67 young per successful nest. In 2009, 59 nesting territories were confirmed active with 51 of these successfully producing young for a reproductive effort of 1.63 young per successful nest.

Biography

Jim Estep is a wildlife biologist who has monitored populations and conducted research on the Swainson’s hawk for over 25 years. He is a member of the NBHCP Technical Advisory Committee and a member of the NBC biological monitoring team. He has conducted the monitoring of the Swainson’s hawk population in the Natomas Basin since 1999.

Research & Education Series, #1001, Swainson's Hawk Status Report (.pdf, 111 Kb)

Fish Sampling on Constructed Wetland on the Natomas Basin Conservancy’s BKS Tract
June 2009

Wetland Fish Sampling
By Doug Leslie and Marin Greenwood

Executive Summary

We took advantage of an opportunity to sample populations of non-native predatory fish in one of the marshes created and managed by the Natomas Basin Conservancy when the marsh was drained for routine maintenance purposes. Both largemouth bass and green sunfish were present in the marsh. Green sunfish appear to be too small to pose a significant risk of predation to giant garter snakes, although they may compete with giant garter snakes for prey. Largemouth bass pose a greater risk to giant garter snakes and management actions to control their populations may become necessary in the future.

Biography

Doug Leslie is a wildlife biologist with over 20 years of experience in wildlife biology, management, and research. Doug is the project manager for the NBC biological monitoring team and has been overseeing monitoring efforts in the Natomas Basin since 2004.

Marin Greenwood is an aquatic ecologist with ICF Jones & Stokes.

Research & Education Series, #0904, Fish Sampling on Constructed Wetland (.pdf, 104 Kb)

Giant Garter Snake Status Report
February 2009

An overview of the status of the Giant Garter Snake in the Natomas Basin, California
By Eric Hansen

Executive Summary

This paper describes the 2008 season giant garter snake monitoring effort. The report draws on information provided in the 2008 Biological Effectiveness Monitoring Report. This report is used by the Conservancy to determine the general health and status of the giant garter snake in the Natomas Basin, and is conducted each year.

Biography

Doug Leslie is a wildlife biologist with over 20 years of experience in wildlife biology, management, and research. Doug is the project manager for the NBC biological monitoring team and has been overseeing monitoring efforts in the Natomas Basin since 2004.


Marin Greenwood is an aquatic ecologist with ICF Jones & Stokes.

Research & Education Series, #0902, Giant Garter Snake Status Report, year-end 2008 (.pdf, 114.72 Kb)

Swainson’s Hawk Status Report
February 2009

An overview of the status of the Swainson’s Hawk in the Natomas Basin, California
By Jim Estep

Executive Summary

The Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni) is a state-listed threatened species in California and is a Covered Species under the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan and the Metro Airpark Habitat Conservation Plan. As part of the implementation of both HCPs, the Swainson’s hawk nesting population is monitored annually throughout the entire Natomas Basin in order to assess the status of the population and the effectiveness of the HCPs. To date, monitoring has indicated a fairly stable nesting population with the number of active nesting territories ranging from 43 to 59 between 2001 and 2008. Reproductive effort has also remained relatively stable during this period ranging from 1.38 to 1.67 young per successful nest. In 2008, 51 nesting territories were confirmed active with 42 of these successfully producing young for a reproductive effort of 1.52 young per successful nest.

Biography

Jim Estep is a wildlife biologist who has monitored populations and conducted research on the Swainson’s hawk for 25 years. He is a member of the NBHCP Technical Advisory Committee and a member of the NBC biological monitoring team. He has conducted the monitoring of the Swainson’s hawk population in the Natomas Basin since 1999.

Research & Education Series, #0901, Swainson's Hawk Status Report, year-end 2008 (.pdf, 108.00 Kb)

Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) in the North Basin Reserve
April 2008

Monitoring Avian Productivity
By Julia Camp and Doug Leslie

Executive Summary

ICF Jones & Stokes biologists volunteered their time to establish and operate a MAPS station in 2008 on one of the tracts in the Conservancy’s North Basin Reserve. Mist nets were operated from May 25th to August 3rd, and resulted in the capture of 254 birds and 29 species.

Biography

Julia Camp, the primary author of this paper, is a wildlife biologist who has worked with and studied birds for over 14 years. She is a member of the NBC biological monitoring team and has been monitoring bird populations in the Basin for the last 2 years.


Doug Leslie is a wildlife biologist with over 20 years of experience working with birds. Doug is the project manager for the NBC biological monitoring team and has been overseeing monitoring efforts in the Natomas Basin since 2004.

Research & Education Series, #0903, Monitoring Avian Productivity, year-end 2008 (.pdf, 108.63 Kb)