San Diego Management & Monitoring Program


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  • American Badger Movement Studies

    In fiscal year 2011-2012, the NCCP LAG program funded an initial study to determine if badgers persisted in the western portion of San Diego County (Brehme et al. 2012). Canine scent surveys were performed in grasslands within MSCP/Multiple Habitat Conservation Program (MHCP) boundaries and nearby areas. Because badgers do persist within the western portion of the county, they are believed to be a suitable species for assessing upland connectivity by means of radio-telemetry. In order to determine what areas to target badgers for future radiotelemetry studies, the objectives of this study were to identify target areas with potentially higher densities of badgers and to better assess the level of connectivity between known occupied areas. Plans also were to survey some high priority areas that were not available for investigation during the initial study. In addition, SANDAG funded; 1) an American badger expert, Richard Klafki, R.P. Bio, to consult in field sign and burrow surveys, the set up and use of hair snares, and share ideas regarding movement of badgers across the fragmented landscape, 2) deployment of hair snags and infrared cameras in areas where active badger sign was found, and 3) development of a microsatellite genetic assay for individual badgers will be developed by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and validated on known samples.

    • American Badger Research and Monitoring

      Badgers have been identified by the San Diego Monitoring and Management Program Connectivity Monitoring Strategic Plan as a target species for monitoring regional-scale functional connectivity of upland and grassland habitats. However, prior to these studies there was little information on badger distribution, movement, or habitat use within San Diego County. In 2011, the California Department of Fish and Game Local Assistance Grant funded an initial study to determine if badgers still persist in the western portion of San Diego County. Canine scent surveys were conducted for American badger scat from November 14-December 14, 2011. Thirty-two sites in San Diego County and two sites in southern Riverside County were surveyed. The scent dog had positive behavioral responses to scat at 13 sites, and a badger specific DNA test verified the scat collected at twelve sites. A recommendation from the 2011 study led researchers to develop a microsatellite DNA test to identify individual animals from scat. This would allow for estimation of minimum population sizes in areas with multiple scats. In 2014, a follow up study was conducted to the initial 2011 rapid assessment for the American badger. The objectives were to identify target areas with potentially higher densities of badgers and to better assess the level of connectivity between known occupied areas. Thirty canine scent surveys for badger scat were conducted. This study involved: 1) additional focused surveys to identify areas occupied by badgers, and 2) determination of the number of badgers at various locations using genetic tests of scat or hair to identify individuals. In 2015, researchers continued studies of the spatial and temporal use of habitats by the American badger by conducting monthly field sign and infrared camera surveys across seven focal sites in the County where we previously documented substantial and/or repeated badger activity. The objective was to determine if badger use is irregular, seasonal, or consistent. American badgers were active at two of the seven focal sites in 2015, the upper San Diego River at El Capitan Grande Reservation and Rancho Guejito. From 2011 to present, researchers established that the American badger currently occupies or uses conserved lands within MSCP and MHCP and many other portions of the county.

    • An Adaptive Management Approach to Recovering Burrowing Owl Populations and Restoring a Grassland Ecosystem in San Diego County

      San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (ICR), in partnership with multiple agencies, has developed an adaptive conservation management program to assist in the recovery of Western Burrowing Owls (BUOW; Athene cunicularia hypugaea) and their grassland ecosystem in San Diego County. Main objectives include (1) establishing more natural grassland ecosystems in San Diego County by re-establishing ground squirrels that provide critical resources for BUOW and valuable ecosystem engineering effects; (2) better understanding of the factors regulating BUOW population dynamics; (3) developing a comprehensive strategic management plan for BUOW in San Diego County; and (4) implementing the strategic management plan to begin establishing additional breeding nodes of burrowing owls. In 2017 ICR partnered with SDMMP to make publicly available a BUOW Conservation and Management Plan for San Diego County. This is a living document developed with input from local, state, and federal wildlife agencies, and will continue to be updated in the future.

    • Artesian Creek Restoration

      Approximately 300 acres along Artesian Creek, a tributary of the San Dieguito River, was restored to coastal sage or native riparian. The majority of restored land was previously used for grazing, with an additional two miles of riparian habitat. The project is located between Camino Del Sur and Del Dios Highway, just south and southwest of Lake Hodges. The restoration has been completed, but annual treatment of invasive species remains including ongoing treatment of eucalyptus, tamarix and palms. The focal invasive species included: mustard, French broom, Scotch broom, Spanish Fleabane, arundo, Austrailian salt bush, Brazilian Pepper, caster bean, lapidium latifolia, garland chrysanthemum, bridal creeper, Italian thistle, fountain grass, dittrichia graveolens, artichoke, eucalyptus, tree tobacco, acacia, palms, pampas grass, pride of Maderia, tamarix, and fennel.

    • Arthropod Ecosystem Functioning

      Assess how habitat and landscape characteristics impact ecosystem functioning.

  • ASMD/Adaptive Management

    • ASMD/Adaptive Management - FundSource1

      Preparation of ASMDs, conceptual models and working with preserve managers

    • ASMD/Adaptive Management - FundSource2

      Preparation of ASMDs, conceptual models and working with preserve mgrs. Task 1. Documentation of Current and Past Land Management Actions on NCCP Reserve Lands. Task 2. Implementation of Tricolored Blackbird Adaptive Management. Task 3. Development of Conceptual Approaches to Reserve Level Monitoring. Task 4: Independent Scientific Input. Task 5: Technical Assistance for Reserve Level Monitoring and Adaptive Management Action Design. Task 6: Summary of Activities and Final Report.

  • Bernardo Mountain Post-Fire Habitat Recovery

    The overall goal of the habitat enhancement project is to connect patches of native vegetation in order to function as a larger block of habitat and expand areas of high quality coastal sage scrub. The project consists of the restoration of an approximately 1-acre site that was chosen based upon its location next to an area where sensitive species have been documented, the existence of reemerging coastal sage scrub, close proximity to existing stands of healthy stands of native vegetation, need for erosion control, and reasonable access.

    • Bernardo Mountain Post-Fire Habitat Recovery Project

      Bernardo Mountain is located north of Lake Hodges, west of I-15. The primary goal of this habitat conservation project is to protect the habitat of the federally listed coastal California gnatcatcher, as well as other listed and sensitive animal species such as coastal cactus wren and sensitive plant and wildlife species that are covered under the Multiple Habitat Conservation Plan ("MHCP").

    • Blaineville's Horned Lizard Genetics Study

      The proposed study will provide data on whether coast horned lizard populations are genetically interconnected across the NCCP reserve system, or whether gene flow has occurred recently but is no longer possible due to habitat fragmentation.

    • Blue Sky Ecological Reserve Fire Restoration and Invasive Removal

      Blue Sky Ecological Reserve burned in 2007. In 2008, restoration focused on the removal of Castor bean, mustard, tree tobacco palms, dittrichia, fountain grass, acacia, cape ivy, tamarix and pampas grass. Major restoration efforts concluded after 3 years. Maintenance has continued with the treatment of Castor bean and Italian thistle.

    • Brachypodium Control - Phase I and II

      This project used a science-based, experimental approach to develop treatment and restoration strategies for the emerging invasive grass, Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium), on conserved lands in southern San Diego County, CA. Phase I (2013-2015) included conceptual models to inform experimentally-based treatment and restoration strategies; experimental treatments (dethatching, herbicide, mechanical removal), monitoring, and seed collection, bulking, and outplanting. Treatments continued in Phase II (2016-2017), using the most effective management strategy (herbicide). See the Phase I and II reports for study results and Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Brachypodium control. Herbicide is the most effective treatment for controlling Brachypodium but timing of treatment is critical and multiple treatments may be required in a single year, depending on rainfall and temperature. Herbicide treatment of forbs becomes increasingly important as cover of Brachypodium and other nonnative grasses decrease. Dethatching improves treatment effectiveness and stimulates the soil seedbank (if present). The experimental design was coordinated with SDMMP and the City of San Diego, and results may contribute to a regional analysis of Brachypodium control across multiple sites, habitats, and microclimates.

    • Burrowing Owl Artificial Burrow Surveys- CDFW 2010- 2012

      Artificial burrows for the western burrowing owl were surveyed in 2010, 2011, and 2012 by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Each burrow was surveyed for evidence of burrowing owl use. Types of evidence included whitewash, prey remains, feathers, pellets, or visual confirmation of the species. Burrows with strong or multiple types of evidence were marked as "used" by burrowing owls. Maintenance needs were also recorded for each burrow. Survey results: http://arcg.is/2dDPFsS

    • Burrowing Owl Monitoring Analysis and Protocol

      The overall purpose of this study was to evaluate the methodology in the monitoring protocol described in Section II. The specific purpose of the analysis presented here is to use data collected according to the burrowing owl monitoring protocol to estimate occupancy for both burrowing owls and California ground squirrels within the sample frame.

  • Cactus Wren Genetic Analysis

    An analysis of the genetic population structure of the coastal cactus wren was conducted by the USGS. This project included three sub-projects: 1) Historical Museum Samples; 2) Regional Genetic Study; and 3) San Diego Genetic Study

    • Cactus Wren Genetic Analysis - Historical Museum Samples

      The purpose of this study is to gather genetic data from museum samples collected in the early 1900s to compare levels of genetic diversity and population structure to present day estimates. From this analysis, USGS hopes to determine whether there has been an increase in population genetic differentiation and a loss of genetic diversity in Southern California Cactus Wrens over the past century, and to quantify these changes. Results will help inform potential management actions such as choosing source populations for re-establishment and augmentation. This project will consist of the following objectives:1) Develop protocols for DNA extraction and amplification of historical museum samples for microsatellite loci; 2) Travel to museums in California to retrieve tissue from relevant museum specimens; 3) Genotype samples, analyze patterns of genetic differentiation and diversity, and prepare a report comparing past to present population genetic structure.

    • Cactus Wren Genetic Study - Regional

      This study analyzes genetic population structure in the cactus wren throughout coastal southern California using microsatellite markers developed specifically for this species. It expands upon a previous study focused in Orange and San Diego Counties (Barr et al. 2012), adding cactus wren samples from Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties. Additional samples from Palos Verdes and West Coyote Hills were included in the original dataset in an addendum to the study. With this full dataset, we characterize the current population genetic structure to provide information on levels of gene flow throughout the cactus wren’s range in coastal southern California. We also analyze genetic diversity and recent demographic change over the study area. Understanding these patterns will aid in management of current cactus wren populations and future efforts in habitat restoration.

    • Cactus Wren Genetic Study - San Diego and Orange County

      In this study, we describe genetic connectivity in the coastal cactus wren in San Diego County. To gain a broader perspective, we also obtained samples from the Nature Reserve of orange County, where many of the remaining coastal cactus wrens are found in that county. These data provide excellent resolution for describing current population structure in the species, reveal the gene flow regime, and provide insight on current levels of genetic diversity within populations, Understanding these patterns will aid in management of current coastal cactus wrens populations and future efforts in habitat restoration,

  • Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan

    The Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan has been prepared to help fulfill MSP Goals and Objectives established for management of the Coastal Cactus Wren in MU3. This plan identifies and prioritizes management and restoration needs for the cactus wren across the entire MU3, and also assesses connectivity to core habitat areas on Conserved Lands within the San Diego/El Cajon cactus wren genetic cluster in MUs 2 and 4 to further ensure persistence of the cactus wren in MU3 over the next 100 years.

    • Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan

      The Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan has been prepared to help fulfill MSP Goals and Objectives established for management of the Coastal Cactus Wren in MU3. This plan identifies and prioritizes management and restoration needs for the cactus wren across the entire MU3, and also assesses connectivity to core habitat areas on Conserved Lands within the San Diego/El Cajon cactus wren genetic cluster in MUs 2 and 4 to further ensure persistence of the cactus wren in MU3 over the next 100 years.

    • North County Cactus Nursery and Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration (2015-2018)

      The primary goal of this three-year project was to support the restoration and recovery of cactus wren (CACW) populations in the San Pasqual Valley/Lake Hodges region and other locations identified in coordination with the South San Diego County Coastal Cactus Wren Conservation Implementation Plan. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research sought to aid the recovery of this species through 1) the creation of additional cactus wren habitat through large scale prickly pear propagation and 2) the removal of invasive plant species from new and existing cactus wren habitat. We established a cactus nursery that supplied 8056 locally sourced cacti to restoration projects throughout the region from 2015-2018. We also conducted extensive removal of invasive species at two major centers of cactus wren habitat: Lake Hodges and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Biodiversity Reserve. This project provided wide ranging benefits to coastal cactus wren conservation not only by providing large-scale habitat restoration and management across the region, but also by documenting experiences and lessons learned during the development of the cactus nursery which can serve as a guide for the future establishment of other large scale cactus nurseries. We document herein the data collected from our propagation, restoration, invasive species removal efforts, and a propagation protocol which describes the methods we used for cactus propagation and nursery establishment.

  • Cactus Wren Occupancy Study and Cactus Patch Mapping

    Given the extent and severity of the 2003 and 2007 wildfires in San Diego County there is an increase cause for concern in understanding the amount of available habitat and the percent of that habitat that is occupied by the coastal cactus wren. The USFWS has developed and refined a protocol for conducting coastal cactus wren monitoring. USFWS tested the protocol by completing surveys in 2009 and 2010. All southwest and southeast facing slopes below 1,500 feet, within San Diego MSCP preserve lands, were mapped for the occurrence of cactus patches. Once cactus patches were mapped in GIS, these patches were segmented into plots and surveyed for cactus wrens.

    • Cactus Wren Occupancy Study and Cactus Patch Mapping

      Given the extent and severity of the 2003 and 2007 wildfires in San Diego County there is an increase cause for concern in understanding the amount of available habitat and the percent of that habitat that is occupied by the coastal cactus wren. The USFWS has developed and refined a protocol for conducting coastal cactus wren monitoring. USFWS tested the protocol by completing surveys in 2009 and 2010. All southwest and southeast facing slopes below 1,500 feet, within San Diego MSCP preserve lands, were mapped for the occurrence of cactus patches. Once cactus patches were mapped in GIS, these patches were segmented into plots and surveyed for cactus wrens.

    • Calavera Preserve Planning Area Access Control and Habitat Restoration Project

      The Restoration Project was implemented in accordance with the Diegan Coastal Sage Scrub Restoration Plan, TransNet EMP Grant Project: Calavera Preserve Planning Area (Restoration Plan), which was prepared by Technology Associates, Inc. (TAIC) (Aug. 24, 2009). The goal of the project was to restore 5 acres of non-native grassland habitat to Diegan coastal sage scrub that is (a) self-sustaining, (b) suitable habitat for the California gnatcatcher, and (3) free of non-native invasive species that could invade adjacent native habitat. In addition to habitat restoration, the City of Carlsbad had an active public outreach program highlighting the benefits of natural open spaces throughout the city.

  • California Gnatcatcher Genetic Study

    • California Gnatcatcher Genetic Study - FundSource 1 and 2

      We examined individual relatedness patterns and population genetic structure among gnatcatcher aggregations throughout coastal southern California from Ventura to San Diego Counties. To accomplish this goal, we developed a set of highly polymorphic microsatellite loci and sampled 268 individuals throughout the range. With genetic analyses we addressed the following questions:1) How many genetically distinguishable populations exist across the U.S. species range?2) Is genetic relatedness among individuals explained by the amount and distribution of suitable habitat?3) What is the range of dispersal distances between presumptive siblings and parents/offspring?4) What are the patterns of genetic diversity within aggregations across the U.S. range and what is the effective population size?5) How do these results impact future management and monitoring efforts aimed at species recovery?

    • California Gnatcatcher Post-Fire Study

      This is a planned 5-year study. The purpose of this study is to: 1) Determine whether there has been further recovery of CAGN in areas burned in 2003 (i.e., occupancy greater than 10%). 2) Determine if there is a difference in CAGN occupancy between areas burned in 2003, 2007, and 2014. 3) Determine the relationship between CAGN occupancy and vegetation composition, cover and structure. 4) Determine the composition, cover, and structure of CSS vegetation in areas with different fire histories and evaluate patterns of vegetation recovery based upon lime since fire, spatial distribution, previous land use, and environmental conditions.

    • California Gnatcatcher South Coast Regional Monitoring Program

      The USGS, USFWS, SDMMP, and the Nature Reserve of Orange County have joined together to develop a long-term coordinated regional monitoring program for the federally-threatened Coastal California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) in the United States portion of the species range. Other participants include CDFW, The Nature Conservancy, Western Riverside RCA, Rancho Mission Viejo Conservancy, Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook, Marine Corp Base Camp Pendleton, Marine Corp Air Station Miramar. The goals of this program are to: 1) determine the population status of California Gnatcatchers in southern California on conserved and military lands; 2) track trends in California Gnatcatcher habitat occupancy over time in southern California to identify when thresholds have been met that trigger management actions; and 3) identify habitat attributes and threats associated with gnatcatcher occupancy in order to develop specific habitat-based management criteria and recommendations. To date, there have been no systematic surveys for this species across southern California. Surveys have been conducted periodically in portions of the gnatcatcher's range, particularly on conserved and military lands. However, these surveys have been conducted in different years and with a variety of methods providing different population metrics and as a result do not provide a region-wide estimate. In addition, during the last 15 years, there have been extremely large wildfires in southern California across a substantial portion of suitable habitat for gnatcatchers and there is little information on their status in these burned areas. The first regional Coastal California Gnatcatcher survey is scheduled for 2016. This survey is planned for conserved lands and those military lands in southern California that choose to participate. The objectives of the regional monitoring program are: 1. In 2016, determine the percent area occupied (PAO) by California Gnatcatchers in modeled high and very high suitability habitat on conserved lands and on participating military lands in southern California. 2. Over the next 15 years, determine long-term trends in California Gnatcatcher PAO and in their colonization and extinction rates in modeled high and very high suitability habitat on conserved lands and participating military lands in southern California and be able to detect at least 30% change in California Gnatcatcher PAO. 3. Beginning in 2016, identify associations between habitat and threat correlates with California Gnatcatcher PAO and with colonization and extinction rates in order to develop biologically meaningful thresholds for management and to specify management criteria and recommendations.

    • California Least Tern Predator Monitoring (Ternwatchers)

      Volunteer-based predator monitoring program at the nesting sites in Mission Bay. Citizen scientists are trained to monitor nesting sites for predators from mid-April through late May, with the program concluding the end of September.

    • California Plant Rescue (CaPR) - San Diego Zoo Global's Native Plant Seed Bank

      San Diego Zoo Global's Native Plant Seed Bank - Center for Plant Conservation (CPC). Coordinated by the CPC, California Plant Rescue (CaPR) is a collaboration among many of the botanical gardens, seed banks, and botanical organizations in California to conserve the rarest and most threatened plant species throughout the state and northwestern Baja California. The purpose of CaPR is the long-term conservation of wild populations of these species through seed banking and fieldwork. The Native Plant Seed Bank has been working hard to make this possible by focusing on the rarest plant populations in San Diego County. This includes obtaining land manager permission, the locating of rare plant populations, monitoring population numbers and reproductive cycles and making a very responsible seed collection. The goal is to conserve the genetic diversity of the rarest populations in the county through the long term storage of these seed collections.

    • Carlsbad Wildlife Movement Analysis

      A study of wildlife movement within the Carlsbad’s NCCP plan, known as the Habitat Management Plan (HMP). The HMP is the only approved subarea plan of the sub regional Multiple Habitat Conservation Plan (MHCP). A key objective of the HMP is to “maintain functional wildlife corridors and habitat linkages within the city and to the region.” An inventory of possible wildlife movement corridors and constraints, and an initial monitoring of key locations, is necessary to provide a baseline assessment of animal movement within the city and to begin evaluating the MHCP and HMP objectives. This Wildlife Movement Analysis Final Report is a summary of the methods and results of an inventory of potential wildlife movement corridors and pinchpoints within the City of Carlsbad.

  • Central City Preserve Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Program

    Project Goals and Habitat Restoration Methods: (1) Increase coast cholla patch sizes and density within portions of the Central City Preserve to benefit populations of coastal cactus wrens; (2) Restore and enhance patches of coast cholla in a distribution pattern that facilitates dispersal of cactus wrens between areas of suitable habitat within PMA 1; (3) Proactive reduction of native and non-native fuels in the immediate vicinity of nesting sized coast cholla patches to decrease the risk of catastrophic fires that could eliminate wren habitat; (4) Restore habitat for coastal cactus wrens and other covered species, including coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) and Belding's orange-throated whiptail (Aspidoscelis hyperythra beldingi), in areas currently dominated by weeds; (5) Restore and enhance coastal cactus wren habitat through the selective thinning and removal of lemonadeberry, other native shrubs, and exotic annuals that are directly competing with coast cholla to the detriment of cactus wren populations.

    • Chula Vista Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Program

      A 5-year restoration and enhancement project designed to maintain and increase suitable habitat for the cactus wren in the City of Chula Vista's Central City Preserve. The goal of this program is to ensure the prolongation of the coastal cactus wren through active management of suitable cactus wren habitat, restore degraded and/or fragmented cholla patches, and initiate activities to reduce edge effects associated with invasive species, uncontrolled access and risk of fire.

    • Salt Creek Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration Project

      The goal of the project was to enhance, restore, expand, and monitor coastal cactus wren habitat in the Salt Creek area. In 2008, County of San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation planted 7,000 to 10,000 cactus cuttings toenhance and improve existing coastal cactus wrenhabitat on 1.4 acres within the Otay Ranch Preserve inthe Salt Creek area. The area is jointly managed by theCounty and City of Chula Vista. Monitoring of birds and vegetation was conducted.

  • Coastal Cactus Wren Monitoring in MUs 3 and 4

    A monitoring plan for coastal cactus wren monitoring in MUs 3 and 4 covering the years from 2015 through 2019 has been developed. The two goals are: 1. To assess population status following the 2014 drought. 2. Monitor execution of the Implementation Plan's highest priority management actions (MSP, Vol. 2, Table 2-2.9 (llP, J EX)). This includes determining the relationships between specific elements of habitat quality, food availability, and cactus wren productivity and survival and using this knowledge to refine ASMDs to increase population abundance and resilience. Specific objectives are included in the MSP.

    • Cactus Wren Monitoring in MUs 3 and 4

      This is a planned 5-year study with two main goals: 1) Assess the population status of the coastal cactus wren following the 2014 drought and 2) monitor the implementation of the MSP 2015 Habitat Conservation and management Plan's highest priority management actions. In the first year, the population status of cactus wren in MUs 3 and 4 was assessed to determine the relationship between habitat quality, food availability, and cactus wren productivity and survival. In 2017, the focus is on monitoring cactus wren reproduction and survival and conducting vegetation sampling. Specific management recommendations will be developed to respond to short-term emergency needs and to enhance habitat for long-term cactus wren persistence.

    • Covered and Invasive Species Management: Crestridge Ecological Reserve and South Crest Properties

      This was a two year, TransNet-funded study on Crestridge Ecological Reserve and South Crest properties. Both properties support MSCP covered species and sensitive habitats, and function as critical landscape linkages between the northern and southern MSCP. Surrounded by residential development and heavily impacted by the 2003 Cedar Fire, these properties are subject to ongoing invasive plant issues. Specific task actions included invasive plant and covered plant species mapping and risk assessment s, invasive plant control and experimental studies, and development of an early detection invasive control plan.

    • Dehesa Nolina Conservation and Management Strategy

      The Conservation Biology Institute developed a science-based Conservation Vision and Management Strategy for Dehesa nolina in San Diego County. The Conservation Vision assessed the distribution, status, and threats of populations on conserved lands through data and literature reviews, site visits, and interviews with land managers. Products included spatial data layers, an updated matrix of threats and stressors, management recommendations, and prioritized populations for management. The Management Strategy focused on preserve-level management, using the existing Dehesa nolina population on the South Crest Preserve to test/refine management techniques, including species augmentation (seed collection, contract growing of plants, out-planting) and erosion control. These actions also benefitted Dudleya variegata (variegated dudleya) and sensitive native grassland habitat. These management actions complemented other Transnet-funded management on South Crest; techniques refined in this project are applicable to other conserved populations in the region.

    • Emergency Land Management Fund

      Initiation date in 2000's; in progress

  • Enforcement (CDFW)

    • Open Space Enforcement Program (CDFW and County Sheriff)

      Illegal activities, such as off-road riding, trespassing, vandalism, and littering have complicated efforts to preserve and manage open space lands in the region of San Diego. Despite passive enforcement efforts, open space violations continued to persist on both publicly owned lands and privately owned properties and are believed to be adversely affecting the species and habitats that the open space lands were intended to preserve. To address this issue, the San Diego Association of Governments in association with its partners, developed an Open Space Enforcement Program to coordinate and implement an aggressive multi-agency enforcement effort for conservation and management of the open space in the region. Through a cooperative approach, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Off-Road Enforcement Team (ORET) participated in a Pilot Program to advance the following goals: 1. Prevent/reduce habitat damage 2. Reduce/prevent take of MHCP and MSCP “covered species” 3. Reduce preserve management and remediation costs 4. Support volunteer patrol activities on preserves CDFW Game Wardens primarily focused on increasing law enforcement patrols in open space areas for illegal activity to control damage of property and the environment. Game Wardens enforced state law and local ordinances against violators in the targeted areas to help reduce and deter criminal activities on open space lands in the region.The ORET developed an open space enforcement plan and conducted enforcement actions that have a nexus and contributed to the protection of open spaces throughout the region. A majority of the ORET’s efforts focused on areas previously identified, while the remainder of their effort focused on response to specific and often one-time requests for open space enforcement response. To the extent possible, the ORET and DFG collaborated on developing joint operational plans and information sharing to enhance the logistical and tactical effectiveness of the Program.

    • Enhancing the Resilience of Edaphic Endemic Plants

      The Management Strategic Plan for San Diego County requires prioritization and management for edaphic endemic plants, including the five rare plants addressed in this study. These species face low genetic diversity due to reduced population sizes, geographic isolation, and loss of pollinators. To enhance the resilience of these species across their ranges, we must manage threats to increase population sizes, identify potentially suitable habitat to connect existing populations, find or restore new populations, and provide opportunities for shifting distributions due to climate change. This study identifies and describes geographic areas that support the five edaphic endemic species and their habitat in a design that enhances resilience and provides opportunities for shifting distributions. We developed conceptual models to inform field studies and management, refined soils and vegetation attributes, and assessed regional population structure and threats. We used results to suggest prioritized locations for surveys, management, potential translocation, and additional conservation or acquisition. Project partners (U.S. Geological Survey and San Diego Management and Monitoring Program) modeled suitable habitat for the target species under current and future climate scenarios; we reference models as appropriate.

    • Fairbanks Ranch/Rancho Santa Fe Invasive Removal and Stream Enhancement

      The long-term goal of this project is to restore and enhance wetland/riparian habitat along 3 miles, 200 acres, of the San Dieguito River and reduce fire risk to the surrounding community. Key actions include non-native, invasive plant removal, revegetation with native species, volunteer training, community workshops and education of local residents on how to improve habitat and create Fire-Safe landscapes around their homes. A secondary goal of this project is to highlight the importance of diverse partnerships in conserving habitat along the San Dieguito River. For more information, go to: http://www.ranchosantafereview.com/news/local-news/sd-cm-rsf-restorationproject-20171101-story.html.

    • Famosa Slough, Restoration and enhancement

      Famosa Slough is a City of San Diego Wetland Preserve. The City and the Friends of Famosa Slough have been working on its maintenance and restoration since about 1991.

    • Feral Pig Eradication in San Diego County

      The purpose for the project is to eliminate or reduce impacts of feral pigs on the natural resources in San Diego County.

    • Feral Pig Removal Program Monitoring

      This is an ongoing project established to support the feral pig removal effort in San Diego County established and funded by land management agencies that have been participating in the Intergovernmental Feral Pig Project. This is an independent monitoring project intended to complement and inform the USDA Wildlife Services-led removal project. The objectives of the project are to monitor feral pigs and their movements through use of telemetry, remote cameras, and collecting field data pre-, during, and post-removal actions to inform efficient and effective removal efforts. The project is also working to coordinate with the Feral Pig Intergovernmental Working Group and provide results of the monitoring efforts on a quarterly basis.

    • Fire Workshop

      This task involves organzing and hosting a Wildland Fire Workshop focused on Southern California and landscape level fires occurring in the last decade.

    • Framework Resource Management Plans

      Develop 2 to 3 Framework Management Plans. Task 1. South Western Otay Mesa Preserve Management Plan. Task 2. South Crest Preservce Complex Management Plan. Task 3. Preserve Area 3 (Optional Task).

    • Genetics Workshop

      The purpose of this workshop was to review current genetic techniques and how they can be applied to monitoring and management needs for rare and endangered species, ecological communities and the broader landscape.

    • Golden Eagle nest platforms

      San Diego National Wildlife Refuge (SDNWR) personnel and contractors constructed and installed artificial nest ledges to induce Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) to resume nesting on SDNWR and other suitable habitat nearby. Since the platforms were installed, the biologist at SDNWR has monitored them for use by eagles. Platforms were initially monitored by watching the platform and environs with a scope from a vantage point approximately a mile away. In early spring of 2016, we installed motion-triggered cameras at each of the nest platforms, and abandoned the remote surveillance we had been doing. In addition, Dr. Robert Fisher of the Western Ecological Research Center, US Geological Survey, is aware of the platforms, and looks for evidence of platform use in the data transmitted from radio-tagged eagles that are the subject of his study. To date, we only have one unequivocal record of use of the platforms by eagles. On 4 April, 2014, the refuge biologist watched a mated pair of eagles perched together on the San Miguel Mountain platform for approximately 2 minutes, after which they resumed soaring around the east side of the mountain. They occupied that hillside for the entire nesting season without nesting.

  • Golden Eagle Studies - San Diego County

    This is a planned 5-Year Study - The objectives of this study are 1. Establish a site-occupancy monitoring program to assess the potential effects of human land use on occupancy dynamics and nesting success of golden eagles. 2. Use GPS biotelemetry data to develop models for golden eagle movement behavior and resource use in three spatial dimensions. 3. Collect genetic samples and analyze genetic differentiation and diversity of golden eagles in San Diego County relative to other sampled regions of western North America.

    • Five Year Site Occupancy, Nesting Success, Movement Behavior, and Genetic Structure of Golden Eagles in Western San Diego County, California

      The status of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in coastal southern California is unclear. To address this knowledge gap, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in collaboration with local, State, and other Federal agencies began a multi-year survey and tracking program of golden eagles to address questions regarding habitat use, movement behavior, nest occupancy, genetic population structure, and human impacts on eagles. Golden eagle trapping and tracking efforts began in September 2014. During trapping efforts from September 29, 2014, to February 23, 2016, 27 golden eagles were captured. During trapping efforts from February 24, 2016, to February 23, 2017, an additional 10 golden eagles (7 females and 3 males) were captured in San Diego, Orange, and western Riverside Counties. Biotelemetry data were collected between November 22, 2014 and February 23, 2016. Biotelemetry data for 26 of the 37 golden eagles that were transmitting data from February 24, 2016, to February 23, 2017 are presented in the reports. These eagles ranged as far north as northern Nevada and southern Wyoming, and as far south as La Paz, Baja California, Mexico. For more information on this study, please visit the USGS website: https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/ds994 .

    • Habitat Restoration and Invasive Control in Carlsbad HU

      This project treated 24.84 acres of invasive species throughout the project area in Indian Head Canyon, Encinitas, and Rancho Carillo, Carlsbad. The associated biomass was reduced or removed, and over 34.5 acres of invasive species were retreated (some retreatment areas had been previously treated) This project also installed, watered, maintained 450 native plants.

    • Harbison's Dun Skipper Implementation Plan

      Using existing data, develop a habitat model, and prepare an implementation plan for the management and monitoring of Harbison's Dun Skipper.

  • Hermes Copper Butterfly

    • Hermes Copper Adult Surveys

      In 2016, researchers conducted butterfly surveys and habitat assessments at small northern populations and at southern sites. They did not detect Hermes copper adults at any of the eight northern sites, although this was consistent with other (larger) sites in the county due to continuing drought conditions. They did detect Hermes copper at some of the southern sites. Habitat assessments resulted in the mapping of 65 spiny redberry patches and 11 single redberry shrubs across the 8 sites. Up to 90 redberry shrubs were recorded in a single patch, but more patches were represented by a relatively low number of shrubs, and most of the redberry patches had at least 60% shrub cover. Additional insight may be gained from a more formal comparison to the habitat measured at Hermes copper sites in southern San Diego County.

    • Hermes Copper Implementation Habitat Conservation and Management Plan

      This plan identifies and prioritizes management and restoration needs over the next five years (2017-2021) for the Hermes copper across the entire United States range. It is intended that implementation of high priority management actions in this plan will help to achieve the MSP Roadmap goal for Hermes copper to: “protect, enhance, and restore Hermes copper occupied habitat and historically occupied habitat and the landscape connections between them to create resilient, self-sustaining populations that provide for persistence over the long term (>100 years)”.

    • Hermes Copper Larval Captive Rearing

      Captive rearing is a potential management tool for fire risk reduction and to improve connectivity (augment natural populations). However, Hermes copper larvae are extremely difficult to rear in captivity, and no one has successfully reared a Hermes copper from egg to adult. Rearing efforts in 2013 provided important information in terms of foraging requirements for early instar larvae, however, breaking winter diapause remained a challenge. Researchers conducted an additional year of captive rearing, a first year with a sophisticated rearing chamber at the San Diego Zoo which can control temperature and humidity. Eggs were obtained in May-June 2016 for rearing activities in the spring of 2017. This project attempted to rear eggs to determine the optimal conditions for rearing Hermes copper in captivity and establish protocols. This is one critical barrier to several management approaches that are available for other butterfly species, which can be reared in captivity for study or for reintroduction projects.

    • Rare Butterfly Management Studies- Transloaction 2016

      Our research has documented several extirpations due to the 2003 and 2007 wildfires, but few recolonizations despite what appears to be suitable habitat. Although a few small populations exist within and north of the city of San Diego, the majority of Hermes copper individuals are found to the east and southeast of the city between the footprints of 2003 and 2007 fires. Due to the extremely restricted distribution, the species is highly vulnerable since one large fire could push the species to the brink of extinction. Recolonization into post-wildfire habitats is essential for the long-term persistence of Hermes copper; however, it appears that habitat fragmentation is limiting dispersal and preventing recolonizations from occurring. For these reasons, we initiated a project to evaluate translocation as a management tool for establishing self-sustaining Hermes copper populations. If successful, this could be a potential management tool to mitigate the impacts of wildfire. We translocated Hermes copper from larger populations to an area that was occupied by Hermes copper prior to a recent (2007) wildfire. In addition, key members of the vegetation community, including spiny redberry and California buckwheat shrubs were still present after the fire. The success of translocation of adults and eggs was assessed separately.

  • Hermes Copper Management and Monitoring

    • Hermes Copper Management Studies on Conserved Lands in San Diego County

      This study builds on the previous 2-year study on Hermes Copper. In 2012 the project shifted to resolving critical uncertainties about the species biology, while also evaluating population size trends at several large. The focus for 2014-2015 remained on resolving these uncertainties, primarily regarding immature stages.

    • Two-Year Evaluation of Hermes Copper (Lycaena hermes)

      This project was conducted to address the growing concerns about the status of Hermes copper and minimize the risk that Hermes copper will become extinct. The objectives were: (1) improve our basic understanding of population status and trend; (2) describe natural and anthropogenic threats to the species; (3) evaluate potential management options to ameliorate threats and/or to increase the size and range of viable populations. Year 1 included: GIS analysis, landscape genetics, vegetation survey, hermes copper field survey, and data analysis. Year 2 included: field surveys, landscape genetics, and data analysis and synthesis.

    • Implementation of the Invasive Plant Strategic Plan

      Implement invasive plant species control per the strategic plan. Task 1. Invasive Species Coordinator. Task 2. Invasive Plant Level 1 Management. Task 3. Invasive Plant Level 2 Management. Task 4. Invasiove Plant Level 3 Management. Task 5. Tracking and Updating Invasive Species for Priority Removal.

    • J26 Vernal Pool Monitoring- Vista Del Mar Elementary School Project

      Five-year monitoring of vernal pool reference site J26 Vernal Pool Complex as part of the comprehensive mitigation program associated with the construction of the San Ysidro School District's Vista Del Mar Elementary School. The J26 Complex is formally recognized by the USFWS as a vernal pool reference site. It is located 10 km north of the restoration area. Vernal pools in the J26 Complex were chosen as control pools to monitor restoration success. This includes monitoring of San Diego fairy shrimp populations, vernal pool plant germination and abundance, and levels of inundation in a healthy vernal pool system.

    • Least Bell's Vireo Surveys - Tijuana River Valley

      In 2017, USGS conducted Least Bell's Vireo surveys at the Tijuana River to document the species' status 2 years after the Kuroshio Shothole Borer/Fusarium Dieback infestation and compare it to historic vireo abundance and distribution.

    • Lusardi Creek Restoration and Invasive Plant Removal

      This project is working to eradicate invasive species and support native plants along Lusardi Creek. Many areas have already been treated and are recruiting natives naturally. Other areas are being planted with natives after invasive plant removal. The current goals include: 1) treat artichoke in several upland areas, 2) continue removing tamarix in the creek, 3) treat any regrowing Peruvian pepper, 4) treat any remaining pampas grass or tree tobacco, 5) work on an overall restoration plan. See the map link below for detailed treatment information.

  • Mountain Lion Connectivity Studies

    • Mountain Lion Connectivity and Genetics Study- North San Diego County

      The purpose of this study is to provide the data needed regarding which lands in north San Diego County are likely utilized by mountain lions, and to assess connectivity within and between current and proposed future conserved lands in MSP Management Units (MU) 5, 6 and 8 and conserved and unconserved mountain lion habitat in adjacent Riverside, and Orange Counties. The results from this study of mountain lion movement, habitat use, gene flow, and highway crossings will be available to inform critical decisions regarding the prioritization of lands for conservation and the potential need and location of highway modifications to enhance connectivity for mountain lions and other wildlife. For this study, the UCD-WHC team will be conducting genetic analyses, resource selection and movement modeling, analysis of potential crossing points of highways.

    • Mountain Lion Critical Linkage Evaluation in MSPA

      As a part of its ongoing Southern California Mountain Lion project, this study assesses mountain lion use of core conserved lands and linkages in western San Diego County. GPS-collaring of mountain lions was undertaken in order to acquire location and movement data from individual lions utilizing core conserved areas and linkages that have been designated by the county. Six mountain lions were GPS-collared in this study (5 males and 1 female). All 6 circulated extensively in one or more of the targeted conserved cores and linkages, as well as on adjacent conserved and unconserved lands. Of the 9 core conserved areas assessed, 6 were used regularly by collared mountain lions. Of the 11 linkages identified for assessment, only 3 were demonstrated to be utilized for regular movement from one core area to another. One other linkage between core conserved areas was demonstrated that was not pre-identified on the connectivity maps. Roads and associated development, even rural development, appear to be the primary limiters of connectivity between conserved lands.

    • Mountain Lion Road Crossing and Deterrent Methods Evaluations

      This proposed contract expands upon work conducted under contracts #5004037 and #5004593 between SANDAG and the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center to study mountain lions and their habitat use and movement patterns in San Diego County for conservation purposes. Work under this contract will help to address connectivity and survival threats for mountain lions, other wildlife, livestock, and humans by creating guidance for reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions, improving wildlife connectivity, and reducing mortality of livestock, mountain lions, and other wildlife. Task 1: Conduct highway crossing assessments; Task 2: Test Lion hazing and deterrent devices; Task 3: Write final report.

    • MSCP Wildlife Corridor Monitoring

      A CBI study evaluating several MSCP habitat linkages and corridors critical to regional wildlife movement in the MSCP preserve. The study evaluated the functionality of the linkages, the large mammals and mesopredators using the linkages, constraints to animal movement, and underpass function.

    • Non-Invasive Genetic Sampling to Determine Movement of Southern Mule Deer Across California State Route 67

      The goal of this project was to primarily assess east-west connectivity across Route 67 and secondarily, north-south connectivity across Scripps Poway Parkway and Poway Road, two highly trafficked roads to the west of Route 67.The Southern Mule Deer is a mobile but non-migratory large mammal found throughout southern California and is a covered species in the San Diego Multi-Species Conservation Plan. USGS researchers assessed deer movement and population connectivity across California State Route 67 and two smaller roads in eastern San Diego County using non-invasive genetic sampling. They collected deer scat pellets between April and November 2015, and genotyped pellets at 15 microsatellites and a sex determination marker. They successfully genotyped 71 unique individuals from throughout the study area and detected nine recapture events. Recaptures were generally found close to original capture locations (within 1.5 km). They did not detect recaptures across roads; however, pedigree analysis detected 21 first order relative pairs, of which approximately 20% were found across State Route 67. Exact tests comparing allele frequencies between groups of individuals in pre-defined geographic clusters detected significant genetic differentiation across State Route 67. In contrast, the assignment-based algorithm of STRUCTURE supported a single genetic cluster across the study area. Their data suggest that State Route 67 may reduce, but does not preclude, movement and gene flow of Southern Mule Deer.

    • Nonnative Species Removal for Southwestern Pond Turtles in Southerm San Diego

      Assessment of pond draining as a strategy for nonnatives removal at Rancho Jamul ER; 2. Removal of non-natives, maintenance and monitoring of the Sycuan Peak ER.

    • Oncosiphon Piluliferum (Stinknet) Management

      Oncosiphon piluliferum (stinknet) is a fast-spreading invasive plant from South Africa that is becoming established in Southern California and Arizona. It is an annual flowering plant that often occurs in arid to semi-arid regions in sandy soils. It is very prolific, and especially abundant in disturbed agriculture fields and open scrublands. It has a strong unpleasant odor and medicinal properties. Oncosiphon is used by indigenous peoples as an herbal remedy and more recently is being evaluated for pharmaceutical uses. It was originally introduced into Riverside County in 1981 and San Diego County in 1998. It is becoming very abundant and widespread in the San Pasqual Valley and is well established in western Otay Mesa and many other spots along the coast and inland western San Diego County. Because it is so abundant and dense in coastal sage scrub, it poses a potential threat to species of conservation concern, such as the California gnatcatcher and coastal cactus wren. It also has the potential to impact reptiles, sensitive plants, and other species inhabiting openings in scrublands or riparian areas. The San Diego Management and Monitoring Program is initiating efforts to eradicate small, isolated occurrences, prevent new occurrences from establishing, and, as feasible, to contain and reduce impacts of larger occurrences. In 2018, SDMMP will be coordinating with weed control experts and land managers to map and treat Oncosiphon in western San Diego County.

  • Orcutt's Spineflower Enhancement

    • Orcutt's Spineflower Enhancement

      The goal of this project was to significantly improve the conservation status of three of the rarest and most imperiled plants in San Diego County: Orcutt’s spineflower, San Diego thornmint, and short-leaved dudleya. Proposed work included stabilizing and increasing the size of existing populations, establishing new populations of Orcutt’s spineflower, and providing stewardship. A TransNet EMP grant funded the development and implementation of a conservation strategy that included seed bulking and the establishment of additional populations of Orcutt’s spineflower to help minimize the risk of extinction. SANDAG EMP funds and a Section 6 grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife funded GIS mapping of suitable habitat soils and population surveys at remaining natural historic documented occurrences and in newly mapped suitable habitat on conserved lands off the Point Loma Navy Base.

    • Population Genetic Analysis of 6 Rare Plant Species in San Diego County

      The first phase (years 1-2) of this research task focused on genetic and cytological screening to determine potential ploidy and population genetic differences among occurrences within species. Upon completion, an expert panel convened to review results of the genetic studies and develop specific recommendations for each species relative to the MSP management objectives planned for that species. These recommendations included designing appropriate common garden or reciprocal transplant studies to determine the fitness consequences of using seed from different populations to increase population size or establish new occurrences. The recommendations also addressed MSP objectives involving seed banking and seed bulking needs for each species. The expert panel also made recommendations on genetic management of populations, including whether genetic connectivity needs to be enhanced or restored to maintain or increase genetic diversity. Recommended and approved studies will be added in the second phase (beginning in year 3). The following questions were specifically addressed in phase 1: 1. What is the status of documented occurrences? 2. Is there evidence of mixed ploidy levels among or within occurrences? 3. What is current genetic structure among and within occurrences in the MSPA? How vulnerable are the occurrences to genetic drift and loss of genetic diversity and is there gene flow between occurrences? 4. Are there signatures of genetic bottlenecks or lower genetic diversity in populations that have undergone recent reductions due to fire, drought, or other causes, or evidence of local adaptation? 5. Based on the cytological and genetic analysis, what are the recommendations for common garden and reciprocal transplantations, for collecting, bulking and distributing seeds for enhancing existing occurrences, and for establishing new occurrences?

  • Post-Fire Monitoring

    • Post-Fire Monitoring - Arroyo Toad Surveys

      The arroyo toad surveys in southern San Diego County are part of an investigation of the impacts of fire on arroyo toads. In 2007, the Witch, Harris and Poomacha fires burned approximately 300,000 acres of wildlands in San Diego County. Many of the burned lands are currently conserved or are planned to be conserved under the San Diego County Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP). Riparian areas across four major watersheds were extensively burned during these 2007 fires, many of these streams support arroyo toad populations. The USGS (coordinating with the San Diego Association of Governments, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, City of San Diego, and County of San Diego) is investigating how specific target species will respond to these massive fires and resultant changes in stream morphology, vegetation communities, and vegetation structure over a five-year time period. The goal of this study is to provide information that will allow future land management decisions to include considerations of the effects of large wildfires on the biological community structure and function, especially for those species covered by conservation plans such as the San Diego County MSCP.

  • Post-Fire Monitoring - Riparian Bird Richness, Abundance, and Diversity

    • Monitoring and Documentation of Post-Fire Recovery of Riparian Bird Community

      This was Year 1 of a 2-year study on the effects of fire on the riparian bird community in San Diego County. Tasks included documenting the effects of the 2007 fires on endangered birds, in particularly, the Least Bell's Vireo, and monitoring post-fire recovery of the entire riparian breeding bird community.

    • Riparian Bird Surveys

      This was Year 2 of a 2-year study on the effects of fire on the riparian bird community in San Diego County. Tasks included documenting the effects of the 2007 fires on endangered birds, in particularly, the Least Bell's Vireo, and monitoring post-fire recovery of the entire riparian breeding bird community.

    • Quino Checkerspot Implementation Plan

      Using existing data, prepare an implementation plan for the management and monitoring of Quino checkerspot.

    • Quino Herbicide Study

      This project was designed to test for any effects of the commercially available taxon-specific herbicides Fusilade II, Transline, and application surfactant on Quino checkerspot butterfly larval development, survival, and pupal weights. The experimental design tested for direct and indirect effects on the proportion of larvae that pupate as well as the weights of the pupa. Part of this project was completed as Task 2 under LAG agreement #P0982020 in place of Triolored blackbird task.

    • Ramona Grassland Raptor Monitoring

      A 3-year raptor study was initiated by the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation to collect baseline information on eagle and other raptor activity at the Ramona Grasslands Preserve (preserve). The purpose of this study is to conduct an eagle/raptor foraging study for the Preserve and golden eagle nest monitoring in Bandy Canyon. Baseline information will provide a better understanding of species abundance and distribution within the Preserve, and be useful in informing management decisions (e.g., trail feasibility and alignments, seasonal closures) and will provide a reference point for any future studies or assessments pertaining to public use.

    • Rapid Assessment Protocols

      USGS will conduct a survey protocol design optimization using existing datasets. Species accumulation curves will be produced and used to inform the necessary number of surveys (or survey days) required to document the presence of most species. The USGS will also analyze detection rates and/or detection probabilities of prioritized target species, both native and non-native, to inform the necessary number of surveys required for rapid assessment.

  • Rare Bat Monitoring

    Pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) and Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendiil) have both been proposed as protected species in the North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan and are included in the MSP. These two species are believed to be at high to moderate risk of loss in the MSP area because of their low numbers and sensitivity to human disturbance. However, their population status, locations of roosts (diurnal, nocturnal. and maternity), primary foraging areas, water sources used, threats and connectivity between populations in the MSP area are largely unknown. The lack of information makes it difficult to implement appropriate management actions to conserve their habitats. The MSP identifies this work as a priority for implementation starting in 2016 (MSP, Vol 2, pallid bat: P. 2-104-112 and Townsend's big-eared bat: P. 2-168-177). In 2016, the SDNHM under contract to USGS will continue to survey areas with known pallid and Townsend's big-eared bat occurrences in MUs 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 as identified in the MSP and in other high potential sites based on previous survey work by USGS and the SDNHM, including areas in North County and potentially areas adjacent to the MSP. Other areas inside and outside the MSP will be determined in coordination with SANDAG and the SDMMP. A variety of methods will be used (roost surveys, mist-netting, acoustic surveys, etc.) to identify and map the primary roosts and foraging areas used by pallid bat (MSP, Vol. 2. Table 2-1 .34, RS objective) and Townsend's big-eared bat (MSP, Vol. 2, Table 2-2.1 1, RS objective). Roost surveys will document diurnal, nocturnal and maternity roosts. Bat use will be evaluated and environmental covariate data collected, including a threat assessment. Recommendations will be developed for any needed management actions at each roost site. Surveys will identify primary foraging and water source areas used by pallid and Townsend's big-eared bats. Environmental covariate data will be collected at foraging and water source sites, including an assessment of habitat quality. Management measures will be developed to maintain or improve foraging habitat and water sources. Tissue samples will be collected for use in determining genetic connectivity between populations. Mist netting will document age class, gender ratio, reproductive condition, recruitment weight, ecotoparasite load, and overall condition in areas where bats are captured. All species of bats captured in nets will be documented. The information collected in this study will be used to develop an Implementation Plan in 2017 that prioritizes management actions to protect roosts from disturbance and ensures sufficient roosts for seasonal temperature requirements and for reproduction. And enhances foraging habitat in MUs 3, 4, 5, and 6 (MSP, Vol. 2. Tables 2-1.34 and 2-2 .11. PIP objective).

    • Bat Management in San Diego County

      This is a planned 2-year Study. In 2015 and 2016, the SDNHM, under contract to USGS, will survey areas with known pallid and Townsend's big-eared bat occurrences in MUs 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 as identified in the MSP and in other high potential sites based on previous survey work by USGS and the SDNHM, including areas in North County and potentially areas adjacent to the MSP.

    • Rare Butterfly Management and Conservation Planning- 2016 Harbison's Dun Skipper Flight Season Surveys

      This project is Task #7 of SANDAG contract number 5004388: Rare Butterfly Management and Conservation Planning. A summary of this task is provided below. Surveys for Harbison’s dun skipper adults were conducted to assess year to year variation in population size. Field visits were used to document use including plants used for nectar sources, as well as obtain non-lethal genetic samples. A rapid habitat assessment was conducted at each site which included general woodland tree species composition, condition of San Diego sedge plants, and recording potential threats to the Harbison’s dun skipper.

    • Rare Plant Baseline Surveys

      Conduct surveys of rare plants and develop a rare plant survey protocol (ISV).

  • Rare Plant IMG Monitoring

    • Rare Plant Inspect and Manage Monitoring 2014-2019

      From 2014-2021, a Management and Monitoring Strategic Plan (MSP Roadmap) monitoring objective for 30 rare plant species is to inspect occurrences to determine management needs. The inspect and manage (IMG) objective is implemented to document the status of rare plant occurrences and assess habitats and threats to develop specific management recommendations. IMG monitoring is implemented by a combination of land managers and contracted biologists in coordination with the SDMMP. Rare plant monitoring data from 2014-2017 are posted below and available for use by land managers and scientists. The 2018 monitoring dataset will be posted in February 2019. Based upon an evaluation of these data, a 2017-2021 monitoring schedule has been developed for the 30 rare plant species (see Rare Plant 2017-2021 IMG Monitoring Schedule). In 2019, a top priority is to monitor the majority of rare plant occurrences for 17 species (see List of Rare Plant Species with 2019 IMG Obj) on Conserved Lands to identify management needs and prioritize regional funding for management. Coordinating data collection across the region allows analyses of species and population trends over time and provides a better understanding of the association between habitat and threat covariates and population dynamics. For an interactive map with 2014-2017 results, go to: http://arcg.is/2lTir9R

    • Rare Plant Management based on IMG Monitoring

      Implement land management based on IMG rare plant monitoring. These projects will include those funded by TransNet grants and other fund sources.

  • Recreation and Wildlife Studies

    • Recreation and Wildlife Study - Phase II

      Implement a well designed study that integrates species monitoring with recreation monitoring to systematically assess recreation's direct and indirect effects on sensitive wildlife species, to improve the understanding of the trade-offs inherent in multiple-use management of reserves, and to ensure that NCCP reserves are providing the required levels of protection and achieving the goals of the NCCP program.

    • Wildlife Response to Human Recreation on NCCP Reserves in San Diego County - Phase I

      Adaptive land protection and management strategies are fundamental to accomplishing the stated species and habitat conservation goals of federal Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and California Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) efforts. In San Diego County, the current NCCP reserve system includes more than 200,000 acres of protected lands, which are monitored and managed by multiple jurisdictions. The Wildlife Agencies (FWS and DFW, collectively), environmental groups, and reserve managers would like an improved understanding of how various threats and stressors may be affecting reserve performance for the benefit of 103 plant and animal species. The intent of this applied research project was to complement the existing species and habitat monitoring efforts in San Diego County by developing a program to assess the possible effects of human recreation on wildlife populations. Specific objectives were to: (1) Develop recommendations for research studying the effects of recreation on wildlife species; and (2) Test methods for monitoring recreation and complete a pilot field study.

  • San Diego Fairy Shrimp Genetics Studies

    • San Diego River Park Watch

      Park Watch patrols to deter illegal lodging vandalism and trails, and educate the public on sensitive resources. River clean-ups, invasive non-native plant removal and RiverBlitz surveys for invasive non-native plants, trash and site condition.

    • San Diego Thornmint Genetic Analysis

      Genetic studies were performed on San Diego Thornmint to help inform restoration practices. In this project, plant material was collected from a number of populations, a collection of seeds was gathered to obtain a representative sample of genetic diversity, a conduction of analysis of rangewide ploidy and isozomes was performed, and quarterly and annual reports were given to indicate progress and accomplishments. The Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM), National Forest Genetics Laboratory of the USDA Forest Service, and the Applied Ecology Division of the Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo Global designed and conducted the studies.

    • San Diego Tracking Team Transect data verification

      The San Diego Tracking Team is undertaking systematic data verification/review by deploying trail cameras at survey locations (placement to be determined by the transect leader) for one year (or two opposite seasons) per survey location, in rotation and/or as cameras become available. Feedback will be used to modify protocol where appropriate but primarily as a supplemental data source.

    • San Dieguito Citizen Science Monitoring Program

      The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC) developed the San Dieguito Citizen Science Monitoring Program as a sustainable, cost-effective, and scientifically valid approach to gather critical data on lands within the San Dieguito River Park Focused Planning Area. This program seeks to fill knowledge gaps on the diversity, population, movements and spatial ecology of species within the watershed to better inform future land acquisitions, adaptive land management, habitat and species restoration, educational initiatives and future research. One of the main objectives of this program is to gather data that is consistent and shared with other regional planning efforts being coordinated by the San Diego Management & Monitoring Program. Data collected is submitted to regional databases and will help meet the management goals and objectives identified in the Management & Monitoring Strategic Plan. Annual expert-led surveys are carried out by volunteer citizen scientists following approved protocols and encourage community involvement and engagement.

  • San Pasqual Habitat Restoration and Cactus Nursery Project

    The goal of this project is to develop and begin implementing a subwatershed-level management plan to restore and manage native habitat to support a stable, resilient Coastal Cactus Wren population in the San Pasqual Valley/Lake Hodges region of the San Dieguito Watershed. This subwatershed is one of the most biologically significant areas in S. California for CACW and requires immediate attention. This project includes the primary landowners and managers in the area to identify, prioritize, and implement habitat management within the subwatershed context to ensure quality habitat and healthy CACW populations. This will be done by evaluating CACW habitat quality, distribution, size, and connectivity, as well as mapping known locations of CACW pairs. Based on this information, key sites are identified to target management and restoration to maximize effectiveness both ecologically and economically. Of particular interest is increased connectivity of habitat patches to provide support for CACW movement, dispersal and colonization throughout the subwatershed. To do this, the goal will be to enhance and restore habitat based landscape priorities and utilize best restoration techniques to ensure successful restoration.

    • San Pasqual Habitat Restoration and Cactus Nursery Project

      Provide habitat connectivity between Lake Hodges and the Safari Park for cactus wren expansion and establish a cactus nursery in North County for habitat restoration for cactus wren. This is an on-going project that has multiple funding sources.

    • Shinohara Vernal Pool Restoration

      In 2007 the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge began work to restore approximately 30 acres of vernal pool habitat on the former Shinohara parcel. The overall goal of the vernal pool restoration project was to establish healthy vernal pool habitat and associated coastal sage scrub/native grassland where vernal pool and other native flora and fauna are likely to persist. In April 2007, the restoration site was dethatched and more than 60 degraded vernal pool basins were deepened. Weed control was conducted annually in the growing seasons of 2007/2008, 2008/2009, and 2009/2010. One herbicide treatment was completed late in the 2011/2012 growing season. Where native flora was present in vernal pool basins, the basins were hand-weeded; otherwise, weeds were controlled with glyphosate herbicide. The restoration project included a combination of detatching, topographic re-contouring of basins, weed control, planting, and monitoring. In September 2007, 10 underground nest boxes for burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) were installed on the site. Starting in 2009, the number of owls on site gradually declined, and they have not been known to breed there since 2011. Decline in breeding is attributed to the development of the sage scrub habitat on the site.

    • Small Vertebrate Underpass Study

      In 2012, the small animal connectivity study began as part of Connectivity Monitoring Strategic Plan (CMSP) developed by the San Diego Monitoring and Management Program (SDMMP). There were three main objectives in this study. First, to determine which groups of small vertebrates are currently using or avoiding these wildlife underpasses and understand how these behaviors may be predicted by life history characteristics. Secondly, to investigate the effectiveness of adding cover structures to underpasses as a way to enhance small vertebrate use of underpasses. Third, to evaluate the extent to which larger vertebrates often used as focus species in connectivity studies in the region act as indicators of use by small vertebrate species.

    • Southern Mule Deer Genetic Study - LAG funded

      Southern mule deer connectivity study in the MSCP using DNA fingerprinting. The goals of this study were to: 1. Improve the laboratory methods to include more markers. 2. Genetically analyze both old and new mule deer samples with the full set of genetic markers. 3. Make management recommendations based on population genetic analyses, including how future changes in connectivity might be detected.

  • Southwestern Pond Turtle Recovery Project

    The goal of this project are to release and telemetry of head-started SW pond turtles at Sycuan Pesk ER and conduct an upper watershed assessment for translocation of SW pond turtle in the Otay and San Diego Watersheds. This project includes assessment of overall suitability of translocation sites including habitat as well as necessary land manager coordination, permitting and fees. Also included is the prioritization of donor sites and addresses permitting requirements for harvest of southwestern pond turtles for the translocation. New genetic material collected after the initial analysis (particularly from MUs 4,5,6, and 8) will be processed and analyzed.

    • Southwestern Pond Turtle Re-establishment

      Release and telemetry of head-started SW pond turtles at Sycuan Peak ER 2. Upper watershed assessment for translocation of SW pond turtle in the Otay, San Diego, and Tijuana River Watersheds

    • Southwestern Pond Turtle Re-establishment

      This project includes assessment of overall suitability of translocation sites including habitat as well as necessary land manager coordination, permitting and fees. Also included is the prioritization of donor sites and addresses permitting requirements for harvest of southwestern pond turtles for the translocation. New genetic material collected after the initial analysis (particularly from MUs 4,5,6, and 8) will be processed and analyzed.

    • Southwestern Pond Turtle reintroduction monitoring in Southern San Diego

      1. Release and radio telemetry of headstarted SW pond turtles at Sycuan Peak ER; 2. Population Assessment of SW pond turtle at Pine Valley Creek; 3. Release and radio telemetry of pond turtles at rancho Jamul ER.

  • Southwestern Willow Flycatcher surveys

    • Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Status and Demography

      This is a planned 5-Year study. USGS will conduct a 2-phased investigation to: 1) document the abundance and distribution of flycatchers in San Diego County; and 2) collect demographic data that will permit an assessment of the San Luis Rey River population within the larger contexts of MSPA and the state. During phase 1, drainage-wide surveys were conducted from Lake Henshaw downstream to College Boulevard in Oceanside between May and August 2015. These surveys were repeated in 2016, focused on sites outside of the San Luis Rey drainage that have historically supported resident southwestern willow flycatchers, including the Otay, Sweetwater, and San Diego Rivers, Santa Ysabel Creek, and Agua Hedionda. Phase 2 demographic data collection through monitoring started in 2016 and continued through 2017. In 2018, the focus is on monitoring flycatcher pairs in the upper San Luis Rey River study area, and banding and re-sighting color-banded flycatchers. Surveys will also be conducted outside the San Luis Rey drainage.

    • SR 94 Wildlife Infrastructure Plan

      Proposed road improvements to SR 94 provide an opportunity to mitigate the potential barrier effects of the highway. This project identifies where improvements to existing infrastructure on SR-94 could improve connectivity across the South County preserves, using Best Management Practices from the scientific literature; recommends wildlife movement monitoring to identify where new crossings are needed; and identifies where additional conservation would enhance the integrity of South County linkages. The review prioritizes infrastructure improvements of 35 existing undercrossings inspected by wildlife experts in the field along 14.6 miles of SR-94 where the highway bisects conserved lands. The majority of the recommendations for infrastructure improvement focus on increasing the diameter, and thus the openness ratio (cross-sectional area divided by length), of the undercrossing itself, removing vegetation and debris blocking the undercrossing, restoring habitat in the approach to the undercrossing, and installing fencing to both (1) keep animals off the highway and (2) funnel wildlife to the undercrossings.

    • SR-67 Multi-species Connectivity Planning

      A comprehensive multi-species analysis of connectivity for the area surrounding SR-67 in central San Diego County. Multiple modeling approaches are being applied to develop a wildlife crossing infrastructure plan for SR-67 and to design landscape linkages at the subregional level. This analysis directly address functional connectivity within the study area.

  • Thorne's Hairstreak Monitoring

    The three primary objectives were (1) to document the extent of Thorne's hairstreak (TH) presence within the study area of Otay Mountain; (2) to characterize habitat association within that geographic range; and (3) to conduct larval experiments addressing the importance of tree age on the physiological performance of caterpillars. With reference to objective 1, it was found that the distribution of TH on Otay Mountain was more extensive than previous reports had suggested. Also examined was TH presence in the interior versus perimeter versus exterior of host plants stands. With reference to objective 2, variables characterizing vegetation and the environment were thoroughly documented but found to explain very little of the variation in TH presence/absence and abundance. Finally, larval experiments were able to definitively reject the hypothesis that older foliage might be important for larval growth. The implications of these findings for the conservation of TH are discussed. In brief, the following main conclusions were made: (1) The widespread range of the butterfly within the study area has positive implications for persistence, though it should be remembered that the entire study area is not itself large and is prone to wildfires. (2) TH appear to associate with the host trees under a range of environmental conditions on Otay Mountain, but this should not be taken to mean that a monoculture of the trees would be sufficient for TH population persistence; to the contrary, patch edge use by TH strongly suggests that variation in patch size, area, and configuration are important and desirable targets for management and conservation. (3) Finally, it is noted that these findings point the way towards research that could be conducted with TH or (more likely) with closely related species to address the importance of habitat configuration and heterogeneity on population dynamics.

    • UNR Thorne's Hairstreak Monitoring

      Monitoring of the Thorne's hairstreak and mapping Tecate cypress. (1) Conduct occupancy surveys for Thorne's hairstreak adults and juveniles. (2) Characterize habitat associated with Thorne's hairstreak presence. (3) Age trees (by coring) in sampled stands of Tecate cypress. (4) Conduct larval and adult experiments to assess the importance of tree age for Thorne's hairstreak. (5) Analyze data from 2009 and 2010 and prepare final report.

    • Tijuana River Invasive Plant Control

      This project was undertaken to enhance and restore prime riparian and mule fat habitats within the Tijuana River Valley though the treatment of invasive, non-native plants and the planting of native plant species.

  • Urban Runoff Studies

    • Argentine Ant Study

      The USGS conducted the experimental implementation of sampling MSP sites during wet year conditions. The project utilized a stratified sampling design and a protocol developed in 2014. A combination of GIS and field measured covariates were used to identify drivers that impact Argentine ant population dynamics. The project also included developing potential measures to make the site less or unsuitable for Argentine ants. The outcome of this study will inform management actions for experimental implementation.

    • Urban Aseasonal Flow Study

      Non-native plants and animals with associated changes to ecological processes cause threats to native plants and animals. The San Diego Management and Monitoring Program’s Management Strategic Plan (MSP) identifies these threats and stressors, and presents goals and objectives to monitoring their affects. The MSP has prioritized the study of the impacts of urban aseasonal flow on local and regional stream systems. The issue of seasonal wetlands in urbanizing landscapes has received varying amount of attention. The runoff can create a range of results from increased soil moisture levels, to geomorphic changes in creeks and perennial flows in xeric landscapes. USGS is working with SDMMP and their partners in the Management Strategic Plan Area (MSPA) to determine what GIS covariates of land cover/land use might correlate with field measurements of the phenology of water presence in small watersheds. This will help to identify where urban runoff is providing habitat for aquatic nonnative problem species in areas inhabited by arroyo toads, western pond turtles and vernal pool areas. Study sites were selected using a spatial model including layers for watershed size, land use, and conserved lands. Site selection also considered surface water monitoring sites for arroyo toad monitoring (Brown et al. 2016) and surface flow monitoring stations used by the California Water Quality Control Board, San Diego Region (SDRWQCB unpub. data). The combination of the three studies provide a network of surface water availability and temperature data from coastal San Diego to the foothills of the Cuyamaca, Laguna, Palomar, and Santa Margarita mountain ranges. A total of 56 sites were selected, assessed, and Stream Temperature, Indeterminacy, and Conductivity (STIC) loggers were deployed. This adds to the existing 64 loggers that were deployed to measure Arroyo toad habitat. For 120 loggers, the following steps took place. 1. The logger was placed in the field and the location was recorded with a high resolution GPS. 2. Photographs were taken of each logger location 3. Each site was revisited several times through 2015-2016 and native and non-native aquatic species were recorded. 4. The drainage area (or watershed size) for each logger was calculated in ArcGIS. 5. The land use upstream from the logger was assessed by calculating the percent urban, percent agriculture, percent open space, percent residential, and percent commercial/industrial. 6. Temperature and Conductivity were collected from loggers and graphed. Future work will include continued logging and graphing of temperature and conductivity, continued survey of the sites for native and non-native aquatic species, and statistical analysis

  • Vegetation Mapping & Classification

    • Vegetation Mapping and Classification 2012

      This project first created a vegetation classification system and manual. Then, based on 2012 data, this project completed 3 tasks: Task 1. Vegetation Mapping. Task 2. Invasive Nonnative Species Plant Mapping. Task 3. Tecate Cypress Mapping. In 2014, the data was updated based on user's comments. The final products are available to download in the data section.

  • Vegetation Monitoring Methods

    • 2005-2007 Prioritizing and Creating Conceptual Models for MSCP Species

      This project was completed for California Department of Fish and Game Local Assistance Grant #P0450009, which assessed and improved the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program Biological Monitoring Plan. This project was a modular effort and included critical assessments and research on 1) the implementation of the monitoring program to date and information relevant to successful monitoring program design 2) prioritization of MSCP species based on threat, 3) prioritization of ecological communities based on extent and representation, and 4) development of conceptual models to aid monitoring and management. These steps follow the monitoring program design described in Atkinson et al. 2004 which can be found at: https://sdmmp.com/view_article.php?cid=CID_jmolden%40usgs.gov_57acfadf298c1.

    • 2008-2010 Evaluating Vegetation Data Collection Methods

      The objective of this NCCP Local Assistance Grant and SANDAG EMP funded project is to evaluate different sampling designs and field protocols for monitoring coastal sage scrub (CSS) and chaparral vegetation communities. This effort addresses one of the two broad goals of the monitoring program, namely monitoring biodiversity and ecosystem function. The objective of this project is to evaluate the cost and accuracy of different sampling designs and field protocols for monitoring coastal sage scrub (CSS) and chaparral vegetation. This project builds on the Franklin, Regan and Deutschman LAG project funded by CDFG (Agreement #P0450009) and complements two other LAG grants. These projects include a review of the rare plant monitoring program for the MSCP by McEachern et al. (Agreement # P0350011) and a review of the animal monitoring portion of the MSCP by the USFWS (Agreement #P0585100). This report follows and elaborates on ideas presented in two earlier reports submitted to CA DFG (Deutschman, Franklin, and Lewison - Agreement # P0685105; Deutschman - Agreement # P0782006).

    • 2008-2011 Evaluating Remote Sensing Methods for Vegetation Monitoring

      Identifying habitats that should be protected from further disturbance or conversion and isolating high-risk areas is a focus of community habitat plans in southern California shrublands. Larger wildfires are occurring at shorter intervals in recent decades, contributing to degradation and conversion of shrubland vegetation. Multitemporal remote-sensing approaches can bridge the gap between vegetation mapping and field sampling in habitats where frequent quantification and mapping of vegetation growth forms over large extents is required. The objective of this study is to examine the reliability and stability of a multiple endmember spectral mixture analysis (MESMA) approach with moderate spatial resolution imagery for monitoring changes in growth form fractional cover in shrubland habitats. Estimates from visual interpretation of high spatial resolution image were used as reference data for validating MESMA-derived maps and as basis for providing complementary monitoring protocols that may be accurate and cost-effective across multiple scales. Growth form proportions modelled in burned and unburned management areas compare well with expected fractional cover in mature and regenerating shrublands. In themanagement areas recovering from fire, herbaceous cover fraction exceeded 0.40 for all three study dates, suggesting that large portions of those management areas may already be invaded. From 2008 to 2011 overall herbaceous cover fraction in shrubland area increased by 2%. Herbaceous cover fraction was modelled with an overall mean absolute error (MAE) of 0.08, a smaller percentage than the percentage of herbaceous cover change recorded in areas recovering from fire (increase in herbaceous cover fraction from 0.09 to 0.13). This MESMA approach would be effective for quantifying changes in fractional cover that exceed 0.10, providing a way to delineate and quantify herbaceous invasions and expansions following disturbance or succession.

    • 2010-2012 Refining Research Objectives and Data Collection Methods

      A new phase of the vegetation monitoring program began in 2010. After several years focused on data collection and analysis, this project focused on closing the feedback loop as envisioned in Atkinson et al. 2004. Work involved a wide array of stakeholders to revise and update the goals and objectives of the monitoring and management plans, develop conceptual models for individual preserves, and adapt and apply management plans on individual preserves. One aspect of this work was a structured workshop. The workshop, based on the Dahlem model, was the first concrete step in facilitating collaborative decision making.

    • 2017-2019 Developing a Map of Ecological Integrity Using Remote Sensing

      This project's objective is to create a map of ecological integrity using remotely sensed data. Data sources include high resolution lidar and high resolution 4-band imagery from multiple sources. Final products from this work will include: 1) an updated high resolution Digital Elevation Model, 2) an updated high resolution Digital Surface Model, 3) a raster image depicting vegetation height (using lidar), 4) a raster image depicting herbaceous, shrub, and tree cover, 5) a map layer of ecological integrity (at a 50m grid) for coastal sage scrub, chaparral, oak woodlands, and riparian woodlands. Ecological integrity is defined for each vegetation community independently, based on analysis of previous field work. This project will build off the information and products previously created.

    • Wandering Skipper Surveys

      Surveys for Wandering Skipper at 10 sites in coastal San Diego County.

    • Wildlife Camera Workshop

      The U.S. Geological Survey and The Nature Conservancy, in coordination with the San Diego Management and Monitoring Program, hosted a workshop on the use and design of wildlife camera studies in San Diego and the adjoining region. Topics included wildlife cameras used for connectivity surveys, targeted species documentation, diversity surveys, and invasive species monitoring. Following presentations, there was a group discussion on the direction of wildlife camera research and the potential for coordinated efforts and data management.