San Diego Management & Monitoring Program


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Coastal cactus wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus sandiegensis

Goal: Protect, enhance, and restore suitable cactus scrub habitat for coastal cactus wrens to increase effective population size in each genetic cluster at a short term sustainable level (e.g. 50-100 wrens), rehabilitate habitat destroyed by wildfire, improve habitat quality to maintain populations during drought, enhance connectivity within and between genetic clusters to increase genetic diversity and rescue small populations, and manage anthropogenic predation risk to ensure the long term persistence (>100 years) of cactus wrens on Conserved Lands in the MSPA.

regional and/or local POST 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 SO

MGT-IMP-MGTPL CAMBRU-1

Management units: 2, 3, 4

From 2017 through 2021, continue implementing high priority management actions to: expand coastal cactus wren populations; rehabilitate habitat destroyed in the 2003 Cedar and 2007 Harris wildfires; improve connectivity within and between the Otay and San Diego/El Cajon genetic clusters (see occurrence table); and manage high risk of anthropogenic predation of adults and nestlings. These priority management actions are identified in the South San Diego County Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan prepared in 2015.
Action Statement Action status Projects
IMP-1 Following best practices in the South San Diego County Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan, design cactus scrub enhancement and restoration projects to provide high quality nesting and foraging habitat with large patches of cacti >1 m tall in a mosaic of open scrub that provides sufficient food resources for reproduction and survival, especially during drought. As they become available, incoporate the results from the Cactus Wren Demography, Foraging and Arthropod Study to create restoration palettes that favor plant species associated with important arthropod food resources. Design planting layouts to maximize water availability by allocating a portion of the plantings to more mesic sites, such as ravines, at the bottom of slopes, and on northerly and easterly aspects. Control invasive nonnative plants to =20% absolute cover to reduce competition with native plants for water and light. some occurrences are in progress Otay River Valley Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration and Enhancement , Salt Creek Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration Project
IMP-2 Implement management actions, as needed, to reduce anthropogenic predation on wrens and their nests in fragmented habitats bordered by development where wrens are vulnerable to predation by cats, Cooper's hawks, corvids and other human-subsidized predators. Actions could include removing selected trees within or bordering cactus scrub that provide hunting, roosting, and nesting perches for hawks and corvids and avoiding cactus scrub restoration in areas where the terrain and location make wrens especially vulnerable to predation. Other measures could involve humanely removing feral cats from Conserved Lands and providing educational material and signage encouraging neighboring homeowners to keep their cats indoors so that wrens are protected and cats are safe from predation by wild animals, such as coyotes. some occurrences are in progress Otay River Valley Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration and Enhancement , Salt Creek Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Restoration Project
Criteria Deadline year
By 2021, =3 High Priority Management Actions Implemented from the 2015 South San Diego County Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan 2021
Code Obj. code Statement
CAMBRU-2 MON-IMP-MGTPL From 2017-2021, collect data on the effectiveness of implementing high priority management actions from the 2015 South San Diego County Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan. In 2021, compile data from all restoration projects and determine the effectiveness of cumulative management actions for the combined Otay and San Diego/El Cajon genetic clusters (see occurrence table) in south San Diego County. These results will be used in 2022 to update management recommendations and success criteria for the South San Diego County Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat Conservation and Management Plan.
CAMBRU-3 MON-SURV-SPEC From 2017 to 2021, use a standardized protocol to survey for cactus wrens to determine territory, pairing and banding status and collect habitat covariate data in cactus scrub habitats on Conserved Lands in the Otay and San Diego/El Cajon genetic clusters (see occurrence table). In 2018 and 2021, expand surveys to include the San Pasqual Valley/Lake Hodges genetic cluster.
CAMBRU-4 MON-RES-SPEC From 2017 to 2019, continue the Coastal Cactus Wren Demography, Vegetation and Arthropod Study begun in 2015 to investigate relationships between habitat quality and wren reproduction, dispersal and survival in the Otay and San Diego/El Cajon genetic clusters (see occurrence table). Habitat quality is measured at the territory scale and characterized by vegetation attributes, arthropod community composition, nestling diet, and potential availability of arthropod prey based on plant associations. Use the results to develop specific restoration recommendations to enhance habitat suitability and food resources important to cactus wren reproduction and survival.
CAMBRU-5 MON-RES-GEN From 2017-2019, in conjunction with standardized surveys and with banding activities for the Coastal Cactus Wren Demography, Vegetation and Arthropod Study, collect feather or blood samples from nestling and adult cactus wren at sites where wrens were sampled in 2011-2012 for the Southern California Cactus Wren Genetics Study (Barr et al. 2013, 2015). Determine if genetic diversity and effective population size have changed in the Otay, San Diego/El Cajon, and San Pasqual genetic clusters (see occurrence table) and evaluate whether there are potential threats to long-term population sustainability from inbreeding. Based on these results, prepare specific recommendations for managing gene flow and/or population expansion to enhance genetic diversity and effective population size.
CAMBRU-6 MGT-IMP-NUR From 2017-2021, continue operation of the North San Diego County Cactus Nursery and support a South San Diego County Cactus Nursery to supply cactus to land managers to enhance, restore and create coastal cactus wren habitat. Grow cactus pads, segments and entire plants sufficient for restoration projects to expand and enhance cactus scrub habitat and as a source of plants for immediate habitat rehabilitation following severe wildfire.
CAMBRU-9 MGT-IMP-FMGT Implement prefire management to reduce potential severity and impacts from future fire at prioritized cactus wren occurrences and habitats most at risk from wildfire.