Author Archives: Brad

Historical museum collections and contemporary population studies implicate roads and introduced predatory bullfrogs in the decline of western pond turtles

A new paper published in PeerJ by IOES senior practicum students highlights deadly trends which are wearing away at the population stability of both species of Western Pond Turtle.

Nicholson EG, Manzo S, Devereux Z, Morgan TP, Fisher RN, Brown C, Dagit R, Scott PA, Shaffer HB. 2020. Historical museum collections and contemporary population studies implicate roads and introduced predatory bullfrogs in the decline of western pond turtles. PeerJ 8:e9248. PDF

As climate change messes with temperature and precipitation, California newts suffer

A UCLA-led study, in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, examined body condition of newts across their entire range, from San Diego to Mendocino. In the south, researchers discovered that body condition — a measure of health that compares weight to length — decreased by an average of 20% from 2008–2016.

The study is part of a larger effort to try to understand how climate change will affect amphibians across the state, including California and Pacific tree frogs and western toads.

Gary M. Bucciarelli, Morgan A. Clark, Katy S. Delaney, Seth P. D. Riley, H. Bradley Shaffer, Robert N. Fisher, Rodney L. Honeycutt & Lee B. Kats. 2020. Amphibian responses in the aftermath of extreme climate events. Scientific Reports volume 10, Article number: 3409 (2020)

Experimental removal of introduced slider turtles offers new insight into competition with a native, threatened turtle

The results of the study highlight the importance of manipulative field experiments when studying biological invasions, and the potential value of red-eared slider removal as a management strategy for the western pond turtle.

Lambert MR, McKenzie JM, Screen RM, Clause AG, Johnson BB, Mount GG, Shaffer HB, Pauly GB. 2019. Experimental removal of introduced slider turtles offers new insight into competition with a native, threatened turtle. PeerJ 7:e7444 http://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7444

 

UCLA La Kretz Center to lead $10 million California conservation project in state-funded initiative that will provide officials with scientific basis for confronting climate change

“This project has the potential to revolutionize how we manage our land,” said Bradley Shaffer, who leads the project and is a UCLA distinguished professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of UCLA’s La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science. “We will apply state-of-the-art techniques to California’s most pressing conservation problems and provide government agencies with the best scientific data to make informed decisions as California’s climate continues to undergo rapid change.”

Read the story in the UCLA Newsroom

Shaffer Lab applies new genomic tools to the conservation of understudied organisms

Brad Shaffer and Evan McCartney-Melstad are featured in the August 2018 podcast from the journal Heredity, which broadcasts interviews with the people behind the journal, the science and a digest of breaking news.

The focus of the podcast is the application of new genomic methods to understudied organisms, including a recent study published by Shaffer and McCartney-Melstad on an endangered species of western US frog (Population genomic data reveal extreme geographic subdivision and novel conservation actions for the declining foothill yellow-legged frog).

Click here to listen to Brad and Evan discuss their application of genomics tools when revisiting the population genetics of the declining foothill yellow-legged frog and how their work may help the US Fish and Wildlife Service determination of whether or not it should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Their interview begins about 10 minutes into the podcast.

CalTrans awards grant to Shaffer Lab

Landscape Genomics Study for California Tiger Salamander

The California Tiger Salamander (CTS) is state and federally listed species. As a result, Caltrans is required to consult with regulatory agencies about impacts of transportation projects. A major conservation issue for CTS is the ongoing hybridization with the introduced non‐native Barred Tiger Salamander (BTS). Thus, CTS recovery, in part, depends on preventing the geographical spread of such introgression.

This project will provide measurable effects of roads on the movement of pure CTS genes where undercrossings will be useful to promote movement of native genes and areas where such crossings should not be installed to inhibit the spread of non‐native BTS genes.

The main tasks that will be completed in this research are:

  • running simulations to determine how many animals per pond to sequence;
  • identifying tissue samples to examine from existing database;
  • identifying and collecting new samples from georeferenced sampling locations; and
  • collecting molecular data from all samples