Previously Awarded Grants
The Conservation Fund supports wildlife and habitat conservation projects beyond the zoo – whether on the North Coast, or across the globe. One dollar of each membership goes into this fund, as well as donations from our free days. Generous folks buying day tickets also donate their quarters to the cause – thank you! Besides our small grants program, funds also supported the Red Panda Network’s Forest Guardian program in Nepal.
Here are some previously awarded grants:
Community Based Conservation of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle ($1,000)
Loggerhead sea turtles, found within the Uta Ewa coastal area in Southern Nigeria, are classified as endangered, with major threats including: illegal/excessive hunting, habitat destruction from fishermen and farmers, and ocean bank erosion (accelerated by deforestation). The Tropical Research and Conservation Centre with Ikponke Nkanta plans to enact habitat restoration, build research and knowledge for the loggerhead turtles, and promote community dialogues about conservation to ultimately reduce habitat destruction and pollution, adopt alternative economic activities for hunters and poachers, and request that turtle poachers and hunters turn down their traps.
Variables Influencing Fisher Den Attendance ($1,000)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed that west coast fisher populations be listed as Threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Caylen Cummins, a graduate student at Humboldt State University, will conduct a research project with the aim of describing “the environmental variables that influence den attendance patterns of fishers, and to determine if timber harvest and related activities alter those patterns.” Cummins will capture approximately 20 female fishers of reproductive age in both the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation and private timberland, fit them with radio collars, and observe their denning behavior, especially as it relates to timber practices. If timber harvest-related activities are found to influence denning behavior negatively, provisions in accordance with the U.S. Endangered Species Act could be incorporated into Forest Management Plans.
Barn Owl (Tyto alba) Nest Boxes in Vineyards: An Ecological Trap? ($1,000)
Carrie Wendt, a wildlife graduate student at Humboldt State University, will conduct a research project to examine the relationships of habitat quality, artificial nesting boxes, and barn owl quality of life in Napa Valley vineyards. Many farmers in Napa Valley construct artificial nest boxes to attract barn owls for rodent control, but there has been no published report in the U.S. addressing the concerns of habitat quality surrounding nesting boxes in vineyard ecosystems. Wendt’s project will attempt to understand how various habitats surrounding nest boxes influence barn owl nestings, then use this information to determine what constitutes high quality habitats for barn owls and make recommendations to farmers accordingly.
Lake Earl River Otter Study ($500)
A wildlife undergraduate at Humboldt State University, Phillip Johnston will conduct scat-collection and on-foot tracking in order to assess the diet, latrine-use patterns, and latrine-site fidelity of river otters at Lake Earl in Del Norte County. Johnston plans to follow and expand on a study of the same nature conducted at Lake Earl in 1964, sampling for an entire year where the original study only sampled for the summer season, and documenting how latrine sites have shifted over the past 50 years and what purposes they may serve. Johnston will also attempt to determine the degree to which river otters support the declining Lake Earl tidewater goby population by suppressing predators through their own feeding habits.
Improving the Marine Mammal Stranding Program at Humboldt State University Using Genetic Analyses ($500)
Ashley Donnell, a biological sciences graduate student at Humboldt State University, has been working with the Marine Mammal Stranding Program to improve the identification process of stranded marine mammals and to make it accessible to citizen-scientist volunteers. Donnell’s project involves using DNA barcoding to identify marine mammal species documented by the Marine Mammal Center’s volunteers, which will create an inexpensive and efficient genetic identification process. DNA barcoding has gained momentum over the past decade, and aims to “develop a standardized, rapid, and inexpensive species identification method available to non-taxonomists.” (Barrett and Herbert, 2005).
DragonWatch Citizen Science Project ($1,000)
Dragonflies rely on a variety of clean freshwater habitats, which have been disappearing over the last several decades. Dragonflies are good indicators of aquatic ecosystem health, but have not been studied along the northern CA coast. Sandra Hunt-von Arb began a pilot project to train volunteer community members to “adopt” a local lake, pond, marsh or river and conduct weekly surveys of dragonfly emergence. The citizen-scientists enter data using a collection form on-line, which adds to the national Dragonfly Migration Project database.
Frogs & Coffee: Biodiversity Impacts on Jamaican Coffee Farms ($1,000)
For her HSU masters thesis, Jennifer Brown tested 800 frogs on 27 Jamaican coffee farms for the presence of chytrid fungus, a disease which can have devastating effects on amphibian populations. Her findings will help inform coffee plantation staff how management practices can help support native frog species.
Community-Based Conservation of the Rare Monkey Red-Capped Mangaby in the Ikpa Wetland of Southern Nigeria ($1,000)
The Tropical Research and Conservation Centre surveyed the area for this endangered primate, counting around 90 individuals. Workshops were held for the local community on sustainable agriculture, and 500 food trees were planted in monkey habitat to supply food sources for both humans and monkeys. Monitoring of habitat and mangaby populations are ongoing.
Pilot Study of Diet and Tracking Methods with North American Porcupines ($500)
Assistant Professor of Wildlife at HSU, Tim Bean tested various diet preferences of the Zoo’s porcupine resident “Dorsie”, and also observed her reaction to wood samples of local tree species, to determine which ones she selected to chew. This data was then applied to field testing for the presence of wild porcupines in various locations in Humboldt County. This will help refine porcupine populations studies, a species whose decline in the past few decades has not been studied.