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Fish and Wildlife Research Posters

WDFW invites you to browse our newest publication section: Poster Presentations. We use the poster format (text & graphics) to communicate information about current research, survey results, survey methodologies, new technologies and much more. These posters were presented at conferences and agency meetings and we now make them available to you. Most were designed for a 36” by 48’ landscape format but some can be printed at a smaller scale. Consider downloading & displaying a poster in your classroom or at a wildlife event!

A Comparison of Home Range Mapping Techniques For Golden Eagles in Washington

Authors: Andrew A. Duff & James W. Watson

With the advent of highly accurate global positioning system (GPS) radio transmitters and advancements in resource selection analyses such as resource utilization functions (RUFs), it is important for wildlife managers to understand how different methods of home range analysis depict utilization distributions (UDs). While many analysis methods exist, none perform optimally in all situations (Millspaugh et al. 2006) and the choice of the UD estimator likely affects resource selection methods that use UDs to define space use (Long et al. 2009). To understand differences in UD estimators for Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), we analyzed breeding season (16 Jan–16 Aug) GPS satellite telemetry fixes for 9 birds collected during 2005–2010. We analyzed fixes with 5 methods including the Brownian Bridge Movement Model (BBMM) and 4 types of non-parametric fixed-kernel density (KDE) which differed only by the method used to select bandwidth (h) values (smoothing parameters) (i.e., reference or optimal [hREF], likelihood cross-validation [hCV], plug-in [hPI], and least squares cross-validation [hLSCV]).

A Geographic Information System  Toolset for Aerial surveying and Tracking of (Cervus elaphus) in Sightability-Correction Modeling

Authors: Andrew Duff, Scott McCorquodale, and Annemarie Prince

  • Aerial surveys are commonly used to monitor elk populations. When probability of detection is <1.0, methods such as mark-resight, sightability-correction models, or distance sampling can be used to correct for undercounting bias.
  • During Spring 2009, we collected aerial survey data to explore sightabilitymodeling and concurrently support mark-resightestimates for a portion of the Mt. St. Helens elk herd.
  • We developed a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) toolset in ArcGIS 9.3 to record Global Positioning System (GPS) data during our surveys.

Amphibian Migration Across a New Residential Road

Authors: Joanne Schuett-Hames, Dave Schuett-Hames, Marc P Hayes, Tiffany L Hicks, Eric M Lund, Aimee P McIntyre, Julie A Tyson & Frithiof T Waterstrat

The Pacific Northwest is a challenging region in which to identify, plan, and mitigate for vehicle-caused road mortality on amphibians. This region, especially the Salish lowlands of the Puget Sound-Georgia Basin, is experiencing rapid human population growth, which increases habitat alteration and fragmentation in the form of new housing and associated infrastructure (White and Ernst 2003; Andrews et al. 2008). Roads built near wetlands can isolate breeding habitats and disrupt the migration routes of native amphibians (Ashley and Robinson, 1996). This region sustains months of wet conditions favorable for amphibian migration when migrating animals may risk mortality from vehicles. Road mortality surveys conducted in 2006 and 2007 (JSH, unpubl. data) pinpointed concentration areas of amphibian mortality on a rural residential road within Thurston County, Washington, USA. Concurrent with this discovery was the platting of a new large-lot subdivision between one of the areas where high amphibian mortality had been observed and a large wetland complex. The new access road and the impending housing development presented a unique opportunity to proactively develop guidance for measures to allow amphibians to cross safely. It also enabled an overview of the migrating amphibian assemblage and their migration patterns across these new roads prior to residential development (Fig 1). In this study, our overarching goal was to develop a knowledge base of where and when amphibians might be crossing the new roads such that future efforts might refine this knowledge and provide guidance to thoughtfully implement safe crossing measures.

Field Observations of Ovipostion and Early Development for the Coastal Tailed Frog (Ascaphus Truei

Authors: Amber F Palmeri-Miles, Keith A Douville, Julia A Tyson, Kristen D Ramsdell and Marc P Hayes

Tailed frogs (genus Ascaphus), stream amphibians endemic to the Pacific Northwest, are thought to represent the sister taxon of all living anurans. Tailed frogs are the only anurans known to engage in copulation that includes internal fertilization, an adaptation thought to be linked to living in fast-flowing streams. In addition, the sperm storage capability of females allows temporal separation between breeding and oviposition, resulting in females depositing eggs alone.

Knowledge of tailed frog oviposition sites, which are always concealed in streambeds, is limited. What is known is based on the opportunistic discovery of sites during the examination of instream substrates, a standard procedure for various types of stream surveys. These haphazard discoveries have resulted in encountering various stages of clutch development, but have never involved field observation of oviposition. Observations of development from oviposition also have been restricted to females laying eggs in a laboratory via hormonal induction. Here we report the 1st field observation of oviposition by tailed frogs, and selected field data on early development.

Maintaining Lentic-Breeding Amphibians in Urbanizing Landscapes of the Puget Sound Ecosytem: Do Current Regulations Protect Pond-Breeding Amphibians?

Authors: Marc P Hayes, Timothy Quinn, Klaus Richter, Joanne Schuett-Hames, Jennifer Serra Shean

Lentic (or stillwater) aquatic habitats are a common feature in the terrestrial landscape of the Puget Sound Ecosystem. These stillwater habitats provide breeding sites for eight native amphibian species: Northwestern Salamander (Ambystoma gracile), Long-Toed Salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum), Western Toad (Anaxyrus [formerly Bufo] boreas), Pacific Treefrog (Pseudacris [formerly Hyla] regilla), Northern Red-Legged Frog (Rana aurora), Cascade Frog (Rana cascadae), Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa), and Roughskin Newt (Taricha granulosa). Except for the two most aquatic species (Oregon Spotted and Cascade Frogs), these amphibians have a seasonal cycle where they breed in the lentic habitat and then move into terrestrial habitats for a substantial portion of their non-breeding season. Until recently, most efforts to conserve these species focused on protecting breeding sites, mostly in the form of wetland buffers with little attention paid to the terrestrial portion of their habitat.

Our purpose here is to use the Northern Red-Legged Frog as a case study to assess the most current (and most protective) wetland regulations in light of new information about terrestrial habitat requirements of native stillwater-breeding amphibians.

Modern Strategies for Wildlife Data Collection, Dissemination and Reporting

Authors: Gretchen Blatz & Andrew Duff

The WSDM database is an ArcGIS Geodatabase that contains information on over 250 threatened, endangered, and other Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Washington. Our database stores point and polygon wildlife occurrences and associated tabular information pertaining to surveys, site occupancy and productivity, and biological details (Fig. 1). This information is critical to survey planning and management activities that direct our wildlife conservation and recovery efforts.

Orphaned Kittens in Washington Result in a Decade of Nationwide Cougar Education

Author: Richard Beausoleil

Between 2002 and 2012, 26 orphan cougar cubs have been reported to WDFW, capture by staff, and placed with facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) throughout the country. In addition to over 15 million visitors per year at these facilities, innumerable television and newsprint media stories have recovered the capture, transport, and arrival of these animals; reaching out to countless millions more people. This has not only resulted in education programs of the highest quality benefiting people who may never have the chance to see these animals in the wild, but has also brought prominent national attention to WDFW. These captures were a collaboration of WDFW wildlife biologists and officers statewide.

Preliminary Analysis of Diet in Post-Metamorphic Northwestern Salamanders (Ambystoma gracile)

Authors: Kevin R. Young, Casey H. Richart, Angela B. Stringer and Marc P. Hayes

Understanding amphibian diet across all life stages is critical to understanding amphibians as ecological indicators (Unrine et al. 2005), eludicating their population declines and habitat use patterns (Mahan and Johnson 2007), and determining how habitat loss may affect them at different ecological scales (Rodríguez et al. 2005, Hirschfeld and Rödel 2011). Notably, many terrestrial amphibians appear to contribute to reciprocal subsidies between aquatic and terrestrial habitats because of the patterns of movements of post-metamorphic life stages (Trenham and Shaffer 2005, Whiles et al. 2006, Olson et al. 2007, Greene et al. 2008, O’Donnell and Richart 2012). As part of a preliminary effort to better understand diets in Pacific Northwest terrestrial amphibians, we examined a series of post-metamorphic Northwestern Salamanders, Ambystoma gracile (Baird 1857). A large collection of this species from the mid-1980s Old-growth Study (Aubry and Hall, 1991) was available for examination at the University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Though the species is common and widespread throughout the Pacific Northwest (Nussbaum et al. 1983, Hoffman et al. 2003), the handful of dietary studies on A. gracile (Henderson, 1973, Licht, 1975, Taylor 1984, Efford and Tsumura 1973) have examined exclusively larvae. In this study, our objectives were to: (1) identify the composition of A. gracile prey, and (2) determine whether body size or gender influence diet.

Profiling Poachers: Using Randomized Response Technique to Estimate Rates of Hunting Violations by Deer and Elk Hunters in Washington State

Author: Anthony Novack

The Randomized Response Technique (RRT) was used to assess rates of illegal hunting activity. RRT allows respondents to answer sensitive questions about participation in illegal activity without self-incrimination. During 16 days from April 2011 to Mar 2012, over 2500 active deer and elk hunters from Washington State were surveyed while attending regional sportsmen’s shows or visiting the Cabelas retail store in Lacey.

Red Knot (Calidris canutus) migration on the Pacific coast of the Americas

Author: Joseph B. Buchanan & Lori J. Salzer

The Pacific Flyway population of Red Knots (Calidris cantus roselaari) uses key stopover sites in coastal Washington during spring migration. In contrast to C. c. rufa, which occurs on the Atlantic coast, almost nothing is known about the ecology and status of C. c. roselaari. C. c. roselaari was proposed for listing, but the USFWS lacked sufficient information upon which to adequately inform a listing decision. Beginning in 2006, we investigated aspects of Red Knot migration in coastal Washington, and provide a summary of that information here.

Sex-Specific Identification of Ascaphus Truei at Maturity

Authors: Frithiof T Waterstrat, April B Barreca, Marc P Hayes

Our study was intended to clarify the mature segment of populations of A. truei and determine the size at which field researchers are able to correctly identify maturity among individuals of either sex. We wanted to determine whether the size at which sex becomes distinguishable externally parallels gonadal maturity; to assess whether females and males reached sexual maturity at the same size; and to describe trends in morphological variation as a function of size for secondary sexual characteristics (SSC) such as “tail” length, forearm width, nuptial pads, and distinctively textured patches found on the chest, chin, and digits of the front feet.

The Contribution of Working Forests and the Forest and Fish Adaptive Management in Sustaining Ecosystems for Amphibian Assemblages in the Pacific Northwest

Authors:  Aimee P. McIntyre, Marc P. Hayes, Julie A. Tyson and Timothy Quinn

Washington State has over 14 million acres of forestland and is the second largest lumber producer in the nation. Much of this land (40%) is private- and state-managed forestland covered under the Forests and Fish Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). This HCP, a collaborative effort between federal, state, tribal and county governments, and forest landowners, was designed to:

  • comply with the federal Endangered Species Act for aquatic and selected riparian-dependent species;
  • support a harvestable supply of salmon;
  • meet Clean Water Act requirements; and
  • maintain the viability of the timber industry.

Unique to Forests and Fish Law was the development of a Cooperative Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research (CMER) Committee-advised Adaptive Management Program promoting studies to evaluate and improve forest practices for the protection of public resources. We have been conducting amphibian-related research on managed lands in western Washington as part of this program since 2000.

Torrent Salamander Movement Ecology: Perspective on a “Sedentary” Species

Authors: Julie A Tyson and Marc P Hayes

Torrent salamanders (genus Rhyacotriton) might be characterized as the most sedentary amphibians in the Pacific Northwest. In 1973, Nussbaum and Tait (1977) searched a 26-m section of stream 7 times over the interval 22 June to 20 October that resulted in 191 recaptures of an unspecified number of uniquely marked Cascade Torrent Salamanders (R. cascadae). The longest moves they recorded (22 m) were made by two individuals and 70% of recaptures were found within 2 m of their original location. Using a grid system to locate captures, Welsh and Lind (1992) searched a 6.0 m by 2.1 m portion of a spring-stream interface on 7 occasions over the interval 1986-1988, and 39 of 237 Southern Torrent Salamanders (R. variegatus) encountered represented recaptures. Thirty-one larvae moved an average distance of 2.2 m/yr, whereas eight adults moved an average of 1 m/yr. Nijhuis and Kaplan (1998) searched a 6 m by 10 m streamside plot for post-metamorphic Cascade Torrent Salamanders on 26 nights from 12 March to 12 May 1995. Of the 214 individuals captured, 76 (36%) were recaptures. The mean daily distance moved by individuals recaptured at least twice (n = 24) was 0.4 m. Anecdotal mention has been made of finding adult torrent salamanders at locations greater than 50 m from water (Good and Wake 1992), implying that movements at that scale or greater were possible, but definitive data indicating a ability to move over distances greater than 22 m are lacking. During a manipulative study examining amphibian response to different levels of shade, we opportunistically recaptured larval Olympic Torrent Salamanders (R. olympicus) that had escaped from stream enclosures. Here, we present the movement aspects of this information.

Using DNA to Estimate Cougar Populations in Washington: A Citizen Science Collaboration

Author: Richard Beausoleil

  • Acquire a scientific population estimate of cougars in northeast Washington (Okanogan & Ferry Counties)
  • Establish a long-term monitoring technique that is reliable, replicable & affordable
  • Evaluate whether this method could be applied statewide and be useful to other state wildlife agencies
  • Involve the public in wildlife science & management

Washington Mourning Dove Banding Study

Authors: Mikal Moore, Dana Base, Ron Friesz and Don Kraege

Harvest rates and population trends of Washington’s mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) are poorly understood. Historical call count routes are being replaced with a nation-wide band recovery survey. WDFW biologists trapped and banded 3,981 mourning doves from 2003-2005 and 2007. Hatch year birds comprised 78% of all doves banded. Band returns (n = 205) show that the majority of doves are harvested locally (89%). The direct harvest rate is estimated at 2.1%; overall harvest rate is approximately 2.9%.

WDFW’S Karelian Bear Dog Program: Helping People & Helping Wildlife

Author: Richard Beausoleil

Learn about this innovative and exciting program using Karelian Bear Dogs for research, education, human conflict resolution & orphaned and injured wildlife.

We’ve been warned, WDFW’s forests are at risk

Author: Richard Tvetan

Effects of fire suppression and forest health: Past, present and recommendations for change.

What’s up with Wusky? Lower Columbia River Resident Dark Goose Program Evaluation

Authors:  Stefanie M. Bergh, Brooke C. George, Patrick J. Miller

SW Washington and NW Oregon are utilized as wintering grounds or stopover sites for six subspecies of Canada geese as well as home to one resident subspecies, the western Canada goose (Branta candadensis moffitti). One of the migrating subspecies, the dusky Canada goose (Branta candadensis occidentalis), has strict harvest restrictions. These restrictions are complicated by a small population of resident geese related to the harvest-restricted dusky goose that nest in the region and do not migrate to the nesting grounds in Alaska. These resident dark geese (RDG or locally called “wusky”) were introduced to Willapa NWR through a Canada goose breeding flock expansion program in the 1950s-1970s.

In 1987 an RDG pair and brood were observed nesting on Miller Sands Island in the lower Columbia River and expansion of the flock in this area soon followed. Cases of hunting permit invalidations began to take place; a hunter’s reported harvest seemed likely to be from the RDG flock, yet the subspecies was identified as dusky at the check station. Furthermore, concerns arose that RDG were mistakenly identified as dusky geese during monitoring surveys, thus impacting population estimates.

As a result of these concerns a more extensive management program with the goals of decreasing the RDG population and lessening misidentification was established in the mid-2000s. This evaluation focuses on the results of those efforts