Drought puts California species at risk

Tricolored Blackbird.
Tricolored Blackbird.

UC Davis scientists voice concerns about impact of deteriorating conditions.

May 28, 2014
(from The Sacramento Bee)

The tricolored blackbird, foothill pine trees, and multiple native fish species are imperiled by California’s lingering drought.

“The problems created by the drought are just a harbinger of things to come,” said Peter Moyle, a renowned expert on California fish and professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. “Native fishes and the ecosystems that support them are incredibly vulnerable to drought.”

Moyle expects the list of 37 species of California fish on the endangered species list will continue to grow. He addressed his concerns April 25, 2014, at a drought summit organized by UC Davis and held in the state Capitol.

“The tricolored blackbird may not be on the endangered list yet, but the drought is definitely having an effect,” said Robert Meese, a researcher in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, in the Bee article. He expects that a recently completed statewide survey of the bird will not deliver good news — probably 120,000 birds, less than half of what was seen in 2011.

The drought also is taking a toll on trees such as the California foothill pine. Andrew Fulks, who manages the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve, said more trees in Yolo County are dying from drought stress.

(Read the full article written by Edward Ortiz and published April 25, 2014, in the Sacramento Bee.)

(Peter Moyle also was featured in a story in The New York Times, commenting on an extraordinary effort to truck baby salmon from a fish hatchery in the northern Sacramento Valley to the San Francisco Bay because of the perils posed by low river levels.)

Media contacts:

  • Peter Moyle, Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, UC Davis, 530-752-6355, pbmoyle@ucdavis.edu
  • Robert Meese, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, 530-752-7861, rjmeese@ucdavis.edu
  • Andrew Fulks, Campus Planning and Community Resources, 530-752-0763, amfulks@ucdavis.edu