Wildlife species have complex relationships with their environment. As with anything complex, understanding does not come quickly. Biologists must examine a species over an extended period of time before they can understand how an animal interacts with its environment.
Because funding for long-term studies is rare, relatively few species have been investigated in this manner. Two long-term studies conducted by the Institute include a project on the endangered bald eagle, now in its fourth decade, and another on the threatened island fox. These studies have provided considerable insight into the biology of these species, and will contribute significantly to the successful maintenance of their populations. Provided fund raising efforts are successful, work will continue on these studies and additional investigations will be initiated to expand our knowledge of wildlife biology.
GENERAL WILDLIFE STUDIES
Short-term, general wildlife studies make up the majority of the programs operated by the Institute. These include projects lasting up to two years in duration. Programs of this nature cover a variety of topics and species, including: 1) methods of surveying endangered owls, 2) characteristics of important denning sites for ringtails (a medium-sized mammal), 3) methods for identifying individual humpback whales in the open ocean, and 4) using remote camera systems to determine the food habits and behavior of nesting bald eagles.
Surveys to determine the distribution and abundance of wildlife species in specific areas are also examples of our short-term studies. The Institute has conducted surveys of birds of prey, mammals such as deer and fox, desert reptiles, and threatened and endangered plant species. Data collected from these surveys are used by land managers for long-term monitoring of wildlife populations and to develop baseline information on how plants and animals are distributed across their land. These programs provide insights into how animal abundance is associated with different habitat types, allowing managers to positively affect specific wildlife populations by enhancing habitat that provides the greatest benefit to the species.