Sac State Ecology Colloquium Connects Students with USGS Researchers

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The U.S. Geological Survey has teamed up with California State University, Sacramento to provide students and faculty with an Ecology Colloquium lecture series for the Fall 2012 semester. WERC scientist Pete Coates recently spoke to students about the ecology of the Greater Sage-grouse across California and Nevada.

There are four more lectures left in October -- all take place in Mendocino Hall 1015, on Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m.

The lecture series is the brainchild of campus department chairs and USGS scientists sited on campus. Two USGS science centers have a major presence on the Sac State campus -- the USGS California Water Science Center and the USGS Western Ecological Research Center.

The vision for locating USGS offices on the Sac State campus was to foster collaboration and career opportunities for the campus community, and the Ecology Colloquium is the latest effort to strengthen the USGS-university connection.

At the most recent lecture, WERC scientist Pete Coates explained the benefits of applied wildlife biology -- connecting biologists with resource managers to create reports and products that managers can use to solve pressing issues.

Wildlife Biologist Pete Coates on Threats to Greater Sage-grouse

USGS wildlife biologist Pete Coates teaches university students about threats facing the Greater Sage-grouse. (Credit: Ben Young Landis, USGS Western Ecological Research Center. Public domain.)

In this case, Coates discussed his research on greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in California and Nevada. Greater sage-grouse is a species of high concern, because it is an indicator species of the pristine sagebrush ecosystems of the Great Basin -- an ecosystem that is also prime landscape for ranching and renewable energy projects.

Coates' research is a perfect example of federal scientists working alongside state and local stakeholders to provide sound science and applicable tools. His team is conducting careful wildlife surveys, creating innnovative tools such as habitat models built from GPS tracking studies, and participating in public stakeholder meetings to inform the public on new data and research.

Each colloquium session concludes with a social hour with refreshments provided by Sac State, providing students with one-on-one opportunities to ask researchers about career advice and research interests.

Four lectures remain this semester:

  • Oct. 9 - Methylmercury production, export, and bioaccumulation in rice fields and other managed wetlands of the Yolo Bypass - Lisamarie Windham-Myers (USGS California Water Science Center)
  • Oct. 16 - Ecological impacts and populations dynamics of nonindigenous caribou in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska - Mark Ricca (USGS Western Ecological Research Center)
  • Oct. 23 - Wetland habitat restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta - Stuart Siegel (Wetlands and Water Resources, Inc.)
  • Oct. 30 - Climate change and sea level rise impacts on salt marshes - Karen Thorne (USGS Western Ecological Research Center/California Landscape Conservation Cooperative)

-- Ben Young Landis