Redwood Forest Wildlife

A pair of marbled murrelets, small birds with black and white feathers, float together on the ocean.

A seabird that lives in the redwoods?

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Of all the plants and animals that occupy the coast redwood ecosystem, among the more fascinating is the marbled murrelet, a brown and white seabird that’s a little bigger than a robin. This otherwise nondescript bird – called “fog larks” Continued

A study found that thinned areas supported higher populations of prey species for the endangered northern spotted owl (pictured) and the rare Humboldt marten.

Thinning Stands Boosts Wildlife Diversity

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For many years, selective thinning has been considered a potential tool for accelerating old-growth forest characteristics in the dense stands of young trees that typically cover harvested redwood lands. Now, research by the US Forest Service has confirmed the wisdom of thinning, or removing select trees to reduce competition in a stand. Learn more about this research.

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For a League-sponsored study, Wicket sniffs for the scent of a white-footed vole, one of the rarest and least understood mammals in North America, and one of the only mammals endemic to the coastal coniferous forests of Northern California and Oregon. Photo by Humboldt State University

Seeking Elusive White-Footed Voles

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The League funded an ambitious study to learn more about white-footed voles. Unfortunately, they’re almost impossible to find in the luxuriant understory of the typical coastal redwood forest. In response, researchers have released the hounds.

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Humboldt Marten.

Redwood Forest Restoration and Martens

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Martens are agile, 2-foot-long members of the weasel family. They need ancient forests—and used to thrive in the coast redwoods of California. Today the Humboldt marten, the coastal subspecies of the Pacific marten in California, has vanished from more than 95 percent of its former range. A single population of about 100 remains on the coastal edge of the Six Rivers National Forest, roughly between Crescent City and Arcata. Learn more about this research.

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New Zealand mud snails showed up in Redwood National Park in 2009. These prolific creatures could reduce insect numbers, and therefore the food web. Photo by Darren M. Ward

Snail Invasion Could Mean Trouble for Food Web

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Humboldt State University fisheries biologist Darren Ward was concerned, but not surprised, when New Zealand mud snails showed up in Redwood National Park in 2009. With help from a grant from Save the Redwoods League, Ward and a colleague at the US Geological Survey, Adam Sepulveda, began searching to see if they were moving upstream. Learn more about this research.

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Silver-haired bats mate in redwood forests. Photo by Theodore J. Weller

Redwood Forests May Be Crucial for Silver-Haired Bats

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A US Forest Service ecologist, Weller decided to check out his own backyard: the redwood forests of Northwest California. He not only found bat activity in winter, but also important clues about the bats’ migrations. When Weller had surveyed a common species called the silver-haired bat in summer, he’d found almost all males. In the winter, however, he began to catch females right away. So he asked Save the Redwoods League to fund research to figure out what was going on. Learn more about this research.

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Large spotted A. flavipunctatus are found in southern inland Mendocino and Lake counties. Photo by M. Mulks

Black Salamanders Show Biodiversity of Redwood Forest

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The range of the black salamander (Aneides flavipunctatus) almost perfectly overlaps with the historic range of redwoods along the Central and Northern California coast. While most animals live on the Earth’s surface, this well-hidden amphibian travels mostly up and down in the rocks and soil. Its vertical approach to life comes in handy when the weather is hot or dry: the salamander moves deeper into the Earth until conditions are more to its liking. Learn more about this research.

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Humboldt Marten.

Redwoods to the Sea Forest Carnivore Tracking Project

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From time to time, a resident in Humboldt County will submit a report claiming to have spotted a Pacific fisher or a Humboldt marten. Because Pacific fishers are rare, and because the Humboldt marten was previously thought to be extinct due to human influences such as trapping and logging in their old-growth conifer habitat, these animals remain barely documented. The Corridor from the Redwoods to the Sea, built as a passageway for wild creatures, appears to be prime location to spot small carnivores such as fishers and martens, but despite local accounts, the rare sightings remain unverified by scientists. Where have these small predators gone? Learn more about this research.

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Humboldt Marten.

Humboldt Martens Need Old Growth

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It’s likely that Pacific fisher (Martes pennanti pacifica) populations are well distributed in Northern California’s Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) for the same reason that Humboldt martens (Martes americana humboldtensis) have disappeared, according to research done by Keith Slauson, William Zielinski, and Gregory Holm. Second-growth forest habitats that cover a majority of the park are fishers’ sweet and martens’ sour. Learn more about this research.

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