The Murreletter, newsletter of the Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology, Vol 20 No.2, November 2012.

Save the Date

2013 Annual Meeting
April 9-12
Executive Suites Hotel and Resort
Squamish, British Columbia

We are excited to announce that our annual meeting will be returning to our Northern region. Details will be forthcoming on the annual meeting page of our website. In the meantime mark your calendars and make sure those passports are up to date!

President's Message

The Great White North eh?  Well, sorta. Like the Olympics, Canada occasionally gets to host great events every 5-6 years; this time round, it’s the 2013 SNVB Meeting! The Canadian contingent of your Executive Board has been busy scoping locations across BC in terms of access, great setting and affordability for our students and we finally rested on Squamish! Skirting Howe Sound at the foot of the Coast Ranges, Squamish is situated midway between Vancouver and Whistler along one of the most scenic routes in North America. For outdoor enthusiasts, Squamish is Mecca for hiking, rock-climbing, mountain biking, kite-boarding, etc. It’s reminiscent of Hood River but with bigger mountains and centrally located activity hotspots.
Senior SNVBers may recall the last two meetings held in Canada were in Victoria in 2007 and 2001. But times have changed. Next year we will be partnering once again with Northwest PARC and focusing on a theme surrounding cumulative effects. Ironically, our decision to choose Squamish was a result of multiple factors cumulatively eroding Victoria’s accessibility in terms of cost (increased ferry prices) and logistics (increased traffic congestion) consequently making Victoria inaccessible for many of our mainland members in terms of finances and travel logistics. However, thanks to the 2010 Olympics, a billion dollars in highway upgrades and network expansion now allows travelers direct access to Whistler bypassing the traffic congestion of downtown Vancouver. And if you fly in, shuttles will take you directly to Squamish from the airport.  No fuss.
We have a great venue for the meeting nestled right in the mountains which means hiking, birding, herping, right outside the back door. Literally. So pack your binos, hiking boots, rain gear, field guides, and whatever other toys you want to bring because you’ll be able to use them all somewhere  between Vancouver to Whistler and Squamish promises to be a great playground. We love the place and you’ll find out why it’s a hidden gem in our backyard.                
~ Brent


A Banner Year for Lingcod Spawning in the Edmonds Underwater Park
www.lincod.orgLingcod spawn over the winter, beginning in November or December and ending in April or May.  Large, white egg masses are deposited in cavities and guarded by male fish until the larvae emerge.  A record number of lingcod egg masses were observed in the Edmonds Underwater Park (EUWP) during the 2011-2012 spawning season.
The EUWP is located on the eastern shore of Puget Sound just north of the ferry terminal in Edmonds, Washington.  The 27+ acre park was designated a Marine Preserve and Sanctuary in 1970 and is one of the oldest refuges on the Pacific coast.   The park has a maximum depth of 45 feet and is low relief.  The natural habitat consists of a sandy bottom, scattered glacial rocks, and eelgrass beds. 
In the mid 1930s a metal dry dock was sunk north of the ferry terminal. A boat, the wooden hulled Alitak, was added in 1971.  Since 1979, numerous artificial reefs and a grid of rope trails have been added to provide interest and safety for divers and to enhance the habitat.  Materials used in the artificial reefs include rocks, concrete rubble and structures, concrete and plastic pipe, and a variety of boat hulls (Johnson 2001).
The artificial reefs have attracted a wide variety of fishes and invertebrates and have become an important spawning ground for lingcod.  In addition, large numbers of lingcod use the park year round – likely as a result of the combination of the artificial reefs and the park’s protected status.  Palsson and Pacunski (1995) studied the abundance of lingcod and rockfish in a portion of the EUWP and at 4 other sites – none of which had protected status - in the central Puget Sound area.  They found more lingcod at the EUWP and that lingcod within the park were significantly larger than lingcod in the other study areas.
Volunteers have monitored lingcod spawning in the EUWP since 1997 in an effort called the Annual Lingcod Nest Census.   Each weekend Census divers scour the park for egg masses, which are relatively easy to find due to the presence and often aggressive behavior of the guard fish.  Once an egg mass is found, it’s tagged and information on the egg mass, guard fish and location of the egg mass are collected.  This information is maintained in a database.
The most egg masses observed in the park prior to the 2011-2012 spawning season was 165 in 2003-2004. 
During the 2011-2012 season, the Census located 186 lingcod egg masses.  This is a 55% increase over the number of egg masses observed in 2010-2011 and a 53% increase over the average number of egg masses observed during the last 5 years.  The 55% year-over-year increase is the largest observed year-over-year change. 
Anecdotal evidence from two other central Puget Sound sites indicates that the increase in lingcod spawning success was not limited to the EUWP.  Unfortunately there is no way of quantifying the increases in spawning activity at these other sites.
Hopefully the increases in egg masses will translate into larger future lingcod populations in the central Puget Sound area.
For more information on the Census please see: and Johnson 2001.
Johnson, Kirby W. 2001   Census of Lingcod Nesting in the Edmonds Underwater Park.  Proceedings of Puget Sound Research Conference 2001.  12 p.
Palsson, W. A. and R. E. Pacunski. 1995. The response of rocky reef fishes to harvest refugia in Puget
Sound.  Puget Sound Research ’95 Proceedings, Vol 1.  Puget Sound Water Quality Authority.  pp 224-234.
-- K. Collins, K.W. Johnson, W.E. Nicholson, R. Reisenbechler, and S. Rubin

Frogs, Fish and Forestry: An Integrated Watershed Network Paradigm Conserves Biodiversity and Ecological Services

“To protect your rivers, protect your mountains”
Emperor Yu of China, 1600 BC
Hartwell H. Welsh, Jr.  Ph. D.
r.variegatusHabitat alterations are a primary cause of amphibian declines worldwide, with deforestation probably the single greatest source of altered habitats in forest-dominated biomes. In this paper, I examine the impacts of commercial forestry operations on several stream-dwelling amphibians in the U. S. Pacific Northwest (PNW). I review multiple studies that link declines in the distributions and abundances of the southern torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus) and the coastal tailed frog (Ascaphus truei) to timber harvest operations adjacent to low-order (i.e. headwater) streams in the southern PNW. The studies examined impacts to these lotic amphibians at multiple spatial scales - regional, watershed, channel type, and micro-environment, ultimately linking their declines to increases in stream temperatures and fine sediment loads in the most numerous, yet least protected portions of stream networks, headwater tributaries. Emphasizing headwaters (1st to 3rd-order) channels, I discuss landscape-scale disturbance regimes and how their fluvial and geomorphic processes differentially determine the structuring of channels, their internal environments, and the composition of the resident biota. I examine the dependence of these amphibians on specific channel attributes, and discuss the links between their abundances, altered attribute states, and natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Based on the unifying concept of hydrologic connectivity, I illustrate how headwater amphibians can serve as bio-indicators of system condition and the ability of stream networks to provide vital downstream ecological services such as robust populations of commercially valuable salmonids species. I argue that managing watersheds based on the combined concepts of dendritic networks, disturbance domains, the stream continuum, and hydrologic connectivity provides an integrated paradigm that would help better maintain all the components of watersheds and the interacting processes that comprise their ecological integrity. The goal of maintaining whole catchment biodiversity and ecological services could be improved by managing watersheds based on these integrated science-based network organizing concepts and evaluating and adjusting outcomes with a suite of responsive bio-indicators such as amphibians.
Full article: Welsh, H.H., Jr. 2011. Frogs, fish, and forestry: an integrated watershed network paradigm conserves biodiversity and ecological services. Diversity 2011, 3, 503-530; doi:10.3390/d3030503.
Northwest Fauna 7

Northwest Fauna 7:

Western Pond Turtle: Biology, Sampling Techniques, Inventory and Monitoring, Conservation and Management. R. Bruce Bury, Hartwell H. Welsh, David J. Germano, Donald T. Ashton (editors).  Our newest installment in the Northwest Fauna series is at the press and will be published by the end of the calendar year. Copies will be available for purchase on our website and of course at our upcoming meeting in April.
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Board Member Positions

A number of board member positions are up for election at the 2013 meeting. If you would like to find out more information or declare your interest as a candidate contact Brent Matsuda.

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