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Date:6/6/2008

Sea Otters: Picky Eaters

"What's for dinner?" is a question researchers studying the California sea otter population have been closely examining. Understanding foraging behavior may prove helpful in pinpointing sea otters' exposure to specific vectors of food-borne diseases. Scientists at the USGS and the University of California, Santa Cruz, found that the diets of individual sea otters vary as a response to reduced food availability. By comparing sea otter populations in central California and San Nicolas Island, they found that sea otter diets are highly consistent when food is abundant. When food becomes limiting, as it has in parts of central California, individual sea otters tend to specialize on particular types of prey, and these specialized diets differ between individuals at any given location. At the population level, this results in a more diverse prey base, even though there can be reduced diet diversity at the individual level. For more information on sea otter diets and feeding strategies, visit http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2008/05/research.html or contact Tim Tinker at 831-459-2357 or ttinker@usgs.gov.

Ducking in for a Spring Break: Southern Oregon and Northeastern California

Over a million waterfowl per day used Southern Oregon and Northeastern California as a major layover region during their spring migration in 2002 and 2003, according to a recent USGS study. Using aerial surveys, USGS scientists studied the abundance and distribution of ducks, geese, swans and coots during spring, quantifying this region's critical importance to Pacific Flyway waterfowl. Northern pintail, a species of special concern, was the most common species that stopped there. To learn more, visit http://www.werc.usgs.gov/pubbriefs/fleskespbapr2008.html or contact Jo
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Contact: Jessica Robertson
jrobertson@usgs.gov
703-648-6624
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

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