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USGS Biologist Recognized by National Park Service

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Gary Fellers
Above: USGS research biologist Gary Fellers conducting amphibian fieldwork in Yosemite National Park. Photograph by Mark Crosse, Fresno Bee.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research biologist Gary M. Fellers of the Western Ecological Research Center is the recipient of the 2004 Natural Resource Research Award from the Pacific West Region (PWR) of the National Park Service (NPS). NPS PWR regional director Jonathan B. Jarvis announced the winners of the 2004 PWR Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Awards on February 22, 2005. Recipients of these awards are recognized for their significant contributions to improving management and knowledge of park resources.

Fellers is stationed at Point Reyes National Seashore, and his research efforts and assistance have helped managers at this and other national-park areas. Fellers is cited in his nomination as "one of the primary and preeminent researchers of NPS in the Pacific West Region over the past 20 years." Many of his studies in the 1980s and early 1990s "were seminal and form the foundation for subsequent work in the Inventory and Monitoring Program that is currently funded under the Natural Resource Challenge Initiative." The scope of his work at Point Reyes "covers a broad range of issues/conflicts, including cattle grazing; many threatened, endangered, and sensitive species; wildfire and prescribed fire; and many invasive non-indigenous plants and animals." Fellers was cited for consistently providing assistance to managers throughout a career spanning major organizational changes, during which he served first as a researcher in the NPS, then in the National Biological Service, and finally in the Biological Resources Discipline of the USGS.

Examples of how Fellers' research has significantly contributed to a better understanding of natural resources include his research of the Point Reyes mountain beaver, which formed the basis of a protection program at Point Reyes National Seashore after a 12,000-acre wildland fire in 1995 burned 40 percent of the known range of this isolated subspecies (see related article "Recovery from Wildfire Is Slow for Point Reyes Mountain Beaver"). His radio tracking of red-legged frogs at Point Reyes revealed that they travel overland from breeding ponds to streams, where they overwinter, bringing to light the importance of preserving stream habitats as well as ponds for these frogs. His amphibian work in collaboration with others has documented amphibian declines in the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range and has identified causes for these declines. Innovative methods for sampling, which he sought out or developed, have become standard in parks. One example is the detection of bats by their vocalizations rather than by the older method of mist-netting and handling individuals (visit URL for more information about this technique and to hear sample vocalizations).

Additional information about Fellers and his research is posted on Fellers' Web page.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Recovery from Wildfire Is Slow for Point Reyes Mountain Beaver
April 2005
USGS Biologists Working in Coastal Areas Receive DOI Honor Awards at Western Region Awards Ceremony
November 2004

Related Web Sites
Gary M. Fellers
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Point Reyes Field Station
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Bat Inventories in the San Francisco Bay Area
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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