Numerous U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) biologists conducting research in coastal areas received U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Honor Awards at the Western Region Awards Ceremony, held October 13, 2004, in Menlo Park, CA.Research biologist Gary M. Fellers received a Meritorious Service Award, the second highest departmental honor award that can be granted to a career employee. Gary is stationed at the USGS Western Ecological Research Center (WERC)'s Point Reyes Field Station, where he leads research on the ecology and population status of amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, and carnivores. His current research focuses primarily on declining amphibians in nondesert parts of California, with most of the fieldwork taking place in the Sierra Nevada and the California Coast Ranges. Here is an excerpt from the citation read by Western Regional Director Doug Buffington at the awards ceremony:
Gary Fellers..."amassed one of the most significant data sets in the world to show without doubt that large-scale amphibian declines were occurring in several national parks....The successful USGS program known as the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative has been largely modeled after his California research program. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the USGS through his dedication to the study of declining amphibians, and his international reputation for expertise in the field of declining amphibians, Gary M. Fellers is granted the Meritorious Service Award of the Department of the Interior."
Several Superior Service Awardsgranted for significant acts, services, or achievements that materially aid the successful accomplishment of the DOI and the USGS missionswent to researchers at WERC's San Diego Field Station. Research ecologist Barbara Kus studies birds inhabiting coastal drainages of southern California. During the awards ceremony, Doug Buffington noted that "Barbara Kus has played an important role in addressing the recovery of two riparian-dependent endangered species, the least Bell's vireo and the southwestern willow flycatcher....She is sought after by Federal, State, and local agencies to participate in the development of sound management plans for these species and to serve on recovery teams, working groups, and technical advisory committees. Her dedication to communicating research results to her clients, scientific colleagues, and the public is evidenced by her hosting and organizing conferences and symposia on the ecology and conservation of riparian birds. Her enthusiasm in pursuing, producing, and conveying science of relevance to our Department of Interior clients is commendable and a credit to our agency."
Christopher W. Brown and Carlton Rochester, two more Superior Service awardees stationed in San Diego, are biologists working with research zoologist Robert Fisher on ecological-monitoring efforts in habitats that include coastal southern California. Here are excerpts from Chris Brown's citation, read by Doug Buffington at the recent awards ceremony:
"Christopher Brown has led the USGS in the challenging task of database development for the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative. He has taken his work on this program and extended it to the design of a multitaxa database, with direct entry of data from personal digital assistants [PDAs] from multiple sitesan incredibly important service to both research scientists and land managers throughout the United States. The database structure that he was so skilled in developing is in high demand by USGS scientists and our Federal and State partners....He has made an enormous contribution to the research and monitoring of biological resources throughout the Nation."
And an excerpt from Carlton Rochester's citation:
"Carlton Rochester has become a valuable asset in revolutionary work with personal-digital-assistant [PDA] use and training that has moved USGS scientists from paper to digital data collection. Owing to his vision and determination, a data-collection system using PDAs has been developed that has eliminated transcription time and significantly reduced data error. Through his...tireless development and improvement of data-collection forms, he has expanded this functionality to include multiple taxa and increased the efficiency and productivity of data collection....He has shared his knowledge by supporting other scientists throughout the United States, and his expertise continues to be in demand by an ever-increasing client base."
Kevin D. Lafferty, a marine ecologist at WERC's Channel Islands Field Station, won a Superior Service Award for his research on the threatened western snowy plover. Here is an excerpt from the citation read by Doug Buffington at the awards ceremony: "Kevin Lafferty has played an important role in addressing recovery of the western snowy plover, a threatened species that nests on the coast of California. Together with collaborators and a host of volunteers, [he helped protect a stretch of sand] at Coal Oil Point Reserve near Santa Barbara, resulting in [a steady increase in] the numbers of nesting plovers [and] providing the first evidence that a reduction in human disturbance can lead to recovery of a formerly abandoned breeding site. His efforts have received both local and national recognition, and his approach has attracted the attention of Federal, State, and local land managers facing similar plover-human conflicts on west-coast beaches."
John Y. Takekawa, a research wildlife biologist stationed at WERC's San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station, won a Superior Service Award for his work supporting tidal-wetlands restoration in San Francisco Bay. As noted at the recent awards ceremony, "John Takekawa has worked tirelessly to support a critical research need of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, following their recent purchase of over 16,000 acres of salt ponds in San Francisco Bay, and is pursuing the largest tidal-restoration effort in the history of the bay. John and his co-investigators have been gathering critical baseline information on wildlife and fisheries habitat use, water quality, sediment chemistry and contaminants, and sediment dynamics. John took the initiative to assemble an interdisciplinary USGS team while also pursuing sources of funding for the research. His efforts have brought in over a million dollars of reimbursable funding to the USGS to support and expand this integrated research project."
Photographs of the USGS 2004 Western Region Awards Ceremony can be viewed online on the USGS Western Region Awards 2004 Web page.
in this issue:
USGS Biologists Receive DOI Honor Awards