Animal Behavior

Long Beach Coyote Management Research

Dr. Peter Auger (PhD, CURes Senior Scientist) with a student setting up a game camera in Long Beach, CA.
Dr. Peter Auger (PhD, CURes Senior Scientist) with a student setting up a game camera in Long Beach, CA.

Now in its second year, this project aims to develop a long-term coyote management program for the Long Beach Animal Care Services Bureau. The research team first assessed existing coyote distribution data collected by local city wildlife officials. To augment these data, game cameras were deployed to collect additional field data on coyote abundance, movement and distribution. CURes researchers are collecting and analyzing scats to:

  1. Assess coyote dietary components.
  2. Identify individual coyotes through genetic analysis.

Future phases may include the capture, radio collaring and tracking of target study site coyotes.

For more information, contact Dr. Peter Auger, CURes Senior Research Scientist, at peter.auger@lmu.edu. For periodic updates on the project, follow the CURes Blog.

Hummingbird Metabolism

Motion activated video camera setup to record hummingbird feeding behaviors.
Motion activated video camera setup to record hummingbird feeding behaviors.

This study aims to understand the nighttime metabolic state of nesting female hummingbirds. Specifically, whether those birds go into torpor at night, which is a hibernation-like state that hummingbirds enter when they must conserve energy. The study uses multiple sites in California, Massachusetts, and Costa Rica to get a more holistic understanding of the birds' behavior.

To learn more about the project, you can read the CURes blog post about it, or a featured article in LMU Magazine.

Human-Animal Bond

In partnership with the Annenberg PetSpace in Playa Vista, CURes is developing formal and informal educational materials on the importance of the human-animal bond. Dr. Eric Strauss (CURes Executive Director) is one of 15 Wallis Annenberg Leadership Institute Fellows, who are working in a cross-disciplinary capacity to research and better understand the relationship humans form with animals, particularly pets.

Wolf-Hybrid Studies

Wolf hybrids at the research site in Frazier Park, CA.
Wolf hybrids at the research site in Frazier Park, CA.

CURes, alongside other scientists, is embarking on a wolf hybrid project in Frazier Park, CA, to learn how wolf-dog hybrids can inform us of human psychiatric diseases. More details and results to come in 2018.

 

Past Studies

Mesopredator studies tracking the movement and dynamics of coyotes and feral cats in the Ballona Wetlands

At CURes, we are particularly interested in the role that medium sized predators (meso-predators), such as coyotes, outdoor cats and American Crows play in the ecology of mixed urban habitats. Because cites are inhospitable to the largest of the region's predators, such as mountain lions and bears, the smaller predators may take on an expanded importance in the flow of energy through the urban ecosystem.

In addition, urban predators sometimes end up in conflicts with human inhabitants or inflict excessive predator pressure on vulnerable animal populations that are already stressed by the habitat degradation that happens in cities. The research team at CURes conducted a study on feral cats in the Ballona Wetlands to help develop a humane and effective management strategy to alleviate the conflicts that arise among humans and animals. This was done through radio telemetry and movement pattern monitoring.

Predator aversion studies to reduce crow predation on eggs of the California least tern

Adult least tern in Venice Beach, CA.
Adult least tern in Venice Beach, CA.

The endangered California least tern, which nests in a colony on Venice Beach, has endured five consecutive years of reproductive failure due to heavy predation from American crows. Therefore, an experiment was deployed in 2014 in an attempt to condition the crows to refrain from consuming tern eggs and negatively impacting the viability of the tern population. This was done through electrified decoy tern nests that delivered small shocks to predating crows to reduce harmful behaviors.