The survey by members of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology follows the same transect - from Yosemite Valley to Mono Lake - as Joseph Grinnell and Tracey Storer in their landmark survey of Sierra Nevada birds and mammals between 1914 and 1920. At the time, Grinnell was director of the museum and a zoology professor at UC Berkeley.
The National Park Service last year asked the museum scientists to conduct a new survey, since no complete assessment of park wildlife had been done since Grinnell's day. The team began its work in May.
"With this survey, we are hoping to get new baseline data to compare to the Grinnell and Storer surveys early in the 20th century and see if there have been any changes in the abundance or distribution of species in the park," said Yosemite's lead wildlife biologist, Steve Thompson. The park service is committing $41,000 to the survey, Thompson said, while museum staff will donate about twice that amount in time and effort.
The survey is part of a National Park Service initiative to inventory and monitor wildlife in the national parks, but it coincides with the museum's wish to commemorate its 100th anniversary with a major project of value to California. By the museum's centennial in 2008, scientists there hope to have resurveyed many of Grinnell's original transects around the state.
"Yosemite is the crown jewel of the national park system and also of our project, because it was such a high profile piece of work by Grinnell in the first place," said museum director Craig Moritz, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology.
The survey of over 20 sites in Yosemite will take about three years and involve most museum scientists and
Contact: Robert Sanders
University of California - Berkeley